Ukraine says Russia massing troops on border, US warns Moscow

Fighting in eastern Ukraine had largely subsided in recent months before last week's flare-up

In a phone call with Mr Zelensky on Friday, US President Joe Biden "affirmed the United States' unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia's ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea", the White House said in a statement.

Zelensky said in a statement that "military exercises and possible provocations along the border are traditional Russian games".

He accused Moscow of seeking to create "a threatening atmosphere" as Kiev hopes to resume the ceasefire, which was brokered a year ago.

According to Kiev, at least 19 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed since the start of the year.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Russians of building up troops on his country's border and of having violated last year's ceasefire.

"What we would object to are aggressive actions that have an intent of intimidating, of threatening, our partner Ukraine".

Separately, the military announced that a Ukrainian soldier had been wounded in an attack it blamed on separatists.

On Thursday, Austin, the US Secretary of Defence, called his Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Taran, Ukraine's defence ministry said.

Ruslan Khomchak, chief of the general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, this week said that more than 2,000 Russian military instructors and advisers were now stationed in eastern Ukraine.

A high-ranking Ukrainian government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed that the Russian army was practicing "military coordination" with separatists.

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North Atlantic Treaty Organisation also voiced concern on Thursday over what it said was a big Russian military buildup near eastern Ukraine after Russia warned that a serious escalation in the conflict in Ukraine's Donbass region could "destroy" Ukraine.

More than 50 battalion combat teams comprising 15,000 people will take part in those exercises and practice "interaction with electronic warfare and air defense units", the defense military told reporters.

Although Russia has increased military activity near the Ukrainian border in the past, the situation today is particularly concerning since the ceasefire is about the expire.

Russian Federation has repeatedly denied sending troops and arms to support the separatists and the Kremlin this week said that Russian Federation is at liberty to move troops on its own territory.

Also on Wednesday, Mark Milley, chairman the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov and Ukraine's Commander in Chief Ruslan Khomchak.

According to the last reports, the USA government said it was trying to figure out with Moscow whether it was renewing its offensive in eastern Ukraine with 4,000 troops on the move or simply exercising.

Ukraine's army commander Gen Ruslan Khomchak says Russian Federation has deployed 28 battalion tactical groups near Ukraine's eastern border and in Crimea, which would amount to 20,000-25,000 troops.

Zelensky was elected in 2019 on promises of ending the conflict, but critics say a shaky ceasefire has been his only tangible achievement.

Fighting between Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed separatists, which claimed more than 14,000 lives since it began 2014, had largely subsided in recent months before last week's flare-up.

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