Russia warns 'direct threat' from Ukraine could spark 'nightmare scenario' of war in Eastern Europe

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  • Sergey Lavrov
    Sergey Lavrov
    Russian politician and Foreign Minister
  • Vladimir Putin
    Vladimir Putin
    President of Russia
A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Kyiv was planning to use “all means at its disposal, including military ones, to reclaim a Russian region,” referring to the occupied Crimean peninsula - Alexei Nikolsky
A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Kyiv was planning to use “all means at its disposal, including military ones, to reclaim a Russian region,” referring to the occupied Crimean peninsula - Alexei Nikolsky

Russia has warned of the “nightmare scenario” of war in Eastern Europe and accused Ukraine of posing a “direct threat” to its territory with recent pledges to take back control of annexed Crimea.

The warning comes as both Moscow and Kyiv claim the other side is manoeuvring for imminent conflict, and analysts suggest Russia could use a perceived threat from Ukraine as justification to launch an invasion.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said that Nato was “pumping up the Ukrainian military” during an address to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Stockholm on Thursday.

He accused the West of encouraging Kyiv to “sabotage” peace agreements aimed at ending the simmering conflict in the eastern Donbass region between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels, which has cost more than 13,000 lives over seven years.

The actions “feed an illusion of solving the conflict by force,” Mr Lavrov said.

He added: “[Nato’s] military infrastructure is being brought irresponsibly close to Russia’s border, and anti-missile defence systems have been deployed to Romania and Poland that can be used for an attack.

“The nightmare scenario of military confrontation is returning to the European continent.”

Earlier on Thursday, Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said that Kyiv was planning to use “all means at its disposal, including military ones, to reclaim a Russian region”, referring to the occupied Crimean peninsula.

Talks between foreign ministers, including Liz Truss, on the sidelines of the OSCE meeting, brought little practical progress on the crisis.

During a meeting with Mr Lavrov, Ms Truss “expressed concern about rising tensions across Europe, and re-stated the UK's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, urging the Russian government to de-escalate the situation,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, meanwhile warned Mr Lavrov that "if Russia decides to pursue confrontation, there will be serious consequences", adding that "the best way to avert a crisis is through diplomacy".

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