Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has responded to recent U.S. claims that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine will occur within a week by calling for calm, saying that the Ukrainian government had “everything under control.”
The president was speaking in Kherson Oblast on Feb. 12, after observing drills performed by Ukrainian Interior Ministry on the border with Russian-occupied Crimea.
The comment came in response to a question posed by a reporter about claims by several media outlets in the United States about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, which "may take place on February 15-16."
"I believe that there is currently too much information about the deep, full-scale war Russia plans to launch. Even the dates have already been announced,” the president answered.
According to him, the country's leadership "understands all the risks, understands that these risks exist."
Zelensky said Ukraine must rely primarily on itself, its military and its citizens.
"If you or anyone else has any additional information about a 100-percent invasion, give us this information," the president told reporters.
When asked if he personally believes in the possibility of a further Russian invasion, Zelensky replied spreading this information does nothing but “spread panic” in Ukrainian society, and “plays into the enemy’s hands.”
"It can happen any day, as I said before… We have a lot of information… I have to talk to our people as president and tell people the truth. And the truth is that we have different information. And now the best friend for our enemies is panic in our country. And all this information only provokes panic and does not help us," Zelensky said.
He said that diplomacy was the only way to de-escalate.
"We work on a daily basis, receiving information from our intelligence. Of course we are grateful to everyone for their help, we are grateful to the intelligence agencies of other countries. We also work separately at the diplomatic level, we communicate daily with the leadership of different states, different leaders, different levels. Because we believe that the diplomatic path is the only way for de-escalation and de-occupation, "Zelensky added.
Reports from the United States about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine are being taken into account, he said.
Late on Feb. 11, U.S. media outlet Politico reported U.S. President Joe Biden told NATO allies and EU leaders that Russia could invade Ukraine on Feb. 16.
According to German news weekly Der Spiegel, the CIA and the U.S. military have informed the German government and other NATO countries that Russia’s possible invasion could commence on the same day.
U.S. news outlet Bloomberg, citing sources among U.S. officials, have reported that a fresh wave of Russian aggression against Ukraine could begin on Feb. 15.
Both the embassies of the United States, and Russia, in Ukraine have announced that they are drawing down their embassy complements on Feb. 11.
The head of the European Union Delegation to Ukraine, Matti Maasikas, called on all foreign mission personnel to leave the country immediately, a source in the EU mission in Ukraine told NV, though Maasikas himself has said that he will stay in Kyiv for now, according to a tweet on Feb. 11.
The United States, UK, Germany and a number of other countries have urged their citizens to leave Ukraine.
Russia has deployed about 140,000 troops and equipment on the border with Ukraine.
Russia has officially denied its intention to carry out a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, while continuing to provide military assistance to its proxy groups in non-government controlled regions of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.