German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday demanded that Russia unwind its military build-up near Ukraine.
“Among other things, the conversation was about the strengthened Russian military presence in the environs of East Ukraine. The Chancellor demanded that this build-up be unwound in order to de-escalate the situation,” German government spokesperson Ulrike Demmer said in a statement.
Merkel also raised the case of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who is currently ill in a Russian penal colony.
The parties also discussed a number of other foreign policy issues, including Syria, Libya, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Both Putin and Merkel voiced concern over the rising tensions in the southeast of Ukraine, the Kremlin said in a statement.
The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further close coordination of efforts between Russia and Germany, including in the Normandy format through political advisers and the foreign ministries.
Together with France and Germany, Ukraine and Russia are part of the Normandy format of countries that have sought to resolve the conflict since 2015 but have failed to end the fighting.
Ukraine last week accused Russia of massing thousands of military personnel on its northern and eastern borders as well as on the Crimean peninsula.
Kyiv's Western allies have repeatedly warned Russia against taking further action and seeking explanations for its troop build-up on Ukraine's border.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia was "moving troops within its own territory at its own discretion, and this shouldn't concern anyone."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine is ready for any provocations from Russia, however, he added that his country's strategy is peace.
The US President Joe Biden in his first call with Zelensky last week affirmed Washington's "unwavering support" for Kyiv in the conflict, which has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014.