Ukraine’s President Says His Country Is Ready For War With Russia
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has said his country is ‘ready’ for war and it will ‘defend itself in case of the necessity’ as tensions build with along the border with Russia.
Satellite images reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show warplanes lined up on a runway at an air base in Crimea, while other units on the peninsula include airborne troops, motorised rifle and armoured units, attack helicopters, smoke generators, reconnaissance drones, jamming equipment and a military hospital.
Zelensky’s address came as a clear signal that Ukraine is gearing up for the possibility of war with Russia, as he admitted officials are worried about the number of Russian troops concentrated near the borders.
He commented: ‘Russia officially calls it an exercise. Unofficially, the whole world calls such things blackmail. Does this worry us? Yes. Does Ukraine and its international partners demand that troops be withdrawn from our borders? Yes.’
The president described Russia’s actions as illogical but expected, and assured residents that the gathering of troops does not mean that escalation is inevitable.
However, while he made clear that Ukraine does not ‘want’ a war, he confirmed the country is ready for one.
Will Ukraine stop fighting for peace through diplomacy? Never. Will Ukraine defend itself in case of the necessity? Always.
Our principle is simple: Ukraine does not start a war first, but Ukraine always stands to the last man.
The president went on to urge residents to think ‘thrice’ about whether they could trust internet news sources; to be careful about the information being consumed and the reactions to it.
He warned of ‘rumors from acquaintances whose acquaintances have acquaintances in the Ministry of Defense and secretly shared secret information’, and encouraged his country to stay ‘vigilant’.
Zelensky added: ‘Do we need to be afraid? No. Because Ukraine-2021 is very different from Ukraine-2014.’
The address came just one day before Russian president Vladimir Putin’s annual state of the union address on Wednesday, and towards the end of his statement Zelensky spoke directly to Putin as he stressed that it is ‘impossible to bring peace on a tank.’
Zelensky also invited Putin to ‘meet anywhere in the Ukrainian Donbas where there is war.’ The Russian president did not immediately respond, but in his annual address he stated that Russia will be ‘asymmetric, fast and tough’ if it is forced to defend its interests.
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The Wall Street Journal