Ukraine is not exaggerating the threat of Russian invasion, says PM
The government of Ukraine is not overstating the risk of a renewed Russian invasion and considers it to be “quite high,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at a joint press conference with Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis in Kyiv on Jan. 31.
“We’re not exaggerating this threat, but we understand the buildup of troops does not yet mean the formation of strike groups,” the prime minister said, echoing similar sentiments recently shared by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The prime minister added Ukraine had already developed defense plans in case of a Russian offensive, although these were classified.
Russia has been massing troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border since late October.
More than 130,000 Russian troops and offensive weapons have been deployed near Ukraine’s borders and in the temporarily occupied territories, according to the latest intelligence estimate from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
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.”
The proposed measures include cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international banking system, personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, and a ban on U.S. dollar transactions with Russia.
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.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Jan. 28 that Russia is not interested in a war, but will not allow its “security interests” to be neglected. The Kremlin demands that the United States and NATO guarantee that Ukraine will never join the alliance.
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