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EU foreign policy chief reaffirms support for Ukraine

Kiev, Jan 6 (IANS) Visiting High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell has reiterated the bloc's support for Ukraine during his visit to the conflict-hit Luhansk region.

"We are here first to reaffirm the European Union's full support of Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity," Borrell told reporters during a media briefing.

The EU has been providing political, financial and economic support for Kiev, Borrell said, noting that the bloc's Association Agreement with Ukraine is "the most comprehensive agreement it has with any other third country in the world", reports Xinhua news agency.

Since 2014, the EU has provided Ukraine with over 17 billion euros ($19 billion) in assistance, the official said.

Speaking on the security situation along the Ukrainian borders, Borrell said that the EU is interested in de-escalating the tensions through negotiations and through a strong position on supporting Ukraine.

Borrell arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday for a three-day working visit, his first foreign trip in 2022.

The comprehensive Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, which includes a free trade deal and a broad range of legislation and regulation topics, came into force in 2017.

Since 2014, Luhansk region and its neighbouring Donetsk region have been the sites of a conflict between Ukrainian government troops and pro-independence rebels.

The confrontation has claimed some 14,000 lives and left 40,000 others wounded.