‘We don’t want war with Russia’: Ukraine FM
Kiev, Apr 9 (EFE).- Ukraine does not want a war with Russia but it is ready to defend itself if it is attacked, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said Friday in an exclusive interview with Efe.
“I would like to make it clear that Ukraine does not want war. We are not preparing any escalations, any offensive operations, any limited military operations on the ground,” he said.
Kuleba blamed Russia for the biggest military buildup along the border with Ukraine since 2014, saying this was an attempt to intimidate Ukraine. According to the chief of staff of Ukrainian armed forces Ruslan Khomchak, as of March 31 Russia had sent 28 tactical military groups to the Ukrainian border.
“What we see now is the biggest military and propaganda buildup of Russia along Ukrainian borders since 2014-2015, the period of the most active fighting on the ground” in Donbas, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russian-backed separatists for the past seven years, Kuleba said.
Ukraine has accused the Russian-backed forces of increasing provocations in Donbas in recent days. This is the most significant escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine since the ceasefire was agreed in July 2020, it said.
“It is an intimidation with a potential follow-up, because no one can predict what is on Russia’s mind… This puts us on alert,” he said.
“We rely on and we put all stakes in a diplomatic solution of the conflict,” Kuleba said, noting that 25 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed by Russian-backed forces in Donbas this year, despite a formal ceasefire.
Kuleba said recent statements by Russian officials threatening Ukraine’s existence were worrying.
“Mr Kozak, who represents Russia in the Normandy format and works with Mr Putin, said that the war in Donbas will be the beginning of an end of Ukraine. To my deepest regret, my colleague, foreign minister Lavrov, speaks along the same lines,” Kuleba said.
“When we read all these messages – they were never voiced officially and now they are there – we understand Russian strategy may be far-reaching and we have to prepare for a full-fledged defence of our country.”
Kuleba also said Ukraine, while not a part of NATO, relies on the support of its allies in the EU and the US. “
We do not belong to any military alliance, but we need support and we count that we will receive it in different forms – political, economical, military, intelligence,” he said.
“We are ready to defend ourselves, but what is happening in Ukraine is not only about Ukraine. It’s about respect for international law, respect for world order.” EFE