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China says U.S. is exaggerating Russian threat to Ukraine

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks during a news conference in Beijing, China July 27, 2020. [Reuters]

China accused the United States of "playing up the threat of warfare and creating tension", as U.S. President Joe Biden warned that more than 150,000 Russian troops were still massed near Ukraine's borders following Moscow's announcement of a partial pullback.

Western nations have suggested arms control and confidence-building steps to defuse the stand-off, which has prompted them to urge their citizens to leave Ukraine because an attack could come at any time.

Russia denies it has any plans to invade.

"Such persistent hyping up and disinformation by some Western countries will create turbulence and uncertainty to the world full of challenges, and intensify distress and division," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a regular briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

"We hope relevant parties will stop such disinformation campaigns and do more to benefit peace, mutual trust and cooperation."

China has been criticised for its stance on Ukraine by some Western leaders, including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

"The leadership of the two heads of state, China and Russia, always work to develop long term good neighbourliness and mutually beneficial cooperative relationship on the basis of non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of third countries," spokesman Wang added.

Russia's defence ministry published a video on Wednesday that it said showed a column of tanks and military vehicles leaving annexed Crimea across a railway bridge after drills, adding that some troops would also return to their permanent bases.

Moscow announced a partial pullback of forces from near Ukraine on Tuesday.

World powers are engaged in one of the deepest crises in East-West relations for decades, jostling over post-Cold War influence and energy supplies as Moscow wants to stop the former Soviet neighbour from ever joining the NATO military alliance.

On Wednesday morning, video footage showed what the defence ministry said were tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and self-propelled artillery units leaving the Crimean peninsula that Moscow seized from Kyiv in 2014.