In the wake of an attack on the protest city of Slovyansk, Ukrainian interim Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia suggested that not only was Ukraine not being deterred by the threat of Russian intervention to protect the protesters, but is actually planning to “confront Russia” militarily.
“The Ukrainian people and Ukrainian army are ready to do this,” insisted Deshchytisa, saying the military was ready to fight Russia the moment it crosses into the protester-held region along the border.
Russia has had troops along the border for weeks now, and the 40,000 troops there are likely sufficient, in practical terms, to rout the whole of Ukraine’s poorly equipped military if it came down to it. Russia seems to be seeking to emphasize the troops’ proximity, but has so far ignored calls from the protesters to intervene to protect them, while insisting that they reserve the right to do so.
Ukraine, for its part, seems to be tired of waiting, and has given Russia a 48 hour ultimatum to “explain” its military exercises near the border, and with Deshchytsia talking up the nation’s readiness for a full-scale war against Russia, they seem to be daring Russia to invade at this point.
Ukrainian officials gave no indication what would happen at the end of the 48 hours, but have emphasized claims of US military backing for the offensive against eastern protesters, which they dubbed an “anti-terrorism” operation.