Russia Continues Massing Military Hardware on Ukrainian Border

US expresses concern as Russia 'sends ballistic missiles' to Ukraine border

Russia has built up troops along the border, raising fears of a major escalation in the long-running conflict in Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking east which has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014.

Ukrainian media on Wednesday accused Russian Federation of escalating violence in the Donbass region and continuing to move large amounts of military hardware to the Ukrainian border using highways and railroads.

The Kremlin's chief negotiator with Ukraine, Dmitry Kozak, said Thursday that the activities of Ukraine's army aren't likely to lead to a large-scale military operation and are more of a public-relations move.

Kozak was asked if Russian Federation would protect its citizens in eastern Ukraine.

Referring in his reply to Srebrenica, where about 8 000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, he said: "It all depends on the scale of the fire".

A spokesman for US President Biden said the Ukrainians had long wanted to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and that the US government was talking to them about it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Thursday to reduce Russia's troop buildup near Ukraine, her office said in a statement.

Putin Merkel
Putin, Merkel 'Concerned' Over East Ukraine Tensions – Kremlin

Talks late Wednesday between Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe yielded another stab at a cease-fire, though Ukraine's military reported another death on Thursday morning.

While Russia has played down the likelihood of an imminent attack by either side, its heightened military presence around the conflict that erupted after President Vladimir Putin seized Crimea in 2014 risks setting off a renewed spiral of violence.

But reports of Russian troop deployments to the regions of Bryansk, Voronezh and Rostov, as well as the annexed Crimean Peninsula, are circulating on social media.

The Kremlin has not denied the troop movements but insisted that Moscow was "not threatening anyone".

Ukrainian diplomat Leonid Kravchuk said Tuesday that he will never return to the city of Minsk in Belarus for further negotiations, and would quit his post if ordered to do so, because the Belarusian are aligned with Russian Federation and have been "making very ugly and obscene statements regarding Ukraine".

"I want to be with our soldiers in the tough times in Donbas", Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweeted as he headed to the conflict area Thursday.

The standoff has redoubled pressure on the Russian ruble, which hit a five-month low against the dollar today. In addition, it would send a clear signal to Russian Federation that it supports separatists in the East. While a ceasefire halted full-scale warfare in 2015, sporadic fighting continued.



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