The US State Department says there are “credible” reports of Russian military movements on Ukraine’s eastern border.
The United States has asked Russia to explain the recent “provocations” on Ukraine’s border, the US State Department said on Monday, after reporting a build-up and Russian troop movements. sparked international concern last week.
The department said reports on Russian movements on Ukraine’s eastern border, which have become the latest point of tension in frigid US-Russian relations less than three months after US President Joe Biden took office, were “credible”.
Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States would be concerned about any effort by Moscow to intimidate Ukraine, whether it happened on Russian territory or in Ukraine.
The ministry said it was ready to tackle the situation.
“We have asked Russia for an explanation for these provocations,” Price said.
“But more importantly, what we have reported to our Ukrainian partners is a message of comfort.”
The comments follow a phone call on Friday in which Biden reassured his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, “unwavering support” in Ukraine’s confrontation with Russian-backed separatists detaining parts of the eastern Donbass region.
Russia denied on Monday that Russian military movements posed a threat to Ukraine and dismissed fears of a build-up even as it warned it would react to new Ukrainian sanctions against Russian companies.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that “the recent escalation of Russian aggression and escalation in eastern Ukraine” is “something we are watching. from close”.
Last week, the NATO alliance has also expressed concern above what is said there was a significant Russian military reinforcement on the Russian side of the border with eastern Ukraine.
For his part, Zelenskyy accused Russia of fueling tensions.
“Muscle flexion in the form of military exercises and possible provocations along the border is a traditional Russian affair,” the Ukrainian president said in a statement on April 1.
Ukraine, Western countries and NATO accuse Russia of sending troops and heavy weapons to support proxies in Donbass in 2014.
Moscow said it was only providing political and humanitarian support to separatist fighters in what it called an internal conflict.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov minimized the buildup of last week, claiming that “this poses no threat to anyone” and that Russia was taking steps to ensure the security of its own borders.
“There is increased activity on the perimeter of Russia’s borders by NATO, other alliances, individual countries – all of this requires us to be vigilant,” he said.