Moscow, Kyiv deny reports of Russian military buildup near border

US media alleged that Russia is massing military units along the frontier, but the rivals, which are locked in a simmering conflict, dismiss the claim.

Russian servicemen march with their weapons during military parade to mark 70th anniversary of end of World War Two in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
After an uptick in violence in eastern Ukraine at the beginning of this year, Russia in March amassed tens of thousands of troops along the two countries' shared border [File: Sergei Krasnoukhov/Reuters]

Russia has denied media reports that it is massing military units near its border with Ukraine.

Tuesday’s rebuttal came after the United States-based Politico news outlet reported that commercial satellite photos taken on Monday “confirmed” recent reports that Russia is once again building up troops and military equipment along the frontier, having done so before earlier in the year.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters there was no need to “waste time” on such “low-quality” claims.

“The movement of our military equipment and army units … is exclusively our business,” he said. “Russia has never threatened anyone.”

Ukraine, which is locked in a simmering conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east that erupted after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014, also denied the reports of a fresh military buildup.

The country’s defence ministry said in a statement on Monday that “no additional deployment” of Russian forces had been observed near the shared border.

It added that videos posted on social media in recent days, in which Russian military trains and truck convoys appeared to be moving tanks and missiles in the country’s southwest, showed a planned movement of troops after a Russian military exercise.

It said the published videos could be an “element of special informational and psychological actions”.

The denials by Moscow and Kyiv came as the US, an ally of Ukraine, said it was monitoring the situation. The Washington Post quoted US officials as saying they were concerned.

After an uptick in violence in eastern Ukraine earlier this year, Russia in March amassed thousands of troops along the shared border, sparking fears of a major escalation.

Moscow later announced a pullback and ordered the troops back to base, but both Ukraine and the US said at the time the withdrawal was limited.

Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and arms across its border to support the separatists fighting in the country’s eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

Moscow denies this and has repeatedly accused the US-headed NATO transatlantic military alliance of carrying out provocative activities close to its borders.

The alliance says it is determined to reinforce the security of member states close to Russia following Moscow’s seizure of Crimea and its alleged involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, which is currently an ally of NATO, but not a member.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday that he had discussed the conflict with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

“The US continues to support territorial integrity and reforms in Ukraine,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies