Russia has dismissed new allegations by the media in the United States that it is planning a large-scale attack on Ukraine, accusing Washington of seeking to aggravate the situation through blaming Moscow at a time of tensions between the two neighbors.
"The (United) States is conducting a special operation to aggravate the situation around Ukraine while shifting the responsibility onto Russia," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted as saying by the Kommersant newspaper on Saturday. "It is based on provocative actions near Russia's borders accompanied by accusatory rhetoric."
A recent report by the Washington Post cited US officials and an intelligence document claiming Russia was planning a multi-front offensive involving up to 175,000 troops as soon as next year.
The United States, its NATO allies and Ukraine accuse Moscow of enlarging the number of troops near Ukraine's border as well as planning an invasion. Russia says there is no such plan, but it has warned against any provocation from Ukraine that could trigger such an invasion.
Moscow also says Washington is involved in aggressive moves in the Black Sea, where Ukraine and the United States have held military drills recently.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have gone through declension since 2014, when the then Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to rejoin the Russian Federation. Kiev refused to recognize the referendum results, and later imposed sanctions on Moscow.
Ukraine, along with its Western allies, also claims Russia has a hand in the ongoing conflict that erupted in the Donbass region between Ukrainian government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. Moscow denies the allegation.
Ukraine claims Russia has deployed heavy-armored vehicles, electronic warfare systems and nearly 100,000 soldiers around its border. Russia says Ukraine has deployed half of its army, or 125,000 troops, to the ethnic Russian region of Donbass, calling it “very dangerous adventurism” by Kiev. Russia has also repeatedly said it is free to move its troops around within its own borders and that they pose no external threat.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already warned the West and Kiev against crossing the Kremlin's "red lines" over staging military exercises and building up weaponry in Ukraine.