Russia on Friday said Moscow would be forced to take “measures” if US-led NATO sends troops to Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the country would be forced to take “measures” against the West if they send forces to Ukraine amid tensions along the border. Peskov did not specify exactly what “measures” Russia is willing to adapt to prevent action from NATO. This comes after the US said it was discussing the ongoing tension in eastern Ukraine with NATO allies.
Earlier, reports emerged suggesting a massive Russian troops movement along the border with Ukraine. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday, assuring full support in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea. Blinken expressed concern about the ongoing situation in eastern Ukraine and also offered condolences on the recent loss of four Ukrainian soldiers, which Kyiv has blamed on Russia-backed separatists.
"We’re absolutely concerned by recent escalations of Russian aggressive and provocative actions in eastern Ukraine, including violations of the July 2020 ceasefire that led to the deaths of four Ukrainian soldiers on March 26th and injuries to others. Additionally, we are aware of Ukrainian military reports concerning Russian troop movements in – on Ukraine’s borders. We are discussing our concerns about that increase in tensions and ceasefire violations and regional tensions with NATO Allies," US State Department spokesperson said on Thursday.
The situation in Ukraine worsened in 2014 after Russia illegally annexed Crimea, a strategic location for Moscow that gives it direct access to the Black Sea. After the 2014 coup, Crimea held a referendum, in which more than 90% of people voted in favour of reunification with Russia. However, Kyiv refused to sign the reunification agreement, following which Putin sent his troops and annexed the region. International condemnation followed as the United States and allies slapped sanctions on Russia.
The recent escalation was triggered after four Ukrainian soldiers were killed allegedly by Russian-backed separatists on March 26. Russia claims that the soldiers died after a landmine exploded as they were inspecting a minefield. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of massive troops buildup along the border, while Moscow alleges provocations from the other side.