Russia not going to stop armed aggression in Donbas – Poltorak
Russia is not going to refuse to continue armed aggression in the east of Ukraine, and there is a possibility that the conflict in Donbas will grow into full-scale aggression of the Kremlin, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak has said.
"According to our information, Russia is not going to refuse to continue armed aggression in the east of Ukraine, as evidenced by the Russian military presence in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the conduct of military operations against the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Last year our positions in the east were shelled more than 15,000 times," Poltorak said in an interview with the Uriadovy Kurier newspaper, published on Thursday.
According to him, the Russian leaders are looking for a way to turn the organized aggression in Donbas into a frozen conflict, rather than regulating it.
"Moreover, Putin's regime still hopes for the return of our state to the so-called Russian world and Ukraine's rejection of Euro-Atlantic integration. Moscow is not going to implement the Minsk agreements - it is not included in its plans, as is the withdrawal of the occupation troops from our territory and the return of control over the site of the Russian-Ukrainian state border to the Ukrainian side," he said.
He said that the enemy's operational plans contain many options for conducting military operations in Ukrainian territory.
"It is quite expected that the aggression will continue in the east of Ukraine, moreover, it is likely that the conflict will turn into a full-scale aggression of the Kremlin. It is a truth that destroys illusions about Russia's refusal to occupy part of our territory and withdraw its troops in the near future," the defense minister said.
According to him, Russia concentrated 19 battalion tactical groups of the first and second echelons of more than 77,000 people at the Ukrainian border. The group includes about a thousand tanks, 2,300 combat vehicles, more than 1,100 artillery systems and about 400 systems of salvo fire.
"Ukraine will continue to support the course of the political and diplomatic settlement of the conflict in the east of the country, while we can and will use the sovereign right to self-defense. Therefore, our country will act within the complex of political, diplomatic, sanctioning and other measures for the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and repelling and deterring the armed aggression of the Russian Federation," Poltorak said.