Speaking at a briefing on Wednesday, diplomatic spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asserted that “the Ukrainian armed forces are increasing (their) military strength, pulling heavy equipment and personnel”.
“According to some reports, the number of troops … in the conflict zone already reaches 125,000 people, and that, if anyone does not know, represents half of the total composition of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” a- she said, RT reported.
Zakharova also condemned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for submitting a bill to the national parliament that would allow units of the foreign armed forces to enter the country in multinational exercises next year.
According to her, such a decision directly contradicts the Minsk agreement, signed in 2014 with the aim of ending the fighting between Kiev’s forces and troops loyal to two self-proclaimed separatist republics.
The Russian Foreign Ministry statement comes amid Kremlin concerns over the alleged deployment of US anti-tank missiles in the area near Russia’s borders.
At the end of November, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kirill Budanov said the advanced US-made Javelin systems had been tested by Kiev troops and had been deployed in the Donbass.
Hours later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was a worrying development that increased the prospect of widespread conflict in the region. “In recent weeks, we have seen a current of conscience on the part of the Ukrainian leadership – especially with regard to the military – which is excessively inflamed and dangerous,” he said.
However, Lavrov’s Ukrainian counterpart Dmitry Kuleba denied any allegations that his country’s troops could soon launch an offensive there and said Kiev officials were “determined to find a political and diplomatic solution. to conflict ”.
He accused Russia of increasing “the intensity of disinformation, including false accusations that Ukraine is supposedly preparing for a military attack in the Donbass”.
Moscow insists that in order to implement the Minsk accord, Kiev must hold talks with the leaders of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.
However, Zelensky refused to start negotiations, insisting that the fighters are backed by Russia and calling on President Vladimir Putin to meet him in the region instead.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine began following the Maidan events of 2014, with the two self-proclaimed Donbass republics announcing that they would no longer recognize Kiev’s authority.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine officially recognize them, however, and both sides have publicly stated that a peaceful settlement to end the stalemate must be found.