Large-scale Russian offensive possible in January, Ukraine says – .

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Large-scale Russian offensive possible in January, Ukraine says – .


KYIV, Dec. 3 (Reuters) – Russia has assembled more than 94,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders and may prepare for a full-scale military offensive in late January, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told parliament on Friday. , citing intelligence reports.

Reznikov said Ukraine would do nothing to provoke the situation but was ready to retaliate if Russia launched an attack.

Ukraine and its NATO allies have sounded the alarm bells over Russian troop movements near Ukraine’s borders this year, raising concerns that a latent conflict in eastern Ukraine does not degenerate into open war.

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“Our intelligence analyzes all scenarios, including the worst,” Reznikov said. “He notes that the likelihood of a large-scale escalation from Russia exists. The most likely time to prepare for an escalation will be the end of January. “

Ukraine urged its European Union and NATO allies this week to prepare a tough sanctions package to prevent Russia from launching an offensive.

Moscow in turn accused Ukraine and the United States of destabilizing behavior and suggested that Kiev could prepare to launch its own offensive in eastern Ukraine, which Ukrainian authorities firmly deny.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday warned Moscow of the “high costs” Russia would pay in the event of an escalation, urging his Russian counterpart to seek a diplomatic way out of the crisis. Read more

Blinken said it was likely Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin would speak soon.

Work is underway to arrange a video call between them, the Kremlin said on Friday, a day after their top diplomats met to discuss the Ukraine crisis. Read more

Ukraine’s ties with Russia collapsed in 2014 after Moscow-backed forces seized territory in eastern Ukraine that Kiev wants to reclaim. Kiev says some 14,000 people have been killed in the fighting since then.

Since the start of the last crisis, Moscow has asked the West for legally binding security guarantees that NATO will not accept Ukraine as a member or deploy missile systems there to target the United States. Russia.

Ukraine has said Russia has no say in its ambitions to join the NATO alliance and has rejected any security guarantees as illegitimate.

“Escalation is a likely scenario, but not inevitable, and our task is to prevent it,” Reznikov said. “We must make the price of escalation unacceptable to the aggressor. “

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Reporting by Natalia Zinets; written by Matthias Williams; edited by John Stonestreet

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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