In response to Russian troops gathering at it’s border, Ukraine‘s Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak stated the following to local media,
“The continuation of aggressive actions in eastern Ukraine is quite anticipated. Moreover, there is a probability that the conflict will escalate into the Kremlin’s full-scale aggression. This is the truth that destroys the illusion regarding Russia’s refusal to occupy part of our territory and withdraw its troops in the near future. Near our border, it deployed 19 battalion tactical groups of the first and second echelons numbering more than 77,000 people. The groups consist of almost 1,000 tanks, 2,300 combat vehicles, over 1,100 artillery systems and about 400 multiple launch rocket systems.”
Minister Poltorak holds no illusions about the Russian government supporting and arming the Separatist entities operating in eastern Ukraine. The aggression would continue and there is no way Russia will be withdrawing it’s forces or its military support for the Seperatists in Luhansk and Donetsk under diplomatic conditions. Ukrainian armed forces had their positions attacked on nearly 15,000 different occasions this past year.
Poltorak continued to say,
“The Russian leadership is looking for a way to turn its aggression into a frozen conflict, rather than resolve it. Moreover, Putin’s regime is still hoping for the return of our state to the so-called Russian world and for Ukraine’s rejection of Euro-Atlantic integration. Moscow is not going to implement the Minsk agreements – it is not part of its plans, as well as the withdrawal of occupation troops from our territory and the return to the Ukrainian side of control over the section of the Ukrainian-Russian state border.”
He elaborated that the Russian government does not acknowledge the United Nations efforts to stabilize the region and serve as a peacekeeping force. He expressed the opinion that the “peaceful” efforts by the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin are “a fur coat of a sheep” worn by “a wolf.” Despite this, the Minister said that Ukraine still supported a diplomatic and political resolution to the conflict. He elaborated with, “At the same time, we can and will use the sovereign right to self-defense. Therefore, our country will operate as part of a complex of political and diplomatic measures, sanctions and other measures aimed at restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine and rebuffing and deterring Russia’s armed aggression.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Ministry of Defence of Ukraine[CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons