Russia says it follows US actions on Ukraine 'with great concern'

Pentagon put 8,500 troops on standby for possible rapid deployment to Eastern Europe.

Russia says it follows US actions on Ukraine 'with great concern'

Russia on Tuesday said US actions and statements on the Ukraine issue are aimed at fueling tensions, and it is following them "with great concern."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was commenting on Pentagon's Monday announcement to put 8,500 troops "on heightened alert" for a possible rapid deployment to Eastern Europe.

Tensions in Ukraine have been increasing for months after the Kremlin amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine's border, a build-up the West says is preparation for war. NATO and the EU have warned of severe economic consequences if it invades its neighbor.

Russia has repeatedly denied planning to invade, saying its troops are there for exercises. But it annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

It is awaiting a written US response this week to its list of security demands, including a NATO pledge never to admit Ukraine.

Peskov said the US troop alert does not have any impact on the course of talks on security guarantees, and Moscow's actions will be defined by Washington's response and decisions by President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, political advisers from Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine are gathering in Paris for "Normandy talks" to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

According to Peskov, Russian representative Dmitry Kozak "will bring Moscow's concerns to the attention of his interlocutors in the Normandy Four."

The US has also ordered the families of its diplomats in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to leave the country. The EU, however, is not following the US for the time being.