Russian 'troop build-up' near Ukraine alarms North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Then-US vice president Joe Biden in Kyiv Ukraine

Then-US vice president Joe Biden in Kyiv Ukraine

Russian Federation argued that it was entitled to move its troops within its territory.

"What we would object to are aggressive actions that have an intent of intimidating, of threatening, our partner Ukraine", State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

Ukrainian war veterans march as Nationalists movements demonstrate in front of President Volodymyr Zelensky's offices in Kiev in October a year ago.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday accused Russia of massing troops on the border and Washington pledged to stand by Ukraine in the event of Russian "aggression".

Secretary Austin reiterated the USA commitment to building the capacity of Ukraine's forces to defend more effectively against Russian aggression.

"There is no doubt such a scenario would lead to a further increase in tensions close to Russia's borders".

"There is increased activity on the perimeter of Russia's borders by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, other alliances, individual countries - it all obliges us to be vigilant", said Peskov.

Zelensky said in a statement that "military exercises and possible provocations along the border are traditional Russian games".

More than 50 battalion combat teams comprising 15,000 people will take part in those exercises and practice "interaction with electronic warfare and air defense units", the defense military told reporters.

Russia Massing Troops on Border, Ukraine Warns

His comments come after the United States warned Russian Federation against "intimidating" Ukraine, with both Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling their Ukrainian counterparts to stress support.

"He condemned recent escalations of Russian aggressive and provocative actions in eastern Ukraine and offered condolences to [Ukrainian Defense] Minister [Andrii] Taran on the deaths of four Ukrainian soldiers on March 26", the report reads.

Ukraine capital Kiev has been locked in a conflict with the Russian-backed separatists since 2014, with Russian troop movement detected this week in annexed Crimea and on the border, near territories controlled by the separatists.

Despite an EU-brokered ceasefire known as the Minsk Protocol that came into force in 2015, there have been repeated bouts of conflict since, as the two sides face off across a 500-kilometer frontline dividing the disputed territory between Ukrainian forces and the Russia-backed separatists.

According to Kiev, at least 19 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed since the start of the year.

According to Gen Khomchak, Russia also has almost 3,000 officers and military instructors in the rebel units in eastern Ukraine.

Ruslan Khomchak, chief of the general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, this week said that more than 2,000 Russian military instructors and advisers were now stationed in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly denied sending troops and arms to buttress the separatists and Putin's spokesman stressed on Thursday that Moscow is at liberty to move troops across its territory.

"Russia is not threatening anyone, it has never threatened anyone", Peskov said, accusing Ukraine's armed forces of "multiple" provocations.

United States says vaccinated people can travel, with precautions
The new guidance comes as almost a third of the country's adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Masks are still recommended, along with social distancing and other precautions.

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