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Switzerland calls on citizens to leave Donbas, urges sides to de-escalate

Western countries and Kiev have been accusing Russia of preparing for an alleged "invasion" of Ukraine.

Ukraine soldiers

Ukrainian National guard soldiers guard the mobile checkpoint together with the Ukrainian Security Service agents and police officers during a joint operation in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022.

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Switzerland's Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is urging Swiss nationals to leave the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine's southeast (Donbas) amid escalations on the contact line.
"The FDFA recommends that people of Swiss nationality in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions leave these regions temporarily by their own means. Some airlines have reduced or suspended their flights to Ukraine," the foreign ministry said in a Saturday travel update.
According to the FDFA, Switzerland is ready to support dialogue aimed at resolving the Ukraine conflict peacefully. The Donetsk and Luhansk self-proclaimed people's republics (DPR and LPR) have been reporting continued shelling of Donbas settlements by Kiev forces for the past several days. LPR and DPR announced the evacuation of their citizens to Russia's Rostov Region on Friday.
"Switzerland is concerned about the increase in armed hostilities observed by the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] Special Monitoring Mission in eastern Ukraine. We call on all sides to recommit to the ceasefire and actively contribute to de-escalation," the Swiss foreign ministry said on Twitter, adding that Switzerland is ready to support "constructive dialogue."
Pierre-Alain Eltschinger, a spokesman for the Swiss foreign ministry, told Sputnik on Friday that Switzerland is ready to host a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Earlier this week, Blinken proposed to Lavrov to hold another meeting next week.
Western countries and Kiev have been accusing Russia of preparing for an alleged "invasion" of Ukraine. Moscow has denied these accusations, repeatedly stating that it is not threatening anyone and at the same time expressing strong concerns over NATO's military activity near the Russian borders, which it deems a threat to its national security. Russia has pointed out that rising fears of an "invasion" in Ukraine appear to be used as a pretext for advancing NATO's military presence further eastward in Europe.
According to Lavrov, the ongoing turmoil is being deliberately promoted by the West to cover up Kiev's sabotage of the Minsk agreements.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Feb 20 2022 | 8:08 AM IST

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