Kiev: Putin wants to destroy Ukraine

Russia’s major aim is to destabilise Ukraine from within but a major military escalation by Kremlin is unlikely at the moment, Kiev’s top security official says.

The West has long accused the Kremlin of providing direct military support to pro-Russian separatists, who carved out two statelets in eastern Ukraine after 2014. (Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is bent on destroying Ukraine but there is no major risk of an imminent invasion, a senior Ukrainian security official has said.

Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, said on Friday that talk of Moscow’s invasion could destabilise Ukraine and play into Putin’s hands.,51874549.html

“Putin wants to destroy our country. Will he succeed? No, he will not,” said Danillov.

“Our citizens will protect our country,” he said, adding that both the army and civilians will form a broad national “resistance” movement if Russia attacks.

“We are going to protect our country. Full stop.”

Tensions have been building since mid-November when Washington sounded the alarm over a massive Russian troop build-up on Ukraine’s border and accused Putin of plotting an invasion.

But Danilov, 59, downplayed the risk of a major military escalation, saying Ukrainian officials have not seen any “critical build-up.”

No big surge

According to Kiev’s estimates, the number of Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders has increased from around 93,000 troops in October to 104,000 now.

“We don’t think this is a big surge,” Danilov said.

The Russian leader has for years questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine’s borders and insisted that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people.”

During his end-of-the-year news conference on Thursday, Putin said Ukraine was “created” by Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, in the 1920s.

Danilov accused the Kremlin of seeking to destabilise Ukraine from within by resorting to cyberattacks and deepening an energy crisis in one of Europe’s poorest countries.

If all else fails, the Kremlin could then move troops across the border, Danilov added.

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