On April 14, Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran informed European parliamentarians about the goals Russia pursues by transferring troops to the borders of Ukraine and the occupied Crimea. This was stated during the TV conference of Taran with members of the European Parliament's subcommittee on security and defense, as the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reports.
The increase in the Russian military presence near the state border of Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea occurs for the following reasons:
Firstly, it is a demonstration of the strength of the Russian Federation in order to increase pressure on Ukraine to slow down internal positive transformations and to hinder the implementation of Ukrainian Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
Secondly, it is possible to assume an offensive operation by regular Russian forces from the Crimean direction is prepared in order to solve the problem of water supply for the occupied peninsula.
Thirdly, provocations according to the Georgian scenario, when the reason for the forceful expansion of the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions may be the accusation of the Ukrainian side of violating the ceasefire regime.
Fourth, a large-scale concentration of Russian forces may be Russia's response to the Defender Europe-2021 drills, and at the same time preparation for the Russian Zapad-2021 exercises.
Taran stressed that today Ukraine does not give Russia any grounds or reasons for the escalation of military aggression. At the same time, he reminded that the advice not to provoke the Russian Federation in 2014 led to the loss of Crimea and Donbas.
The Defense Minister called on European parliamentarians to send an unambiguous sign to Russia that Ukraine is no longer alone, as it was in 2014. And the best demonstration of this would be the decision to provide the Ukrainian state with a NATO Membership Action Plan. This step, according to Taran, will be able to prevent further escalation.
European parliamentarians condemned Russia's provocative actions and the concentration of its troops near the Ukrainian border and reaffirmed unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
On April 13, the commander of the U.S. European Command, Air Force General Tod Walters said that NATO is capable of repelling Russia in case of aggression against Ukraine.
On the same day, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on the Russian Federation to immediately stop the buildup of troops on the border with Ukraine and in the occupied territories.
In addition, Stoltenberg called on Russia not to interfere in issues related to Ukraine's aspirations to become a member of the alliance.