Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's spokeswoman Yulia Mendel has said the country has no plans for a military offensive in the Russia-occupied part of Donbas.
Read alsoZelensky lodges request to talk with Putin about escalation in DonbasSpeaking on Ukraine's Dom TV channel, she said Kyiv wants to achieve peace only through negotiations and this is the firm belief of the president's team.
That is why Ukraine has been seeking negotiations in the Normandy format and is moving toward peace by all possible diplomatic means, the spokeswoman stressed.
"But another thing is Russia. The entire world is now speaking about the buildup of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. A total of 40,000 Russian troops have already been deployed along the eastern border, the same number is in occupied Crimea. And now the question is whether Russia could attack? Yes, it could – and we saw this in 2014. But we need to assess the situation realistically, since panicking and exaggerating are as silly as underestimating the reality of the threat," Mendel added.
Russian troops amassing along Ukraine's borders
- On March 30, 2021, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel-General Ruslan Khomchak said Russia had deployed 28 battalion tactical groups along the state border of Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territories. It is also said to be planning to bring up to 25 battalion tactical groups under the guise of preparing for military drills. Such actions pose a threat to Ukraine's military security.
- According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, enemy troops are reinforcing their advanced units with reconnaissance teams and sniper pairs, involving Russian army instructors in personnel training. Russia-led forces' artillery units are reportedly on full alert in certain districts, including villages and towns in occupied Ukrainian territory.
- On March 31, 2021, The New York Times reported Russia was pulling 4,000 troops to the border with Ukraine.
- Footage was shared on the Internet, showing a train with Russian military hardware en route along the Kerch Strait bridge to occupied Crimea.
- The U.S. European Command raised its alert status to the highest level after fighting had resumed between Russia-led forces and Ukrainian troops in Donetsk region.
- The U.S. Department of Defense said it was "aware of Russian troop movements" on Ukraine's borders and was concerned about recent escalations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.
- The United States, finding reports of Russian military movements on Ukraine's border credible, asked Moscow to explain the "provocations" and is ready to engage on the situation.