The EU urged Russia to de-escalate by substantially withdrawing military forces from near its border with Ukraine and highlighted the “increase in ceasefire violations” along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine in recent days.
“The EU condemns the use of heavy weaponry and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas, which constitute a clear violation of the Minsk agreements and international humanitarian law,” read the statement from the EU’s high representative on Saturday.
The EU statement went on to commend Ukraine’s “posture of restraint in the face of continued provocations and efforts at destabilization" and expressed concern at “staged events” that it said could be used as a “pretext for a possible military escalation.”
This statement comes after Ukrainian officials raised concerns about expected “provocations” in breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, saying they expect Russia to be involved in false-flag operations there.
"The EU urges Russia to engage in meaningful dialogue, diplomacy, show restraint and de-escalate," the EU statement said.
On Friday, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said the self-declared republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR) had alleged Ukrainian forces would launch an offensive against them – something Danilov called “completely untrue."
Danilov was speaking soon after an explosion in Donetsk wrecked a vehicle close to the headquarters of the Donetsk People's Republic. The cause of the blast was unclear.
"There is a great danger that the representatives of the Russian Federation who are there will provoke certain things. They can do things that have nothing to do with our military," he said.
"We can't say what exactly they are going to do, whether to blow up buses with people who are planned to be evacuated to the Rostov region, or to blow up houses, we don't know," he said, without providing any evidence of such plans.
Also on Friday, the foreign ministers of Germany and France said they do not see “any grounds” for DPR’s allegation, warning that “staged incidents could be misused as a pretext for possible military escalation."
The EU also said it was witnessing intensified “information manipulation efforts” and expressed support for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Special Monitoring Mission, calling for the mission to be allowed to carry out its mandate without any restrictions.
“The EU sees no grounds for allegations coming from the non-governmental controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of a possible Ukrainian attack," it said. "The EU urges Russia to engage in meaningful dialogue, diplomacy, show restraint and de-escalate.”
The separatist-controlled areas in Ukraine's Donbas region are known as the Luhansk People's Republic and the Donetsk People's Republic. The Ukrainian government in Kyiv asserts the two regions are, in effect, Russian-occupied.
The self-declared republics are not recognized by any government, including Russia. The Ukrainian government refuses to talk directly with either separatist republic.