Defense

Ukrainian diplomat warns Russia may be looking to ‘move further’ into country

Ukraine’s top diplomat warned Thursday that Russia may be looking to “move further” into the country amid increasing tensions in the region.

“We do not want to scare anyone, but we have to remain vigilant,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told ABC News in an interview. 

“We are extremely worried, but listen — when you live next to Russia for seven years in an armed conflict, you kind of learn to be worried. You get used to it,” Kuleba continued.

About 90,000 Russian troops are stationed near the border after completing military drills, the Ukrainian defense ministry said earlier this month.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday that the U.S. continues to see unusual military activity both inside Russia and near Ukraine’s borders, though it isn’t clear what Russia’s intentions are.

Moscow has supported a separatist insurgency in Ukraine’s east since it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014. More than 140,000 people have died in related fighting.

Russia has denied it has troops in eastern Ukraine but sparked concerns in April after it amassed a large number of troops near the border. While troops left the following month, Kuleba told ABC that the infrastructure and equipment are still at the border.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported that the U.S. has reportedly told European officials that Russia may be weighing a potential invasion. The assessment is reportedly based on assessments that haven’t been shared with European governments and are backed by publicly available evidence.

A spokesperson for the National Security Council didn’t directly comment on Bloomberg’s report, but told The Hill “we are concerned with public reports of unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine.”

“I can’t speak to Russian intentions, but we are monitoring the region closely, as we always do, and we will continue to consult with allies and partners on this issue,” the spokesperson said. “We stand with our partner Ukraine and condemn Russian aggression against Ukraine in all forms.”

Kuleba visited Washington this week, during which he met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security adviser Jake Sullivan.

From his visits, Kuleba said the U.S. is “ready not only to talk, but also to act, to act in order to deter Russia and to strengthen Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself.”

— Updated at 6:54 p.m.

Tags Antony Blinken Jake Sullivan John Kirby Russia-Ukraine conflict

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