Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov has compared tension over Ukraine to the Cuban missile crisis and demanded that the West acts “here and now” on its demands
Image: Zvezdanews /EAST2WEST NEWS)
Russia has compared the tension over Ukraine, and a possible invasion, with the Cuban missile crisis while insisting the West acts “here and now” on its demands.
Vladimir Putin has been assembling troops and heavy weaponry on the border with Ukraine with a new round of major military exercises over the festive period seen as a further threat as Russia wants assurances that their neighbour won’t join NATO.
Videos showed the latest Russian drills as deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said there was not much difference to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
“No, not too much,” he said in an interview with Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn magazine.
There are fears of a Russian invasion of Western-ally Ukraine at some point during 2022 with the US having threatened serious sanctions if it happened.
Zvezdanews /EAST2WEST NEWS)
Ryabkov said that Russia wanted cast-iron guarantees that Ukraine would not join NATO, and promises that strike weapons would not be deployed in eastern European countries which are members of the western alliance.
“I call on everyone considering this topic publicly to think whether it is shameful for Russia to meet Western ultimatum demands halfway,” he said.
And he made clear that “if we cannot do it [through diplomacy], then open questions will emerge: what are further steps and what should we do?
“We are against escalation, we are against conflicts, we do not draw lines in the sand, just the logic itself leads us to say that we are not ready to make peace with the current situation.”
He warned: “We can no longer postpone, let’s deal with this serious issue … here and now.”
He insisted: “We must put an end to the expansion of NATO, NATO infrastructure, NATO capabilities further east.
“We must exclude Ukraine from joining NATO.”
His words followed Putin stating on Russian TV that there is “nowhere to retreat now”.
MoD Russia/east2west news)
Putin said: “I want everyone to realise, both in our country and abroad, I want our partners to understand one thing…
“It’s not that we don’t want anyone to cross a certain line. It’s that we have nowhere to retreat now. They have pressed us against such a line… we have nowhere to go…
“Like I said, they will deliver missile systems to Ukraine, four to five minutes flying time to Moscow. Well, where shall we move now?
“It’s just that they’ve brought us to the state where we must tell them: ‘Stop!’ That’s what it is’.”
Exercises in Russia’s western military district involved drills to repel a massive air strike by a simulated enemy on strategic facilities, said defence ministry owned TV Zvezda.
Around 1,000 servicemen took part with weapons deployed including modern anti-aircraft missile systems S-300V, Tor-M2 and portable anti-aircraft missile systems Igla, it was reported.
Footage also appeared to show a Buk-M3.
The images came despite an announcement that some 10,000 troops have left the Ukrainian border area ahead of Russia’s ten-day New Year holiday.
Russia also said that 500 reconnaissance officers had conducted live fire exercises in Rostov region, which borders Ukraine..
“The servicemen fired standard weapons at targets simulating the enemy’s military equipment and manpower. During the exercise, servicemen carried out live fire training with all types of standard small arms, and rehearsed army tactical shooting skills, said a Russian southern military command statement.
“Fire training is the basis of combat training for reconnaissance units and is carried out in any weather and terrain.”
Recent drills have been held in Krasnodar region, which shares a border with Ukraine, and Crimea, annexed in 2014 from Kyiv.
Ministry of Defence /EAST2WEST NEWS)
These involved paratroopers from the Novorossiysk Airborne Division with more than 1,200 servicemen involved.
Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the oil-rich Chechen republic, indicated forces from his region were ready to go into Ukraine if the Kremlin gave the order.
“With Kiev’s existence, there is always a place for the West to deploy its military bases there and to dictate their demands in regard to our country,” he said.
“I am positive that our president would not allow it. We [Chechnya] are ready to act as an infantry force to be deployed anywhere and accomplish orders without any problems.”
Russia also sent two new warships from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea Georgy Kurbatov minesweeper and the Vsevolod Bobrov logistics support vessel.