Kiev seeks to project calm, saying "there are no grounds to believe" Russia is preparing to invade imminently while acknowledging the threat is real.

Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels has killed over 14,000 people since 2014.
Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels has killed over 14,000 people since 2014. (AA)

Ukraine has sought to reassure the nation that an invasion from neighbouring Russia is not imminent, even as its leaders acknowledged the threat is real and received a shipment of US military equipment to shore up their defences.

Speaking in the second televised speech to the nation in as many days, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Ukrainians on Tuesday not to panic.

"We are strong enough to keep everything under control and derail any attempts at destabilisation," he said.

The decision by the US, Britain, Australia, Germany and Canada to withdraw some of their diplomats and dependents from Kiev "doesn't necessarily signal an inevitable escalation and is part of a complex diplomatic game," he said.  

"We are working together with our partners as a single team."

Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov told parliament that "as of today, there are no grounds to believe" Russia is preparing to invade imminently, noting that its troops have not formed what he called a battle group that could force its way through the border.

"Don't worry, sleep well," he said. "No need to have your bags packed."

In an interview late on Monday, however, he acknowledged that "there are risky scenarios" that "are possible and probable in the future."

Moscow has denied it is planning an assault, but it has massed an estimated 100,000 troops near Ukraine in recent weeks and is holding military drills at multiple locations in Russia. 

It has also issued a list of security demands to NATO, including Ukraine not joining NATO, to calm existing tensions.

That has led the United States and its NATO allies to rush to prepare for a possible war.

READ MORE: US military equipment arrives in Ukraine amid tensions with Russia

US warns Belarus 

US President Joe Biden told reporters that Russian President Vladimir Putin "continues to build forces along Ukraine's border," and an attack "would be the largest invasion since World War II. It would change the world."

In Ukraine, however, authorities have sought to project calm in order not to destabilise the situation and avoid panic — and many citizens have expressed skepticism that there will be an invasion soon.

Meanwhile, the United States warned Belarus that its government will also face reprisals if it assists ally Russia in invading Ukraine.

"We've also made clear to Belarus that if it allows its territory to be used for an attack on Ukraine, it would face a swift and decisive response from the United States and our allies and partners," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

READ MORE: Russian troops arrive in Belarus for combat drills

Russia has said Western accusations it is planning an attack are merely a cover for NATO's own planned provocations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov again accused the US of "fomenting tensions" around Ukraine, a former Soviet state that has been in a conflict with Russia for almost eight years.

In 2014, following the ouster of a Kremlin-friendly president in Kiev, Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in the country's eastern industrial heartland. Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels has killed over 14,000 people, and efforts to reach a settlement have stalled.

READ MORE: NATO deploys ships, jets to eastern Europe in Ukraine crisis

Source: AP