Ukrainian president: Putin wants to annex entire country

Ukrainian president: Putin wants to annex entire country
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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to annex his entire country in interviews with German newspapers on Thursday.

"Don't believe Putin's lies," Poroshenko told Bild, the best-selling paper in Germany, according to Reuters

Russia has said that it was provoked into firing on Ukrainian ships. It later seized three vessels and their crews on Sunday.

Poroshenko compared Russia's statements to their justifications for annexing the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

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“Putin wants the old Russian empire back,” he said. “Crimea, Donbass, the whole country. As Russian Tsar, as he sees himself, his empire can’t function without Ukraine. He sees us as his colony.”

During an interview with the Funke newspaper group, Poroshenko called on Germany, the largest buyer of Russia's natural gas exports, to stop building the Nord Stream 2. With the massive undersea gas pipeline, Russia could supply Germany directly with fuel.

"We need a strong, resolute and clear reaction to Russia’s aggressive behavior,” he told the newspaper group, Reuters reports. “That also means stopping the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.” 

German officials said Wednesday that their position that the pipeline, which is being built by Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom, was a private investment.

They added that talk of tighter sanctions against Russia, as the U.S. and other European politicians have demanded, are "premature," according to Reuters.

Poroshenko has also called for the stationing of NATO vessels in the Sea of Azov. 

Russia is reportedly planning to move anti-aircraft missiles to Crimea as tensions escalate.

On Tuesday, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE suggested he may call off his meeting with Putin at this week's Group of 20 (G-20) summit over Russia's aggression against the Ukrainian navy.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Overnight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general MORE on Monday slammed Russia for the move, calling it a "dangerous escalation."

"The United States condemns this aggressive Russian action," Pompeo said. "We call on Russia to return to Ukraine its vessels and detained crew members, and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters.”