NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
The State Department on Wednesday hit back on Russian claims that it is reducing its troop size along the Ukrainian border and said the U.S. is concerned by the “great deal of propaganda and disinformation.”
Earlier this week Russian officials claimed that it would be reducing its force size along Ukraine’s border after amassing roughly 150,000 troops and deploying 30,000 soldiers into neighboring Belarus.
But despite claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin echoed Tuesday, the U.S. and NATO have said they have seen no such efforts.
“We have seen the opposite,” State Department press secretary Ned Price told reporters Wednesday. “In recent days more Russian forces — not fewer — are at the border, and they are moving … into fighting positions.”
“This is cause for profound concern,” he said.
Russia on Tuesday released images depicting trailers being loaded up with tanks and military equipment, but Price said these images are just one element in the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign.
“Over the past several weeks, we’ve also seen Russian officials and Russian media plant numerous stories in the press — any one of which could be elevated to serve as a pretext for an invasion,” Price said.
The press secretary laid out a litany of falsified stories that have made their way into the news cycle, as well as stories that security officials are worried Russia could use.
“It could involve claims about Ukrainian military activity in the Donbas, false claims of U.S. or NATO activities on land, at sea or air — even claims of Ukrainian or NATO incursions into Russian territory,” Price said.
Moscow on Wednesday then claimed to have found mass graves in Donbas.
“These allegations are entirely, completely false,” Price said. “There is no basis of truth in any of these allegations.”
The Kremlin’s attention this week has shifted to the Donbas region, located in Ukraine’s most eastern flank, and Putin is set to consider severing the international Minsk agreements by recognizing two breakaway regions in Donbas as “independent.”
The State Department warned Putin this would prompt a “firm response” from the U.S. and NATO and would “constitute a gross violation of international law.”
“There are Russian words and then there are Russian actions,” Price said. “This is the Russian playbook.”
“They seek to obscure and to hide,” he added.