Ukrainian military leader warns of “large-scale aggression” by Russia

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KYIV – The commander of the Ukrainian armed forces has warned of a possible “large-scale aggression” by Russia against his country.

Viktor Muzhenko, chief of staff of the Ukrainian army, told RFE / RL in an interview on February 23 that the Kiev army must be prepared for any type of Russian threat in its ongoing war. against separatists backed by Moscow in the east of the country.

“We must be prepared to stand up against [aggression] now, tomorrow, a week later, a year later, three years later, until such a threat disappears, ”Muzhenko said.

The threats include a “possible large-scale operation” and “large-scale aggression” by Russia against Ukraine, he added.

His comments follow Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s signing this week of a law that his supporters say will help Kiev restore control of territory held by Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Lugansk and Donetsk regions. since April 2014.

The new law places all military and police activities in eastern Ukraine under the control of the Ukrainian military high command, a move that officially ends what Kiev has so far called an “operation.” anti-terrorism ”in the region.

“The counterterrorism operation will be over and we will move on to joint force operations,” Muzhenko said.

“This means a clear structure of the management system, the subordination of certain forces and resources to the military command, the creation of the joint operational headquarters as the main body to manage the operation on the territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions “, he added. .

This decision will help “to administer the Ukrainian armed forces more effectively” in the region, Muzhenko said.

Russia has denounced the legislation, saying it threatens to escalate violence in eastern Ukraine.

More than 10,300 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since fighting erupted there in April 2014, following Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Moscow denies supporting the separatists despite substantial evidence of such support.

The September 2014 and February 2015 peace accords – known as the Minsk accords – failed to end the violence in eastern Ukraine. Moscow and Kiev frequently exchange accusations of undermining the peace effort.

Muzhenko told RFE / RL that the Ukrainian army will be able to improve its armored defenses by the end of 2018.

He said the recent US move to supply Ukraine with more sophisticated weapons, including Javelin anti-tank weapons, is important to Kiev from a military, psychological and political perspective.

“It is a strong political signal for other countries and also a very strong signal for Ukrainian society, saying that we are not alone, other countries are helping us, and first of all the United States is helping us” , Muzhenko said.


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