File photos of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photograph:( AFP )
Tensions around Ukraine now are not higher than before, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday.
Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelensky, demanded on Friday that Russia substantiate its claims that it has no plans to invade Ukraine after massing soldiers on the border.
"They say this openly, in different media, from different officials -- so they could at least show some steps to prove it," Zelensky said at a press conference with foreign media.
Zelenskyy claimed that Russia deliberately inflames tensions in Ukraine in the run-up to crucial meetings as a form of "psychological pressure."
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"There is a psychological narrative, a psychological intimidation, coming from, for example, Russia and from separatists [the breakaway Donbas region]. It happens very often, for example, before any meetings, in the framework of Normandy Four or the Minsk meetings, "Zelenskyy told journalists, adding that this is a way to "build up psychological pressure and, so to speak, raise the stakes."
Zelensky also called on the West to avoid creating "panic" in the face of a Russian troop buildup on his country's border.
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"We don't need this panic," Zelensky said, pointing to the need to avoid hurting Ukraine's already battered economy.
"Today we do not see more escalation than it was before. Yes, the number of troops has increased, but I spoke about this at the beginning of 2021, when we talked about the military exercises of Russia ... The feeling is from the media is that we are at war, troops are walking along the roads, mobilization, people are going somewhere. This is not true. We don't need this panic," Zelenskyy said.
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The president also said that statements about the escalation of the situation with Russia cause panic in the financial markets and negatively affect the economy.
(With inputs from agencies)