Russia is ‘plotting a coup in Ukraine on December first’: Ukranian president holds dramatic news conference to accuse Putin of plan to seize country amid concern at military build-up
Russia is plotting a coup in Ukraine on December 1, the Ukrainian president announced today amid soaring tensions over thousands of Russian troops stationed at the border.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy told a news conference: ‘We have challenges not only from the Russian Federation and possible escalation – we have big internal challenges. I received information that a coup d’etat will take place in our country on December 1-2.’
He also said his troops were in full control of the country’s borders and stood ready for any escalation by Vladimir Putin.
Some 94,000 Russian troops have been sent to the Ukrainian border and the White House has warned Europe to brace for an invasion that would dwarf the 2014 annexation of the Crimea.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a news briefing following the Ukraine-EU summit in Kiev, Ukraine October 12, 2021
Vladimir Putin holds a binoculars as he watches the joint strategic exercise of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus in the Nizhny Novgorod region, Russia, on Sept. 13, 2021
A map shared with Military Times and replicated above shows how Ukrainian intelligence is bracing for a bloody and ferocious invasion that could see swathes of Ukraine captured in an assault which would dwarf the annexation of the Crimea in 2014
Ukraine’s foreign minister warned Russia on Thursday that an attack on his country would incur ‘political, economic and human losses’ and would be too costly.
‘We are not trying to guess what is in (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s head,’ Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a televised briefing.
‘We are working to give him a clear understanding – a new attack on Ukraine will be too costly, so it is better not to do it.’
He said Kiev’s main goal was to restrain Russia from ‘further aggressive actions’.
‘To do this, Moscow must clearly understand what political, economic and human losses it will incur in the event of a new stage of aggression,’ Kuleba said.
The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence told the Military Times outlet this weekend that Russia had more than 94,000 troops massed around Ukraine’s borders and was preparing for an attack by the end of January or beginning of February.
Ukraine, which wants to join the NATO military alliance, received a large consignment of U.S. ammunition and Javelin missiles earlier this year, prompting criticism from Moscow.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian navy received two refitted former U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats as a part of $2.5-billion package of assistance to Ukraine, and Kuleba said Ukraine could receive one another of the vessels.
Ukraine’s ties with Russia collapsed in 2014 after Moscow backed separatists who rose up in eastern Ukraine and took control of territory that Kiev wants back.
Kiev says some 14,000 people have been killed in fighting since then.
A Ukrainian soldier walks along a trench on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists near the village of Talakivka, Donetsk region, on Wednesday
A Ukrainian soldier looks through a spyglass at a position on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists near the village of Talakivka, Donetsk region
A Ukrainian soldier peers out of a dugout on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists
Russia has not turned its back on talks with France, Germany and Ukraine about how to implement a peace deal over eastern Ukraine, Maria Zakharova, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said on Thursday.
Warnings intensified on Monday as it emerged that U.S. had shared maps with European allies showing how a buildup of Russian troops and artillery could allow Putin to order a rapid invasion.
The intelligence lays out a scenario for a three-pronged attack.
Troops would cross into Ukraine from Crimea, the Russian border and Belarus, with about 100 battalion tactical groups – up to 100,000 soldiers in all.
Two sources said half the tactical groups was already in position and that any invasion would be backed by air support.
Such a move would dwarf the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Instead the two sources said Moscow had called up tens of thousands of reservists in the biggest mobilization since Soviet times. Their role would be to secure territory taken by the tactical battalions.
A plane performs a flight during military drills of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces in Zhytomyr Region, Ukraine November 21, 2021
Tanks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are seen during drills at an unknown location near the border of Russian-annexed Crimea
Moscow dismissed the reports as disinformation designed to cover up Ukraine’s aggressive plans.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said movements of troops inside Russia whoudl worry no one.
Instead he turned the tables, painting Ukraine as the aggressor.
‘The number of provocations has been growing, and those provocations have been conducted using the weapons that NATO countries sent to Ukraine,’ he told reporters on a conference call, according to the Associated Press.
‘We are watching it with a grave concern.’
But U.S. officials say they see a familiar playbook.
‘Our concern is that Russia may make a serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook back in 2014, when it amassed forces along the border, crossed into sovereign Ukrainian territory and did so claiming falsely that it was provoked,’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week.
For its part, Ukraine’s defense ministry announced it had held a military drill of airborne forces close to the capital Kiev.
‘We continue to have serious concerns about Russian military activities and harsh rhetoric toward Ukraine and call on Moscow to deescalate tensions,’ said Jen Psaki
The drills simulated the landing of airborne troops and armoured personnel carriers for an attack on an enemy target, the ministry said in a statement. It released footage showing the landing of troops, supported by aircraft and helicopters.
Last week, Ukrainian marines conducted drills near the borders of Russian-annexed Crimea.
Ukraine’s new defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said during a trip to Washington last week that Putin was ‘playing chess’ with the West but it remained unclear what his intentions were.
‘We’re not sure exactly what Mr Putin is up to,’ Lloyd Austin, the US defence secretary, admitted on Wednesday.
Meanwhile Democratic and Republican lawmakers have added amendments to the draft 2022 National Defense Authorization Act that would address Russia’s latest provocations
An amendment proposed by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, and seen by CNN, called for ‘substantial new sanctions on senior Kremlin officials – including Putin – in the event of a Russian escalation against Ukraine.