Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, while visiting the front line in Donbas, Ukraine's east, says that the Ukrainian Army fires back in response to Russia-led forces' attacks only when there are casualties.
He announced this in a comment to TV Channel Ukraina 24.
"The military are doing their best to defend the state and observe the ceasefire. It is clear that when they attack our soldiers and there are killed in action, everyone knows that the Army fires back," Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian leader says that members of the government should visit the Joint Forces Operation zone so that the military could see they are supported.
"Those who are in power in Ukraine should go to Donbas. At least on a rotating basis. It is very important. It is important, first of all, for soldiers to see that they are supported by the authorities, that the authorities are not hiding in the offices, but are there where it is really difficult, where people are heroes, where they decide the fate of Ukraine, defending its borders. Who will work in the offices if there is no one to defend the borders," the president said.
Russian troops amassed 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.
- 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.
- On April 1, 2021, the Kremlin commented on the movement of Russian troops near Ukraine's borders, saying this should not cause "any concern" to anyone.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Moscow is trying to put pressure on Kyiv by amassing its military forces along the Russian-Ukrainian border. At the same time, he assures Ukraine is ready to counter any provocation and continues to defend in the negotiations the position of maintaining a more effective ceasefire in Donbas.
- The Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate does not rule out that enemy forces may try to go for an incursion and deploy their troops deeper into the territory of Ukraine. According to intelligence reports, Russia is building up its military presence near the Ukrainian borders and is completing the preparation of a set of measures aimed at forcing Ukraine into a military response.
- On April 1, 2021, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran had a phone call on the initiative of the American side. Austin condemned the recent aggressive and provocative actions by Russia in eastern Ukraine and assured his counterpart of U.S. readiness to support Ukraine in the context of Russia's ongoing aggression in Donbas and Crimea.
- In turn, the Kremlin vowed "additional measures" if the U.S. troops are deployed on the territory of Ukraine.
- U.S. President Joe Biden in his first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 2, 2021, affirmed the U.S. "unwavering support" for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity "in the face of Russia's ongoing aggression" in Donbas and Crimea.