Ukrainian defense minister vows military is ‘absolutely ready to fight back’
Ukrainian defense officials said they are ready to fight back against Russia amid reports that it could invade the former Soviet state any day.
“Do not doubt, the Armed Forces are absolutely ready to fight back and will not give up the Ukrainian lands!” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a statement Saturday.
The commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, Lt. Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said in a statement that the Ukrainian military is ready to meet Russian forces with “Stingers,” not “flowers.”
“We are constantly improving our defense capabilities, coherence of units and military skills. We have created combat formations and managed to deploy the Territorial Defense Forces in a short time and arm them with ATGMs and MANPADS. We have strengthened the defense of Kyiv. We went through the war and received proper training,” Zaluzhnyi said.
“Therefore, they are ready to meet enemies not with flowers, but with Stingers, Javelins and NLAW. Welcome to hell!” he added, referring to several types of weapons.
Ukraine’s defense minister said that times had changed since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, noting that they have a much stronger army today.
“The army and volunteers managed to stand in 2014, when the ‘brother’ brazenly stabbed in the back. At that time, many people were not psychologically ready to resist those with whom they sat at the same table yesterday,” Reznikov said. “Now the situation is completely different. The Kremlin is well aware of this, and it is an important deterrent. Today we have the most powerful army in Ukraine for the last 15 years and the most powerful army in Europe.”
The remarks come as Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, worrying both domestic and international officials that Russia is readying itself to invade the nation.
U.S. officials signaled Saturday morning that the possibility of an armed conflict is becoming increasingly likely.
“It appears increasingly likely that this is where … this situation is headed, toward some kind of active conflict,” a senior State Department official said Saturday morning.
President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin also spoke by phone on Saturday to discuss the situation.
“President Biden was clear that, if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our Allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia. President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing,” according to a White House readout of the call.
A travel advisory was issued earlier on Saturday by the State Department that stated it had “ordered the departure of most U.S. direct hire employees from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action.”
A senior State Department official said that some employees would remain in Kyiv, while others would be moved to Lviv, located in the western region of Ukraine.
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.