Kuleba told reporters in Kyiv that Russian troops could attack Ukraine at any time, as had been the case since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, but they would not currently be able to launch a full offensive.
“The number of Russian troops massed along the Ukrainian border and in the occupied territories is significant, it poses a threat — a direct threat to Ukraine,” Kuleba said.
“However, as we speak, this number is insufficient for a full-scale offensive along the entire Ukrainian border. They also lack significant indicators and military systems to carry out a large-scale offensive of such magnitude. “, he added. “We can say 100 times a day that an invasion is imminent, but that doesn’t change the situation on the ground.”
Ukraine has warned that Russia is trying to destabilize the country ahead of any planned military invasion. Western powers have repeatedly warned Russia against further aggressive moves against Ukraine.
The Kremlin denies plans to attack and argues that NATO support for Ukraine – including increased arms supplies and military training – poses a growing threat on the flank western Russia.
Kuleba told reporters that a military invasion is not the only threat to Ukraine.
“We see a scenario of destabilization of Ukraine and this scenario is imminent, it is already happening — spreading panic, putting pressure on the Ukrainian financial system, carrying out cyber attacks against Ukraine,” he said. he declared.
“I am certain that the President [Vladimir] Putin would be happy to see this plan succeed so that he doesn’t even have to resort to military force to put Ukraine in an extremely vulnerable position.”
He added: “The number one priority today is to keep things under control, to be realistic in assessing the immediate threat while not diminishing the threat of possible military invasion.”
Earlier Wednesday, Sergiy Korsunsky, Ukraine’s ambassador to Japan, said he did not expect an all-out war with Russia.
“I am optimistic. I believe it is very, very, very difficult to expect a full-scale war, but unfortunately we could see a more localized conflict,” Korsunsky said during a speech in Tokyo. on relations between Ukraine and Japan.
“But if it comes to military terms, let me tell you that we are fully prepared. Our army is very well prepared. And you have a very motivated population,” Korsunsky said.
“It is absolute nonsense to think, as some Russian analysts say, that once we see the approach of Russian forces, there will be an uprising, there will be a change of government. No way” , he added.
A source close to Ukraine’s leadership told CNN on Tuesday that the latest military intelligence suggests Russian forces are not yet ready to stage an imminent invasion of the country.
Russia will not allow ‘endless discussion’
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov addressed the country’s State Duma on Wednesday and reiterated his desire for assurances from the United States regarding security measures.
Lavrov met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 21, and Russia submitted “concrete demands”, he said.
Russia has asked the United States and NATO for certain security guarantees, including binding commitments that NATO will not admit Ukraine or expand further east.
“We will not allow any attempt to conclude our initiative in endless talks,” Lavrov said on Wednesday. “If there is no constructive response and the West continues its aggressive line, then, as the president has repeatedly said, Moscow will take appropriate response measures.”
The United States has given Moscow its written responses aimed at deterring a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Blinken announced on Wednesday.
The response was delivered in person to the Russian Foreign Ministry by US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan. The written document outlines areas where the United States has publicly said it sees potential for progress with Russia – arms control, transparency and stability, the top US diplomat told State Department reporters.
The purpose of providing the response in written form — a request Russia has made since it presented written ideas in December — is to fuel the diplomacy the United States hopes will deter a Russian invasion of the country. Ukraine, State Department officials said earlier.
“We are taking it step by step, but we don’t want to be the ones to rule out a possible diplomatic solution,” a senior State Department official told reporters after the meeting in Geneva.
Blinken said in Geneva that US and Russian officials would meet again after the written proposal was sent to Russia.
Later Wednesday, Ukrainian negotiator Adriy Yermak said all sides favored a permanent ceasefire and that Ukraine was ready to negotiate around the clock to prevent war and defuse tensions around the border. .
Yermak was speaking after hours of talks between Ukraine and Russia at the Elysee Palace in Paris under the Normandy format – a four-way conversation between representatives of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and the France.
He said the resumption of Normandy format talks, first initiated after the 2014 invasion of Crimea, was a “very positive signal” and talks would resume in about two weeks in Berlin.
Meanwhile, Kristina Kvien, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, told CNN’s Sam Kiley that the weapons shipped to the country on Wednesday were ready for deployment.
“We’re trying to make it very clear to Russia that if they come in, it won’t be easy,” said Kvien, the U.S. charge d’affaires.
The 300 Javelin anti-tank missiles, 800 bunker bombs and hundreds of thousands of munitions delivered by the United States “can be deployed immediately”, she added. “They can be deployed on the border.”
Kvien also warned Putin to expect strong resistance from the Ukrainians if Russia invaded.
“I’ve been here two and a half years,” she said. “I can tell you that the Ukrainians will fight. They are patriots, they will stand up and fight.”
Moscow risks becoming “an international pariah” if it invades its neighbour, she added.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily a legacy you wanted to leave,” she said of President Putin.
CNN’s Radina Gigova, Kylie Atwood, Mayumi Maruyama, Matthew Chance, Clarissa Ward, Kylie Atwood, Jennifer Hansler, Sam Kiley and Sebastian Shukla contributed to this report.