Kiev was gearing up for military conflict since 2019 – security chief
A top Ukrainian security official has said that Kiev had been gearing up for hostilities with Russia since as early as December 2019. The Russian military had earlier reported uncovering classified Ukrainian documents indicating a planned offensive against Donbass rebels.
The revelation about Kiev’s military preparation was made by Aleksey Danilov, who chairs Ukraine’s national security council, in an interview with the Polish daily Wyborcza on Tuesday.
“We were actually preparing for the war from December 2019, and all the claims that we were not dealing with it are absolutely out of touch with reality,” he was quoted as saying. “If we did not prepare for war, today Russian tanks would be in Warsaw, Prague, Tallinn and Vilnius.”
Danilov was apparently deflecting criticism directed at President Vladimir Zelensky. The Ukrainian leader admitted in an interview with The Washington Post last week that he’d intentionally downplayed US warnings about a possible Russian attack to prevent a mass exodus of Ukrainians. The newspaper called the admission the first serious messaging failure by Zelensky due to a furious domestic backlash he faced. In the interview, the security chief stood by the president’s decision, calling it correct in the long run.
When Russia justified its late February attack against Ukraine, it cited the threat that Ukrainian forces posed to rebel militias and civilians in Donbass. In March, the Russian Defense Ministry published what it claimed to be classified Ukrainian documents proving that a Ukrainian operation in the east was in the pipeline. The Russian military assessed that Kiev would have launched an offensive in Donbass sometime in March, were it not for the Russian intervention.
Moscow recognized the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as sovereign states days before sending troops into Ukraine. Russia demanded a withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the lands claimed by the two republics, which Kiev rejected.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the two regions special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”