President Zelensky urges calm in face of potential Russian invasion of Ukraine
Downplaying recent fears of a renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Jan. 19 that he believes the risk of a potential Russian invasion is not any greater than it has been in the past eight years, but that people seem to be panicking more in this instance.
At least 100,000 Russian troops are currently deployed near the Russian-Ukrainian border and in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories. Previously unscheduled military drills between Russia and Belarus have also suddenly been announced on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border.
Zelensky urged Ukrainians to stay calm, avoid hoarding essential items, and called on the media to stop fueling what he termed “hysteria.”
“This whole hostile rhetoric we have been hearing (from Russia). It is hardly breaking news – it has been our reality for the last eight years,” Zelensky said in the video address.
“Did the invasion not start in 2014? Has the threat of war only appeared now? We have lived with these risks for a long time, and they have not grown bigger. It is only the panic that is growing. They (Russia) are not targeting our land at the moment, they are targeting our nerves. They want Ukrainians, as well as foreign investors and businessmen, to feel anxious all the time.”
The situation on Ukraine's eastern border is a matter of deep concern for both US and European Union officials. According to U.S. President Joe Biden, the White House is looking at a range of options to dissuade Russia from a potential attack on Ukraine.
Biden has defined these measures as “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people believe he may do.”
The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, previously stated that the Ukrainian government deemed the threat of a direct Russian invasion unlikely. However, in early December, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Russian aggression towards Ukraine could intensify in late January 2022.
While Russia has denied plans to invade, it has also refused to provide assurances that it would not do so, instead issuing so-called “security guarantees” to the United States and NATO.
On Jan. 14, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated that the United States has evidence of Russia planning to conduct various false flag operations in the Donbas.
Corroborated by the Pentagon, Psaki said that Moscow has sent operatives, trained in explosives and urban combat, into eastern Ukraine, to be used to stage false flag operations that could give Putin a pretext to renew his invasion of the country
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