Russia Rebuts Growing U.S. Warnings of Attack on Ukraine

Russia Rebuts Growing U.S. Warnings of Attack on Ukraine

NATO countries say Russia’s military movements threaten Kyiv, though Putin’s plans remain unclear

The Kremlin denied that a buildup of Russian military forces near Ukraine was a prelude to invasion, and accused Washington of destabilizing the region.

U.S. officials over the past week have given European allies new information that Washington says shows Russia building up forces and military assets that could be used to attack Ukraine, two senior European diplomats said Monday.

The new information, the latest in a series of recent briefings by U.S. officials, has sharpened European capitals’ appreciation of the seriousness of the Russian buildup, two diplomats said, although some European capitals remain unconvinced that Russia plans a new attack on Ukraine. The officials said Western intelligence analysts remain uncertain of the Kremlin’s real intentions.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said the U.S. was in close talks with its European allies on the situation and reiterated that Washington has “real concerns about Russia’s unusual military activity on the border with Ukraine.”

“We don’t know what President [Vladimir] Putin’s intentions are, but we do know what’s happened in the past,” he told reporters during a visit to Senegal. “We do know the playbook of trying to cite some illusory provocation from Ukraine or any other country and then using that as an excuse to do what Russia is planning to do all along.”

Ukraine wants to integrate with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, but Mr. Putin has made bringing the former vassal state back under Moscow’s control a central aim of his two-decade rule.

Russia in 2014 seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and fomented a conflict in that country’s east, sending troops covertly across the border to carve out two largely unrecognized separatist statelets.

“We see that a targeted information campaign is under way,” Dmitry Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, said Monday. “This is building up tension.”

Mr. Peskov said Russian forces were conducting routine exercises and other necessary drills and that it “doesn’t pose a threat to anyone and should not cause concern to anyone.”

But Mr. Putin has said Ukraine joining NATO would be a red line for Russia. In recent weeks, Russian officials have stepped up complaints about NATO allies providing Ukraine with weapons systems and training.

“We’re constantly voicing our concerns about this, talking about red lines, but we understand our partners—how shall I put it mildly—have a very superficial attitude to all our warnings and talk of red lines,” Mr. Putin said in a foreign policy speech last week.

Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service said Monday that Washington is “actively intimidating the world community” with allegations about Russia.

Ukraine wants to integrate with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, but Mr. Putin has made bringing the former vassal state back under Moscow’s control a central aim of his two-decade rule.

Russia in 2014 seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and fomented a conflict in that country’s east, sending troops covertly across the border to carve out two largely unrecognized separatist statelets.

“We see that a targeted information campaign is under way,” Dmitry Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, said Monday. “This is building up tension.”

Mr. Peskov said Russian forces were conducting routine exercises and other necessary drills and that it “doesn’t pose a threat to anyone and should not cause concern to anyone.”

But Mr. Putin has said Ukraine joining NATO would be a red line for Russia. In recent weeks, Russian officials have stepped up complaints about NATO allies providing Ukraine with weapons systems and training.

“We’re constantly voicing our concerns about this, talking about red lines, but we understand our partners—how shall I put it mildly—have a very superficial attitude to all our warnings and talk of red lines,” Mr. Putin said in a foreign policy speech last week.

Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service said Monday that Washington is “actively intimidating the world community” with allegations about Russia.

Ms. Haines provided updated information on troop movements, a growing disinformation campaign against Ukraine and the EU and details on an unofficial call-up of reservists, one of the diplomats said. The call-up is at an unprecedented level, the diplomat cited Ms. Haines as saying.

The diplomat said Ms. Haines echoed Mr. Blinken’s comments that while military action seemed to be an option, there was no certainty around Russian plans.

European officials had played down concerns about a Russian attack on Ukraine after the U.S. dialed up warnings earlier this month. The fresh information was intended to raise their concern, the European diplomats said.

Ukrainian officials say they are also unclear about Mr. Putin’s intentions. Peace talks brokered by France and Germany in recent years initially offered some hope but have yielded nothing. Disagreement continues over returning control of the border to Kyiv from the separatists and renewed commitments to grant more autonomy to the breakaway regions.

“In the Kremlin they have a few scenarios,” said a senior Ukrainian official. “They are testing what the best option is for them.”

Russia has accused Kyiv of provoking flare-ups in the breakaway regions and Mr. Peskov suggested Monday that talk of Russian aggression could be a pretext for Ukraine to use force to attack the separatists.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, Monday denied that Kyiv was plotting any military offensive, but was instead working to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities “in order to deter and discourage Russia from further aggressive actions,” he tweeted.

Mr. Kuleba said Kyiv remained devoted to seeking a political and diplomatic settlement to the conflict and he called on Russia “to engage constructively in these peace efforts instead of undermining them.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department on Monday sanctioned a Cyprus-registered company, Transadria, Ltd., which has participated in activities related to the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, and two ships. Representatives from Transadria couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The Biden administration opposes the pipeline, which will enable Russia to circumvent a transit system that runs through Ukraine and has handled gas deliveries for decades. But the U.S. and Germany reached an agreement in July allowing the completion of the controversial pipeline, which happened in September.

“We continue to work with Germany and other allies and partners to reduce the risks posed by the pipeline to Ukraine and frontline NATO and EU countries and to push back against harmful Russian activities, including in the energy sphere,” Mr. Blinken said in a statement.

By Ann M. Simmons and Laurence Norman

www.prensa.cancilleria.gob.ar es un sitio web oficial del Gobierno Argentino