Hollande voices 'concern' to Putin over Ukraine tension

French president voices 'concern' to Putin over Ukraine tension

Paris (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande voiced his "concern" over a spike in tensions in Ukraine, in a telephone call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, his office said Tuesday.

The call, which also included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, came after Putin earlier this month accused Kiev of plotting an armed incursion on Crimea, and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko warned of a possible "full-scale" Russian invasion.

Hollande "expressed his concern over a rise in tensions these past weeks and a growing number of ceasefire violations," it said in a statement after the call.

"He underlined the risk an escalation of violence posed to the (peace) process."

Ukraine has been in the grip of a conflict between its army and pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country for two years.

Kiev and the West accuse Russia of supporting the separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine and deploying troops across the border -- claims which Moscow denies.

More than 9,500 people have been killed since the conflict started in April 2014, and deadly clashes continue to occur despite several truces.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine soared earlier this month after Putin accused Kiev of attempting an armed incursion into Crimea -- the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Putin on Tuesday told the French and German leaders of a "gross provocation by the Ukrainian side," the Kremlin said.

He said that Kiev's "inclination to this kind of military action harms the Minsk process and cooperation" under the so-called Normandy format, which groups Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.

Meanwhile as fighting increased in the east, Ukraine's President Poroshenko warned of a possible "full-scale" Russian invasion.

Merkel, Hollande and Putin agreed to "continue personal contacts on the topic of Ukraine" on the sidelines of the G20 Summit to be held in China on September 4 and 5, the Kremlin said.

Putin earlier this month said the alleged incidents in Crimea meant he would not hold a "senseless" meeting at the G20 with Poroshenko along with the French and German leaders.