By YURAS KARMANAU
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Ukraine’s leaders on Tuesday sought to reassure the nation that an invasion from neighboring Russia would not happen, even as they acknowledged the threat was real and received a shipment of US military equipment to strengthen its defenses.
Moscow denies it is planning an attack, but it has deployed about 100,000 troops near Ukraine in recent weeks and is holding military exercises at various locations in Russia. That has prompted the US and its NATO allies to rush to prepare for a possible war.
Several key rounds of diplomacy failed to yield any breakthroughs and tensions continued to escalate this week. NATO says it is strengthening deterrence in the Baltic Sea region, and the US has ordered 8,500 troops on heightened alert for potential deployments to Europe as part of a “response force”. alliance if necessary. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said he was prepared to send troops to protect NATO allies in Europe.
During a demonstration of European unity in Berlin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron called for de-escalating the crisis.
“We… expect clear steps from Russia that will contribute to de-escalating the situation,” Scholz said.
Macron, who said he would speak to President Vladimir Putin by phone on Friday, added: “If there is aggression, there will be retaliation and the cost will be very high.”
The US and its allies have vowed to hit Russia more than ever if Moscow sends troops into Ukraine but they have provided some details, saying it’s best to let Putin guess.
The US State Department has ordered the families of all US staff at the US Embassy in Kyiv to leave the country, and it says nonessential embassy staff can leave. . Britain also said it was also withdrawing some diplomats and dependents from its embassy, and that the families of Canadian diplomats had also been told to leave.
In Ukraine, however, authorities have sought to remain calm so as not to destabilize the situation and avoid panic – and many residents have expressed skepticism that an invasion will soon come.
In parliament, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that “until today, there is no basis to believe” Russia is preparing an imminent invasion, noting that its army has not yet established what he called a battle group that can cross the border. .
“Don’t worry, sleep well,” he said. “No need to pack your luggage.”
Reznikov’s remarks followed repeated reassurances from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials. On Monday, Zelenskyy told the nation that the situation “is under control.”
However, in an interview that aired late on Monday, the defense secretary acknowledged that “there are risk scenarios” that “could happen and can happen in the future.”
Russia says Western accusations that it is planning an attack are just a cover for planned NATO provocations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov again accused the US of “increasing tensions” around Ukraine, a former Soviet state that has been at war with Russia for nearly eight years.
Moscow has rejected Western demands to withdraw its troops from areas near Ukraine, saying it will deploy and train them wherever necessary on its territory as a response to moves by the United States. and allies called “enemies”. On Tuesday, thousands of troops from Russia’s Southern and Western Military Districts took part in readiness drills in these regions in exercises involving Iskander missiles and dozens of machines. combat flight.
In 2014, after ousting a Kremlin-friendly president in Kyiv, Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and gave weight to a separatist insurgency in the country’s eastern industrial heartland. Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels has left more than 14,000 people dead and efforts to reach a settlement have stalled.
In the latest standoff, Russia wants the West to ensure that NATO will never admit Ukraine as a member and that the alliance will limit other actions, such as stationing troops in former Soviet bloc countries. Some of these, like membership pledges, have no effect on NATO, creating a seemingly incurable stalemate that many fear could only end in a war.
Moscow accuses Ukraine of massing troops near rebel-held areas to retake them by force – accusations Kyiv denies.
Analysts say Ukraine’s leaders are caught between trying to reassure the nation and making sure they get enough support from the West in the event of an invasion.
Political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko said: “Ukrainian authorities are trying to prevent unrest and panic in the country, hence the soothing statements that there is no threat of an imminent invasion. happening of Russia”.
The Kremlin’s plans include sabotaging the situation inside Ukraine, stoking hysteria and fear among the Ukrainian people, and the authorities in Kyiv find it increasingly difficult to control, he added. control this snowball.
The crisis hasn’t stopped large groups of people from gathering in front of parliament in Kyiv, demanding changes to the country’s tax regulations and even clashing with police at times.
The other Ukrainians watched cautiously.
“Of course, we fear Russian aggression and a war, which will lead to further poverty of the Ukrainian people. But we will be forced to fight and defend ourselves,” said Dmytro Ugol, a 46-year-old construction worker in Kyiv. “I was prepared to fight, but my whole family didn’t want it and lived in stress. Every day, the news scares us more and more.”
Putting the US military on high alert for Europe on Monday dampened hopes in the West that Mr Putin would back down from what US President Joe Biden himself has said is a threat. threatened to invade Ukraine.
The Pentagon said on Tuesday it was still identifying about 8,500 US troops who were on higher alert for possible deployment to Europe, and said more could be exploited if needed. Press secretary John Kirby said the US was still “in active consultation” with allies on what capabilities they might need.
As part of the new $200 million in security assistance to Ukraine from the United States, a shipment of equipment and ammunition arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday, according to Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar. Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar.
If Russia invades, “we will provide additional defensive material to the Ukrainians, higher and further than what we sent,” said US-based Chargé d’Affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien at the airport.
“And allow me to emphasize that Russian soldiers sent to Ukraine by order of the Kremlin will face fierce resistance. The losses for Russia will be heavy,” Kvien said.
The US moves are being taken in tandem with actions by other NATO members to strengthen their defensive presence in Eastern Europe. Denmark is sending a frigate and F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania; Spain is sending four fighter jets to Bulgaria and three ships to the Black Sea to join NATO’s navy, while France is ready to send troops to Romania.
Biden’s national security team has been working with several European countries, the European Commission and global suppliers on contingency plans should Russia cut energy, according to two administration officials. told reporters about efforts to mitigate spillovers from potential military actions. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the considerations.
If necessary, Europe will look to natural gas supplies in North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the United States. The effort will require “smaller volumes from multiple sources” to make up for Russia’s limitations, according to one official.
Ellen Knickmeyer, Lolita Baldor and Aamer Madhani in Washington, Dasha Litvinova and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Barbara Surk in Nice, France, and Sylvia Hui in London attended.
https://www.sbsun.com/2022/01/25/ukrainian-leaders-stay-calm-russian-invasion-not-imminent/ Be calm, the Russian invasion will not happen – San Bernardino Sun