Deployment of 90,000 Russian troops on Ukrainian border ‘deeply worrying,’ says UK defense chief.
LONDON (AA) – A full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine could rival the Second World War, the head of the UK’s armed forces said Wednesday.
In his first speech since taking the post in October, Admiral Tony Radakin said “the significance of the worst scenarios in terms of a full invasion of Ukraine would be on a scale not seen in Europe since World War II.”
Referring to the challenges by China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, Radakin stressed that the security landscape is more complex and dangerous than it has ever been in the past 30 years.
He told reporters that the crisis caused by the deployment of 90,000 Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, nearly eight years after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, was “deeply worrying.”
His remarks came as Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Sky News “there would be a lot of dead Russian soldiers” if Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to invade his country.
“They (the allies) can strike economically. We will be fighting on the ground. I am sorry to say that, but there will be a lot of dead Russian soldiers, and we hope President Putin does not want that to happen,” he said.
Kuleba said his country is working with its allies on ways to deter the Kremlin but noted that Ukraine’s army is able to defend the country.
Moscow has recently amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s border. The move has prompted concerns that Russia might carry out military aggression. According to Ukrainian officials, Moscow could trigger a large-scale escalation in January.
In 2014, Moscow began to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained for the past seven years.
For the second time this year, Moscow concentrated a significant number of troops in and around Ukraine last month.
The European Union has been applying restrictive measures in response to the Ukrainian crisis since 2014.
Currently, 185 people and 48 entities are on the bloc’s blacklist for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Separate economic sanctions on Russia’s finance, energy and defense sectors are also in place because of Moscow’s reluctance to fully implement the 2014 Minsk Protocol meant to establish peace in eastern Ukraine.
*Writing and contributions by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara