At a daily press briefing in Washington on Tuesday, Psaki was bombarded with questions on where Russians should hold military drills on their territory and whether combat exercises would be considered provocative if they were held even in Russia’s Far East or Siberia, the spokesperson simply answered “Yes” to all of them.
Questions regarding military drills followed the US department’s statement the day before, when commenting on Russia’s large-scale aviation and air-defense drills at the Ashuluk firing range in the country’s southern Astrakhan region Psaki told journalists that Washington was “deeply concerned by Russia’s plan to conduct a large military aviation exercise this week in areas bordering Ukraine.”
Setting the issue of the Russian aviation drills aside, the Department of State’s spokesperson said Russia continued to amass military forces along the border with Ukraine but she did not provide any definite figures.
“Additional Russian forces continue to arrive along the Ukrainian border, and Russia continues to reposition forces throughout the region,” Psaki told journalists. “We don’t have specific numbers from here to share, and specifics on troop numbers is difficult to calculate.”
“So I’m not going to make a prediction from here, but certainly the fact that troops continue to arrive is something that we are watching closely and remain concerned about,” she said.
Russia’s aviation drills and alleged military buildup at the Ukrainian border were not the only subjects to be of concern for the United States as asked whether Russia’s possible retaliation to US and EU recent sanctions would be a bother for Washington, Psaki said “Well, I think - sure.”
“But I think our view is that if they [Russia] want to bring an end to the sanctions, there are clear steps they can take, clear - a clear path they can take,” she said.
Moscow repeatedly rejected the threats of broader sanctions saying the language of penalties is counterproductive and will strike back at Western countries.
Meanwhile, Ukrainians continue fleeing the war-torn Donetsk and Luhansk regions in southeastern Ukraine where the Ukrainian military, units of the ‘national guard’ and squads of the Right Sector ultra-rightwing nationalists are conducting a dragged-out punitive operation against the people demanding federalization of the country and greater rights for the native speakers of the Russian language.