Newsmax reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin issued a statement Sunday accusing Western nations of escalating tensions around Ukraine. Russia attacked statements it alleges improperly suggest that it is preparing a military attack on neighboring Ukraine. The report cautioned NATO and U.S. forces against building up their military presence in the region.
Joe Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken had made a statement a day before that America had shared concerns with European allied nations about Russia’s maneuvers and build-up near its border with Ukraine.
Ukraine has been advising the U.S. recently of its concerns that Russia may be preparing to invade its territory. NATO officials have also been making statements of concern about Ukraine for the last two weeks, noting Russian troop and equipment movements in the region.
Last weekend, Kyrylo Budanov, the Ukrainian chief of military intelligence, stated that Russia had over 92,000 troops assembled along its border with Ukraine. Intelligence reports indicate that Russia was planning a military attack by the end of January next year.
Budanov added that reports show that a Russian invasion would likely include airstrikes and artillery attacks followed by airborne and amphibious assaults. Attacks would be expected near Odessa and through neighboring Belarus, which is subject to direct Russian influence.
The statements from Moscow have consistently dismissed reports of an invasion as “artificial and inflammatory,” while at the same time disparaging increasing NATO activity in the area.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the “hysteria” in the area is being “whipped up” by those who “have brought in their armed forces from across the ocean, that is, the United States of America.” Peskov added that Ukraine is likely looking to use force to “solve its problems.”
Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Earlier this year, the Kremlin stated that the U.S. would be crossing a “Russian red line” to bring its military forces into Ukraine. The U.S. has been supplying ammunition and other equipment this year to Ukraine, which continues to strive to become a full member of NATO.