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Russian officials say Ukraine's stated goal of re-taking Crimea is a 'direct threat' to Russia. Shutterstock/lev radin

Russia warns of return to 'nightmare scenario of military confrontation' over Ukraine

Ukraine’s goal of re-taking Crimea has been described as “a direct threat to Russia.”

THE RUSSIAN FOREIGN Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that a return to the “nightmare scenario of military confrontation” in Ukraine is highly likely.

Speaking at an Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in Stockholm, Lavrov accused NATO of bringing its military infrastructure “closer to the Russian borders.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Russia to “de-escalate” on Ukraine and use “diplomacy”, reiterating his threat of “serious consequences” if Russia resorts to “aggression”.

“We have deep concerns about Russia’s plans for renewed aggression against Ukraine,” Blinken told Sergei Lavrov during the talks in Sweden.

The US reiterated it’s stance today, after threatening “high impact” sanctions yesterday.

Lavrov earlier urged the West to seriously consider “relevant proposals” Moscow would be presenting soon to prevent NATO’s expansion to the east.

“A Direct Threat”

His comments come after the Kremlin said that Ukraine’s stated goal of retaking Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014, amounted to a “direct threat” to Russia, as tensions soar over Kiev’s conflict with pro-Russia separatists.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday that Crimea was Ukrainian territory and Kiev’s goal was to “liberate” it.

He focused however on diplomatic solutions and made no mention of taking the peninsula by force.

“Speaking in parliament, Zelensky said that the return of Crimea should be the main goal and philosophy of Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“We see this as a direct threat to Russia.”

“Such wording of course means that the Kiev regime intends to use all available means — including force, in order to encroach on a Russian region. This is how we are leaning towards perceiving it.”

 Kiev’s Western allies have warned in recent weeks that a Russian invasion of Ukraine may be imminent and that Moscow may use a threat to its security as a pretext.

“The likelihood of hostilities in Ukraine is still high,” Peskov said.

“This remains a matter of particular concern and worry for us. We are seeing an increase in the intensity of provocative actions on the contact line.”

Meeting Tomorrow

Top US diplomats and their Russian counterparts are set to meet in Sweden tomorrow after Washington expressed concern about a Russian military buildup near Ukraine.

Pro-Moscow rebels seized two eastern Ukrainian regions shortly after Russia annexed Crimea in a long-simmering conflict that has claimed over 13,000 lives.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of backing the separatist fighters with forces and weapons, claims the Kremlin denies.

Earlier, Ukraine’s army said one of its soldiers was killed in clashes with the separatists this week.

© AFP 2021

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