A senior Ukrainian official says her country will not bow to threats of military action from Russia and is prepared to fight to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva says she does not believe Russia intends to invade her country. Rather, Yevheniia Filipenko says Russia’s main objective is to destabilize Ukraine politically, economically and militarily through the threatened use of force.
Filipenko says Russia’s massive troop and weapons buildup along Ukraine’s border is aimed at achieving that result. She adds the large joint Russia-Belarus military exercise and the naval drills taking place in the Black Sea are part of the same plan.
The Ukrainian envoy says her government’s goal is to discourage Russia from pursuing its aggressive course against Ukraine, Europe, and the European security order. That, she says, will be done through diplomatic means. She adds, however, that her country will not cross certain red lines in negotiating a diplomatic solution to the prevailing threat.
“No concessions on sovereignty, territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders. Second, no direct [dialogue] with Russian occupation administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk. And third, only the people of Ukraine have the right to define [their] foreign policy course,” Filipenko said.
Russia-backed rebels of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics have been waging war against the Ukrainian government since 2014. The United Nations estimates more than 13,000 people have been killed in that war of separation, which continues. The two separatist republics are located in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin denies planning to invade Ukraine. He has demanded that the West reject the possibility of Ukraine joining the NATO alliance and that Western allies pull back their troops and armaments closest to Russia.
Filipenko says the days when countries tried to impose their decisions on Ukraine are over. She says Ukraine will not bow to threats that will weaken the state and undermine its economic and financial stability. She says Ukraine is stronger, more resilient, and better prepared now to defend itself than it was in 2014. That was when Russia invaded Crimea and annexed the peninsula.
“We have a very strong Ukrainian army, which is very determined to defend Ukraine and not to allow any further military occupation should the Russians make [the] decision to invade, to further invade Ukraine,” she said.
Filipenko says Moscow will pay a very high price if it invades. She says Ukraine’s international partners have designed a comprehensive package of deterrence measures that will have serious economic and political consequences for Russia should it launch an offensive.