Russia denies looking for pretext to invade Ukraine
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's top diplomat on Monday angrily rejected the U.S. allegations that it was preparing a pretext to invade Ukraine as Russian troops have remained concentrated near the border.
The White House said Friday that U.S. intelligence officials had concluded that Russia had already deployed operatives to rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine to carry out acts of sabotage there and blame them on Ukraine in a “false-flag operation” to create a pretext for possible invasion.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the U.S. claim as “total disinformation.”
He reaffirmed that Russia expects a written response this week from the U.S. and its allies to Moscow’s request for binding guarantees that NATO will not embrace Ukraine or any other ex-Soviet nations, or station its forces and weapons there.
Washington and its allies firmly rejected Moscow's demands during last week’s Russia-U.S. negotiations in Geneva and a related NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels, which were held as an estimated 100,000 Russian troops with tanks and other heavy weapons are massed near Ukraine in what the West fears might be a prelude to an invasion.
A delegation of U.S. senators is visiting Ukraine to emphasize the U.S. support for the country.
“Our bipartisan congressional delegation sends a clear message to the global community: the United States stands in unwavering support of our Ukrainian partners to defend their sovereignty and in the face of persistent Russian aggression,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, said in a statement.
Speaking Monday on a visit to Kyiv, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that “any further escalation would carry a high price for the Russian regime — economic, political and strategic” and...