PRAGUE, February 17. /TASS/. Western-touted assertions about Russia’s plans to launch ‘an invasion of Ukraine’ on February 16 led to another fiasco for US intelligence agencies, President Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic said in an interview with the Mlada Fronta Dnes newspaper, published on Thursday.
He compared those allegations to the United States’ past claims about Iraq and Afghanistan. "My view [of the situation around Ukraine is that] there will be no war because Russians aren’t insane to launch an operation that will cause them more damage than benefits," Zeman pointed out. "As for US intelligence agencies, this is their third fiasco. The first was the war in Iraq, where no weapons of mass destruction were found. Afghanistan was the second one, as [they] claimed that the Taliban (outlawed in Russia - TASS) would never take Kabul. And now this is the third one," the Czech president noted.
Zeman said that five days before February 16, he had received a secret message about alleged preparations for a Russian invasion of Ukraine. "It came from the CIA. I don’t ask the CIA what sources of information it has. But given the three [fiascos], I doubt the quality of these sources," the Czech president stressed.
However, he did not exclude a surge in tensions in Donbass. "I can’t rule out a local [military] conflict on the border of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics [with Ukraine] but it’s something completely different from a Russian invasion of Ukraine," Zeman maintained. He emphasized that Russia had started to withdraw troops from the Ukrainian border after completing drills on its own soil, which disproved assertions coming from Western politicians about the risk of a conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The West and Kiev have been echoing allegations about Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov castigated these claims as "empty and unfounded", serving as a ploy to escalate tensions, pointing out that Russia did not pose any threat whatsoever to anyone. However, Peskov did not rule out the possibility of provocations aimed at justifying such claims and warned that attempts to use military force to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine would have serious consequences.