Following a Thursday Bloomberg report which said US officials briefed European allies on a "possible" Russian military invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin of Friday denied the report, calling it more mere hype that's proved unfounded while aiming to escalation tensions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov blasted the US reports as a "hollow and unfounded attempt to incite tensions" while underscoring that "Russia doesn’t threaten anyone." Over a week ago both Kiev officials and Western media began sounding the alarm over what's been described as another major Russian force build-up near the border with Ukraine, akin to a similar scenario last April.
Peskov said it should be of no other country's concern how Russia chooses to move its troops within its own sovereign borders: "The movement of troops on our territory shouldn’t be a cause for anyone’s concern," he told reporters.
In the past days the Pentagon has downplayed the reports - to the point that it appears US military leaders are in agreement with the Kremlin, seeing no cause for serious concern.
For example, a day after the Bloomberg report the Pentagon could only say there were some troop movements on the Russian side that appear "unusual":
"We continue to monitor this closely," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Friday, while calling on Moscow to publicly explain its intentions.
"Without getting into greater detail right now, I think it's really a matter of scale. It's a matter of the size of the units that we're seeing," he said, adding, "Any escalatory or aggressive actions by Russia would be of great concern."
Joint Chiefs Chairman also denied anything from the Russians that appears "overtly aggressive"...
"We've seen this before,” General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a security forum in Washington, saying that at that point there was "nothing overtly aggressive" about Russia’s actions.
"So, what does this mean? We don't know yet," Milley added. "But we're continuing to monitor with all of our capabilities."
Russia has turned around the accusations on the Americans, meanwhile, saying that its the current US warship presence in the Black Sea that's the real threat to stability in the region.
🇺🇦Ukraine's defence ministry has said about 90,000 Russian troops are stationed not far from the border.— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) November 12, 2021
It has said units of the Russian 41st army have remained in Yelnya, 160 miles north of the Ukraine frontierhttps://t.co/2OxCJSG5YJ pic.twitter.com/MA2S8bslod
"We view the US aggressive military activity in the Black Sea region as a threat to regional security and strategic stability," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a Friday statement. "The intensity of NATO air reconnaissance near the borders of the Russian Federation in the Black Sea continues growing."
Fighting has is still stalemated after a half-decade of war in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region; however, recent high level contacts between the Washington and Moscow - in particular the CIA director's visit to meet with Putin's top national security adviser this month - looks promising in terms of potential deconfliction and a lasting political settlement to the simmering crisis.