Ukraine officials warn of “bloody massacre” in Russian invasion

By Matthew Chance and Katherina Krebs | CNN

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov told CNN that there will be a “really bloody massacre” if Russia decides to invade Ukraine, warning that “Russians will return to the coffins too,” amid heightened concerns about troop movements at the Ukraine Border of nations.

Reznikov called on US President Joe Biden, who was due to speak in a video conference with Vladimir Putin from Russia on Tuesday, to stand firm against Moscow.

“If I can advise President Biden, I would like him to articulate to Mr Putin that there should be no red lines from the Kremlin here. The red line is here in Ukraine and the civilized world will react without hesitation, “Reznikov told CNN on Monday in an exclusive interview.

“The idea of ​​not provoking Russia will not work,” he added.

US and Western officials have voiced concerns about the build-up of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border. Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken said last week that the US “must prepare for any eventuality”.

Russia has capacity along the Ukrainian border to carry out a swift and immediate invasion, including building utilities such as medical units and fuel that could sustain a protracted conflict should Moscow choose to invade, two sources tied with American intelligence reviews said CNN last week.

Reznikov told CNN that Ukraine estimates that Russia currently has 95,000 soldiers within range of Ukraine. He added that given the strength of the battle-hardened Ukrainian armed forces, current US estimates that Russia could deploy 175,000 troops to invade Ukraine were an underestimate.

“So we have 250,000 official… members of our army. I also said 400,000 veterans and 200,000 reservists. 175,000 (is) not enough to go to Ukraine, ”said Reznikov.

Reznikov stressed that a Russian invasion – if it happens – would have “catastrophic” consequences for the entire European continent, with an estimated 4 to 5 million Ukrainians potentially seeking refuge in Europe. Reznikov also stressed that Ukraine was a major supplier of food to Europe and Africa, which he believed supplies would be disrupted.

The minister said the Ukrainian army had requested further assistance with military equipment from its allies, including material assistance and training for its air force and navy. “We don’t need troops because I don’t think it’s fair that American soldiers die in Ukraine. No, we don’t need that, ”added Reznikov.

Ukraine has been warning for weeks that Russia is trying to destabilize the country before a planned military invasion. NATO notes that Russian movements near the border were unusual. Western powers have repeatedly urged Russia to take further aggressive steps against Ukraine.

The Kremlin denies attack plans, arguing that NATO support for Ukraine – including increased arms deliveries and military training – is a growing threat to Russia’s western flank.

Regarding the Kremlin’s motives, Reznikov told CNN that he believed Russia’s saber-rattling was aimed at spreading fear and unrest in Ukraine and preventing Ukraine from moving closer to NATO and EU membership.

The Kremlin is demanding a legal promise that NATO will not expand to the east to include Ukraine and that no NATO military infrastructure such as missile systems will be built in the country.

“If we share or spread panic in our country and in our society, it is a gift to the Kremlin for trying to do so. Since this troop rally is along our border, one of their main goals is to advance the destabilization process within our country, to keep us on our way. But we’re going to the NATO allies, we’re going to the EU, ”he said.


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