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Russian soldiers at a military training ground PA
ukraine crisis

Kremlin urges US to 'stop escalating tensions' as NATO flags Russian troop build-up in Belarus

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg raised concerns about Russian troop buildup in Belarus.

THE KREMLIN TODAY urged the United States to stop inflaming tensions after Washington sent several thousand troops to bolster NATO forces in eastern Europe amid the Ukraine crisis.

It comes as the secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg has raised concerns about the continued build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border, as Russia has now deployed more troops and military equipment to Belarus than at any time in the last 30 years.

A spokesperson for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the US should step raising tensions in Europe.

“We are constantly urging our American partners to stop escalating tensions on the European continent,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“Unfortunately, Americans are continuing to do it,” he said, adding that the most recent deployment of US troops to bolster NATO forces in Europe only worsened tensions.

With Russia refusing to pull back 100,000 troops poised on Ukraine’s borders, 1,000 US soldiers in Germany are being sent to Romania, and another 2,000 stationed in the United States are being flown to Germany and Poland.

“Obviously, these are not the steps aimed at de-escalating tensions, on the contrary, these are actions that lead to an increase in tensions,” Peskov said.

Therefore, he added, Russia’s concerns over NATO’s eastward expansion and US troop deployment are “absolutely clear, absolutely justified.”

“Any measures taken by Russia to ensure its own security and interests are also within reason,” the Kremlin spokesman added.

Western powers have been engaged in intense diplomatic efforts — coupled with the threat of sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle — to deter what they fear to be a looming invasion of Ukraine, despite strenuous denials from Moscow.

It comes as the secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg raised concerns about the continued build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border.

“Over the last days, we have seen a significant movement of Russian military forces into Belarus. This is the biggest Russian deployment there since the Cold War,” Mr Stoltenberg told reporters at Nato headquarters in Brussels.

He said that Russian troop numbers in Belarus are likely to climb to 30,000, with the backing of special forces, high-end fighter jets, Iskander short-range ballistic missiles, and S-400 ground-to-air missile defence systems.

“So, we speak about a wide range of modern military capabilities. All this will be combined with Russia’s annual nuclear forces exercise, expected to take place this month,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

He called on Russia to “de-escalate”, and repeated warnings from the West that “any further Russian aggression would have severe consequences and carry a heavy price”.

Nato has no intention of deploying troops to Ukraine should Russia invade, but it has begun to reinforce the defences of nearby member countries – notably Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

The 30-nation military alliance also plans to beef up its defences in the Black Sea region near Bulgaria and Romania.

© AFP 2022 with additional reporting by Press Association

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