(dpa) – The Ukrainian military has rejected Russia’s accusations that it is preparing an attack on separatist areas in eastern Ukraine.
“The liberation of the temporarily occupied territories by force will inevitably lead to the death of a large number of civilians and casualties among the military, which is unacceptable for Ukraine,” army chief Ruslan Khomchak announced in Kiev on Friday.
Earlier, Russia had warned Ukraine not to take back the breakaway parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions by force and threatened military intervention.
For days, both sides have been blaming each other for new tensions in the conflict that has lasted for seven years, and Russia and Ukraine each deployed troops not far from the conflict regions.
Ukraine now stressed that it still favours a diplomatic solution to the conflict. However, the military is ready to give an “adequate response” in the event of an escalation.
However, Khomchak also said in an interview at the end of March that President Volodymyr Zelensky had no problem giving the order for an offensive.
Reports of increased tensions in the conflict area and of Russian troop movements towards the Ukrainian border had recently caused international concern.
Parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions along the Russian border have been under the control of rebels loyal to Moscow since 2014.
According to UN estimates, more than 13,000 people have been killed in fighting since then. Despite the imposition of a ceasefire, around 50 people have been killed since the beginning of the year alone. A peace plan from 2015 is on ice.