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Ukraine’s president and the UN Secretary-General spoke by phone Wednesday on Russia’s increasing military presence along the Ukrainian border. 

Volodymyr Zelensky and Antonio Guterres discussed “the increasing military presence of the Russian Federation along the Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied territories,” said the presidency of Ukraine in a statement.

“I would like to express my support once again for your call last year for a cease-fire during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Zelensky, thanking Guterres for supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and its peaceful efforts.

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According to the statement, he stressed that Ukraine was one of the first to support this call and did everything possible to implement it starting from July 2020.

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He pointed out that the initiative of the Crimean Platform, which Ukraine will officially launch at a summit in Kyiv in August, will return the issue of Crimea to the international agenda.

“The Crimean Platform is a new consultative and coordination format initiated by Ukraine to improve the efficiency of the international response to the occupation of Crimea, respond to growing security challenges, step up international pressure on Russia, prevent further human rights violations, protect victims of the occupying power and to achieve the de-occupation of Crimea and its return to Ukraine,” according to the Ukrinform website.

The process of de-occupation of the peninsula will be launched and the platform will become a practical mechanism for protecting human rights in Crimea right now, he added.

In recent weeks, Russia has gathered combat-ready forces close to the Ukrainian border in what is considered “the largest massing of Russian troops since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014,” according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Ukraine has been plagued by conflict in its eastern regions since March 2014, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine has left more than 13,000 people dead, according to the UN.

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