Kremlin urges US to 'stop escalating tensions' with troop boost

Washington had sent several thousand troops to bolster Nato forces in eastern Europe amid the Ukraine crisis. PHOTO: NYTIMES

MOSCOW (AFP) - The Kremlin on Thursday (Feb 3) urged the United States to stop inflaming tensions after Washington sent several thousand troops to bolster Nato forces in eastern Europe amid the Ukraine crisis.

"We are constantly urging our American partners to stop escalating tensions on the European continent," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"Unfortunately, Americans are continuing to do it," he said, adding that the most recent deployment of US troops to bolster Nato forces in Europe only worsened tensions.

With Russia refusing to pull back 100,000 troops poised on Ukraine's borders, 1,000 US soldiers in Germany are being sent to Romania, and another 2,000 stationed in the United States are being flown to Germany and Poland.

"Obviously, these are not the steps aimed at de-escalating tensions, on the contrary, these are actions that lead to an increase in tensions," Mr Peskov said.

Therefore, he added, Russia's concerns over NATO's eastwards expansion and US troop deployment are "absolutely clear, absolutely justified."

"Any measures taken by Russia to ensure its own security and interests are also within reason," the Kremlin spokesman added.

Western powers have been engaged in intense diplomatic efforts - coupled with the threat of sanctions against President Vladimir Putin's inner circle - to deter what they fear to be a looming invasion of Ukraine, despite strenuous denials from Moscow.

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