Kremlin claims Ukraine may try to win back rebel-controlled regions by force

Russia suggested that its conflict with Ukraine could soon escalate just a day after the U.S. promised it would react “resolutely” should Moscow attack its neighbor.

On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “the probability of hostilities in Ukraine still remains high,” according to The Associated Press

He also said that "the Ukrainian authorities’ aggressive and increasingly intensive provocative action on the line of contact” was contributing to fears about hostilities increasing. He added that it seemed like “the Ukrainian leadership doesn’t exclude a forceful scenario,” citing comments made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials, the AP reported. 

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Ukrainian officials, however, have denied any plans to reclaim rebel-ruled regions forcefully, according to the wire service.

Meanwhile, after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Pacific tsunami threat recedes, volcano ash hinders response Fears of Russian invasion of Ukraine rise despite US push for diplomacy MORE on Thursday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the two countries are “closely working together on developing a comprehensive deterrence package, including severe economic sanctions, to demotivate Russia from further aggressive moves.”

On Wednesday, Blinken warned that Russia has “stepped up planning for potential military action in Ukraine, including positioning tens of thousands of additional combat forces near the Ukrainian border.” 

He promised that the U.S. would respond “resolutely” should Russia conduct an attack, “including with a range of high-impact economic measures that we have refrained from using in the past.”

That same day, Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia cannot 'tolerate' NATO's 'gradual invasion' of Ukraine, Putin spokesman says Fears of Russian invasion of Ukraine rise despite US push for diplomacy Overnight Defense & National Security — US says Russia prepping 'false flag' operation MORE said he is seeking “reliable and long-term security guarantees” that NATO would not expand near Russia’s border in response to concerns about Moscow’s potential invasion of Ukraine.