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A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, on Jan. 18.The Associated Press

The Kremlin said on Thursday that U.S. President Joe Biden’s warning of possible disastrous consequences for Russia would not help reduce soaring tensions over Ukraine and could even destabilize the situation further.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the remark after Biden predicted on Wednesday that Russia would make a move on Ukraine and said Moscow would pay dearly for a full-scale invasion.

A Russian military build-up near Ukraine and a barrage of threatening rhetoric have rattled the West in recent weeks, sparking fears Moscow may use military force to try to stop Ukraine moving any closer to the West and NATO.

Moscow vehemently denies such plans, but has threatened an unspecified military-technical response if the West does not take seriously a set of security demands it has made, including to put an end to NATO’s eastward expansion.

Asked about Biden’s comments, Peskov said Russia had been receiving similar warnings for at least a month.

“We believe that they in no way contribute to defusing the tension that has now arisen in Europe and, moreover, can contribute to the destabilization of the situation,” he said.

Despite repeated recent statements from Kyiv to the contrary, Peskov also said Moscow feared the sanctions threats by the United States might embolden Kyiv to try resolve an eight-year conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine by force.

“We are concerned about this,” he said on a conference call with reporters.

The Kremlin spokesman declined to comment on a parliamentary proposal by a group of lawmakers to appeal to President Vladimir Putin to recognize two pro-Russian breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states.

The proposal is likely to be interpreted in the West as part of a Russian pressure campaign, but Peskov said it was a lawmakers’ initiative that still needed to be voted on and that he therefore could not comment.

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