KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s foreign minister warned Russia on Thursday that an attack on his country would incur “political, economic and human losses” and would be too costly.
Russia has been building up forces near its border with Ukraine, and Kyiv, the United States and NATO have voiced concerns about a possible Russian attack — a suggestion the Kremlin has dismissed as false.
“We are not trying to guess what is in (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s head,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a televised briefing.
“We are working to give him a clear understanding – a new attack on Ukraine will be too costly, so it is better not to do it.”
He said Kyiv’s the main goal was to restrain Russia from “further aggressive actions”.
“To do this, Moscow must clearly understand what political, economic and human losses it will incur in the event of a new stage of aggression,” Kuleba said.
The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence told the Military Times outlet this weekend that Russia had more than 92,000 troops massed around Ukraine’s borders and was preparing for an attack by the end of January or beginning of February.
Ukraine, which wants to join the NATO military alliance, received a large consignment of U.S. ammunition and Javelin missiles earlier this year, prompting criticism from Moscow.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian navy received two refitted former U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats as a part of $2.5-billion package of assistance to Ukraine, and Kuleba said Ukraine could receive one another of the vessels.
Ukraine’s ties with Russia collapsed in 2014 after Moscow backed separatists who rose up in eastern Ukraine and took control of territory that Kyiv wants back. Kyiv says some 14,000 people have been killed in fighting since then.
Russia has not turned its back on talks with France, Germany and Ukraine about how to implement a peace deal over eastern Ukraine, Maria Zakharova, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said on Thursday.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Timothy Heritage)