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TravelGuides – Ukraine calls for NATO ‘deterrence package’ to stop Russian invasion

TravelGuides – Ukraine calls for NATO ‘deterrence package’ to stop Russian invasion

Ukraine has called for a NATO ‘deterrence package’ to stop a Russian invasion amid new threats from the Kremlin-backed Belarusian dictator that ‘Kiev is ours.’

Vladimir Putin has sent some 94,000 troops to the Ukrainian border sparking fears of an assault that would far surpass the capture of Crimea in 2014. 

Russia claimed today that Ukraine had sent half its standing army, or 125,000 troops, to the Donbass region where government forces have been battling Russian-backed separatists for the last eight years. 

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Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told counterparts at a NATO summit in Latvia he was ‘confident’ this could be prevented using a ‘three pronged approach’: communications with Moscow, threat of sanctions, and military backing for Kiev.  

But in response, the Russian president said Moscow would seek Western guarantees precluding any further NATO expansion and deployment of its weapons near his borders, a stern demand that comes amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the NATO summit that Washington had seen ‘evidence’ Russia could be planning an invasion on Ukraine, threatening Moscow with painful economic sanctions if it attacks. 

And fears over such attacks deepened today as Putin ally Alexander Lukashenko told a Russian propaganda outlet: ‘I will be doing everything for Ukraine to become ours. It is our Ukraine, people there are our people.’

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Putin says his forces are simply reacting to a buildup of military on the Russian border, and a Kremlin spokesman today claimed that Ukraine had sent half its army, or 125,000 troops, to the frontier.  

A tank taking part in NATO exercises in Adazi, Lativa, on Monday

A Ukrainian solider sips a cup of coffee in his dugout on the frontline of the rebel-held territory of Donetsk on Sunday

A Ukrainian solider sips a cup of coffee in his dugout on the frontline of the rebel-held territory of Donetsk on Sunday

Speaking at a Kremlin ceremony where he received credentials from foreign ambassadors, Putin emphasised that Russia will seek ‘reliable and long-term security guarantees.’

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‘In a dialogue with the United States and its allies, we will insist on working out specific agreements that would exclude any further NATO moves eastward and the deployment of weapons systems that threaten us in close vicinity to Russian territory,’ Putin said.

He charged that ‘the threats are mounting on our western border,’ with NATO placing its military infrastructure closer to Russia and offered the West to engage in substantive talks on the issue, adding that Moscow would need not just verbal assurances, but ‘legal guarantees.’

‘We aren’t demanding any special conditions for ourselves and realize that any agreements must take interests of Russia and all Euro-Atlantic countries into account,’ Putin said. ‘A calm and stable situation must be ensured for all and is needed for all without exclusion.’

Putin’s statement came a day after he sternly warned NATO against deploying its troops and weapons to Ukraine, saying it represented a red line for Russia and would trigger a strong response. 

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A map shared with Military Times and replicated above shows how Ukrainian intelligence is bracing for a bloody and ferocious invasion that could see swathes of Ukraine captured in an assault which would dwarf the annexation of the Crimea in 2014

NATO foreign ministers warned Russia on Tuesday that any attempt to further destabilize Ukraine would be a costly mistake. 

And at the NATO talks in Riga today, Kuleba told reporters: ‘We will call on the allies to join Ukraine in putting together a deterrence package.’ 

This should include preparing economic sanctions against Russia, in case it ‘decides to chose the worst-case scenario’, Kuleba said, adding that NATO should also boost military and defence cooperation with Ukraine.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO but the U.S.-led alliance has said it is committed to preserving the sovereignty of the former Soviet republic, which has tilted towards the West since 2014 and aspires to join both NATO and the European Union.

That has enraged Russia, drawing a warning from Putin on Tuesday that Russia was ready with a newly tested hypersonic weapon in case NATO crossed its ‘red lines’ and deployed missiles in Ukraine.

Russia also backs separatists in a long-running war in the east of Ukraine. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday called for direct negotiations with Russia to end an eight-year war with pro-Russian separatists in his country’s east.

‘We must tell the truth that we will not be able to end the war without direct talks with Russia,’ Zelensky said during an annual address to lawmakers. 

Blinken accused Moscow of massing ‘tens of thousands of additional combat forces’ near Ukraine’s border as he geared up for talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm over the crisis.

‘We’re deeply concerned by evidence that Russia has made plans for significant aggressive moves against Ukraine, plans include efforts to destabilise Ukraine from within as well as large scale military operations,’ he said after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Latvia’s capital Riga.

‘Now, we don’t know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade. We do know that he’s putting in place the capacity to do so on short order, should he so decide,’ he said.

Blinken insisted ‘diplomacy is the only responsible way to resolve this potential crisis’ but warned there would be ‘far-reaching and long-lasting consequences’ for Moscow if it pushed ahead with any aggression, such as sanctions against Russia.

‘We made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high-impact economic measures that we’ve refrained from using in the past,’ Blinken said.  

He will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm on Thursday to address the crisis. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media during a news conference after the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Riga, Latvia, Wednesday, December 1, 2021

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media during a news conference after the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Riga, Latvia, Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko attend a news conference following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia September 9

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko attend a news conference following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia September 9

The US Secretary of State will hold talks with Lavrov on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) after meeting Ukraine’s foreign minister Kuleba.

Russian battalions have been dispatched around Ukraine on three sides: from the Black Sea in the south, Russia to the east, and along the 700-mile northern border it shares with Belarus. 

Lukashenko had already made clear he is ready to station Russian nuclear weapons in his territory – close to three EU and NATO countries, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

But in an interview with Russian TV, he went further, declaring: ‘I will never support the current nationalistic frenzy in Ukraine.

‘I will be doing everything for Ukraine to become ours.

‘Ukraine is ours, the people there are ours.

‘This is not emotions, but my firm belief.

‘Therefore if we, God forbid, will face, should Russia face aggression from Ukraine, we will act in the tightest bond possible – legal, economic, political – on the Russian side.’

Lukashenko, whose economy and power is entirely dependent on Putin, has been accused of ‘weaponising’ migrants by deploying his security forces to assist Iraqi Kurds and others to breakthrough the EU border into Poland in what has been called a ‘hybrid war.’ 

Liz Truss visits British troops during a NATO exercise in Estonia

Liz Truss visits British troops during a NATO exercise in Estonia 

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss visits British troops on deployment to Estonia on Monday

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss visits British troops on deployment to Estonia on Monday

Lukashenko’s vow to give full military support to Putin came as Russia announced ‘large scale’ exercises involving ‘more than 10,000 troops’ in its Southern Military District, according to defence minister TV channel Zvezda.

Amid high tension, warplanes from Russia and landlocked Belarus were seen on joint patrol in Su-30SM multirole fighters of Belarusian frontiers with NATO.

‘About one-third of the units of all the formations and military units of the district will start winter training in the field,’ said the military press office.

It specified that the exercises would be in Volgograd and Ingushetia, neither close to Ukraine.

Separately, Russian TV and social media went on the attack against UK foreign secretary Liz Truss accusing her of seeking to emulate former Tory premier Margaret Thatcher who in 1976 was christened the ‘Iron Lady’ by Moscow. 

Rossiya 1’s prime time news mocking Truss for her tank ride in Estonia ahead of the NATO summit in Latvian capital Riga.

‘For some reason the foreign minister of Britain – which has already left the EU – decided to show up on the European Union’s easternmost border,’ said the report.

‘Ahead of the summit, Liz Truss visited British troops placed nearby, in Estonia.

‘There the minister took a tank ride.’

The media then ‘rushed to compare Liz Truss with Margaret Thatcher – and yet again talked about the minister possibly replacing Boris Johnson, who’s losing popularity, as Conservative leader.’

Another TV presenter Olga Skabeeva – nicknamed the ‘Iron Doll of Putin TV’ – posted that Truss was ‘warning Russia against being aggressive towards Ukraine.

‘Yet herself she rides a tank in Estonia close to the Russia border.

‘Some kind of freak show.’ 

A Spanish tank taking part in NATO's annual 'Winter Shield' military exercise in Adazi, Lativa on Monday

A Spanish tank taking part in NATO’s annual ‘Winter Shield’ military exercise in Adazi, Lativa on Monday

An armoured track vehicle taking part in the NATO annual military exercise 'Winter Shield' in Adazi, Latvia, on Monday

An armoured track vehicle taking part in the NATO annual military exercise ‘Winter Shield’ in Adazi, Latvia, on Monday

A Latvian soldier jumps off a military vehicle during the NATO annual military exercise

A Latvian soldier jumps off a military vehicle during the NATO annual military exercise

TV host Vladimir Solovyov added: ‘Imagine for a second that (Russian Foreign Minister) Sergei Lavrov would ride a tank, say, inf Belarus near the Polish border.

‘What would be the reaction of the entire world community?

‘British Foreign Minister Liz Truss, on the other hand, rode a tank in Estonia during her visit to the Baltics.

‘What is that supposed to mean? Is this the Foreign Office?

‘Is this considered adequate?’

Earlier the Moscow foreign ministry reacted to the Truss warning that ‘any action by Russia to undermine the freedom and democracy that our partners enjoy would be a strategic mistake’.

Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: ‘We do not encroach on strategic mistakes – this is the historical prerogative of Britain.’

Putin had issued a blunt warning to the West on Tuesday.

He expressed concern that NATO could use the Ukrainian territory to deploy missiles capable of reaching Russia’s command centresa matter of minutes.

‘The emergence of such threats represents a ‘red line’ for us,’ he said.

‘I hope that common sense and responsibility for their own countries and the global community will eventually prevail.’

Russian UN representative Dmitry Polyansky warned of Russian anger over the West’s line on pro-Putin rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

He said ‘this devastating path’ can lead to ‘some very dangerous developments’.

TravelGuides – Ukraine calls for NATO ‘deterrence package’ to stop Russian invasion

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