The Kremlin slams Washington’s claim that Moscow may be readying to invade Ukraine.
The Kremlin has accused the United States of fuelling “hysteria” over Ukraine by repeatedly suggesting Russia is poised to launch an attack on its neighbour following a build-up of troops along their shared border.
Sunday’s remarks by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov came a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was concerned, along with its partners in Europe, over Russian activities at its frontier with Ukraine.
“This hysteria is being artificially whipped up,” Peskov said in comments broadcast on Sunday on state TV, suggesting it was not “logical or polite”.
“We are being accused of some kind of unusual military activity on our territory by those who have brought in their armed forces from across the ocean. That is, the United States of America.”
Kyiv has previously said it fears Moscow might be preparing an attack.
US and NATO officials have been making similar statements for nearly two weeks, referring to what they say are unusual Russian troop movements in the region.
The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence told the Military Times outlet this weekend that Russia had more than 92,000 soldiers amassed around Ukrainian borders and is preparing for an attack at the end of January or beginning of February.
Kyrylo Budanov said such an offensive would likely involve air raids, artillery and armoured attacks followed by airborne assaults in the east, amphibious assaults in Odesa and Mariupol and a smaller incursion through neighbouring Belarus.
But Moscow, which massed troops in the region earlier this year, has repeatedly dismissed such suggestions as inflammatory and complained about what it says is increasing activity in the region by the US-headed NATO.
Peskov said “a provocation” in the area could not be ruled out given the US’s rhetoric. He also suggested Kyiv, which is battling separatist rebels in the country’s east, was probably looking for a way to solve its own problems by force.
Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and the Russian-backed separatists seized a swath of eastern Ukraine, in regions bordering Russia, that same year.
Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and arms across the border to support the rebel forces in the Donbas. Moscow denies those claims.
Peskov said Moscow wants NATO to stop “concentrating a military fist” near Russia’s borders and to stop arming Ukraine with modern weapons.
The Kremlin said in September that NATO would cross a Russian red line if its military infrastructure expanded in Ukraine.
A ship carrying two refitted former US Coast Guard patrol boats designed to beef up the Ukrainian navy transited the Dardanelles strait on Saturday.
Ukraine, which strives to become a NATO member, received a large consignment of US ammunition earlier this year and Javelin anti-tank missiles, prompting criticism from Moscow.