‘No risk of large-scale war in Europe’ claims Russia’s deputy foreign minister
There is no risk of a large-scale war in Europe, the Russian news agency Interfax quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Jan. 19 – even as Russia continued its ominous military buildup near the borders of Ukraine.
“I’m sure that there is no risk of a large-scale war that could unfold in Europe or anywhere else,” Ryabkov said at the Valdai Discussion Club forum in Moscow, Russia.
“We’re not going to take any aggressive action. We’re not going to attack or invade Ukraine.”
The diplomat said Russia sees risk in Ukraine becoming more integrated into NATO even without obtaining the formal status of an alliance member and “this is at the center of Russia’s security interests.”
“We will do everything to reverse this situation, re-balance this situation through diplomatic channels,” Ryabkov said.
He added that Russia’s priority is to achieve legally binding, firm guarantees from the United States that Ukraine will not become a NATO member.
“The well-known formula that Ukraine and Georgia will become NATO members should be excluded, replaced by the understanding that this will never happen,” the deputy foreign minister said.
On Jan. 14, the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper and the U.S.-based CNN news channel reported that Russia had positioned covert operatives in Ukraine to carry out a “false flag” operation to use as a pretext for a Russian attack.
Later, the U.S. Department of Defense and the White House confirmed that the United States has evidence that Russia could be planning to conduct various false flag operations in the Donbas region.
Ryabkov said on Jan. 10 that during crisis talks with the United States held in Geneva, Switzerland, he had assured U.S. representatives that Russia “is not going to attack” Ukraine.
However, no actual guarantees were provided beyond the minister’s word.
Russia has been massing troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border since late October. The buildup follows a similar such massing of troops conducted in the spring of 2021.
As of early December, about 100,000 Russian soldiers were deployed near the Russian-Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied territories in the Donbas, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in Ukraine’s parliament on Dec. 3.
International media have speculated that Russia may invade Ukraine in early 2022, in an operation that could involve up to 175,000 Russian soldiers.
Both U.S. and European officials have expressed concern over the situation. U.S. President Joe Biden in December declared that the White House was working out “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.”
Reznikov said Russian aggression towards Ukraine could intensify in late January 2022.
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