Russian force on Ukraine border larger than any time since 2014, U.S. says
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russia has more troops on Ukraine's eastern border than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Crimea and backed separatist territory seizures, and the United States is concerned by growing 'Russian aggressions,' the White House said on Thursday. The United States is discussing its concerns with its NATO allies, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told a briefing.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russia has more troops on Ukraine's eastern border than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Crimea and backed separatist territory seizures, and the United States is concerned by growing "Russian aggressions," the White House said on Thursday.
The United States is discussing its concerns with its NATO allies, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told a briefing.
The Russian buildup has become the latest point of friction in icy relations between Moscow and U.S. President Joe Biden's administration, adding to disputes over arms control, human rights and other issues.
Biden last week expressed "unwavering support" for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in his confrontation with Russia, which in 2014 annexed the Crimea peninsula and backed separatists who seized large parts of the eastern Donbas region.
Russia has said its troops are no threat and are defensive, but they would remain as long as the Kremlin sees fit.
Psaki said that the United States "is increasingly concerned by recent escalating Russian aggressions in eastern Ukraine, including Russian troop movements on Ukraine's border."
"Russia now has more troops than at any time since 2014," Psaki added, saying that five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the past week.
Psaki did not elaborate on the number of Russian troops deployed on Ukraine's border. But it was the first time that the Biden administration has given a description of the scale of the buildup.
In March 2014, as the conflict in eastern Ukraine escalated, Western estimates put the number of Russian troops, militia or special forces on Ukraine's border at 25,000 to more than 30,000.
Psaki's comments followed by hours a telephone call in which Chancellor Angela Merkel of NATO member Germany demanded that Russian President Vladimir Putin pull his troops back to de-escalate the situation.
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Andrea Shalal and Jonathan Landay. Editing by Franklin Paul and Will Dunham)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.