Ukraine, Kremlin Deny Russian Military Buildup as Units Near Border Now Number 90,000

Ukraine has denied reports that Russia is massing troops and ramping up military equipment near the border, and Ukraine’s defense ministry confirmed the number of Russian troops that are left in the area is now totaling 90,000.

The announcement comes after commercial satellite pictures supplied by U.S. space company Maxar Technologies have shown Russian military vehicles moving tanks and missiles near the Russian town of Yelnya, about 155 miles north of the Ukrainian border.

Russian armed forces recently held a series of large-scale drills, including with airborne troops, leading to a large number of units of the 41st Army staying behind, the Ukrainian ministry said late on Tuesday.

“It should be noted that the Russian Federation periodically resorted to the practice of transferring and accumulating military units in order to maintain tensions in the region and political pressure on neighboring states,” it said.

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Tanks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are seen during drills at an unknown location near the border of Russian-annexed Crimea, Ukraine, on April 14, 2021. (Press Service General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also dismissed the reports of a potential military buildup, saying there was no need to “waste time” on “low-quality” claims, the Moscow Times reported.

“The movement of our military equipment and army units … is exclusively our business,” Peskov said during a news conference on Tuesday. “Russia has never threatened anyone.”

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said during a news conference on Monday, prior to Ukraine and the Kremlin denying the reports, that the United States is aware of public reports that there has been “unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine.”

“We continue to support de-escalation in the region and a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed the security situation on Tuesday during a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Glasgow. The Ukraine leader said in a statement that the “United States continues to support territorial integrity and reforms” in the country.

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President Joe Biden makes remarks as he meets with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Oval Office on Sept.1, 2021. (Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

This spring, Moscow alarmed Kyiv and Western capitals by building up more than 100,000 military units along the border with Ukraine, though it later ordered them back to base.

Relations between Kyiv and Moscow have plummeted since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and a war broke out between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, which Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people.

Reuters contributed to this report.