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Russian ambassador insists Kremlin has “no such plans” for invading Ukraine regardless of troop build-up

A Ukrainian soldier patrols on the front line, not far from the pro-Russian city of...

A Ukrainian soldier patrols on the front line, not far from the pro-Russian city of Donetsk, Ukraine, on Wednesday. Photo by Stanislav Kozliuk/EPA-EFE

Feb. 3 (UPI) — Russia reacted negatively Thursday to U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to send thousands of American troops to Eastern Europe — a show of support for NATO and Ukraine against fears that Moscow is planning an invasion.
Biden announced on Wednesday that a few thousand U.S. troops will deploy to Poland and other NATO countries in the coming days. The move is a response to the Russian troop buildup near its border with Ukraine, which has been happening for months, and rising concerns that Russia is gearing up for some type of military incursion into Ukraine.

“The current situation demands that we reinforce the deterrent and defensive posture on NATO’s eastern flank,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Thursday, the Kremlin pointed to the troop deployment as proof of U.S. aggression and its repeated claims that the United States is provoking the crisis — and shows why Russia is justified in its military posture.

“We keep calling on our U.S. counterparts to stop fueling tensions in the European continent,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the state-run TASS news agency. “Regrettably, the Americans keep doing that.”
“In this case, we are not talking simply about provocative statements that a war will happen soon, that everyone will pay a horrible price and so on,” he added. “We are talking specifically about sending U.S. soldiers to European countries near our borders.”

“Obviously, Russia’s concern in this case is totally understandable, totally justified,” Peskov said. “And any measures taken by Russia to ensure its own security and its own interests are just as explainable and understandable.”

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Biden’s decision to send troops represents a “destructive step” in the crisis, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said, according to The Guardian.
One of the main reasons for the crisis is Moscow’s concerns about Ukraine possibly joining NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said that adding Ukraine to the defensive alliance would pose a serious security risk for Russia.
Ukraine, meanwhile, has been engaging in talks with Western allies, like the United States and Britain. Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the situation could ultimately lead to “full-scale war.”
Also Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia is moving 30,000 combat troops and modern weapons to Belarus, which shares borders with Russia and Ukraine. He said it’s Moscow’s largest deployment to that country since the Cold War.
In recent days, Russian officials said that the United States and NATO have not addressed Moscow’s security concerns and accused the Ukrainian government of sabotaging the Minsk agreements, which were signed to ease hostilities after Russian annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.


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