Russia rejects Western concerns about Ukraine as smokescreen

Russia rejects Western concerns about Ukraine as smokescreen
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov holds a joint news conference with his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib in Moscow, Russia. Photo credit Evgenia Novozhenina/ Pool Photo via AP

The Kremlin on Monday strongly rejected the U.S. claims of a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine, saying it could be a ruse intended to cover up what it described as Ukrainian leadership's aggressive intentions.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed U.S. media allegations of Moscow's purported plans to invade Ukraine as part of efforts to discredit Russia. He insisted that troop movements on Russia's own territory shouldn't concern anyone.

Ukraine complained earlier this month that Russia has kept tens of thousands of troops not far from the two countries’ borders after conducting war games in an attempt to further pressure its ex-Soviet neighbor. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and has supported a separatist insurgency that broke out that year in eastern Ukraine.