By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The United States and United Kingdom once again expressed concern about a large buildup of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine as concerns grow over the Kremlin’s endgame.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on November 17 that the Russian troop movements “certainly have our attention” and he urged Russia to be “more transparent” about its intentions.
Earlier in the day, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned a panel of senior lawmakers that it would be a “tragic mistake” for the Kremlin to undertake “military adventurism.”
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said earlier this month that up to 90,000 Russian troops remained near its border to the north, despite the end of military drills. That has raised concern over possible Russian aggression against Ukraine and prompted the U.K. to announce that it would be sending 600 troops to the country.
Meanwhile, the United States has stepped up naval visits to the Black Sea, sparking Kremlin anger.
Russia has a history of aggression toward Ukraine. The Kremlin forcibly annexed its Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and backed separatists in two of its eastern provinces, triggering a conflict that continues to simmer to this day.
Separately, the United States and NATO member Turkey held a high-level defense group meeting at the Pentagon on November 16 to discuss a range of issues, including tensions in the Black Sea.
Turkey is one of three NATO members, along with Romania and Bulgaria, that borders the Black Sea.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov is expected in Washington later this week.