“The probability of hostilities in Ukraine still remains high,” said a Kremlin spokesman.

The Kremlin voiced concern Thursday about a possible escalation of fighting in a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine as the U.S. issued a strong warning to Russia to stay away from Ukraine, AP reports.

Ukrainian and Western officials have worried about a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine, fearing it could herald an invasion. But Moscow has insisted it has no such intention and accused Ukraine and its Western backers of making up the claims to cover up their own allegedly aggressive designs.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at their meeting in Stockholm on Thursday that “if Russia decides to pursue confrontation, there will be serious consequences,” adding that “the best way to avert a crisis is through diplomacy.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in Moscow that “the Ukrainian authorities’ aggressive and increasingly intensive provocative action on the line of contact” gives grounds for concern about a possible flare-up of hostilities. He said that recent statements from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials indicate that “the Ukrainian leadership doesn’t exclude a forceful scenario.”

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