Videos circulating online showing a continued military build-up on Russia's border with Ukraine is heightening fears about the potential eruption of conflict in Europe's east.
For the past two weeks Russian troops and tanks have been amassing at the border, prompting condemnation from Western nations and concern about the intentions of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A nervous government in Kiev says Russia has more than 40,000 troops deployed on Ukraine’s eastern border and more than 40,000 troops in Crimea, which Moscow annexed in a surprise 2014 operation.
About 50,000 of all those soldiers were new deployments, Iuliia Mendel, spokeswoman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said.
Kiev and Moscow have traded blame over the worsening situation in the eastern Donbass region, where Ukrainian troops have battled Russian-backed forces in a conflict Kiev says has killed 14,000 people since 2014.
Satellite images show a build up of military vehicles and arsenal while unverified videos posted to social media appear to show streams of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles being transported into the region.
Russia accused of 'threatening and destabilising activities'
The US State Department said on Monday (local time) Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had discussed “the immediate need for Russia to cease its aggressive military build-up.”
Foreign ministers from the G7 group of nations, including the United States, Britain and France, have condemned the military build as it enters its third week.
“These large-scale troop movements, without prior notification, represent threatening and destabilising activities,” the joint statement released by Britain’s foreign ministry said.
Meanwhile Putin has reportedly snubbed proposed talks with Ukraine leaders, Reuters reported.
Invasion a real possibility: Ukraine president
In recent days, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a decision to head to trenches along the border to meet with his troops.
"It feels more like the early 20th century than a modern conflict, with tired, nervous soldiers gripping their rifles," CNN reported while meeting with the president on the battleground.
"It's eerily quiet with an occasional crack of a gunshot in the distance shattering the calm, keeping everybody on edge."
Mr Zelensky told the network a Russian invasion was a very real possibility his country is bracing for.
"Of course. We know it, from 2014 we know it can be each day," he said.
"They are ready, but we are also ready because we are on our land and our territory."
The Kremlin is determined to prevent Ukraine from using force to try to reclaim control over separatist-controlled territory in the country's east.
Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists have been fighting in eastern Ukraine since shortly after Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimea Peninsula.
Efforts to negotiate a political settlement have stalled.
Ukraine and its allies have accused Russia of sending in troops and weapons to help separatists, accusations that officials in Moscow have denied.
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