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- Russian politician
Russia in a response to NATO's accusations said it cannot de-escalate tensions at the Ukraine border due to a large concentration of Ukrainian troops still present near the region, according to a Reuters report.
Moscow said the move was purely defensive and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeated that Russia was seriously worried about the 120,000 Ukrainian troops near the border.
"Russia cannot take any measures to de-escalate," Peskov told a briefing on Wednesday, per Reuters.
"We have seen the messages that more than 120,000 [Ukrainian] troops have been deployed to the conflict zone. This raises our fears that sentiments [in Ukraine] in favor of a military solution to the Donbass problem could prevail," Peskov added.
NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday warned Russia that any move to undermine Ukraine would be costly.
NATO's concerns have grown as a result of Russia's military buildup along the border with Ukraine and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with NATO officials in Riga, Latvia, on Tuesday. The EU leaders and Blinken discussed the Russian troop buildup along the northern and eastern Ukrainian border, which many fear could spark a conflict.
The U.S. also warned Russia of "serious consequences" if it escalates the conflict in Ukraine.
Blinken told reporters that "any renewed aggression would trigger serious consequences," according to Reuters.
However, Putin issued his own warning to NATO and warned the military alliance of crossing its 'red line' with regards to deploying its troops and weapons to Ukraine.
"The emergence of such threats represents a 'red line' for us," Putin said, the AP reported. "I hope that it will not get to that and common sense and responsibility for their own countries and the global community will eventually prevail."
Russia has previously denied that the military build-up is a sign of a possible invasion and said in a statement in November that "the movement of troops on our territory shouldn't be a cause for anyone's concern."