US 'Increasingly Concerned' By Russian Troop Build-Up Near Eastern Ukraine

The United States Press Secretary said "Russia now has more troops on the border with Ukraine than at any time since 2014".

The US has said it is "increasingly concerned" about the increased Russian military presence along the Ukrainian border.

In a White House Press Briefing, US Press Secretary Jen Psaki said as well as reassuring Ukrainian officials, the US is discussing concerns with both "the increase in tensions in ceasefire violations and regional tensions with NATO allies".

"Russia now has more troops on the border with Ukraine than at any time since 2014," Ms Psaki said. "Five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed this week alone. 

"These are all deeply concerning signs."

Ms Psaki added that the US focus is on "weeks not months" after being asked if sanctions and President Biden's comments have any influence on Mr Putin.

"Our focus is on… the troubling actions of Russia and this Russian government, where there will be consequences, as the President has conveyed, seen and unseen," she said.

CNN reported the US is considering sending warships into the Black Sea within the next few weeks to show their support for Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the area of conflict in his country's east amid the escalation of tensions that have raised fears of reigniting large-scale hostilities.

A senior Kremlin official warned Ukraine against using force to reclaim control of the rebel east, saying it might force Russia to step in to protect civilians in the area.

Russia also warned NATO not to send troops to Ukraine in response to the Russian military build-up near the border.

A Kremlin spokesman added that Russia would take extra measures if NATO was to take such action.

Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the Kremlin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not acknowledge the troop build up in a call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Picture: PA).

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said last week he was "gravely concerned" by reports of the build-up, adding that the UK will support Ukraine's sovereignty and "territorial integrity".

On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a reduction of Russian forces along the border "in order to achieve a de-escalation of the situation", a statement from the German Chancellery said.

It came during a phone call between the German Chancellor and President Putin, however, the Kremlin made no mention of the troops stationed on the border in its own transcript.

Instead, Russian President Vladimir Putin "drew attention to the provocative actions of Kiev, which has deliberately sought to exacerbate tensions along the line of control", the Kremlin said in its readout of the call.