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29 Jan, 2022 08:36

Russia accuses US of 'using' Ukraine

Lavrov’s remarks come shortly after Kiev said there are insufficient Russian troops near the border to strike Ukraine
Russia accuses US of 'using' Ukraine

With tensions rapidly escalating in Eastern Europe, Moscow's top diplomat has accused Washington of politicizing the growing standoff over Ukraine's borders to an extent that has taken Kiev itself by surprise.

Speaking to news outlets as part of a broadcast interview on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov weighed in on the Western nations’ decisions to evacuate staff from embassies and consulates in the former Soviet Republic due to the purported threat of a Russian invasion.

“Now the Americans have begun to use Ukraine so blatantly and cynically against Russia that the Kiev regime itself is already scared,” he claimed. “They are already saying – don't escalate this discussion, let's tone down the rhetoric, why are you evacuating diplomats?”

Lavrov pointed out that it is not only Americans fleeing from Kiev, but “other Anglo-Saxons – the Canadians and the Brits.” According to Lavrov, “they know something the rest of us don't know.”

“We are now being told, by both [EU diplomatic chief Josep] Borrell and [US Secretary of State Antony] Blinken … as an incantation: ‘we really hope that Russia will choose the path of diplomacy,’ hysterically hyping the escalation in Ukraine and demanding de-escalation,” he said.

The remarks come shortly after US President Joe Biden held a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky. The two leaders appeared to have bumped heads over the risk of a Russian invasion, with Biden warning that a Russian attack may be imminent, a senior Ukrainian official told CNN.

Zelensky insisted that the threat from Russia is “dangerous but ambiguous,” and said that there is no certainty that an incursion will occur. He also urged his American counterpart to “calm down the messaging,” cautioning about the repercussions on the country’s economy, according to the unnamed source.

On Wednesday, Kiev’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba also played down fears of a war, stating that the number of Russian troops against the border currently “is insufficient for a full-scale offensive against Ukraine along the entire Ukrainian border.” He also said that the fighters “lack some important military indicators and systems to conduct such a large full-scale offensive.”

Earlier this week, Britain ordered the withdrawal of diplomatic staff in Kiev “in response to growing threat” from Moscow, shortly after a similar move from the US Embassy in Kiev, which announced late on Sunday that it had made the decision to authorize the departure of its staff in Ukraine.

Ukrainian and Western officials have sounded the alarm several times in recent months over an imminent offensive, citing Moscow’s troop movements near its border with the Eastern European nation.

There have also been numerous reports in English-language outlets, which have been rejected by Kremlin press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, as “groundless” and “hysteria.” He has previously insisted that the movement of Moscow’s armed forces on its own territory is an internal matter and of no concern to anyone else, and that Russia “poses no threat to anyone.”