Kremlin spokesman Peskov slams US ‘hysteria’ over Ukraine conflict

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Sunday slammed the United States for driving “hysteria” over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, after Western countries accused Moscow of a troop build-up near the ex-Soviet country.

His comments come as Western countries this week raised alarm over Russian military activity near Ukraine and Washington said it has “real concerns” over what it called “unusual” activity.

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

“Those who have brought their armed forces from overseas are accusing us of unusual military activity on our own territory. That is, the United States.”

Ukraine’s army has been locked in a simmering conflict with pro-Russian separatists in two breakaway regions bordering Russia since 2014, after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and arms across the border to support the separatists -- claims Moscow denies.
Peskov’s comments come after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday declined to say whether US intelligence believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was aiming to seize land from Ukraine.

“We don’t know what President Putin’s intentions are. But we do know what’s happened in the past,” Blinken said.

“We know the playbook of trying to cite some illusory provocation from Ukraine or any other country and using that as an excuse for what Russia plans to do all along.”

Putin for his part said on Thursday that the West is “escalating” the Ukraine conflict by holding drills in the Black Sea and flying bombers near its borders.

After an uptick in violence at the beginning of the year, Russia massed around 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders in the spring, raising fears of a major escalation in the conflict.

Russia later announced a pullback but both Ukraine and its ally the United States said at the time the withdrawal was limited.

The conflict has claimed the lives of more than 13,000 people.

Read more: US has ‘real concerns’ over Russia on Ukraine: Blinken

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