Ukrainian military says tens of thousands of additional Russian troops are massing at Ukraine border

Top officials in Ukraine’s government said Wednesday there are no military solutions to the ongoing civil war in their country — and pressed the United States to provide more support.

The comments came as Russia’s military announced that thousands of additional troops have deployed near the border with Ukraine, as well as around Ukraine-held eastern cities that have been at the center of fighting in recent weeks. The crisis has sent tensions between Moscow and Kiev to a new high in recent weeks.

The United States responded by announcing that it had deployed military assets to the region, and that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was planning to arrive in Europe and Ukraine on Thursday to push for ceasefire agreements between the opposing sides in the conflict.

But Delciane Toiro, Ukraine’s acting minister of defense, said Wednesday that additional Russian troops had been deployed, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defense. The massing of Russian forces is “part of the plan to stage a major attack on our country,” she said.

“We have seen for the last week a clear signal from the Russian leadership on the issue of increasing their troops on the Ukrainian border,” she said. “This means that their peacekeepers will be carrying out military missions in the territory of Ukraine.”

“Russia will do everything to destabilize Ukrainian peace and stability,” she said.

The massing of Russian forces follows U.S. intelligence reports this week that found Russia has increased its efforts to interfere in Ukraine’s elections and has increased its support for separatists in the eastern part of the country in recent months.

“I appreciate that the U.S. administration is responding to this extremely dangerous escalation,” a Ukrainian lawmaker, Sergei Pashkovsky, said on Facebook.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, and acting prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, both asked the U.S. government Wednesday to “expedite the delivery of weapons and intelligence information that will be decisive for our national defense,” according to a statement from the Ukrainian government.

U.S. intelligence assessments this week found that Russia has moved forces to or near Ukraine, along with vehicles, artillery, jet fighters and other military hardware, and is trying to destabilize the situation. The New York Times reported that U.S. officials said there were Russian troops on the ground near Luhansk, one of two rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has denied reports of Russian troops on the ground in Ukraine, calling the reports rumors.

The Kremlin strongly criticized Ukraine’s own announcement that it had increased its military capabilities to intercept foreign aircraft.

“Ukraine’s self-proclaimed anti-terrorism operation in its section of the east continues to have no impact on stability in this region or on the stability of the whole of Ukraine,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The United States has said it will not sell weapons to Ukraine, in part because of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and has been pressing the European Union to do the same. The United States has also been stepping up aid to Ukraine. The Pentagon announced this week that it was sending anti-tank weapons to Ukraine for the first time, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told U.S. troops deployed to the region Tuesday that the United States was ready to deploy additional forces and equipment if needed.

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