Russia warns of full-scale war in Ukraine's east amid tensions with Kiev
Iran Press TV
Saturday, 10 April 2021 6:46 AM
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has warned of a full-scale war in eastern Ukraine amid heightened tensions with Kiev.
In a news briefing on Friday, Peskov raised the alarm about the resumption of an all-out conflict in Ukraine's east and expressed Russia's determination to prevent Kiev from using force to try to retake the separatist-controlled region of Donbass.
Peskov told reporters that Moscow had the right to move its forces across the war-hit territory at its discretion and was simply taking precautions given the "dangerous, explosive region at its borders" with eastern Ukraine.
The Kremlin spokesman warned that the situation on the contact line was extremely unstable and said, "The dynamicsâ€¦create the danger of a resumption of full-scale hostilities."
Describing the border region as a "powder keg," Peskov defended the Russian military buildup in the flashpoint area and said Russia "will not stand aside" if it believes hostilities could lead to "mass civilian casualties."
Media reports showed that Russian tanks, rocket artillery, and short-range ballistic missiles have been transported to just 150 miles from Ukraine, where Moscow has established a large new military base.
Dmitry Kozak, a Russian presidential aide who serves as the country's top negotiator with Kiev, earlier warned Ukraine against using force to retake control of Donbass.
Such a move would mark "the beginning of an end for Ukraine," he said, adding that Russia would act to protect its citizens.
As fears grew over a major escalation between Moscow and Kiev, Ukraine announced on Friday that it would not launch an offensive against pro-Russian forces controlling the volatile region in the country's east.
The United States, France and Germany have called on Russia to halt the troop buildup on the borders with Ukraine, and reaffirmed their support for Kiev in its confrontation with Moscow.
Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame in recent weeks for a spike in violence in the Russian-speaking eastern Donbass region, where Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian forces have fought a conflict that has killed 14,000 people since 2014 by Ukraine's estimate.
The armed confrontations began when a wave of protests in Ukraine overthrew a democratically-elected pro-Russia government and replaced it with a pro-West administration. The majority in those areas refused to endorse the new administration.
That new government then began a crackdown on the mainly ethnic Russians in the east, who in turn took up arms and turned the two regions of Donetsk and Lugansk â€” collectively known as the Donbass â€” into self-proclaimed republics.
Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow, however, denies the allegations.
Relations between Moscow and Kiev further deteriorated when the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea rejoined Russia following a referendum in 2014. More than 90 percent of the participants in the referendum voted in favor of that unification.
Kiev and its Western allies brand the reunification as the annexation of Ukrainian land by Russia and accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow, however, denies the allegations.
Siding with Ukraine, the European Union has followed Washington's lead in leveling several rounds of sanctions against Moscow.
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