The Kremlin rejected the U.S. claim that Russia had assembled an army near Ukraine, saying it was a trick to cover up what it said was the Ukrainian leader’s aggressive intentions.
The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (Dmitry Peskov) refuted the American media’s allegations that Moscow allegedly planned to invade Ukraine as part of an effort to discredit Russia. He insisted that the movement of troops on Russia’s own territory should not be related to anyone.
Ukraine complained earlier this month that Russia had left tens of thousands of troops not far from the border between the two countries after conducting military exercises in an attempt to further pressure its former Soviet neighbors. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014 and supported the separatist rebellion that broke out in eastern Ukraine that year.
This month, Secretary of State Anthony Brinken pointed out in an interview with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister that Russia’s “script” was to build an army near the border and then invade, “falsely claiming to be provoked”.
Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, said in an interview with the Military Times over the weekend that Russia has concentrated 92,000 soldiers near Ukraine, and may start to include Belarus at the end of January or early February. Attacks were launched in multiple directions.
Amidst the tension, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said on Monday that it conducted exercises in the northern region of Zhitomir, which borders Belarus.
Russia and Belarus maintain close political and military ties, and the two countries held a large-scale joint military exercise in September.
Peskov tried to reverse the situation in Ukraine and the West, believing that the concerns of the United States and its allies might “cover up Kiev’s aggressive intentions of trying to solve the problems in the southeast by force”.
He accused the Ukrainian military of increasingly frequent shooting incidents along the tense lines of contact in the east, adding that Moscow is very worried about the United States and other NATO countries providing weapons to Ukraine.
Peskov said in a conference call with reporters: “The number of provocations has been increasing, and these provocations are carried out using weapons provided by NATO countries to Ukraine.” “We are paying close attention to it.”
Russia played an important role in the separatist rebellion in Donbass, the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine, which has killed more than 14,000 people. But Moscow has repeatedly denied the presence of its troops in eastern Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also criticized the so-called “belligerent remarks” of Ukrainian military officials on Monday, saying that it may “reflect the desire to engage in provocations and transform the conflict into a hot stage.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba refuted Russia’s allegations that Ukraine planned to launch an attack on the Donbass as part of Moscow’s “false information”.
“Let me make a formal statement: Ukraine does not intend to launch a military offensive in Donbass,” Kuleba said on Twitter. “We are committed to seeking political and diplomatic solutions to conflicts.”
In a strongly worded statement, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) severely criticized the US State Department for spreading “absolute lies” about Russia’s alleged assembly near Ukraine.
“The Americans are painting a terrible picture of a Russian tank fleet destroying Ukrainian cities,” it said in a statement on Monday. “It is amazing to see that a formerly respected foreign policy agency is turning into the mouthpiece of false propaganda at such a rapid rate.”
SVR claims that Ukraine is strengthening its forces near Russia and Belarus.
The Russian spy agency also accused the United States and the European Union of encouraging “tolerance and a sense of impunity” in Ukraine, comparing this situation with the support expressed by the West for Georgia before the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.
In the brief conflict that broke out when Georgia tried to regain control of Russia-backed separatist provinces, Russia defeated the Georgian army. Moscow subsequently recognized the independence of Georgia’s two separatist provinces after the war.
Yuras Karmanau of Kiev, Ukraine contributed to this report.