The Kremlin has accused the United States and its allies of escalating East-West tensions by announcing plans to boost NATO forces in Eastern Europe and evacuate the families of diplomats from the US embassy in Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the probability of military conflict in eastern Ukraine being initiated by the Ukrainian side was higher than ever.
Mr Peskov said Ukraine has deployed a large number of troops near the borders of breakaway regions controlled by pro-Russian separatists, which he said indicated Kiev was preparing to attack them.
Ukraine has repeatedly denied this.
Mr Peskov said information coming from the West was filled with “hysteria” and “laced with lies”.
NATO said earlier it was putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets in response to Russia’s military build-up at Ukraine’s borders.
The move added to a flurry of signals that the West is bracing for an aggressive Russian move against Ukraine, though Moscow denies any plan to invade.
It comes as NATO is putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets in response to Russia’s military build-up at Ukraine’s borders.
The move adds to a flurry of signals that the West is bracing for an aggressive Russian move against Ukraine, though Moscow denies any plan to invade.
“I welcome allies contributing additional forces to NATO,” the Western military alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement on Monday.
“NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the alliance.”
Britain said it was withdrawing some staff and dependants from its embassy in Ukraine in response to “a growing threat from Russia”, a day after the United States said it was ordering diplomats’ family members to leave.
“Military action by Russia could come at any time,” the US Embassy said in a statement. Officials “will not be in a position to evacuate American citizens in such a contingency, so US citizens currently present in Ukraine should plan accordingly,” it added.
US diplomats at the embassy in Kyiv were being allowed to leave voluntarily.
The tensions over Ukraine have contributed to a rise in oil, with the latest Russia-US talks on Friday failing to produce any big breakthrough.
Russia is demanding that NATO withdraw a promise to let Ukraine join one day, and that the alliance pull back troops and weaponry from former Communist countries in eastern Europe that joined it after the Cold War.
Washington says those demands are non-starters but it is ready to discuss other ideas on arms control, missile deployments and confidence-building measures.