US Secretary of State John Kerry, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel all intend to try and make peace between Ukraine and Russia this week.
Kerry is already in Ukraine to show America’s support for the Kiev government.
Hollande told international media Thursday in Paris that he and Merkel would head first to Kiev and then to Moscow on Friday to present Russian President Vladimir Putin with a proposal “based on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
NATO, meanwhile, is unveiling details of a plan to bolster its military presence in eastern Europe in response to the Ukraine crisis, according to the BBC. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told the news service it will be the biggest reinforcement of its collective defense since the end of the Cold War, centering on a “spearhead” force of up to 5,000 troops with lead units able to deploy within two days. A network of command centers is being established in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, Stoltenberg said, in response to “the aggressive actions we have seen from Russia, violating international law and annexing Crimea.”
The French president described the months-long conflict with pro-Russia rebels that wreaked havoc in Ukraine as a full-fledged war. “Ukraine is at war. Heavy weapons are being used and civilians are being killed daily,” Hollande said.
Kerry told the BBC in Kiev that the U.S. wants to see a diplomatic solution to the conflict, but will not close its eyes to Russian aggression.
“We want a diplomatic resolution but we cannot close our eyes to tanks that are crossing the border from Russia and coming into Ukraine,” Kerry said at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
More than 5,000 people have died in the fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebel troops, some of which include Russian “volunteers,” since April 2014. The eastern Ukraine cities of Donetsk and Lugansk are both under rebel control.