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Kremlin Accuses U.S. of Stoking Tension With Troop Deployments

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Russia accused the United States on Thursday of ramping up tensions and ignoring Moscow’s calls to ease a standoff over Ukraine, a day after Washington announced it would deploy nearly 3,000 extra troops to Poland and Romania.

Ukraine says Russia has built up 115,000 troops near its borders, stoking fears of a looming attack. Moscow denies any such plan, but Washington said on Wednesday it would send extra forces to shield eastern Europe from any crisis spillover.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced the U.S. troop deployments on a conference call with reporters.

“It’s obvious that these are not steps aimed at de-escalating tensions, but on the contrary they are actions that lead to increasing tension,” he said.

“We constantly call on our American counterparts to stop aggravating tensions on the European continent. Unfortunately, the Americans continue to do so,” he said.

Russia’s troop buildup comes against the backdrop of a Kremlin campaign to extract a sweeping set of security guarantees from the West.

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday the West had ignored Russia’s main concerns and accused the United States of trying to lure it into war, though he said Russia was still interested in dialogue.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is set to skip this year’s annual Feb. 18-20 Munich Security Conference, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Thursday.

Putin, who used the event in 2007 to deliver a speech denouncing what he described as a U.S. desire to dominate the world, will also not attend, the Kremlin has said.

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