May 19, 2015 / 12:47 PM / 2 years ago

NATO's Stoltenberg tells Russia's Lavrov to pull out of Ukraine

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday he had told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Russia must withdraw all troops and heavy weapons from Ukraine and end its support for separatists.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference in Lisbon, Portugal April 27, 2015. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

The western military alliance’s chief added that he had informed Lavrov, after a meeting in Brussels, that he was concerned about the large number of military exercises carried out by Russia at short notice.

“We also discussed the need for transparency, especially when we have an increased military presence along our borders... for NATO it is important to do whatever we can to avoid that incidents are spiraling out of control,” he told reporters.

NATO has repeatedly criticized Moscow’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict and demanded it fully implement a Ukraine ceasefire agreement. Russia denies providing any troops or arms to support rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

Reporting By Robin Emmott; writing by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek

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