Ukraine warns Russia situation 'seriously deteriorating,' speeds up naval base construction

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Ukraine is warning that its border with Russia is “seriously deteriorating,” and the county will speed up construction of a naval base amid concerns of an invasion from Russia. 

“What we see along our border is a sophisticated military infrastructure rolled out during the spring escalation, that is ready to be used for offensive operations against Ukraine,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Politico Brussels Playbook on Monday. “I cannot speculate on the exact scale of those operations, but back in 2014 it was unimaginable that Crimea would be seized by Russia — therefore I cannot exclude any scenario at this point.” He described Ukraine’s border as “seriously deteriorating.” 

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with hight level officers and heads of defense industry enterprises in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday emphasized the need to strengthen the country’s air defenses in the face of NATO’s moves. 
(Evgeniy Paulin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Kuleba has a series of meetings in Brussels on Monday for the Eastern Partnership foreign ministers’ meeting and warned about the build up of Russian tanks and units along the border. 

The meetings come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russia has amassed 100,000 troops near the Ukraine border. U.S. officials have also sounded the alarm on a potential invasion, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in contact with European allies on the matter. 

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, left, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, attend a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on Monday Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met for the first time Monday at a summit in Paris to try to end five years of war between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

“There has been a concerted effort in capitals around Europe to convey how concerned we are with the situation,” a U.S. official in Germany said, Politico reported Friday. “Information/intelligence sharing, and conversations across a broad spectrum” from the military and diplomats.

Ukraine’s new defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, said Saturday that his country will speed up construction of a naval base at the port of Berdyansk to prevent any potential attempts by Moscow to take control of the Sea of Azov.

The Sea of Azov borders the Crimea Peninsula, which Russia invaded seven years ago and annexed from Ukraine. 

“I can just say that based on the past, we have real concerns about what we’re seeing in the present,” Blinken said Friday. “And it would be a serious mistake for Russia to engage in a repeat of what it did in 2014.” 

House Republicans are also petitioning President Biden to deploy troops to the region.

Russia has dismissed the recent concerns. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russian state-controlled media last week, that “the movements of our armed forces on our soil shouldn’t be of anyone’s concern. Russia poses no threat to anyone.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a photo opportunity with Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu at the State Department, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool).

EU foreign ministers agreed to expand sanctions against Belarus on Monday, whose president, Alexander Lukashenko, is accused of bringing migrants from Iraq, Syria and other countries to its border with Poland to engineer a crisis described by EU leaders as a “hybrid attack.” The migrants are trying to cross into countries such as Lithuania, Latvia and Poland using routes not used before, Reuters reported. 

Kuleba warned that the crisis at the Belarus border and Russia’s threats against Ukraine are related and part of a “broad strategy to shatter Europe.”

“When we see migrants used as a weapon, when we see disinformation used as a weapon, when we see gas used as a weapon, and soldiers and their guns … these are not separate elements,” he said. “They are all part of a broad strategy to shatter Europe. We should see everything that is happening east of the EU border and inside of the EU as part of a general effort. These are not separate events taking place.

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