A spokesman for the US Department of Defense, in an interview with CBS News, expressed concern about the build-up of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine after the head of the country’s armed forces, Ruslan Khomchak, said that Russian troops from different regions were pulling towards the border.
This may be related to the conduct of combat training, but a Pentagon source noted that Russia has not announced any exercises in the area.
Speaking in parliament on Monday, Khomchak said that Russian troops from different regions are pulling together to the Ukrainian borders under the pretext of maintaining combat readiness and preparing for exercises, “implementing a gradual build-up of troops at the state border of Ukraine.” He also accused Moscow of pursuing an “aggressive policy” towards Kiev.
Relations between Russia and Ukraine, deteriorated after the annexation of Crimea, have recently deteriorated even more. Just four days ago, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the shelling of Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday acknowledged the increase in violence, but blamed the Ukrainian forces.
According to a Kremlin press release on a telephone conversation between Putin and the leaders of France and Germany, the Russian president expressed “serious concern over the escalation of the armed confrontation provoked by Ukraine.”
The US Embassy in Kiev issued a statement last week calling on Russia to “comply with the ceasefire” and “end everyday violence” and to end its aggression in Ukraine.
According to the US National Security Council, on Monday, the presidential national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with the head of the presidential administration of Ukraine Andriy Yermak and confirmed that the United States continues to support Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations in the face of ongoing aggression.
As reported by RIA Novosti with reference to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, and the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milli, held telephone talks on Monday. According to the agency, the conversation took place at the initiative of the American side. Additional details have not yet been reported.