Czechs urge allies to expel Russian intelligence officers in act of solidarity
Doctors denied access to 'very weak' Navalny
Russia will soon have more than 120,000 troops on Ukraine's border, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said yesterday, calling for new Western economic sanctions to deter Moscow from "further escalation".
Washington and Nato have been alarmed by the large build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Western officials say the concentration of forces is now larger than during that annexation. The figure given by Kuleba is higher than Ukraine's previous estimate of 80,000 Russian troops, of which 50,000 were new deployments.
Russia has said its troop build-up is a three-week snap military drill to test combat readiness in response to what it calls threatening behaviour from Nato. Moscow yesterday also accused the US and Nato of "provocative activity" in the waters and airspace of the Black Sea.
In another development, the Czech Republic yesterday asked European Union and Nato allies to take action in solidarity with Prague in its row with Moscow, including expelling Russian intelligence officers from their countries, acting Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek said.
The country on Saturday evicted 18 Russian embassy staff, whom it identified as intelligence officers, over suspicions that Russian secret services were behind explosions at a privately-operated arms depot in 2014.
Moscow has denied any of its agents were involved in the blast, which killed two people, branding the Czech stance a provocation, and expelled 20 Czech diplomats and other staff in retaliation.
Meanwhile, Alexei Navalny's doctors were again denied access to the jailed Kremlin critic, as lawyers for the hunger-striking opposition figure said he was "very weak" and demanded he be transferred to a civilian hospital.
West has warned Moscow of "consequences" if Navalny dies.
The Kremlin however has dismissed the foreign outcry saying that Navalny does not deserve any special treatment.