World powers urged Russia and Ukraine to refrain from ratcheting up a confrontation over Crimea as President Vladimir Putin bolstered the disputed peninsula’s military with some of his army’s most advanced air-defence missile systems.
The European Union said there was no independent confirmation of claims that Ukrainian agents had killed two Russian servicemen in Crimea. Putin pledged a “very serious” response as he blamed Kiev for pursuing “terror” activities. The 28-member bloc called on both sides to refrain from intensifying what has led to the worst diplomatic standoff between the two countries since a 2015 truce eased hostilities in Ukraine’s separatist conflict. Germany said that Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, next week in Russia.
“We reiterate our condemnation and non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea,” European Commission spokesman Alexandre Polack said in Brussels on Friday. “There has been neither concrete evidence provided by Russia sustaining its claim nor any independent confirmation of the claims made by Russian authorities.”