All news

No plans for military action against Donbass or Crimea, says Ukrainian defense chief

"We will pursue a political and diplomatic course because our fellow citizens live there and we will not expose them to danger," Alexey Reznikov said

KIEV, February 18. /TASS/. Ukraine is not planning to take any military action against Donbass and Crimea, the country’s Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov said, addressing the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) on Friday.

"We don’t have plans for any military action against Donbass or Crimea. Don’t believe these allegations," he insisted.

"I would like to reiterate that Ukraine is beefing up its defenses but we have no intention of launching an offensive against Donbass and Crimea. We will pursue a political and diplomatic course because our fellow citizens live there and we will not expose them to danger," the defense chief maintained.

He addressed "the residents of Lugansk, Donetsk, Alchevsk, Gorlovka and Yasinovataya," urging them not "to be afraid" and warned them "against believing any rumors of a Ukrainian offensive." "The Ukrainian army is ready for any defense developments," Reznikov added.

Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny earlier stated that Kiev was not engaged in preparations for a military operation in Donbass or Crimea. Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Alexey Danilov, in turn, said that the issue of Crimea had not been resolved for Kiev yet, and emphasized that Ukraine would do everything "to bring both Crimea and Donbass back home." However, in Danilov’s words, there is no military option to take Crimea back.

Tensions escalated along the line of contact in Donbass on Thursday morning. The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR, LPR) have been reporting heavy shelling by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Kiev’s preparations for an offensive. Shelling attacks have left a female civilian wounded and damaged several civil infrastructure facilities. Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin was keeping an eye on the situation in Donbass and viewed it as "extremely dangerous" because of Ukrainian provocations.

After the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, the Crimean authorities held a referendum on reuniting with Russia. Most voters supported the idea (96.7% in Crimea and 95.6% in the city of Sevastopol), with turnout reaching 80%. In March 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the treaty on Crimea’s reunification with Russia, which was ratified by the Federal Assembly on March 21, 2014. However, Kiev refused to recognize Crimea’s independence and its decision to reunite with Russia.