A Wednesday statement out of the Russian Foreign Ministry has charged Kiev with stoking tensions along the Ukrainian border. The statement alleged that over 100,000 Ukrainian troops and military hardware have been moved into the restive Donbass region, where the national forces have been in a stalemate with pro-Russian separatists for half a decade going back to 2014.
While rejecting prior accusations out of Kiev and Washington - and especially Western media - that it's Russia that's stoking tensions by sending 90,000 regular forces near the border, Kremlin spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had this to say: "According to some reports, the number of troops… in the conflict zone already reaches 125,000 people, and this, if anyone does not know, is half of the entire composition of the Armed Forces of Ukraine."
Further she accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of breaking the peace, particularly the Donbass ceasefire terms of the Minsk agreement, after he submitted a bill to Ukrainian parliament which would allow foreign troops into the country to participate in joint military drills next year.
The rival sides are now in a full-blown media and information war, trading tit-for-tat accusations of military build-up, in a dangerous situation that could be barreling toward renewal of actual armed conflict:
"In recent weeks, we have seen a stream of consciousness from the Ukrainian leadership – especially when it comes to the military – that is excessively inflamed and dangerous," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in follow-up to Zakharova's words.
Just last week the foreign ministry used similar language which denounced the "hot heads" in Kiev which have a "feeling of complete impunity" and "are in favor of a military solution to this internal Ukrainian crisis."
But Secretary of State Antony Blinken also weighed in on Wednesday, escalating the rhetoric further. He charged Putin with "laying the groundwork for an invasion" of neighboring Ukraine. He demanded the Kremlin pull back it's forces from near the border (an implicit admission that we are still merely talking about the "movements" of Russian troops within Russia's own territory). This despite the Pentagon this week appearing to downplay the 'invasion threat'.
Meanwhile The Washington Post is reporting that top Biden admin officials are wildly speculating over 'false flag' scenarios... and they are already blaming Russia.
'Blinken is likely to warn NATO allies Wednesday that Putin may be preparing a ploy in which he falsely claims that Russian-backed forces have been attacked by Ukraine, as a pretext for taking action'https://t.co/TdZFvynj0X— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) December 1, 2021
"We don’t know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade. We do know that he is putting in place the capacity to do so in short order should he so decide," Blinken told reporters in Latvia after meeting with NATO foreign ministers, where the crisis was discussed.
"Should Russia follow the path of confrontation, when it comes to Ukraine, we’ve made clear that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high-impact economic measures that we have refrained from pursuing in the past," Blinken added. While stopping short of any direct threat of American military intervention, he said that Western allies have expressed "tremendous solidarity" to take action in the event of a Russian offensive in Ukraine.