Ukrainian soldiers at a snow-covered trench
Evgeniy Maloletka / dpa
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and US President Joe Biden have jointly called on Russia to reduce its troop reinforcements on the border with eastern Ukraine.
Only in this way could a "de-escalation of the situation" be achieved, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Wednesday evening after Merkel had spoken to Biden on the phone.
According to Ukrainian information, Russia has now drawn 41,000 soldiers in the border area.
Moscow speaks of "combat training".
In eastern Ukraine there has been increased fighting between pro-Russian rebels and the government army since mid-February.
Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is also calling on Russia to withdraw the concentrated troops on the border with Ukraine, but rejects the stop of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic gas pipeline as a means of sanction against Moscow.
He was skeptical that a stop would de-escalate the situation, said the SPD politician in the ARD.
"I think rather the opposite is to be feared," said Maas.
It is important to assure Ukraine of solidarity and to warn Moscow against a military invasion.
The EU, NATO, the G7 states and the international community have made this clear.
"Even Moscow can have no interest in the fighting in eastern Ukraine flare up again," Maas emphasized.
The Russian troop presence on the border is greater than ever since 2014.
According to Seibert, the Chancellor and the US President also spoke about the situation in Afghanistan and how to proceed with regard to the NATO troop presence.
They underlined "the importance of close coordination and cooperation as well as continued political commitment for the country".
The fight against the corona pandemic was also reportedly an issue.
Merkel and Biden had emphasized "the importance of global and fair access to vaccines," which both countries wanted to "continue to campaign" for.
mjm / AFP / Reuters