Ukraine acting foreign minister says Kiev is ready to fight Russian troops if Moscow deploys forces to the country.
“The Ukrainian people and Ukrainian army are ready to do this. Ukraine will confront Russia. We will defend our land. We will defend our territory,” the Associated Press quoted Andriy Deshchytsia as saying.
The Ukrainian official was reacting to Russia’s plan to launch military exercises along its border with Ukraine after at least five pro-Russian protesters were killed in eastern Ukraine.
Deshchytsia said the planned drill “very much escalates the situation in the region,” adding, “We will now fight with Russian troops if…they invade Ukraine.”
Deshchytsia also called on the European Union to impose fresh sanctions on Russia.
Ukraine said on Friday that it has launched the second phase of an operation to drive out pro-Russia activists from the country’s eastern cities.
Acting Head of Presidential Administration of Ukraine Serhiy Pashynsky said the second stage of the operation has kicked off in the city of Slavyansk, which is held by protesters.
The first stage of the operation began on Thursday, when Ukrainian troops entered the eastern city, killing at least five pro-Russia protesters.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced Kiev’s operations in the eastern part of the country as a “bloody crime,” saying the Ukrainian government is waging a war on its own people.
On April 17, Ukraine’s interim government together with the United States, Russia and the European Union reached an agreement in the Swiss city of Geneva, calling for all sides to ease the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine, where protesters keep occupying state buildings in several towns and cities.
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