Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran says Ukraine expects the situation on the border with the Russian Federation may escalate at any moment.
"As for the escalation, perhaps in the autumn, I would say this: If I expect there might be an escalation in the autumn, I must be held criminally liable. We expect a possible escalation at any moment. We are always ready to give an appropriate rebuff," he told journalists during the All-Ukrainian forum "Ukraine 30. National Security" in the capital city of Kyiv, an UNIAN correspondent reported.
Read alsoUkraine's military chief: Army, other troops 100% ready to repel aggressionTaran said that according to the data received on Wednesday morning, Russia was in no hurry to fulfill its promises regarding the withdrawal of troops from the border with Ukraine.
"We see from our intelligence, information we receive from our Western partners' intelligence, that Russia has been pulling its troops out very slowly. They have been doing that – that's true, but very slowly, and the fact that they have promised to withdraw troops by May does not correspond to reality," he said.
According to Taran, about 4,000 Russian troops have been withdrawn so far.
"At the same time, it is important to note that their military equipment remains on our northern border with the Russian Federation, as only troops are being withdrawn. And we know the main factor that prevents troops from moving so quickly is the need to relocate military equipment. Therefore, if the military equipment remains there, it will be easy [for the Russian military] to redeploy personnel," the minister added.
Russian military build-up along Ukraine borders, in occupied Crimea
- 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 preparations for military drills.
- Fifteen warships of Russia's Caspian Flotilla entered the Black Sea.
- Russia also relocated Su-25SM3 warplanes from Russia's Stavropol Krai (Territory) to occupied Crimea.
- The United States and many other Western countries, the European Union, NATO expressed their support to Ukraine over these Russian steps.
- 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.
- On April 22, 2021, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said his country would begin the withdrawal of troops, which had taken part in military exercises in occupied Crimea and near the borders of Ukraine, to their permanent bases in the Southern and Western Military Districts.