Kremlin says conflict in eastern Ukraine quieter but still dangerous

FILE PHOTO: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov wearing a protective face mask attends Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual end-of-year news conference, held online in a video conference mode, in Moscow, Russia December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Friday that there were fewer ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists have faced off against Ukrainian government forces since 2014.

But Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said there were not yet grounds to fully relax and signalled Russia, which has massed troops nearby, would continue to watch the situation closely.

Ukraine blames a recent spike in violence in its eastern Donbass region on the Russian-backed separatists.

The leaders of Ukraine, France and Germany are set to hold three-way talks on Friday about the conflict in Donbass that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people since 2014.