The Pentagon is closely monitoring the Ukraine region amid reports of a new concentration of Russian troops on the border between the two countries, the Defense Department spokesman reported Monday. John Kirby.
According to slogan The Washington Post, US officials are concerned about the “unusual” movements of Russian military units in that border area.
Videos posted on social media show military trains and truck convoys moving tanks and missiles in southwestern Russia, near Ukraine.
A US official, who spoke anonymously, confirmed that there was some movement, although not as large as the surge in Moscow’s forces earlier this year.
“We are aware of public reports of unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine.”Kirby confirmed to reporters.
“We will continue to consult with allies and partners on this issue … As we said before, any intensive or aggressive action would be of great concern to the United States,” he added.
The move comes just after the United States Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, toured the Black Sea region, stopping in Ukraine and Georgia, NATO partner states, and Romania, a member of the alliance, to express solidarity and generate more support to confront Russia in the area.
Russian-aligned separatists in eastern Ukraine have been fighting Ukrainian government forces since 2014.
Also in 2014, Russian troops seized the Ukrainian region of Crimea, prompting harsh Western sanctions against Moscow.
In March, a few weeks after the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, Russia concentrated thousands of troops, heavy military equipment, ships and planes on the border with Ukraine and Crimea, keeping them there for weeks, prompting fears of an invasion.
Moscow called the moves an exercise, but many of the military remained for weeks, and analysts saw it as a warning to Biden.
Washington has refused to accept Russia’s claim on Crimea and has provided military aid to Kiev for use in fighting the separatists.
Moscow has made clear its rejection of any effort to incorporate Ukraine, a former part of the Soviet Union, into the NATO alliance.
Kirby added that Washington will consult its allies and partners on this new Russian move. “We continue to support the de-escalation in the region and a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine”, he remarked.
In the last hours the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, denounced that Ukraine seeks to aggravate the situation in the Donbas through provocations to implicate Moscow in the armed conflict in that Ukrainian region, commenting on the use of Turkish Bayraktar drones by Kiev.
“The increase in tensions is evident. There are attempts to create a provocative situation, some kind of reaction from the militias and involve Russia in some kind of military action “he stated in an interview with Russian television.
The head of Russian diplomacy called the reports about the use of Turkish drones in eastern Ukraine, where Kiev is fighting pro-Russian rebels, a “mysterious story.” “The commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine assures that this type of weapon was used, while the Defense Minister says no,” he stated.
According to Lavrov, the Ukrainian leadership is now “debating what is more convenient”, whether to admit that they started bombing this region, which is a violation of the Minsk Accords, or to affirm that they comply with these agreements and propose a new meeting of the “format of Normandy ”, made up of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia.
The minister noted that Russia is not interested “in a meeting for the mere fact of meeting.” “Now they are trying to convene it and appeal that the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, promised to convene the Normandy format at least at the ministerial level. We do not avoid meetings, ”he added.
However, he recalled that the Russian president “by promising that he would give the order to start this process said that first the agreements reached in December 2019 in Paris had to be complied with.”
“The Kiev authorities had to do everything that was said there. But they have not ‘lifted a single finger’ neither to comply with Steinmeier’s formula, nor to define the special status of the Donbas, nor to legislatively endorse that status “, he concluded.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, defended the use in the Donbas of weapons for defensive purposes, including Turkish drones, against attacks by pro-Russian militias, after Russia, Germany and France condemned the use of such weapons.
With information from AFP and EFE