Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens NATO's eastern borders.
"At present the tension in the Sea of Azov has attracted the attention of the international community, but at the same time Russian fighter planes violate Ukrainian airspace in different parts of the border and in the Baltic States. They are also preparing to take air control of the territory where gas and oil pipelines pass through delivering hydrocarbons to Europe. Putin threatens NATO's eastern borders. If you remain silent, Putin will know that he can continue to expand and gain new benefits," the Head of State stressed," Poroshenko said in an interview to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, according to the presidential press service.
Poroshenko noted a solid European position and demand for the Kremlin to adhere to international law. In particular, the requirement for Russia to release Ukrainian seamen and guarantee free navigation in the waters of the Kerch Strait.
"I am convinced that the time of general political declarations has already passed. If we want to normalize the situation, it's necessary to tell the Moscow authorities directly: the aggression against Europe is unacceptable, the new incident will not be tolerated and the next aggressive action will only increase the price to be paid by Moscow," the president answered about his attitude towards growing sympathy for Putin in some European, in particular, Italian political circles.
The president stressed that concrete steps should be taken to stop Russian aggression, such as "blocking the Nord Stream 2 project, strengthening NATO's presence in the Black Sea, introducing new sanctions against those responsible for the crisis in the Azov Sea, forbidding Russian ships from entering the European ports, supporting Ukraine in the political, economic and military spheres."
"We have repeatedly warned against those who flirt and blindly dance with Putin in Europe, noting that this will only provoke a new Russian attack on the world order, freedom and the core values of European democracy itself. The waiting time ended with an attack on Ukrainian ships and the arrest of 24 Ukrainian sailors," he said.
Poroshenko also stresses that there are two million people in Crimea who are terrorized by repressions, in Donbas there are more than 11,000 dead over the past 4 years and 1.5 million displaced persons. "One must understand that Ukraine is actually under a military attack. Our independence is threatened, and the whole system of European security is threatened with it. Will there be new attacks? Should we continue to feed the beast that attacks us? And for all those who are still hesitating, I want to repeat my appeal to visit Donbas. Unlike Russians, Ukrainians have nothing to hide," he said.
Poroshenko emphasizes that Ukrainians never wanted to intensify the crisis. "The clashes in the Kerch Strait were planned in Moscow. After the invasion of Donbas and aggression in Crimea, now they want to take the Azov Sea, force us out and take more our territories. Those who allow themselves to be misled by Kremlin propaganda are naive," the president said. He thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for his decision not to meet with Putin at the G20 summit. "Now the Russian leader is in isolation. I am also grateful for the actions of Mrs. Merkel to curb the expansion of Moscow. But this does not mean that Russians will not continue their invasion policy," he added.
Poroshenko stressed that Ukraine has always been actively seeking ways of diplomatic solution of the situation in opposition to any military decision. "But Russians themselves are taking away, occupying our regions, haunting the Ukrainian population. Russian military boots have been walking for a long time on our lands," he said.