Russia: Ambassador to UK denies Ukraine ‘invasion’ plan
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Speaking after a meeting with the bloc’s foreign ministers, the Spaniard refused to reveal his source for the statistic. He told reporters: “It is more than 150,000 Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border and in Crimea. “The risk of further escalation is evident.”
He added: “The military deployment of Russian troops – with all kinds of materials, deploying campaign hospitals and all kind of warfare – has been continuing.
“I cannot tell you where this figure comes from, but it is my reference figure.
“It is the highest military deployment of the Russian army on the Ukrainian border ever.”
Mr Borrell’s office was later forced to issue a correction, saying the number was actually around 100,000 and their boss had misspoke.
The top eurocrat’s figures were also disputed by a US official, who claimed that intelligence does not suggest the presence of more than 150,000 Russian troops.
Many EU nations have become tired of Mr Borrell’s recent diplomatic efforts, including a flopped trip to Moscow.
He was accused of falling into a trap and being humiliated by his hosts.
His most recent remarks came after he had been briefed on Moscow’s military manoeuvres by Ukraine’s foreign minister, Kuleba Dmytro.
The EU’s top foreign diplomat said the Kremlin’s actions were “very concerning”.
But he revealed that the bloc was not thinking about new sanctions against Moscow in a bid to defuse the tensions.
Mr Borrell also said EU countries were not looking to follow the Czech Republic in expelling Russian diplomats over a 2014 explosion at a weapons facility in Prague.
He noted that influential world leaders, such as Germany’s Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden, had urged Russia to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border.
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Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, told reporters: “Moscow should switch from provocation to cooperation.
“We believe that the conflict, which is now undisputed, is still one that can be resolved by diplomat means.”
Germany and France’s efforts to broker a peace deal and end seven years of conflict between Russia and Ukraine have so far been unsuccessful.
Separately, the United States has raised its “deep concern” over Russian plans to blockade foreign naval ships and other vessels in parts of the Black Sea.
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State Department spokesman Ned Price said: “This represents yet another unprovoked escalation in Moscow’s ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilise Ukraine.”
Russia has halted the movement of foreign warships and “other state ships” near Crimea.
British vessels will be dispatched to the Black Sea next month amid the growing tensions between Ukrainian and Russian forces.
The ships will sail off the coast of Ukraine as a show of support for Kiev and Nato allies in the region.
President Biden has cancelled the deployment of two American warships over fears the move will escalate the crisis.
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