Ukraine Says Russia Could Invade In The Blink Of An Eye
KYIV - The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNBC on Thursday that he believes "Putin has not decided yet whether to do a military operation", however if he decided to do so things would happen 'in the blink of an eye'.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says that he has no plans to invade Ukraine and says that Russia is free to move their own troops wherever they please within their own country, but said he is concerned about military exercises that Ukraine is carrying out near their shared border which he says he believes is a threat to Russia.
Ukraine and the West however is not convinced that Russia is not planning an attack. "We [still] have Russian troops along our border. We have them in our occupied territories of Crimea and Donbass, and according to our estimates and estimates of our partners, and they concur, Russia already has the capacity to conduct offensive operations in the region ... and we see that they continue to build up their forces" Kuleba told CNBC.
Kuleba stated that Russia attacked Ukraine at the lowest point of their strength in 2014, which was when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. Russia has also been accused of supplying arms and ammunition to the Russian separatists fighting Ukraine in the Donbass war zone, something which Russia has denied.
Kuleba was asked whether Ukrainian allies are doing enough to help Ukraine. He said "as long as Russian troops stay in Crimea and in Donbass, none of us is doing enough really. We can only judge by the final outcome. and that final outcome should be the withdrawal of Russia from Ukraine. However, things would’ve been much worse if we did not have these relations with our partners and if our partners did not evolve their attitude towards Russia".
He added "if Europeans and Americans allow Russia to turn Ukraine into a mess, the strategic consequences of that will be felt beyond Ukraine, they will be felt in EU countries, including Germany and they will be felt in Far East Asia".
"Those who tell us we have to do a smart policy towards Russia. We agree actually, you have to be smart. But you have to be strong. If you choose the path of appeasing Russia, of making concessions to Russia, and this crazy, crazy logic of some partners that whatever Russia does, Ukraine has to do another step towards Russia to show its constructiveness. The question is, how many steps do we have to make? How many concessions do we have to make?" Kuleba asked.
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg says that NATO sees no sign that Russia's substantial military buildup near the Ukrainian border is stopping or slowing down but that he agrees with Ukrainian President Zelensky that the buildup 'continues' .
Despite Russia's demands that NATO not honor the 2008 agreement NATO made with Ukraine regarding future membership into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Stoltenberg says that NATO stands by the agreement and that Russia has no say about whether Ukraine can join the organization or not.
Russian Foreign Minister Ryabkov said that if NATO and the United States do not respond to Russia's demand for security guarantees then a military response would follow. Zelensky stated "Since 2014 Russia has been pushing Ukraine towards NATO. It's precisely Russia that's been paving Ukraine's way to NATO".
Russia has also accused NATO of planning to deploy missiles in Europe and has threatened to deploy their own nuclear weapons in Europe in response, but Stoltenberg says that NATO has no such plans and has rejected Russia's accusations.