‘No reason to panic’: Ukraine’s leaders appeal for calm – as Russia makes combat readiness inspections near border

Ukraine’s leaders have appealed for calm and reassured the nation an attack from Russia is not imminent – despite the neighbouring superpower making combat readiness inspections close to its border.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said late on Monday that the situation is “under control” and there is “no reason to panic”.

However, the Ukrainian government has acknowledged the threat from Russia is real and is due to accept a shipment of US military equipment to bolster its defences.
Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said that, as of Monday, Russia’s armed forces had not formed what he called battle groups, “which would have indicated that tomorrow they would launch an offensive”.
“There are risky scenarios. They’re possible and probable in the future,” he told Ukraine’s ICTV channel on Monday. “But as of today… such a threat doesn’t exist.”


Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, echoed that sentiment, saying: “As of today, we don’t see any grounds for statements about a full-scale offensive on our country.”

Image: A Russian paratrooper attends a military exercise at the Pesochnoe training ground in the Yaroslavl region. Pic: AP

Image: Russian soldiers attend a military exercise at the Golovenki training ground in the Moscow region. Pic: AP
The statements come as Russia started making combat readiness inspections, involving more than 6,000 troops, in its southern military district which borders Ukraine, the Russian state-owned news agency RIA has reported.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement on developments in the region in the House of Commons today, where he said he joined a virtual meeting with world leaders including US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, last night.
Mr Johnson said: “We agreed that we would respond in unison to any Russian attack on Ukraine, in unison by imposing co-ordinated and severe economic sanctions heavier than anything we have done before against Russia.
“And we agreed on the necessity of finalising these measures as swiftly as possible in order to maximise their deterrent effect.”

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PM: Russia sanctions ‘ready to go’
The prime minister also warned that if the “worst happens” in Ukraine the country’s resistance “would be dogged and tenacious, and the bloodshed comparable to the first war in Chechnya or Bosnia”.
It comes as Foreign Minister Liz Truss has said she will visit Ukraine next week, as she reiterated a warning to Russia that any incursion into Ukrainian territory would come at a severe economic cost.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said Russian President Vladimir Putin will talk to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron later this week.
Mr Macron is also planning to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
What’s going on at Russian military bases near Ukraine?

Image: An Ukrainian soldier stands at the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels in the Donetsk region. Pic: AP
Moscow said earlier it was watching with great concern after the United States put 8,500 troops on alert to be ready to deploy to Europe in case of an escalation in the crisis.
The US move is in tandem with actions by other NATO member governments to bolster a defensive presence in eastern Europe.
Denmark is sending a frigate and F-16 warplanes to Lithuania, Spain is sending four fighter jets to Bulgaria and three ships to the Black Sea to join NATO naval forces, and France stands ready to send troops to Romania.

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Britons on Ukraine’s frontline
However, Germany has chosen not to supply Ukraine with weapons – despite the Ukrainian government asking for defence aid.
Russia has massed an estimated 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine in recent weeks but denies it is preparing to invade – denouncing US and NATO preparations for war as Western “hysteria”.
Intense diplomatic activity in recent weeks has failed to ease tensions.

Image: Members of Ukraine’s territorial defence forces train in a city park in Kyiv. Pic: AP
The UK is withdrawing some diplomats and dependents from its embassy in the Ukrainian capital, while the US State Department has ordered the families of all American personnel at the US Embassy in Kyiv to leave the country, and said non-essential embassy staff could leave.
Ukraine, a former Soviet state, has been locked in a bitter tug-of-war with Russia for almost eight years.
In 2014, following the removal of a Kremlin-friendly president in Ukraine, Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula and threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in the country’s industrial heartland in the east.

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On Ukraine’s frozen frontlines
The fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels has since killed more than 14,000 people, and efforts to reach a peaceful settlement have stalled.
In the latest stand-off, Russia has demanded guarantees from the West that NATO would never allow Ukraine to join and that the alliance would curtail other actions, such as stationing troops in former Soviet bloc countries.
Some of these, like any pledge to permanently bar Ukraine, are non-starters for NATO, creating a seemingly intractable stalemate that many fear can only end in war.

Source : Sky News