Moscow, Jan 28 (EFE).- Russia does not want to go to war but will not ignore its interests, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday amid an escalation of tensions on the country’s border with Ukraine.
“If it depends on Russia, there will be no war. We don’t want a war,” Lavrov said, “But we won’t allow (the West) to rudely ignore and trample on our interests.”
Lavrov added that the United States’ response to Russia’s wishlist of security demands was “in many ways throwing wool over our eyes, but they contain rational seeds on secondary issues,” relating to the reinstatement of checks on short and medium-range missiles and arms controls.
The security guarantees Russia is demanding include NATO’s withdrawal of troops and weapons from eastern Europe and a ban on Ukraine from ever joining the alliance.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said on Friday that the situation on the border with Russia was practically the same as in April 2021, when Moscow had amassed more than 100,000 soldiers near the neighboring country.
“The number (of soldiers) then and now is similar. What changes is the reaction,” Reznikov told Ukrainian lawmakers during a parliamentary session to discuss mounting tensions with Russia.
The minister added that the main difference between what happened almost a year ago and now was “the intensity of the hybrid measures” around the crisis and their impact on the macroeconomic situation.
Reznikov said that there were currently “some 112,000 Russian uniformed personnel” on the border with Ukraine, which together with “the air and naval component” would add up to around 130,000 people.
“In April of last year there were 126,000 people,” he noted.
He added that Kiev would be following large-scale Russian-Belarusian military maneuvers set to take place in Belarus between 10-20 February 10 and 20.
Tensions over a buildup of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine reignited in late 2021, but in April 2021 Kiev had already reported that over 100,000 Russian soldiers were in the region.
According to Washington, it was the largest accumulation of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine since the 2014 Crimea and Donbas armed conflict.EFE