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Russia could invade us ‘in the blink of an eye,’ Ukrainian foreign minister warns

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Ukrainian servicemen attend a rehearsal of an official ceremony to hand over tanks, armoured personnel carriers and military vehicles to the Ukrainian Armed Forces as the country celebrates Army Day in Kyiv, Ukraine December 6, 2021.

Gleb Garanich | Reuters

If Russia decides to invade Ukraine, as is feared by Western officials and experts, it could happen very quickly, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister.

“Putin has not decided yet whether to do a military operation,” Dmytro Kuleba told CNBC on Thursday. “But if he decides to do so, things will happen in the blink of an eye.”

Concerns have increased over the last couple of months that Russia is planning on launching some form of military action against Ukraine. It follows Russian military troop movements on the border and increasingly aggressive rhetoric toward Kyiv from Moscow.

Putin, however, has pointed the finger the other way, saying at the end of November that Russia was concerned about military exercises in Ukraine being carried out near the border, saying these posed a threat to Moscow.

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

Ukraine and its allies in the U.S. and Europe, as well as the military alliance NATO, beg to differ. All have warned Russia against any aggressive action towards Ukraine, but there have been few signs of tensions easing.

“We [still] have Russian troops along our border. We have them in our occupied territories of Crimea and Donbass, and according to our estimates and estimates of our partners, and they concur, Russia already has the capacity to conduct offensive operations in the region … and we see that they continue to build up their forces,” Kuleba said.

He added that Ukraine was “attacked by Russia in 2014 at the lowest point of our strength,” referencing Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, a move that provoked international condemnation and wide-reaching sanctions on the Russian economy and state officials.

The EU is certainly worried about what it sees as Russia’s “aggressive” stance toward Ukraine, and has warned Moscow that it will pay a “high price” if it invades.

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

“Is it something that they are trying to, or planning attacking Ukraine? Or is it just the bluff to, you know, negotiate some kind of deal out of this situation? And this is something that we have to look very carefully into,” she said.

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