Western officials and media have spent months accusing Russia of preparing to “invade” Ukraine, recently claiming that the incursion would start on 16 February. Instead of Russian aggression, the past several days have witnessed a dramatic deterioration of the security situation in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine, which is wracked by civil war.
Russia has no plans to invade anyone, and given its history is the last country in Europe which wants to even speak the word “war,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov has said.
“We are calling for reason. We are urging [the West] to ask itself the question: What point would there be in Russia attacking anyone? We urge you to remember history. Let’s just say that, as we have seen recently, the West isn’t very good when it comes to history. But we remind you that Russia has never attacked anyone throughout its history,” Peskov said in an interview on Russian television on Sunday.
“And Russia, which has survived so many wars, is the last country in Europe that wants to speak about, even say the word ‘war’,” the spokesman added.
Peskov’s comments follow months of speculation by officials and media in the US and among their NATO allies that Russia is preparing to launch an all-out attack against Ukraine. Last week, Politico, PBS and other outlets reported, citing officials, that Russia would definitely begin an invasion of Ukraine on 16 February. The ‘attack deadline’ came and passed without incident, prompting outlets to establish a new deadline, now said to be sometime after 20 February.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden declared that he was “convinced” that Russia’s Vladimir Putin had “made the decision” to invade Ukraine “in the coming days.” When asked to elaborate, Biden said the US had “a significant intelligence capability” and abruptly ended the press conference.
On Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed that Russia was planning “the biggest war in Europe since 1945,” adding that “people need to understand the sheer cost in human life that could entail.”
The fabled “Russian invasion” has yet to commence. However, the past few days have seen a dramatic escalation of tensions in eastern Ukraine, with authorities from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics reporting massive Ukrainian artillery and mortar fire, sniper attacks and infiltration, sabotage and attempted bombing incidents. The Donbass militias fear an all-out invasion by Kiev may be imminent, and have begun an evacuation of their civilian populations to Russia, while calling up reserves.
Western leaders and media have largely ignored Kiev’s escalation in the Donbass, while Ukrainian officials have blamed Moscow, claiming that Russia is artificially fomenting tensions. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Ukraine’s leaders to sit down with the Donbass breakaways as soon as possible for peace talks.