The top Pentagon general called counterparts in Russia and Ukraine Wednesday amid increased reports of buildups of Russian troops along Ukraine’s border and in Crimea, a U.S. official said.
Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley spoke to General Valery Gerasimov, the Russian Armed Forces chief of staff, and Ukraine armed forces Commander in Chief Ruslan Khomchak, the official said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry also confirmed the call, which came in a period of heightened tensions along Ukraine’s long border with Russia.
On Tuesday each country accused the other of responsibility for an increase in violence between Ukraine government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, leading to a rise in deaths.
Khomchak denounced the “threat to the military security” of Ukraine by the Russian army, saying that some 28,000 separatist fighters and “more than 2,000 Russian military instructors and advisers” are currently stationed in eastern Ukraine.
Reports online suggested that Russia had located more military forces along the border and also moved more into Crimea, the Ukraine territory that Moscow seized in 2014.
Those reports could not be confirmed, but some observers have tied them to Russian military exercises.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that U.S. forces in Europe were placed on a heightened watch level to “potential imminent crisis” in response to Russian activities.
St. Olga Dropped From WEF’s Influential Women List Over Ukraine Criticism
The World Economic Forum has dropped St. Olga of Kiev from its list of influential women after Ukraine’s ex-president criticized the organization for calling her the founder of Russia.
Before being taken down, St. Olga’s profile on the WEF web page dedicated to International Women’s Month described her as “the progenitor to modern-day Russia” and “the first Russian monarch to convert to Christianity.”
Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took to social media Thursday to ask WEF to “correct” its description and “check its sources more closely.”
“Princess Olha cannot be considered an ancestor of the Russian Federation, because the Moscow Principality would be founded only more than 300 years after she passed away,” he tweeted.
The Moscow Principality, or Muscovy, is believed to have been established by the long-ruling Rurik Dynasty in 1263, while St. Olga died in 969.
WEF later appended its list with a correction, saying “we have removed this reference due to conflicting historical accounts.”
Poroshenko, in his social media criticism of the original post, linked it to Russia’s “imposing lies on the world, its alternative outlook on history and imperial narratives.”
“Every day we witness how important it is to protect not only the information space, but also our own cultural heritage, when even competent international institutions could become parts of hostile propaganda,” he said.
Russian and Ukrainian ties have deteriorated after Moscow annexed Crimea from Kiev and a deadly separatist conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014.