Merkel demanded Putin reduce Russian troops around Ukraine: German statement

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefs the media after a virtual meeting with federal state governors at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, March 30, 2021. Markus Schreiber/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded in a phone call with President Vladimir Putin that Russia unwind its recent military build-up in the area around eastern Ukraine, the German government said in a statement on Thursday.

Merkel also raised the case of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who is currently ill in a Russian penal colony and who is demanding access to independent medical advice.

“Among other things, the conversation was about the strengthened Russian military presence in the environs of East Ukraine,” the statement read. “The Chancellor demanded that this build-up be unwound in order to de-escalate the situation.”

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Caroline Copley