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Iran Press TV

Russian FM: 'Nightmare scenario' of military confrontation returning to Europe

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 02 December 2021 5:29 PM

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that the "nightmare scenario of a military confrontation" is returning to Europe as tensions escalate over Ukraine.

Lavrov, who was speaking on the sidelines of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit in Sweden on Thursday, also lambasted the US-led NATO for bringing its military infrastructure "closer to the Russian borders."

The Russian foreign minister also called on the West to seriously consider "relevant proposals" Moscow would be presenting soon to prevent the military alliance's expansion to the east.

Referring to what they described as "unusual" Russian troop movements near the common border with Ukraine, the US and NATO have issued warnings over a possible attack by Russia.

Moscow has strongly rejected such allegations, denouncing the West for "artificially whipping up" tensions around Ukraine.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been deteriorating since 2014, when the then-Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty. The US and the European Union-backed Kiev refused to recognize the referendum results, later imposing sanctions on Moscow.

Ukraine as well as the EU and the US also claim that Russia has a hand in an ongoing conflict that erupted in the Donbass region of Ukraine between government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014, killing more than 13,000 people so far. The West imposed sanctions on Russia after accusing it of interfering in the conflict. Moscow denies the allegation.

Ukraine claims that Russia has deployed heavy-armored vehicles, electronic warfare systems and nearly 100,000 soldiers around its borders while Russia says Ukraine has deployed half of its army, or 125,000 troops, to the ethnic Russian region of Donbass, calling it "very dangerous adventurism" by Kiev.

Separately on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "the likelihood of hostilities in Ukraine is still high", adding that Moscow is concerned by "aggressive" rhetoric from Kiev and the possibility of a move by the Ukrainian military in eastern parts of the country.

Kiev rejects planning a military move by its forces in eastern Ukraine.

Peskov also said Moscow regards Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's pledge on Wednesday to "liberate" the rejoined Crimea as "a direct threat".

"Speaking in parliament, Zelensky said that ... the return of Crimea should be the main goal and philosophy of Ukraine," Peskov said. "Such a formulation means that Kiev may use any option, including force, to try and encroach on a Russian region."

The Kremlin has warned that the US and NATO are turning Ukraine into a "powder keg" by increasing arms supplies to Kiev and inflaming tensions in the country's volatile east, where government forces are fighting ethnic Russians.

Last month, a Ukraine-bound ship carrying former American Coast Guard patrol boats designed to boost the Ukrainian Navy sailed through the Dardanelles strait. Earlier this year, the US also sent a large consignment of ammunition plus Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, drawing criticism from Moscow.

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