Ukraine says Russia trying to ‘drive wedge’ between Kyiv and West
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday warned Moscow against trying to split Kyiv from its Western allies, as European leaders push to defuse tensions over Russia’s troop build-up on its neighbour’s border.
“No one, no matter how hard anyone tries in Russia, will be able to drive a wedge between Ukraine and its partners,” Kuleba said at a press conference with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock in Kyiv.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday held talks at the Kremlin with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a bid to try to de-escalate fears Moscow could be planning a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
European leaders are scrambling to ease the crisis on the continent’s eastern fringes, but have warned the Kremlin of “massive consequences” if it stages an incursion almost eight years after seizing Crimea from Kyiv.
“We have therefore jointly prepared a series of tough measures against Russia for this eventuality; these sanctions are unprecedented and have been coordinated and prepared with all partners,” Baerbock said.
“We are also prepared to pay a high economic price ourselves, because the security of Ukraine is at stake.”
At the same time as stationing over 100,000 troops on the border, Putin has demanded security guarantees from NATO and the United States, including that Ukraine never be allowed to join the Western military alliance.
Kuleba laid down Kyiv’s “red lines” in finding any solution to the crisis, insisting only Kyiv could be allowed to determine Ukraine’s foreign policy course.
“It’s no use trying to scare Ukrainians with war. We have been fighting a war since 2014,” Kuleba said.
“We are ready for anything.”
Moscow is trying to pressure Ukraine to offer concessions to Russian-backed separatists who have been fighting Kyiv since 2014 in a conflict that has cost over 13,000 lives.
Ukraine insists the Kremlin wants to use the two breakaway regions it supports as leverage to keep the country under Moscow’s sway.