* Moscow says troops near Ukraine's border pose no threat
* Accuses Washington, West of fuelling tensions in Ukraine
* Ukrainian crisis aggravates tensions between Moscow and
(Adds remarks by Lavrov, deputy defence minister)
By Gabriela Baczynska
MOSCOW, April 9 Russia on Wednesday dismissed as
"groundless" concerns in Kiev and the West over the presence of
its troops near the border with Ukraine, saying they posed no
threat, and accused Washington and NATO of fuelling tension in
Washington has accused Russia of orchestrating separatist
unrest in eastern Ukraine this week and NATO has urged
President Vladimir Putin to pull back troops from near the
"The United States and Ukraine have no reason to be
worried," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"Russia has stated many times that it is not carrying out any
unusual or unplanned activity on its territory near the border
with Ukraine that would be of military significance."
A senior Russian official accused NATO, which restricted its
cooperation with Moscow following Russia's annexation of
Ukraine's Crimea region last month, of waging a "harsh,
uncompromising information war" against Russia and trying to
poison its relations with Kiev.
"We see what NATO is doing in Ukraine to prevent them from
normalising ties with us. Horror stories about the Russian armed
forces are being spread," Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly
Antonov said, according to the Interfax news agency.
NATO says Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops near
Ukraine's borders and voiced concerns of a repeat of the
takeover of Crimea, which voted to join Russia in a referendum
staged after Russian forces were already in control.
Speaking during a security conference at Russia's top
diplomatic university, Antonov said the turmoil in Ukraine was a
result of Western-sponsored efforts to overthrow rulers it
disliked and that Moscow considered any such attempts in the
former Soviet Union were aimed against itself.
He indicated Russia was concerned that since the crisis in
Ukraine started, NATO had intensified its contacts with Georgia
and Moldova - former Soviet republics that are now eyeing closer
integration with the alliance and the West.
The Foreign Ministry also said Moscow has shunned a meeting
of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) this week in Vienna, sought by Washington and Kiev over
their concerns about Russia's military presence on the border.
The ministry said the United States and Ukraine were
conducting "an anti-Russian campaign" at the OSCE and increasing
tension over Ukraine, where the authorities are trying to quell
unrest by pro-Moscow protesters.
"The everyday activity of Russian troops on its (Russian)
territory does not threaten the security of the United States
and other OSCE member states," it said. "Attempts to accuse
Russia of building up its armed forces are groundless."
The turmoil in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea
have led to he biggest East-West standoff since the Cold War.
The European Union said on Tuesday that top diplomats from
the EU, Russia, Ukraine and the United States would meet next
week to discuss the crisis, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov struck a cool tone and suggested there was no firm
"Dates have been named (for the meeting) - some time in
April. But that is what they want. We are awaiting an
explanation of what they intend to do at the meeting," Lavrov
told reporters on the sidelines of a government meeting on
economic and energy ties with Ukraine.
"There are more questions than answers," he said.
(Additional reporting by Alexei Anishchuk and Katya Golubkova,
Editing by Steve Gutterman and Giles Elgood)