The Kremlin says it fears a full-scale battle in eastern Ukraine


Moscow (AP) — The Kremlin said Friday that it feared the resumption of full-scale fighting in eastern Ukraine, where measures could be taken to protect civilians.

A statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov reflects the Kremlin’s determination to prevent Ukraine from using its power to regain control of the separatist-controlled territory of the eastern part of the country. doing.

Separatists backed by Ukrainian troops and Russia have fought in eastern Ukraine shortly after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. More than 14,000 people have died in the conflict, and efforts to negotiate a political solution are stalled.

Ukrainian and Western officials have expressed concern over the last few weeks that more and more frequent ceasefire breaches are occurring in the industrial center of the country known as Donbas. They also expressed concern about the buildup of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border.

In a meeting with Putin on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel “sought to remove reinforcements from these units to achieve a worsening situation.”

White House spokesman Jen Psaki said Thursday that the United States is also increasingly concerned about military buildup, and Russia now has more troops on its border with Ukraine than at any time since 2014. Said.

In response to these statements, Peskov said Russia was free to deploy troops anywhere in its territory. He accused Ukrainian troops of “escalation of provocative actions” along the eastern line of control that threatened Russia’s security.

“The Kremlin is worried that the civil war will resume in Ukraine. If a civil war occurs, full-scale military operations that threaten the security of the Russian Federation will resume near the border,” Peskov said. “The ongoing increase in tension is completely unprecedented.”

Dmitry Kozak, Russia’s chief negotiator with Kiev, aide to Putin, said that such a move would mark the “beginning of the end of Ukraine” and decided to use force to regain control of the east. On Thursday, he warned Ukraine.

Mr Kozak said Russia is likely to act to protect civilians in the face of potential massacres such as those that occurred during the Bosnian War in Srebrenica in 1995.

Asked about Kozak’s comments, Peskov said in the case of a threat like Srebrenica, “all countries, including Russia, will take steps to prevent such tragedy.” He claimed that his toxic nationalist rhetoric in Ukraine fueled hatred of the eastern population, which speaks primarily Russian.

Turkish Foreign Ministry officials said on Friday that the United States had informed Turkey that two US warships had moved to the Black Sea and would stay there until May 4. Authorities are speaking on condition of anonymity according to government rules. The United States said it had notified Turkey 15 days before the vessel passed, in line with a treaty regulating transport through the Turkish Straits.

Such visits by the United States and other NATO vessels have plagued Ukraine, which has long been plagued by Ukraine’s efforts to build defense relations with the West and its desire to eventually join NATO. It was.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned on Friday that Ukrainian NATO bids “not only significantly worsen the situation in the southeast, but could have irreversible consequences for the Ukrainian state.” did.

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Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed to this report.

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