Moscow is concerned over Ukraine’s plans to join NATO, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“As for Ukraine and NATO, this issue does not relate to Russia directly, but it still concerns Russia to a large extent,” he said.

Peskov pointed out that “for many years, Russia has been voicing concern over NATO moving its military infrastructure facilities closer to our borders.” “It [Ukraine’s NATO accession] could be another step in this direction, so it will not help strengthen stability and security in Europe,” the Kremlin spokesman added.

There are no Russian servicemen in Ukraine, he stressed. “Russia has never had and has no servicemen in Ukraine,” the presidential spokesman told journalists.

The Kremlin spokesman thus commented on a statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the need to withdraw Russian servicemen from the territory of Ukraine.

Responding to a question about how to interpret the statements by Russian national Viktor Ageyev detained in Ukraine who claimed he was a Russian Army regular serviceman, the Kremlin spokesman said it was necessary to take note of the statements by Russia’s Defense Ministry.

According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, Ageyev has never served in the Russian Armed Forces under a contract. He was discharged after the completion of his active duty in accordance with the established procedure in 2016.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin who spoke about Russophobia in Ukraine meant that Ukrainian authorities use pseudo-Russian threats to manipulate European politicians, Peskov went on. 

“As for Russophobia as the only commodity, which the current Ukrainian authorities are promoting, about which the president [of Russia] spoke, he meant the instigation of this Russophobia and the use of the pseudo-Russian threat as the basic lever of pressurizing and manipulating European politicians,” the presidential spokesman said.

At a press conference in Hamburg after the G20 summit, Putin noted that Russia and Ukraine were interested in cooperation to develop their economies. However, politicians in Ukraine consider it possible to disregard this fact as “they have just one commodity left for successful trading and that is Russophobia.”.

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