UNITED NATIONS — Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister said Friday that he is worried that Russia plans to invade his country. Danylo Lubkivsky called on Moscow to withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s border.
Lubkivsky said his country is “facing an enormous threat” and questioned how many troops Russia has put on his country’s doorstep.
“I’d like to ask Russian side to tell us how many troops are near Ukrainian border. How many people -- military units -- you keep over there and what’s the reason for that? Do you have invasion in mind?” asked Lubkivsky.
Speaking to reporters at the United Nations in between meetings with U.N. officials and other diplomats, the deputy foreign minister said Kyiv fears a further military move by Moscow.
“Yes, we have the information that we are in danger. That’s why we call on Russian authorities to explain for what reasons they keep so many troops along our border," said Lubkivsky. "We do hope that common sense and [the] strong international position that we enjoy, and we are grateful for that, will calm down the aggressor.”
He said Kyiv prefers a peaceful solution to the conflict, but if Russia crosses the border, Ukrainian troops are ready to fight.
“There is some moments in [the] history of every nation when you have to defend your motherland, your country and your independence,” said Lubkivsky.
Minister Lubkivsky also strongly condemned the detention of a group of international monitors by pro-Russian separatists. The monitors work for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE] and its teams are currently deployed in nine locations across Ukraine.
The United States has warned that it will impose more targeted sanctions in response to Russia's latest actions. Russia has said it is acting to protect Russian speakers and citizens in Ukraine.
Russia annexed Crimea last month, after a hastily-called referendum held in the presence of Russian troops. The U.N. General Assembly has declared the vote invalid.