- Associated Press - Monday, December 17, 2018

MOSCOW (AP) - The special envoy of the United States on Ukraine has dismissed Russia’s warning of a Ukrainian offensive near Crimea as an attempt to deflect attention from its own aggressive actions.

The long-simmering conflict between Russia and Ukraine broke into the open last month when Russian coast guards near Russia-annexed Crimea fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels and their crew.

Several Russian officials including the foreign minister in recent days have raised the alarm about what they called planned provocations by Ukrainian troops near the land border with the Crimean peninsula.

Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy on Ukraine, told reporters Monday that he is not expecting Ukraine to launch any attacks. On the contrary, he said, the Russian remarks might aim to deflect attention from Russia’s ongoing blockade of the Kerch Strait.

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