The remarks come after months of speculation that Moscow could order an incursion
If the West really wants to help Kiev in its standoff with Moscow, it should refrain from guessing when or if Russia’s armed forces could begin pouring over the border to wage war against the country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.
Speaking on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, Zelensky set out his view on the constant apocalyptic predictions that a full-blown invasion could be imminent.
“To help Ukraine, there is no need to constantly talk about possible invasion dates,” he insisted, adding that Kiev is “initiating consultations within the framework of the Budapest Memorandum.”
According to the president, Ukraine will defend its land “with or without” the support of its partners. “Crimea and the occupied territories of the Donbass will return to Ukraine only by peaceful means,” he added.
His remarks come amid an increasingly tense impasse on its shared frontier with Russia in recent weeks, with renewed clashes also breaking out in the Donbass in the past few days. Ukrainian soldiers and those loyal to the two self-declared separatist republics have blamed one another for inflaming tensions along contact lines, with claims of heavy shelling coming from both sides.
The separatist leaders of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk announced on Friday that they had begun evacuating people to Russia. They claimed the security situation had begun deteriorating over the past several hours, and announced that they had ordered the mobilization of all able-bodied men to deal with a potential conflict. However, a number of media outlets have since reported that the metadata on two videos from the regional leaders, in which they warn of a recent escalation in hostilities, indicated that they may have been recorded two days in advance.
Western officials have been warning for months that Russia is beefing up its troop presence at the demarcation line as a precursor to a full-blown offensive against Ukraine, accusations which the Kremlin has repeatedly denied. On Friday, US President Joe Biden accused Moscow of creating a pretext to invade in the near future.
“We have reason to believe that Russian forces are planning to and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week – in the coming days,” Biden told journalists.
Moscow has repeatedly insisted that it has no aggressive intentions towards its neighbor and has hit out at Western news outlets for circling dates on the calendar for a potential incursion.
The parliamentary faction leader of Ukraine’s ruling Servant of the People party, David Arakhamia, has also cast doubt that an offensive is imminent, instead commenting on the toll that constant incursion fears in the media have had on Kiev. According to him, the publication of speculation about an incoming Russian invasion is costing the country “two to three billion dollars every month.”
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