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Donetsk leader says prospect of war with Ukraine is real

The tension in Ukraine will be addressed on Tuesday at a virtual summit to be held by the Presidents of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and US President Joe Biden, as announced Saturday by the Kremlin and the White House.

The leader of the self-proclaimed pro-Russian People’s Republic of Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, today called “real” the prospect of a full-scale war with Ukraine in the Donbass (historic eastern Ukraine).

“The possibility of resuming large-scale military actions is real,” Pushilin told Russian news agency Interfax.

Pushilin underlined that both the statements by Ukrainian and Western leaders and the troops and armaments deployed by Kyiv near the Donbass separation line confirm that “Ukraine is ready” to take action.

“It is difficult to predict how the situation will evolve. We are preparing different scenarios. We are dealing with Ukraine, a country that lost its identity after 2014 (Euromaidan revolution)”, he said.

The Euromaidan revolution started in November 2013 and consisted of a series of civil demonstrations due to the refusal of the then President, Víktor Yanukovych, to sign an association agreement with the European Union. The unrest, which led to the fall of the President’s Government, caused more than 100 deaths.

“Our military units are in shape and willing to repel aggression”, assured Pushilin, admitting that the options for full compliance with the Minsk Peace Accords “are practically non-existent”.

“I honestly don’t believe in full compliance with the Minsk Accords. If you look at the documents, the culprit is Ukraine. Why do Donetsk and Lugansk have to abandon the agreements?”

The Minsk accords were signed in 2015 to stop clashes in the breakaway eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, which began after Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014.

The Minsk talks took place between the two parties involved, in the presence of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, of his former counterpart from Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, under the mediation of the then French head of state, François Hollande, of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and overseen by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Although the agreements have managed to reduce the fighting, they have not resulted in a political solution, with the two provinces continuing to have no status defined in international terms.

Denis Pushilin acknowledged, however, that the delay in implementing the agreements allowed the separatist People’s Republic of Donetsk to “create its own state”.

Pushilin said he believed the People’s Republic of Donetsk would not need to turn to Russian and Belarusian military aid, though he added that “nothing can be ruled out”.

The official considered it “absurd” to accuse Russia of massing troops on the Ukrainian border, at a time when he anticipates that “all the inhabitants” of his republic will receive Russian citizenship.

Ukraine accused Russia of concentrating between 90,000 and 100,000 troops on the border to attack its territory during the winter.

According to US intelligence, supported by satellite images, Russia plans to increase its military presence on the Ukrainian border to 175,000 troops.

Moscow, for its part, accused Kyiv of stationing 125,000 troops in the Donbass, that is, half of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

The tension in Ukraine will be addressed on Tuesday at a virtual summit to be held by the Presidents of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and US President Joe Biden, as announced Saturday by the Kremlin and the White House.

The virtual conversation will take place after Putin this week proposed to NATO the signing of a security pact to prevent Ukraine and Georgia from joining the Atlantic Alliance.

source: with agencies

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