Monday, April 12, 2021

Ukraine tells Russia it is ready to defend itself


April 12, 2021. Greece.

Ukraine says it is ready to defend itself amid a build-up of Russian soldiers on its border and as tensions continue to escalate between the neighbours.

Kiev’s deputy foreign minister Vasyl Bodnar welcomed the reported deployment of two US navy ships to the Black Sea and said it would be a politically useful tool to show that Ukraine was not alone in its dispute.

Ukraine has accused Russia of massing tens of thousands of troops in the annexed Crimean peninsula and on its eastern frontier, where a fragile ceasefire has regularly been broken in recent weeks.

Concern is growing that the long-simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine could erupt into widespread fighting following a sharp increase in violence along the front line.

Mr Bodnar said the deployment of the US navy in the Black Sea would help strengthen Ukrainian resilience in its dispute with Russia, but questioned how American forces could practically be used if there were to be a Russian advance.

“We are ready to defend ourselves. Our armed forces and the navy are ready” to go to battle if necessary, he told a webinar organised by the Henry Jackson Society.

Kiev's top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba will meet Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also heads to Brussels for talks.

The White House said last week the number of Russian troops at the border with Ukraine was now greater than at any time since 2014, when conflict erupted after Moscow seized Crimea from Kiev.

Mr Blinken warned in an interview on Sunday of "consequences" if Russia acts "aggressively" towards Ukraine.

Ukraine has urged Nato to step up Kiev's push for membership as it seeks to deter any aggression by Russia, but the alliance remains wary about speeding up plans to allow in the ex-Soviet nation.

The National News