Ukraine’s ambassador in Sofia, Vitaliy Moskalenko, has expressed appreciation for the diplomatic and moral support given by Bulgaria as his country faces an escalated threat with more than 100 000 Russian troops near its borders.
Speaking in a February 14 interview with Bulgarian National Television’s Svetut i Nie programme, Moskalenko noted the new Bulgarian government’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea and Donbass.
His comments came as efforts to avert an escalated Russia-Ukraine conflict were being made at high level, involving US and European leaders in a number of engagements with Moscow, at what is widely seen as a critical turning point in the crisis.
In comments that drew considerable attention, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was shown on television on February 14 telling President Vladimir Putin that possibilities for a negotiated solution were “far from exhausted” although Lavrov also said: “We have already warned more than once that we will not allow endless negotiations on questions that demand a solution today”.
In Kyiv, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, addressing a news conference after talks with Ukrainian President Vodolymyr Zelenskyy, said that said that during his visit to Moscow on Tuesday he would “underscore” to Putin the heavy consequences of any invasion, saying the West was ready to impose “very far-reaching and effective sanctions”, according to a report by Deutsche Welle.
Moskalenko told BNT that it was not correct to speak of Russia embarking on war with Ukraine, because it had been waging war on his country for eight years, a reference to the Russian-backed separatist territories in Ukraine and Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
The ambassador said that Ukraine had no intention of launching an attack on the separatists, a comment that comes against the background of the Kremlin line seeking to portray Ukraine, the US and Nato as aggressors, and warnings by Western intelligence services that Russia could embark on a false-flag operation as a pretext for military action.
While Ukraine continued to hope for a peaceful solution, a new attack by Russia would result on serious casualties on both sides, Moskalenko said.
Like any rational people, Ukraine was very seriously prepared for all variants of what might happen, he said.
Moskalenko pointed to the numerous violations of the ceasefire, put in place under the Minsk agreements, by the Russian-backed separatists.
He underlined the very serious support, including in the form of military equipment, Ukraine had been getting from the US and a number of other countries, and the EU’s 1.2 billion euro emergency aid package for Ukraine, being voted by the European Parliament on February 14 on the recommendation of the European Commission.
Asked if there could be guarantees that gas deliveries to Europe would not be interrupted in the event of a sharply heightened conflict, Moskalenko said that that was a question for Russia. It was not in Ukraine’s interest for gas deliveries to be interrupted, he said.
Bulgaria is among more than 35 countries that have called on their citizens in Ukraine to leave that country, and has urged Bulgarians not to travel to Ukraine.
Bulgaria is to form a new battalion, under Bulgarian command but possibly involving Nato allied forces to make up deficits in materiel, which will not be deployed outside Bulgaria but will serve to bolster security in Nato’s eastern flank.
A meeting of Bulgaria’s Consultative Council on National Security is scheduled for February 15 to discuss the Russia-Ukraine crisis and the state of the armed forces, following a meeting of the Cabinet security council on February 11 on similar issues.
(Screenshot via BNT)
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