Russia accused the US today of “hysteria” after Kiev reported a possible invasion and Russia warned of further military action, as Ukrainian leader Oleksandr Turchynov played down tensions.
Ukraine’s self-proclaimed President Petro Poroshenko warned today that there were “zero chances” for peace talks in eastern Ukraine after government forces killed at least 17 pro-Moscow militants in two reported attacks overnight.
“The enemy thinks that it can win the war, we think that we can win. At the moment we have no doubts,” Poroshenko said in Kiev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stepped up attacks on western powers’ allegations that his country was backing the rebels’ fighting to unseat Poroshenko, while stating the situation was “serious” but that Ukraine and Russia were not at war.
The Russian defence ministry is preparing to respond to any invasion after a report in the American media said up to five Russian ships had arrived off the coast of Ukraine, one of the biggest Russian military flotillas in the Black Sea since the end of the second world war.
In response to the statement, the Kremlin accused Kiev of “hysteria” after Kiev repeated an earlier claim it had confronted more than 20 Russian combat planes over the weekend, the second time in a week that Kiev has made the claim.
“We’re seeing that Ukrainian military officials are making more and more bellicose statements about Russia,” the statement said.
Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the fighting in Ukraine since it began two months ago, when it annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, and says the main cause of the violence was Kiev’s attempt to crack down on corruption and close down separatist strongholds in the east.
Turchynov told journalists the Russian manoeuvres on the eastern coast had shown its “increasing military aggression”.
“We are now witnessing the Kremlin’s naval manoeuvres and land operations at the Ukrainian coast,” Turchynov said.