Above: Russia and Belarus have alarmed NATO with huge war games featuring 200,000 troops and including servicemen from Collective Security Treaty Organisation states such as Kyrgyzstan (pictured, Kyrgyz soldiers)
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made the comments at a summit on Friday
- ‘It’s the worst thing that could happen, but unfortunately there is that possibility,’ he said of war against Russia
- Kyiv says the conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed 14,000 people since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea
- Zelenskiy’s comments came a day after Russia, Belarus and other states began huge military exercises
- The huge military drills will involve 200,000 soldiers, at least 80 aircraft, more than 300 tanks and 15 ships
- Officials have said the exercises do not envisage specific nations as adversaries but should be ‘signal’ to West
Lauren Lewis and Will Stewart – Daily Mail Sept 10, 2021
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday that all-out war with neighbouring Russia was a possibility, and that he wanted to have a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the mounting tensions between the nations.
Their torrid relationship took a turn for the worse earlier this year when fighting in eastern Ukraine intensified and Russia massed more troops near the border, seven years after Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula and backed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
When asked at the Yalta European Strategy (YES) summit if there could really be all out-war with Russia, Zelenskiy said: ‘I think there can be.’
‘It’s the worst thing that could happen, but unfortunately there is that possibility,’ he added, speaking in Ukrainian.
Kyiv says the conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed 14,000 people since 2014.
Meanwhile, Russia and Belarus have alarmed NATO with huge war games and military exercises featuring 200,000 troops, which comes mere months after the aforementioned increase of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border.
At the YES summit on Friday, Zelenskiy said he has tried in vain to schedule a meeting with Putin to discuss the ongoing conflict at their border and questioned the Russian president’s commitment to keeping peace.
‘Honestly, I don’t have time to think about him,’ Zelenskiy said.
‘I’m more interested in whether we can really meet substantively, not declaratively as he does with some states.
‘It seems to me that today… they do not see the sense in resolving issues. End the war and resolve conflict issues quickly – they don’t want this.’
Zelenskiy also said relations with the United States had improved, but bemoaned the fact that Ukraine had not received a clear answer to its request to join the NATO military alliance – a move that would be certain to infuriate Moscow.
‘We have not received a direct position on Ukraine’s accession to NATO,’ he said. ‘Ukraine has been ready for a long time.’
He said a refusal to admit Ukraine would weaken NATO while playing into Russia’s hands.
Zelenskiy’s comments at the YES summit on Friday came just one day after Russia and Belarus formally opened vast joint military drills as part of a week-long exercise across the territory of both countries and in the Baltic Sea that has alarmed some NATO countries.
The active part of the exercise, which comes at a time of heightened tensions between the West and Belarus due to a crackdown on the opposition there, began on Thursday and will run until September 16.
Officials say the exercises do not envisage specific countries as adversaries.
But the chief of Belarus’ general staff, Major-General Viktor Gulevich, said the exercises should be a ‘signal’ to the West of the ‘futility’ to taking ‘a position of strength’ with the two countries.
The Russian defence ministry said up to 200,000 military personnel, some 80 aircraft and helicopters, up to 15 ships and nearly 300 tanks would take part. The drills will involve live fire and mark the culmination of a bigger three-month exercise.
The drills have alarmed NATO because Belarus is part of quasi buffer zone between Europe and Russia, bordering the country to the east.