Russia Tells U.S. To Not Arm Ukraine As It Assembles Nearly 130k Troops at Border

Moscow has told the U.S. not to provide further military assistance to Ukraine as Kyiv warned that Russia had "almost completed" its build-up of forces by its border, which now number over 127,000 personnel.

The warning by the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv Wednesday for crisis talks ahead of another diplomatic push to stave off the prospect of a Russian invasion of its neighbor.

On Friday, Blinken is expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, after negotiations between Moscow and the West last week ended in deadlock.

In a Facebook post Tuesday night, the Russian mission in Washington said if the U.S. was "truly committed to diplomatic efforts to resolve the internal Ukrainian conflict" it should "abandon plans to supply new batches of weapons for the Armed Forces of Ukraine."

In reporting the Facebook statement on Wednesday, Russian agencies referred to a CNN report saying that in December the Biden administration had approved $200 million in security assistance to Ukraine.

The Russian Embassy also defended its movement of troops "on our own soil" as a "sovereign right."

It dismissed claims that Russia had included Belarus as a possible staging post for an incursion into Ukraine as it called for an end to "hysteria" which might push Kyiv "towards new provocations," saying "Russia is not going to attack anyone."

However, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in its latest intelligence assessment that Russia has now deployed more than 127,000 personnel in the region, including troops from its central and eastern regions to its western border "on a permanent basis," CNN reported.

The assessment also said that over the last few weeks Russia had moved "stockpiles of ammunition, field hospitals and security services" to the border, which Kyiv says "confirms the preparation for offensive operations."

The assessment said Russia has over 3,000 of its own personnel and backs over 35,000 troops in eastern Ukraine where conflict has raged since 2014 in which Moscow has repeatedly denied any military involvement.

Russia is "trying to split and weaken the European Union and NATO" and Moscow's actions are "aimed at limiting the capabilities of the United States," said the assessment, according to CNN. Newsweek has contacted Ukraine's Defense Ministry for comment.

Following the impasse of last week's talks, a senior Russian diplomat told The New York Times that talks were reaching a "dead end," signaling the possibility that Moscow may abandon diplomacy.

Analysts and Western officials have said that if this happens, Russia could take other steps like repositioning its nuclear missile arsenal in a move that would directly threaten the U.S.

Russian officials still want a written American response to its demands made in December which would effectively lessen NATO's presence and restore Russia's dominance in Eastern Europe, which the U.S. has dismissed as "non-starters."

Ukrainian soldier
A Ukrainian soldier in the village formerly known as Novhorodske, Ukraine on January 17, 2022. Negotiations between Russia and the U.S. on January 21, 2022 come amid fears of a Russian invasion. Brendan Hoffman/Getty