23 January 2019
President Petro Poroshenko told his military to prepare for a possible "full-scale invasion" by Russia. Photo: AFP
President Petro Poroshenko told his military to prepare for a possible "full-scale invasion" by Russia. Photo: AFP

Ukraine’s Poroshenko warns of Russian invasion

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko told his military on Thursday to prepare for a possible “full-scale invasion” by Russia, Reuters reported.

Poroshenko’s address in Parliament came a day after the worst fighting with Russian-backed separatists in months.

It was one of the few times that he has used the word “invasion” to refer to Russia’s behavior since the start of a separatist rebellion in the east.

The United Nations says more than 6,400 people have been killed in the conflict.

Referring to a 12-hour firefight involving artillery on both sides on Wednesday when Ukraine says the rebels tried to take the town of Maryinka, Poroshenko said: “There is a colossal threat of a renewal of large-scale military operations from the side of the Russian-terrorist groups.”

“The military must be ready as much for a renewal of an offensive by the enemy in the Donbass as they are for a full-scale invasion along the whole length of the border with Russia. We must be truly ready for this.”

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf would not comment on whether the United States sees signs of a pending invasion but warned Russia to refrain from further aggressive actions in the region.

The UN Security Council was due to meet on Ukraine on Friday, according to diplomats.

Ukraine and its NATO allies have long accused Russia of sending weapons and troops to fight on behalf of separatists who control part of two provinces in its east.

Moscow, which seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula last year, denies its troops are participating in the fighting in the east.

A ceasefire has mostly held for the past four months, after the separatists spurned an earlier truce to launch an advance and seize more territory for their self-proclaimed state in what Russian President Vladimir Putin calls “New Russia”.

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