Russian state TV puts blame for unrest on the West

NATO is scrambling to beef up its eastern flank and Western governments have warned of crippling economic sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, but watching Russian state TV provides little sense of impending conflict.

Russian state TV - a vital tool for the Kremlin's public messaging - says "panic" in the west is fueling the tensions, along with U.S. troop reinforcements to the region and arm supplies to Kyiv - not the 100,000 Russian troops gathered near Ukraine's border.

Independent polling data shows the Kremlin's message that the West, and not Moscow, poses a threat to peace is widely believed in Russia.

MOSCOW RESIDENT, OLGA (RUSSIAN):"Russia will not attack anyone. But I can believe there will be a huge Western provocation, which is already being undertaken. And Russia will start a war against somebody - no. Russia will defend itself, and it must."

Denis Volkov, director of the independent Moscow-based pollster Levada, says it's important to the Kremlin that it looks like the West is inflaming the situation.

(Russian)"And from the information side, there are more of it on the West. It turns out that we don't want war, but the West does. No one is invading, but we are the ones who are blamed."

Anti-American sentiment and scathing commentary about Ukraine's pro-Western governments have been staples of Russian state TV since 2014, when Moscow's annexation of Crimea and backing for a separatist revolt in east Ukraine shattered relations with Kyiv.

Western diplomats, analysts and others are now scrutinizing Russia's state media coverage of Ukraine for any drum beats of war - and for clues as to whether President Vladimir Putin's troop deployments are indeed the prelude to a military move or just a bluff to extract security concessions from the West.

Moscow said it wants written responses to its demands this week, which include never allowing Ukraine to join NATO.

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