More than 75 percent of Russians polled do not rule out that tensions near Ukraine’s eastern border could escalate into war with Russia. This was the result of a survey conducted by the respected Russian Analytical Center Yuri Levad, better known as the Levada Center, which was dedicated to the escalation of the conflict in the Donbass.
Three percent of the respondents believe that war will inevitably occur. About one in three participants (36 percent) are confident that a conflict will occur. Another 38 percent said that a military confrontation is unlikely, and 15 percent of respondents said such a possibility is completely excluded.
United States to NATO
Exactly half of the respondents consider the United States and NATO countries to be the initiators of the escalation of the situation in eastern Ukraine. This version of events was supported by 61 percent of respondents over the age of 55, but only a quarter (24 percent) of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24.
16% of those surveyed indicated that Ukraine was to blame for the escalation. This opinion was expressed by the youngest respondents – people under 24 years old. Another four percent of respondents believe that the initiator of the escalation is Russia, and according to three percent, two of the internationally unrecognized pro-Russian people’s republics declared in the Donbass – Donetsk and Luhansk – are behind them.
The build-up of Russian troops on the eastern border of Ukraine has been reported for several weeks. According to Western media sources, an invasion of Ukraine could occur as early as 2022.
The deteriorating situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border was recently discussed in talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden, as well as during Putin’s phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The United States and the Group of Seven warned Russia of the dire consequences of an attack on Ukraine.
According to the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research (VCIOM), a majority of Russians (52 percent) also consider the Ukrainian nation to be fraternal, 31 percent of respondents described their position as neutral, and only 11 percent stated that Ukrainians are anti-Russian.
Ukraine will not attack
Today, fearing a Russian invasion, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said that Kiev “did not plan to attack anyone” and that the regrouping of forces was exclusively related to Ukraine’s defense needs.
“We don’t plan to attack anyone and we don’t plan to invade any country. Our defensive capabilities are important. To protect our people, our society and our lives,” Reznikov said at a press conference in Stockholm where he met his Swedish counterpart Peter Holtqvist and Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde.
Reznikov further noted that war in Ukraine means war in Europe. “The international community has made it clear that it will not leave Ukraine alone in the event of a Russian invasion,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that Kiev’s efforts to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) represent a red line for Moscow. He also expressed concern that some NATO member states had announced plans to establish military training centers in Ukraine.
Reznikov argued that Ukraine’s right to join any military alliance, including NATO, is part of its constitution. “We will become a de facto member of NATO and will apply the standards of the alliance,” he said, adding that Ukraine was determined to work on the necessary reforms.
Putin wants guarantees
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a telephone conversation today with French President Emmanuel Macron, stressed the need for NATO to negotiate security guarantees for Russia as soon as possible.
Putin called for “legally binding guarantees to prevent NATO’s eastward expansion as well as the deployment of weapons that threaten Russia in its neighboring countries, particularly Ukraine.”
According to the Associated Press, the head of the Kremlin accused Ukraine of “deliberately deteriorating the situation on the line of communication” with the separatist republics of Donbass, while “it has the support of many Western countries” in these activities.
Macron’s comments were not published by the media after the phone call with Putin. According to the Kremlin statement, the two presidents agreed to continue personal contacts. Their interview on Tuesday was the seventh this year.
The Russian president has called repeatedly in recent days for NATO to provide Russia with legally binding long-term security guarantees. Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia will deliver its security proposals to the United States through diplomatic channels this week.
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