NATO today reported another build-up of Russian forces near Ukraine as its new president put in place key pieces of his pro-Western government and embraced an EU trade pact that has been bitterly fought by the Kremlin.
Ukraine’s Parliament unanimously confirmed Pavlo Klimkin as foreign minister — a charismatic 46-year-old ambassador to Germany who had spearheaded the EU negotiations and now represents Poroshenko at closed-door talks with Moscow.
Those high-stakes meetings and Poroshenko’s late-night phone exchange on Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin bolstered hopes for a solution to Ukraine’s worst crisis since independence in 1991.
Poroshenko promised to soon unilaterally halt the army’s 10-week push against pro-Russian insurgents who have proclaimed independence in Ukraine’s eastern rustbelt — a plan some fighters rejected but Moscow cautiously endorsed.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin called Klimkin “one of Ukraine’s most experienced and well-known diplomats”.
“We wish the new minister success and are ready for contact with him,” the Russian diplomat said.
But the Kremlin’s good will was immediately put in question by new charges from NATO that Putin had sent “at least a few thousand more” troops to the border in a reversal of a withdrawal he had begun at the start of the month.
“I consider this a very regrettable step backwards,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in London.
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