Large scale Russian offensive possible in January, Ukraine says

Newly appointed Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov attends a session of Parliament in Kiev, Ukraine on November 4, 2021. REUTERS/ Oleksandr Klimenko

Register now to get free unlimited access to

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s defense minister told parliament on Friday, citing intelligence reports, that Russia had massed more than 94,000 troops near Ukraine’s border and may be preparing for a large-scale military offensive at the end of January.

Oleksiy Reznikov said Ukraine would not do anything to provoke the situation, but was ready to respond if Russia launched an attack. He said that Ukraine is proceeding with the construction of two naval bases on its southern coast.

“Our intelligence analyzes all scenarios, including the worst,” Reznikov said. “It indicates that the possibility of a large-scale escalation from Russia exists. The most likely time to reach readiness for escalation will be the end of January,” he added.

Register now to get free unlimited access to

Ukraine and its NATO allies have sounded the alarm about Russian troop movements near Ukraine’s border this year, raising fears that a simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine could erupt into open war.

Moscow, in turn, accused Ukraine and the United States of destabilizing behavior and indicated that Kiev might be preparing to launch its own attack in eastern Ukraine, which the Ukrainian authorities strongly deny.

The deputy head of the Russian parliament’s upper house denied that Moscow was planning any offensive operation in eastern Ukraine, Interfax news agency reported, and said that Moscow would do everything possible to prevent a major escalation in the region.

Kremlin foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov was also dismissive. “This is nonsense, there is no escalation. We have the right to move troops on our territory,” he told reporters.

Ukraine pressed its European Union and NATO allies this week to prepare a tough package of sanctions to stave off a Russian attack.

Reznikov said Ukraine was pressing ahead with building naval bases as part of a defense pact with Britain.

One of the bases will be located in Ochakiv, to the west of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and the other in Berdyansk to the east of Crimea. Read more

“One of the priorities is the missile program and the development of the fleet,” Reznikov told parliament. “We are moving to the practical stage of construction of two military bases – in Berdyansk and Oshakiv – and further contracts within the framework of agreements with the United Kingdom.”

video call

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned Moscow on Thursday of the “heavy costs” that Russia would pay in the event of an escalation, urging his Russian counterpart to seek a diplomatic exit from the crisis. Read more

Blinken said Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are likely to speak soon.

The Kremlin said, on Friday, that work is underway to arrange a video call between them, a day after their top diplomats met to discuss the Ukraine issue. Read more

Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed in 2014 after Moscow-backed forces seized territory in eastern Ukraine that Kiev wants to take back. Kiev says about 14,000 people have been killed in the fighting since then.

Since the start of the latest crisis, Moscow has made demands of the West for legally binding security guarantees that NATO will not accept Ukraine as a member or deploy missile systems there to target Russia.

Ukraine says Russia has no say in its ambitions to join NATO and has rejected any security guarantees as illegitimate.

“Escalation is a possible scenario, but it is not inevitable, and our task is to prevent it,” Reznikov said. We must make the price of escalation unacceptable to the aggressor.”

Register now to get free unlimited access to

Additional reporting by Tom Palmforth and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Written by Matthew Williams; Editing by John Stonestreet and Alison Williams

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


best of the web (1)

Related posts

Boris Johnson is facing a make-or-break moment with report due into 'Partygate' scandal

The British prime minister has been under pressure for weeks over alleged summer garden parties and…
Read more

Taliban talks in Norway raise new debate about recognition

Oslo, Norway (AFP) – A Taliban delegation led by Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mottaki on…
Read more

Blinken says 'a single additional Russian force' entering Ukraine would trigger US response

“If one additional Russian force enters Ukraine in an aggressive manner, as I said, it will…
Read more
Become a Trendsetter
Sign up for Davenport’s Daily Digest and get the best of Davenport, tailored for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *