Zelensky’s spokesman comments on president’s warning that ‘Russia may occupy Kharkiv’

21 January 2022, 09:22 PM

A grim warning made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Russia may attempt to occupy the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was “just an example, a hypothetical scenario,” his press secretary, Serhiy Nikiforov, has told Radio NV.

Earlier, in an interview with U.S. newspaper The Washington Post, Zelensky said that Russia may attempt to occupy the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv under the pretext of “protecting the Russian-speaking population,” there, and “it’s not going to be just an occupation; it’s going to be the beginning of a large-scale war.”

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“I think that those who reprint the story have failed to read the text of the interview, but have pulled out this phrase,” Nikiforov told the radio station on Jan. 21.“

It seems to me that this paragraph is self-sufficient and does not need clarification.”

According to the spokesman, “the president was pondering” about the escalation.

“But if you’re asking, I think the president was thinking about if, let’s say, there is an escalation, what it would be like,” Nikiforov said.“

It was just an example, a hypothetical scenario, i.e. he did not mean that Kharkiv would be occupied.”

Since late October, Russia has been massing troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border.

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 Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.”

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 demanding that it be provided with “security guarantees” by the United States and NATO.

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