If Russia decides to invade Ukraine, as feared by Western officials and experts, it could happen very quickly, said the Ukrainian Foreign Minister.

“Putin has not yet decided whether to conduct a military operation,” Dmytro Kuleba told CNBC on Thursday. “But if he does, things will happen in no time.”

In recent months, concerns have increased that Russia is planning military action against Ukraine. It follows Russian troop movements on the border and increasingly aggressive rhetoric against Kiev from Moscow.

However, Putin pointed his finger the other way and said in late November that Russia was concerned about military exercises in Ukraine near the border that threatened Moscow.

He has insisted that Russia be free to move troops into its own territory and has denied claims that the country may be preparing to invade Ukraine, calling such notions “alarmist”.

Ukraine and its allies in the US and Europe, as well as the NATO military alliance, disagree. All have warned Russia against aggressive action against Ukraine, but there are few signs of tensions easing.

“We [still] have Russian troops on our border. We have them in our occupied areas of Crimea and Donbass, and according to our assessments and assessments by our partners, and they agree, Russia already has the capacity to conduct offensive operations in the region … and we see that they continue to build up their forces “Kuleba told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble.

Ukrainian soldiers participate in a rehearsal of an official ceremony for the handover of tanks, armored personnel carriers and military vehicles to the Ukrainian Armed Forces as the country celebrates Army Day in Kiev, Ukraine, Dec. 6, 2021.

Gleb Garanich | Reuters

He added that Ukraine “was attacked by Russia at the lowest point of our strength in 2014,” referring to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, a move of international condemnation and far-reaching sanctions against Russian business and state officials triggered. Russia is also accused of supporting pro-Russian uprisings in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. However, it denies playing any role there.

Last week, US President Joe Biden spoke to his counterpart Vladimir Putin and warned the Russian head of state of an attack on Ukraine.

Experts say the US is running out of time to prevent further hostilities between neighboring countries, but how far the West will go to defend Ukraine is uncertain: Ukraine is not a member of NATO and not a member of the EU, despite it this strives to join both.

Russia vehemently rejects Ukraine’s possible future NATO membership and sees this as an expansion of the military alliance to its doorstep.

At his meeting with Biden, Putin was expected to ask the U.S. president for assurances that NATO – which has expanded greatly in the past 25 years to include many countries in Europe, including the former Soviet states in the Baltic States – would never expand would become Ukraine. No such assurances were given.

Kuleba said that if Ukraine had been a member of NATO in 2014 then “Putin would take care of his affairs” and there would have been “no war, no destruction” in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine and thousands of people living in the Eastern Ukraine died the conflict could have been spared.

When asked if Ukraine’s allies did enough to help, Kuleba said, “As long as Russian troops stay in Crimea and Donbass, neither of us is really doing enough. We can only judge by the bottom line. And that bottom line should be the trigger. ” Russia from Ukraine. However, it would have been much worse if we hadn’t had these relationships with our partners and our partners hadn’t changed their attitude towards Russia, “he said.

The EU is also concerned about Russia’s “aggressive” stance towards Ukraine and has warned Moscow that if invaded, it will pay a “heavy price”.

Continue reading

On Wednesday, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told CNBC that “the military build-up around Ukraine is underway. So the big question is, what are they really up to?”

“Is it something you are trying or planning to attack Ukraine? Or is it just a bluff to negotiate a deal out of this situation? And we have to look very carefully at that.” She said.