Russian President Vladimir Putin has hardened his rhetoric about the situation in Ukraine and says the war in the east of the country looks like genocide.
Russian-backed rebels have been fighting Ukrainian troops there since 2014, and tensions mount as Russia lines troops at the border.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden spoke on the phone with his Ukrainian counterpart about the recent talks with Putin.
There are fears that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine, which Russia denies.
The video call from Biden and Putin on Tuesday was viewed as an attempt to ease tension.
Washington and its allies have warned the Kremlin of harsh sanctions if it attacks its neighbor again.
Russia has accused Ukraine of provocation and requested guarantees against NATO expansion to the east and the stationing of weapons near Russia.
Ukrainian authorities said Moscow could plan a military offensive in late January, though US officials say it is not yet clear whether President Putin has made a decision.
The Russian President’s remarks on Thursday aimed to address discrimination against Russian speakers outside Russia’s borders, many of whom live in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Russophobia is the first step towards genocide, he said.
“We see and know what is happening in Donbass,” he said, referring to the conflict zone. “It definitely looks like genocide.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed the statements, saying Russia was known for escalating its rhetoric and misinformation.
Mr Biden informed the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj in a one and a half hour phone call about his conversation with Mr Putin two days ago.
The two heads of state and government discussed “the security situation in Ukraine and the prospects for a peace settlement,” said a statement by the Ukrainian President.
Mr Biden also spoke to leaders of NATO members near the Russian borders.
More than 90,000 Russian soldiers are said to be stationed near the Ukrainian border. The movement has already weighed on strained relations between Russia and the US.
Much of the recent Russian military armament is taking place in Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula that Russia captured from Ukraine and annexed in 2014.
Troops are also gathering near the Donbass.
More than 14,000 people have lost their lives in seven years of conflict since Russian-backed forces captured large parts of eastern Ukraine.