Ukraine warns situation on Russian border ‘seriously deteriorating’
The situation at Ukraine’s border with Russia is “seriously deteriorating” amid fears Moscow is weighing another military incursion, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned.
In an interview ahead of a series of meetings in Brussels on Monday, Kuleba told POLITICO’s Brussels Playbook that the build-up of Russian units, artillery and tanks on the country’s eastern fringes is “dangerous,” seven years after Russia invaded eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea.
“What we see along our border is a sophisticated military infrastructure rolled out during the spring escalation, that is ready to be used for offensive operations against Ukraine,” Kuleba said. “I cannot speculate on the exact scale of those operations, but back in 2014 it was unimaginable that Crimea would be seized by Russia — therefore I cannot exclude any scenario at this point.”
Kuleba is in Brussels to attend the Eastern Partnership foreign ministers’ meeting, and is also scheduled to meet NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. His warning comes as U.S. officials told the EU last week that the Kremlin may be on the verge of another invasion of Ukraine. Moscow has denied the reports, with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov claiming, “Russia poses no threat to anyone.”
The Ukrainian foreign minister will also meet his French and German counterparts, in a bid to kickstart the moribund Normandy process — a forum that brought together Paris, Berlin, Moscow and Kyiv in a bid to respond to Russia’s incursion into eastern Ukraine. Kyiv has accused Russia of effectively abandoning the process.
Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers are also due to give political backing to expanded sanctions against Belarus on Monday. Belarus’s authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko is accused of bringing migrants from Iraq, Syria and other countries to the border with Poland to engineer a crisis that EU leaders have denounced as a “hybrid attack.”
Kuleba said the EU must view the current crisis on the Belarus border and Russia’s threat against Ukraine as a continuum. “When we see migrants used as a weapon, when we see disinformation used as a weapon, when we see gas used as a weapon, and soldiers and their guns … these are not separate elements,” he said.
“They are all part of a broad strategy to shatter Europe. We should see everything that is happening east of the EU border and inside of the EU as part of a general effort. These are not separate events taking place.”