A Ukrainian serviceman patrols near the frontline with Russia backed separatists near small city of Marinka, Donetsk region on April 12, 2021. Photograph:( AFP )
Russia recently stationed soldiers along the Ukraine border and also accused Western countries of supplying arms to Ukraine
Russia on Tuesday accused the United States and other NATO countries of turning Ukraine into a “powder keg” after military buildup in the region.
"The United States and other NATO countries are deliberately turning Ukraine into a powder keg," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was cited as saying by local media
Russia recently stationed soldiers along the Ukraine border and also accused Western countries of supplying arms to Ukraine.
A Ukrainian soldier was killed on Sunday and another seriously wounded in artillery fire from Russia-backed separatist rebels, as hostilities rise sharply in the country’s east. As of Monday, Ukraine claimed 27 soldiers had been killed in the east this year, more than half the number who died in all of 2020. Attacks have intensified in recent weeks and Russia has built up troops along the Ukraine border.
The troops' buildup has raised sharp concerns in the West. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned in an interview Sunday of "consequences" if Russia acts "aggressively" towards Ukraine, amid rising alarm over a Russian troop build-up on the border of the former Soviet republic.
"President Biden's been very clear about this. If Russia acts recklessly, or aggressively, there will be costs, there will be consequences," Blinken said.
In recent weeks fighting has intensified between Ukraine's army and pro-Russian separatists in the country's east, with signs of a Russian troop build-up in the region raising concerns of major escalation in the long-running conflict.
Ukraine has accused Russia of amassing thousands of military personnel on its northern and eastern borders as well as on the annexed Crimean peninsula.
The Kremlin, which has not denied the troop movements, said Sunday it was not moving towards war with Ukraine - but also that it "will not remain indifferent" to the fate of Russian speakers in the conflict-torn region.
The White House this week said the number of Russian troops at the border with Ukraine was now greater than at any time since 2014, when the conflict erupted after Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
(With inputs from agencies)