“It’s all nonsense,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, when asked by reporters how the US administration might proceed with an imminent invasion of Ukraine. “We don’t see the point of this kind of hysteria,” Mr. Lavrov said. He said the US authorities were trying to “distract the public of other countries” from their domestic issues.
Mr. Lavrov’s response came after the top US military officer, Gen. Joseph Votel, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that his military officials were keeping a close eye on what he called “the potential for immediate hostilities” if a ceasefire agreement in southwestern Ukraine were to collapse. Some Ukrainian officials, including President Petro Poroshenko and President Donald Trump, have played down the likelihood of a possible invasion.
“Votel is supposed to be a two-star, a figure who has been responsible for the military and efforts to assist military over there,” Mr. Lavrov said. “So far there is no sign of any provocative maneuvers.” He said such deployments would indicate a “huge responsibility and great risk,” given tensions with Russia.
In an appearance before a joint session of Congress, Gen. Votel insisted the Pentagon understood the high stakes: “We remain fully aware of the underlying tensions between Russia and Ukraine.”