Growing concern over Russian military movements near Ukraine

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The Kremlin said on Thursday that recent Russian troop and military hardware movements near Russia’s borders with Ukraine were aimed at ensuring Moscow’s own security and were not a threat to anyone.

Ukraine’s commander-in-chief this week accused Moscow of building up forces near their shared border and said that pro-Russian separatists were systematically violating a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine amid rising tensions.

On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that Moscow moved its troops around Russia as it saw fit. 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday he had spoken to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) about Russia’s “systemic aggravation” of the security situation in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame in recent weeks for a spike in violence in the eastern Donbass region, where Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed forces have fought a conflict that has killed 14,000 people since 2014 by Ukraine’s estimate.

Chiefs of staff of the Russian and U.S. militaries held a telephone call, the U.S. military and RIA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Both sides provided few details of the call between Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and General Valery Gerasimov, the head of Russian’s military general staff.

But the call comes as Ukraine has said that Russia is building up armed forces near its borders in a threat to the country’s security.

“The two military leaders exchanged their views on issues of mutual concern,” a U.S. military readout of the call said.

Similar calls between the top military officials in the United States and Russia have taken place occasionally, including one earlier this year.

Milley spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart on Wednesday as well.

Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for a spike in violence in the conflict, which Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people since 2014

Main Photo: A tank of pro-Russian militants of self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) near the city of Gorlivka, Ukraine. EPA-EFE/DAVE MUSTAINE.

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