Tensions in Ukraine took another step for the worse today as Russia held military exercises on the border and Ukraine’s foreign minister responded “We are Ready to Fight Russia”
Andriy Deshchytisa said Russia’s decision Thursday to launch the military exercises “very much escalates the situation in the region.”
Talking to The Associated Press in Prague, Deshchytisa says his country has been taught a lesson by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. He says “having this experience, we will now fight with Russian troops if … they invade Ukraine.”
He says “Ukrainian people and Ukrainian army are ready to do this.”
Russia holds Military Exercises on Border
The Financial Times reports Russia Plans Military Exercises After Mounting Ukraine Unrest.
Russia has announced military exercises on the border of Ukraine, hours after Kiev sent in its army to flush out armed pro-Russian rebels in the east of the country raising fears about the worsening crisis.
As tensions on the ground escalated, the war of words between Moscow and Kiev also intensified. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine there would be consequences for sending its armed forces into the volatile east to oust separatists from government buildings and checkpoints. Ukraine’s acting president Oleksandr Turchynov retaliated on national TV, accusing Russia of “co-ordinating and supporting killer terrorists”.
The two leaders’ remarks came shortly after Ukraine’s army began a big security offensive against the separatist stronghold city of Slavyansk on Thursday, making good on its vow to crack down on armed rebels holding public buildings in the country’s east.
But there were reports that Ukrainian troops had withdrawn from a checkpoint north of Slavyansk they had taken over earlier in the day and pro-Russian separatists had moved back in and began to strengthen the position with sandbags.
Tensions have been rising in eastern Ukraine after the tortured body of a local politician – allied to Kiev – was discovered in a river near Donetsk.
Obama Warns Russia Sanctions ‘Teed Up’
For sake of completeness, meaningless red line talk comes from president Obama who warns, Sanctions ‘Teed Up’
Mr Obama said that it was “a matter of days, not weeks” before new sanctions would be levelled on Russia unless it took decisive steps to reduce the tensions in eastern Ukraine.
The new round of US sanctions is likely to target more of the business figures around the Russian leader Vladimir Putin as well as potentially some banks or state-owned companies. US officials have said that the broader, sectoral sanctions that the White House now has the power to impose are only likely if there is an explicit Russian military intervention in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Danylo Lubkivsky, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, said on Thursday that it was time to impose new sanctions on Russia. Speaking on a visit to Washington, he said he still hoped for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, but he insisted that “Russia has already crossed a new red line, so we need to impose further economic pressure on the Kremlin”.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former US national security adviser, said that events in Ukraine were quickly spinning out of control. “I fear we are stumbling into a crisis which is unpredictable,” he said. “But I still think there is a residual chance for reaching some sort of accommodation.”
I still suspect cooler heads will prevail. Let’s hope so. Perhaps it would help if Ukraine repeated its offer of amnesty to rebels who lay down their weapons now.