KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Sunday urged people to ignore “apocalyptic predictions” about an imminent Russian invasion, saying his country was strong and had unprecedented international support.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said a week ago Ukraine was not a sinking Titanic and accused Washington and media of fuelling panic that weighed on the economy when there were “no tanks in the streets”.
“Today, Ukraine has a strong army, unprecedented international support and Ukrainians’ faith in their country,” Kuleba said in a tweet.
“The enemy should be afraid of us, not us of them.”
A day earlier two U.S. officials said that Russia may be ready for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by mid-February as it had in place about 70% of the combat power it believed it would need and was sending more battalion tactical groups to the border.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday Russia could take military action “any day now” but could still opt for diplomacy.
“Different capitals have different scenarios, but Ukraine is ready for any development,” Kuleba said.
EU Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Sunday the focus should be on diplomacy.
“We must help the NATO countries bordering Russia and strengthen them also from a military point of view,” he said on Italian national broadcaster RAI.
“We must also be prepared for economic reactions and sanctions if there is a deterioration.”
Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian borders, sparkling fears of a planned assault. Moscow has said it is not planning an invasion but could take unspecified military action if its security demands are not met.
Those include a promise that NATO will never admit Ukraine, a demand Washington and NATO have said is unacceptable.
(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Additional reporting Giulia Segreti in Rome; Editing by Nick Macfie)