Kremlin says the West should ‘not worry’ about Russian troop movements on the border with Ukraine amid fears the conflict between the countries will escalate
- Ukraine, the US this week reported Russian troop movements in the border areas
- Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula after a bloody uprising in Ukraine
- The Kremlin has denied sending troops and weapons to support the separatists
- According to the UN, the fighting has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014
The Kremlin said on Thursday that the West should not be concerned about Russian troop movements on the Ukrainian border, as Kiev expressed concern that the conflict in the east of the country could escalate again.
This week, Ukraine and the United States reported a movement of Russian forces in annexed Crimea and on the Russian-Ukrainian border, near areas controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.
War in Eastern Ukraine broke out in 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula after a bloody uprising that ousted Ukraine’s Kremlin-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych.
Russia has repeatedly denied sending its troops and weapons to support the separatists.
The Kremlin said on Thursday that Ukraine and the West need not worry about Russian troop movements on the Ukrainian border (photo, a tank of pro-Russian militants from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic)
Although Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not directly confirm troop build-up on the Ukrainian border, he insisted on Thursday that Moscow is free to move troops across its territory.
“The Russian Federation is moving its armed forces within its territory at its discretion,” Peskov told reporters.
He added that ‘no one should be concerned about it and no one poses a threat’.
“As for the participation of Russian troops in the armed conflict on the territory of Ukraine, Russian troops never participated in it,” he said. ‘And (they) don’t do it now’.
This week, Moscow and Kiev blamed each other for an increase in violence between government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, which undermined a ceasefire negotiated last year.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not directly confirm to reporters that troops had been built up on the Ukrainian border (pictured, Putin attends meeting via video conference)
This week, Moscow and Kiev blamed each other for an increase in violence between government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine (pictured, volunteers take an oath of allegiance before leaving for Donbass to fight pro-Russian separatists)
At least 19 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the year, according to Kiev.
The Pentagon told reporters on Wednesday that US troops in Europe have raised their alert status following the “recent escalations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.”
Also on Wednesday, Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov and Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Ruslan Khomchak.
Khomchak said this week that 28,000 separatist fighters and “more than 2,000 Russian military instructors and advisers” are currently stationed in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was elected in 2019 on pledges to end the seven-year conflict, but critics say the shaky ceasefire is his only tangible achievement.
Talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris in December 2019 did not bring the parties closer to a sustainable settlement.
According to the United Nations, the fighting has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014.
At least 19 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the year, according to Kiev
The fighting has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014, according to the United Nations (Photo: Russian tanks take part in a 2020 Victory Day parade)