SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 1 December 2021, Wednesday |

Kremlin accuses West of artificially whipping up Ukraine tensions

The Kremlin accused the West on Sunday of artificially inflaming tensions around Ukraine with repeated statements implying Russia was about to launch an attack on its neighbor, and urged Washington and its allies to halt a military buildup nearby.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday that his country has legitimate worries, which are widely shared by European partners, about Russian operations near the Ukrainian border, after Ukraine warned it thought Russia was planning an attack.

For nearly two weeks, US, NATO, and Ukrainian officials have made similar assertions, alluding to what they call extraordinary Russian army moves near Ukraine.

The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence told the Military Times outlet this weekend that Russia had more than 92,000 troops amassed around Ukrainian borders and is preparing for an attack by the end of January or beginning of February.

Kyrylo Budanov said such an attack would likely involve air strikes, artillery and armored attacks followed by airborne assaults in the east, amphibious assaults in Odessa and Mariupol and a smaller incursion through neighboring Belarus,

Moscow has dismissed such suggestions as inflammatory and complained about what it says is increasing activity in the region by the NATO alliance.

In comments due to be broadcast later on Sunday on state TV, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “a provocation” in the area could not be ruled out given all the U.S. rhetoric.

“This hysteria is being artificially whipped up. 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,” Peskov said.

“It’s not really logical or polite.”

Peskov suggested Ukraine was probably looking for a way to solve its own problems by force.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and Russian-backed separatists seized a swath of eastern Ukraine that same year.

Peskov said Russia wanted NATO to stop “concentrating a military fist” near Russia’s own borders and to stop arming Ukraine with modern weapons.

The Kremlin said in September that NATO would cross a Russian red line if it expanded its military infrastructure in Ukraine.

A ship carrying two refitted former U.S. 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 U.S. ammunition earlier this year and Javelin anti-tank missiles, prompting criticism from Moscow.