White House Alarmism Over Russia Strains Ukraine-U.S. Partnership

In his remarks, Mr. Zelensky echoed this sentiment.

“If you look only at the satellites you will see the increase in troops and you can’t assess whether this is just a threat of attack or just a simple rotation,” he said. “Our professional people look deep into it.”

Ukrainian officials have also been sharply critical of the decision by the United States, Britain and others to withdraw nonessential staff from embassies in Kyiv, calling it premature. Mr. Zelensky noted that Greece had not even removed diplomats from a consulate near the front lines in the east, “where you can hear the cannons firing.”

Diplomats, he added, “are the last who should be leaving the ship and I don’t think we have a Titanic here.”

The rift was exacerbated just over a week ago when Mr. Biden suggested that a “minor incursion” by Russian forces into Ukraine, rather than a full-fledged invasion, might not elicit the same forceful response the White House has been promising.

Mr. Zelensky responded publicly on Twitter: “We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations,” he wrote. His posting angered the White House and Ukraine’s allies on Capitol Hill. “We are quite exasperated,” one congressional Democrat said, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggesting the Ukrainian president had not been getting the best advice on how to navigate Washington.

The Kremlin has taken notice of the discord, too.

“Now, the Americans have started to so blatantly and cynically use Ukraine against Russia that even the regime in Kyiv has become alarmed,” Mr. Lavrov said earlier Friday, commenting on the breacheven before Mr. Zelensky spoke. “They are saying, ‘there’s no need to ramp up the discussion, to use military rhetoric, why are you evacuating diplomats?’”

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