Russia says the country is not a party to the Ukrainian conflict and it is not moving toward war with its neighbor, as tensions are rising between Moscow and Kiev over the long-running conflict in Ukraine’s eastern breakaway regions.
US. President Joe Biden told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to ease mounting tensions with neighboring Ukraine on Tuesday, joining a pushback against a buildup of troops along their border which has raised alarm among NATO allies.
Tensions are mounting along the borders of Russia, Ukraine and Crimea, where Vladimir Putin’s forces have mobilized over 80,000 troops.Kiev and its Western allies have accused Russia in recent weeks of massing tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine.
Erdogan and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held talks in Istanbul on Saturday amid tensions between Kyiv and Moscow over the long-running conflict in Donbass.
President Biden spoke today with President Putin, making clear the United States’ resolve to defend our national interests and expressing our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. In midst of mounting tensions in eastern Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin and proposed a summit of the two leaders to address a raft of disputes.
Moscow has sent troops to its Western borders for “training exercises” in response to “threatening” NATO actions, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.
The statement comes as Kiev and its Western allies have accused Russia in recent weeks of massing tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine, while NATO told Moscow to end its “unjustified” buildup.
“In response to the alliance’s military activities that threaten Russia, we took appropriate measures,” Shoigu said in televised remarks.
“Over three weeks, two armies and three airborne units were successfully deployed to the western borders of the Russian Federation in areas for performing combat training exercises,” he said.
He added that the “troops have shown full readiness and ability to carry out tasks to ensure the country’s military security” and that the exercises would be completed “within two weeks.”
Ukraine has been fighting pro-Russia separatists in its east since 2014 when Moscow annexed Crimea.
Kiev and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and arms to support the separatists, claims Moscow denies.
The long-simmering conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives has escalated in recent weeks, with clashes regularly breaking out and undermining a ceasefire brokered last year.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s spokeswoman told AFP on Monday that Russia now has 41,000 troops on Ukraine’s eastern border and 42,000 soldiers on the Crimean peninsula.
Earlier Tuesday NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Russia to end its “unjustified, unexplained and deeply concerning” military buildup around Ukraine.
In his comments, Shoigu also accused Washington and NATO of massing troops on Russia’s borders.
He said American troops were currently being transferred from “North America across the Atlantic to Europe.”
He added that “there is movement of troops in Europe to the Russian borders. The main forces are concentrated in the Black Sea and the Baltic region.”
Turkey on Friday said the United States will send two warships through the Bosphorous to the Black Sea this week.
While the Kremlin has said it is not moving towards war with Ukraine, it has emphasized that it “will not remain indifferent” to the fate of Russian speakers in the east.