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Amid a flurry of diplomatic efforts aimed at preventing a feared Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s embassy in Washington tweeted out a call to “end the hysteria,” reiterating that Moscow planned no such military move.
“We stress once again: [Russia] is not going to attack anyone,” the embassy said in a tweet Tuesday night.
An estimated 100,000 Russian troops, backed by tanks and artillery, have been deployed for weeks near the border with Ukraine, conducting provocative live-fire drills. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has pressed a series of demands on the West, key among them that Ukraine not be allowed to join NATO.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced that it was providing an additional $200 million in military aid to Ukraine to help it defend itself against a possible Russian move.
In its tweet, the Russian Embassy said: “The practice of moving troops on our own soil is a sovereign right.”
“We call to end the hysteria and not to pile on tension around the #Donbass problem,” it said in reference to the region in eastern Ukraine where the Kremlin has backed separatists since 2014, when Russia forcibly annexed Crimea.
Last week, the White House said U.S. intelligence believed that Moscow was preparing a “false flag” operation and waging a disinformation campaign on social media as a pretext for invasion should diplomatic efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis fail. Speaking on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed that assertion as “total disinformation.”
A series of diplomatic talks last week did not produce any meaningful progress to breach the impasse.
The additional aid to Ukraine was approved in late December, but only announced on Wednesday, a senior State Department official told The Associated Press. It follows a visit to Kyiv by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
During his visit, Blinken said the administration was aware of “plans to increase” the Russian force at the border “on very short notice.”
“And that gives President Putin the capacity, also on very short notice, to take further aggressive action against Ukraine,” he said.
Blinken is expected to meet with Lavrov in Geneva on Friday.
A version of this story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog
Source: News : NPR