Russia has warned the United States against provoking tensions in Ukraine as Washington is reportedly considering sending military advisers and new weaponry to the Eastern European country.
According to a report published by the CNN on Monday, the administration of US President Joe Biden is considering sending military advisers and new equipment, including weaponry, to Ukraine as Kiev accuses Moscow of planning an attack on the country as soon as January.
The military equipment, according to the report, could include new Javelin anti-tank and anti-armor missiles as well as mortars.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned about the plan on Tuesday, saying it would lead "to further escalation on the line of contact."
"We are seriously concerned by Ukraine's actions on the line of contact in eastern Ukraine and the possibility of a Ukrainian decision to use force there," he said.
Peskov denied allegations that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine, describing them as "absurd."
"Russia is not making any aggressive plans," Peskov said, urging Kiev to return to a peace settlement plan agreed with Moscow.
He also warned on Monday against Kiev's attempts to build up military forces and weaponry near the border with Russia.
Ukraine's Defense Ministry, however, reiterated the allegations on Tuesday, saying that Moscow was "increasing the combat readiness" of pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine. The ministry said in a statement that the pro-Russia forces had kicked off large-scale military exercises on Monday.
Meanwhile, Kiev received two refitted former US coast guard patrol boats at the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa, according to the Ukrainian navy.
"We appreciate the contribution of the United States to deter the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine," naval commander Oleksiy Neyizhpapa was quoted as saying.
The two new boats are part of a package of military assistance to Ukraine that has been worth over $2.5 billion since 2014.
Relations between Moscow and Kiev have been strained since a conflict erupted in Ukraine's eastern region of the Donbass between Ukrainian government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014.
Major fighting ended with a ceasefire in 2015, but the conflict remains unresolved and clashes take place regularly.
The US, the European Union, and Ukraine claim that Russia has a hand in the conflict. Moscow strongly rejects the allegation. The Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty that year, with more than 90 percent of the participants in the plebiscite voting in favor of unification.