The U.S. Department of Defense, or the Pentagon, says it is "aware of Russian troop movements" on Ukraine's borders and this issue is being discussed with NATO allies.
"We're concerned about recent escalations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, including violations of the July 2020 ceasefire that led to the deaths of 40 [sic] Ukrainian soldiers on the 26th of March (according to Ukrainian military reports, four soldiers were killed on that day – the translator's note) and the wounding of two others," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a press briefing on March 31, 2021, answering a question why the U.S. troops in Europe have gone on a heightened warning status.
According to him, Russia's destabilizing actions undermine the de-escalation intentions that had been achieved through an OSCE-brokered agreement back in July of last year.
"Additionally, we are aware of Ukrainian military reports concerning Russian troop movements on Ukraine's borders," the official said.
He said the U.S. was discussing its concerns about this increase in tensions and ceasefire violations and regional tensions with NATO allies.
Read alsoUkraine Army ready to repulse enemy in case Russia goes for escalation in Donbas – Military chiefKirby reiterated National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke on Monday with his Ukrainian counterpart, Head of the Presidential Office Andriy Yermak.
"Mr. Sullivan affirmed the United State's unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic aspirations in the face of continued Russia aggression," Kirby said.
Answering a question whether the secretary is worried that Russia could be preparing to further its incursion into Ukraine, he said: "We obviously don't want to see any more violations of Ukrainian territory. I'm not going to speak to intelligence matters."
Russian troops amassed along Ukraine's borders
- On March 30, 2021, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel-General Ruslan Khomchak said Russia had deployed 28 battalion tactical groups along the state border of Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territories. It is also said to be planning to bring up to 25 battalion tactical groups under the guise of preparing for military drills. Such actions pose a threat to Ukraine's military security.
- On March 31, The New York Times reported Russia was pulling 4,000 troops to the border with Ukraine.
- Footage was shared on the web, showing a train with Russian military hardware en route along the Kerch Strait bridge to occupied Crimea.