Moscow. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied allegations that his country was looking for a pretext to invade Ukraine. Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on Monday that the US claim is completely false. The White House announced Friday that Russia has already smuggled agents into pro-Russian separatist regions of Ukraine to carry out acts of sabotage. Then Moscow wants to hold Kiev responsible for them.
Lavrov reiterated that Russia expected a written response from the United States and its allies this week to Moscow’s call for binding guarantees that NATO would not accept Ukraine or other former Soviet republics. Nor should soldiers or weapons be stationed there. Washington and its allies firmly rejected the demands last week in deliberations in Geneva and at a meeting in Brussels.
According to the United States, Russia has stationed more than 100,000 soldiers on the Ukrainian border. Ukrainian officials warn that Russia may launch an attack from various directions, including from the territory of its ally Belarus. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who is increasingly dependent on the Kremlin’s support in the face of Western sanctions over the brutal crackdown on protests in the country, has announced joint exercises with Russia for the next month. Russia denies plans to invade Ukraine.
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