Moscow will act to “ensure its security” if the alliance intervenes in the conflict, which has seen renewed fighting.
Russia has warned NATO against deploying troops to Ukraine, saying such a move would escalate tensions near its borders, amid renewed fears over the long-lingering conflict in the region.
Moscow’s comments came after NATO expressed concern on Thursday over what it saw as a significant Russian military build-up near eastern Ukraine, with the main US member pledging to stand alongside of Ukraine in the event of Russian “aggression”.
New frontline clashes have hit the region in recent weeks.
Russia has said earlier that an escalation of conflict in Ukraine’s Donbass region could “destroy” Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that the situation at the contact line in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatist forces was concerning and that multiple “provocations” took place there.
Peskov also said Russia would be forced to respond if NATO troops were deployed to Ukraine, as he insisted Russia was not threatening Ukraine.
“There is no doubt that such a scenario would lead to a further increase in tensions near Russia’s borders. Of course, that would require additional measures from Russia to ensure its security, ”he said, without specifying what measures would be adopted.
“Russia does not threaten anyone, it has never threatened anyone.”
Ukraine has been battling pro-Russian separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk since 2014, following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula after an uprising that toppled Kremlin-friend Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich .
Moscow and Kiev have accused each other this week of escalating violence that undermined a ceasefire negotiated last year.
Peskov’s comments came after the United States warned Russia against Ukraine’s “intimidation”, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling on their Ukrainian counterparts to insist on their support.
The Pentagon said earlier this week that US forces in Europe had raised their alert status following “recent escalations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.”
Moscow, Kiev trade beards
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday accused Russia of massing troops at the border and said 20 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed since the start of the year.
Ukrainian military intelligence accused Russia of preparing to “expand its military presence” in areas controlled by the separatists.
Moscow has repeatedly denied sending troops and weapons to support the separatists. The Kremlin has said Russia is free to move troops within its own territory.
“Russia is not participating in the conflict,” Peskov said on Friday, accusing the Ukrainian armed forces of “multiple” provocations in the region.
A senior Russian official also dismissed reports of a plan to attack Ukraine as “bogus”.
“Russia is not interested in any conflict with Ukraine, in particular military,” Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko told the official RIA Novosti news agency.
To date, fighting in the region has killed more than 13,000 people, according to the United Nations.