Russian Defense Minister rules out direct military conflict with Ukraine

Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu has ruled an armed standoff with Ukraine out as “impossible” but added that violations of Minsk Accords by Kiev could aggravate the crisis and lead to the “genocide” of ethnic Russians in Donbass.

I consider it impossible that a direct clash emerges between Russia and Ukraine,” Shoygu stated in his interview with Italian news outlet Il Giornale. The Russian official emphasized that the Kiev regime must unconditionally observe the Minsk agreements as this was the main condition for preventing the genocide of the ethnic Russian population of the south-eastern parts of Ukraine.

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A protester attends a rally to support EU integration as police stand guard in Kiev © Gleb Garanich

Unfortunately, Kiev authorities are very persistent in their attempts to balk at the fulfillment of these agreements, finding various invented excuses and making unfounded accusations  in Russia’s address,” he said.

Shoygu also noted that the Kiev regime was completely rejecting one very important condition of the settlement – the possibility of a dialogue with the self-proclaimed republics of Donbass. “Of course, our country reacts to the existing situation by constantly calling on Kiev to observe the complex of measures described in the Minsk accords,” he said.  The Russian minister also expressed hope that other guarantors of the Minsk accords, such as Germany and France would use their influence on Ukrainian authorities to press for peaceful settlement of the conflict. 

In the same interview the Russian defense minister said that Western nations, and first of all the United States, had planned to destabilize situation in Crimea using “hybrid warfare” methods similar to those used in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria.

We simply did not allow our colleagues from across the ocean to implement these plans in Crimea. On the contrary, there was a referendum there and in it the residents of the peninsula freely decided to secede from Ukraine and reunite with Russia, as witnessed by hundreds of representatives of the US mass media,” Shoygu told reporters.

We could see all signs of this hybrid warfare in Ukraine itself, right before the armed coup that took place in February 2014. It should be noted that European nations also passively participated in these hybrid action,” he added.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin after his telephone conversation © Alexei Druzhinin

The minister went on to define the “hybrid action” as control over mass media, economic sanctions, activities on the internet and also direct support to various internal unrest in sovereign nations as well as sabotage and terrorist attacks executed by foreign special forces.

The Crimean Republic reunited with the Russian Federation in spring 2014 after over 96 percent of its residents, the majority of whom are ethnic Russians, approved the move in an urgently called referendum. The decision was prompted by the ouster of the democratically-elected president of Ukraine in a violent coup in Kiev and the installation of a nationalist-backed government that almost immediately declared war on the pro-Russian regions in the country’s southeast, which refused to recognize the newly-imposed regime.

In February 2015 the Donbass republics and the Kiev regime entered the so-called Minsk II peace deal or Minsk Accords which envisaged a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weaponry and a prisoner exchange with subsequent political settlement. A decrease in violence has been achieved but the accords still are not fully implemented, mainly due to the position of Kiev.

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