Russia has lambasted the West for artificially whipping up tensions around Ukraine with repetitive statements accusing Moscow of preparing to wage a military aggression on its neighbor, calling on the United States and its allies to halt a military built-up in the vicinity of Russian borders.
“This hysteria is being artificially whipped up. We are being accused of some kind of unusual military activity on our territory by those who have brought in their armed forces from across the ocean. That is, the United States of America,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Sunday.
He branded Western countries' allegations as “not really logical or polite,” warning that “a provocation” in the region could not be ruled out given all the rhetoric Washington employed.
Peskov’s comments came just a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that the US has real concerns, which are widely shared with its partners in Europe, over what he called Russian activities at the borders of the ex-Soviet country.
For the past two weeks, Kiev has time and again said that it feared Russia might be preparing an attack on Ukraine, claiming that there are nearly 100,000 Russian soldiers near its border.
The US and NATO, for their parts, have also been echoing such allegations, referring to what they described as “unusual” Russian troop movements near common borders with Ukraine. They have also issued warnings over a possible attack by Russia.
Moscow has strongly rejected the possibility of any attack, saying Washington is involved in aggressive moves in the Black Sea, where Ukraine and the US held war games during the weekend.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Peskov speculated that Ukraine was probably looking for a way to solve its own problems by force, calling on US-led NATO to stop “concentrating a military fist” near Russia's own borders and to halt arming Ukraine with modern weapons.
On Saturday, a Ukraine-bound ship carrying former American Coast Guard patrol boats designed to boost the Ukrainian Navy sailed through the Dardanelles strait.
Back in September, Moscow warned that NATO would cross a Russian red line if it expanded its military infrastructure in Ukraine, which strives to become a NATO member state.
Earlier this year, the US sent a large consignment of ammunition plus Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, drawing criticism from Moscow.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been deteriorating since 2014, when the then Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty. The US and the European Union-backed Kiev refused to recognize the referendum results, later imposing sanctions on Moscow.
Ukraine as well as the EU and the US claim Russia has a hand in an ongoing conflict that erupted in the Donbass region of Ukraine between government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. The West imposed sanctions on Russia after accusing it of interfering in the conflict. Moscow denies the allegation.