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EU's Tusk says Russia 'unreliable' on Ukraine

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Brussels (AFP)

EU president Donald Tusk on Wednesday said he and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko believed Russia's account of recent events in the strife-torn east of the country was "unreliable".

Tusk said he had called Poroshenko, after EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini last week expressed support for Ukraine when Moscow charged Kiev with "terrorist" incursions into Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014.

"Spoke to President Poroshenko. We have a similar assessment of the situation in Crimea and Donbass. Russian version of events unreliable," Tusk said on Twitter.

He added that he was "positive" on the prospect of visa-free travel for Ukraine, a key incentive offered to Kiev in return for political and economic reforms meant to help the former Soviet-era satellite meet EU standards.

On Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande warned against any "escalation" of the Ukraine conflict after phone calls with Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The 28-nation EU has consistently backed efforts to end the conflict between pro-Moscow rebels and government forces in eastern Ukraine which has left around 9,600 people dead since early 2014.

Russia annexed Crimea in March that year and President Vladimir Putin insists it will never be given back.

Early last week, Putin accused the Ukrainian intelligence services of launching incursions into Crimea and intensifying fighting in the eastern Donbass and Lugansk regions.

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