The threat of a Russian invasion is no worse than it was last year, according to one of Kiev's high-ranking politicians
Western media outlets are driving rumors that Russian troops are planning to wage an offensive across the border into Ukraine, a close political ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed, as tensions remain high on the shared border.
Speaking on Wednesday to the Ukrainian outlet Focus, David Arakhamia, the head of the "Servant of the People" faction in parliament, said that such claims of an invasion are not a recent phenomenon. The party was founded by Zelensky in 2017 ahead of his bid to become president, and is named after the popular comedy show he starred in before embarking on his political career.
"There is always a threat from the outside. But! Remember the escalation last spring? Today's situation is no worse than that - it's roughly in the same range," said the official, who also is a member of the Verkhovna Rada's National Security, Defense and Intelligence Committee.
"Why is the Western media making such a big deal out of it? It's hard to say," Arakhamia remarked. "Any surprises can be expected from [Moscow], we must be ready for anything, but not amplify panic."
He said that while Russian troops may not order an offensive, Kiev's economy will feel the repercussions of fear mongering by the media outlets. "When they start throwing in fakes that the Russian embassy is withdrawing families [from Ukraine], we can already see how this is affecting the economic situation," he explained.
Arakhamia's remarks come amid a flurry of reports in Western media in recent months that Moscow is beefing up its troops and hardware on the Ukrainian border ahead of launching an invasion. On Monday, the New York Times claimed that Moscow had started to repatriate a number of diplomats and their families from Ukraine.
Russia's Foreign Ministry hit back at the report, stating that Moscow's embassy in Kiev "is working normally," but did not deny any downsizing. Diplomatic spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the foreign media of spinning reality.
"They are doing this despite attacks on Russian foreign service workers by Ukrainian radicals, and the provocations of local security forces. But the American media have not and will not cover this."
The Kremlin has repeatedly rejected accusations that it is planning to invade, with its press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, describing them as "groundless" and manifestations of "hysteria" circulating in the press.
The official also previously said that the movement of the country's armed forces on its own territory is an internal matter and of no concern to anyone else.
The latest claims that Moscow is planning an incursion into Ukraine come just months after similar alarms were sounded last April. Such calls have been an annual occurrence for some years now.