Russia on Tuesday underlined the need for de-escalation on Ukraine as tensions, "rising day by day," are stoked further by Western arms deliveries.
"We see how Western countries are sending troops to Ukraine, sending planes loaded with weapons, sending military equipment, Ukraine is conducting maneuvers these days, testing new equipment that it receives," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a daily press conference in Moscow.
"All this, of course, provokes new and new turns of tension. Therefore, de-escalation is now very, very much in demand," Peskov said.
The West's unwillingness to take into account Russia's security concerns also does not help in easing tensions, he added.
"We don't feel and don't see the readiness of our Western counterparts to take into account our concerns," the spokesman said, adding that the issue of getting legally-binding security guarantees remains "open and the most important" for Russia.
Commenting on a proposal by France for Ukraine to have a neutral status, Peskov said the possibility of this would depend on Kyiv's actions and on the position of the US and NATO.
He also denied reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin was refusing to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, underlining that Putin was ready to meet with anyone to help settle the ongoing dispute.
However, the meeting should be substantive, results-oriented, and have clear questions on the agenda, he noted.
Turning to Belarus, Peskov said the Russian troops would return to their permanent bases once a joint military drill between Russian and Belarusian forces is completed.
"We're talking about allied exercises and, of course, it's assumed that upon completion of these exercises, the troops will return to their permanent locations," he said.
The spokesman also said that the date for a visit to Turkiye by the Russian president was not yet agreed upon.
Tension between Ukraine and Russia
Moscow and Kyiv have been locked in conflict since hostilities in the eastern Donbas region broke out in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
Russia has now amassed thousands of troops near Ukraine's borders, prompting fears it could be planning another military offensive against the former Soviet republic.
The US and its allies have warned of an imminent attack, and threatened Russia of “severe consequences.”
Moscow, however, has denied it is preparing to invade Ukraine and said its troops are there for exercises.
Efforts by world leaders including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are afoot to resolve the row peacefully. Turkiye has offered to host a peace summit between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, respectively.