Ukraine says chance of large-scale Russian invasion ‘low’

Kiev, Feb 18 Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said today that the possibility of a large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine “is low”, despite warnings from the US and other Western countries of an eventual attack “in days”. “We do not minimize the threat in any way. But we still estimate low the probability of a major escalation (…), Reznikov said during an intervention in the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament). “I emphasize once again: now they can announce different data and different dates of some events and different scenarios. The Ukrainian Army has calculated all these scenarios and is ready for them,” he stressed. At the same time, the Defense Minister pointed out that there is no withdrawal of Russian soldiers on the borders with Ukraine, which he currently estimates at 149,000. to the situation around the Ukrainian borders. First, we do not confirm the statements of the Russian side on the withdrawal of troops. This is not happening. There is a movement of forces and military equipment,” he said. “Second, we are currently monitoring the Russian units, which total 129,000 people in their ground component and, together with several thousand more people from the naval and aviation components, add up to about 149,000,” Reznikov said. Russia announced on Tuesday the partial withdrawal of units from the western and southern military districts, both of which border Ukraine, and since then has posted almost daily videos and announcements about the withdrawal to its permanent garrisons of soldiers and of military equipment, although it does not provide figures or from where the troops return.This Friday the Russian Defense Ministry reported that ten Su-24 bombers stationed in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, were returned to the region of Rostov and Krasnodar Territory, and said another tank train from the Western Military District has started to return to its permanent deployment point. Intelligence sees all movements that could pose a potential threat to Ukraine. Every plane, helicopter or tank unit, we see them. We are in constant contact with our international partners and we receive confirmation of this information,” Reznikov said. The Defense Minister also referred to the increase in military tension in Donbas, where the Army and pro-Russian separatists supported by Moscow have been clashing since 2014. and where serious violations of the ceasefire imposed in 2015 with the use of artillery and mortars were recorded on Thursday.This Friday the self-proclaimed republics of Lugansk and Donetsk again denounced alleged attacks by the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the contact line, while that Kiev stressed that only yesterday the separatists carried out 60 attacks, 43 of which were with weapons prohibited by the Minsk Peace Accords. Two soldiers and two civilians were injured. Reznikov noted that from January 1 to February 16 inclusive , 107 attacks on positions of Ukrainian soldiers on the contact line were recorded in the Donetsk and Lug regions ansk from the territories temporarily occupied by Russia. The minister assured that Ukraine is already used to Russian provocations and that Kiev is not planning any violent action against the separatist territories of Lugansk and Donetsk or the Crimean peninsula, because it is committed to a peaceful solution to the conflict. EFE io-cae/bsi/jac

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