Ukraine worries about 'dangerous' signals from Moscow at border

Ukraine is worried about 'dangerous' signals from Moscow border

MISE & Agrave; DAY

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed concern on Friday about “very dangerous” signals from Russia, accused of having deployed troops to the border, while saying he was “fully prepared” for a possible escalation military with Moscow. & nbsp;

Tensions have been at their highest for a few weeks between the two neighbors, already at daggers drawn since the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and a conflict between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

< p> In recent weeks, the United States, NATO and the European Union have continued to express their concern about Russian troop movements on the Ukrainian border, with Kiev alarming about a possible invasion.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Zelensky denounced a “very dangerous rhetoric” on the part of Russia and considered that “this is the signal (…) that an escalation is possible” .

Mr. Zelensky said Russia was looking for a pretext to intervene militarily in his country, citing criticism expressed by Moscow over the deployment of NATO troops in Ukraine and accusations by the Kremlin that Kiev is undermining the peace process with the separatists.

“Today there is intimidation saying that a war will take place tomorrow,” he continued, while promising that his country was “fully prepared for any escalation”.

” We have to rely on ourselves, on our army, it is powerful, ”Zelensky insisted, when asked about the West's potential support for Kiev in the event of an attack on Moscow.

A Ukraine's aggression would have “consequences” for Russia, warned NATO Secretary General Jens Soltenberg on Friday, calling on Moscow to “avoid escalation”.

The head of the Ukrainian military intelligence service, Kyrylo Boudanov, assured Sunday that Russia had massed nearly 92,000 troops on the borders of Ukraine, anticipating an offensive in late January or early February.

This hypothetical attack could involve air and artillery strikes, followed by airborne and amphibious assaults, notably against Mariupol as well as a smaller incursion to the north via neighboring Belarus, Mr Boudanov told the US media outlet Military Times.

Western support

Moscow for its part denies any plan in this direction and in return accuses Kiev, NATO and Westerners to escalate tensions by carrying out military maneuvers near Russian borders.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated on Friday that Moscow had no hint of “interference” in Ukraine.

Zelensky also said he had received information about a planned “coup” scheduled for early December, involving “some people in Russia” and a Ukrainian oligarch, Renat Akhmetov. However, he said he did not believe it would happen.

Asked about this hypothetical coup, Kremlin spokesman Peskov said “Russia is not doing this kind of stuff ”.

In 2014, Russia, in reaction to the arrival of pro-Western power in Kiev, annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea after a military operation followed by a referendum denounced as illegal by Kiev and the West.

She is also accused of supporting militarily and financially pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, with whom Ukrainian forces have been at war since 2014 , a conflict that left 13,000 dead.

A previous spike in tensions between the two countries came in April, when Russia deployed tens of thousands of military personnel to Ukraine's borders for “military exercises” and in response to “threatening” NATO activities./p>

Ukraine was then already alarmed about a possible imminent invasion, while armed incidents multiplied in parallel between Kiev forces and separatists.

After several weeks of tension, Moscow had finally withdrawn its troops from the border.

While the Ukrainian army was overwhelmed in 2014, it now seems more confident, with the experience of combat accumulated and better equipped, in particular thanks to the aid from its Western allies.

Ukraine has received, inter alia, ammunition, ships, American Javelin anti-tank missile devices and medical supplies from the United States. It also recently used a Turkish-made drone against separatists in the east.

Mr. Zelensky said on Friday that he received assurances from his Western allies “that they will be on our side no matter what and that they will support us”.

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