People in Ukraine “are prepared to fight, they won’t leave and they’re not intimidated by Russia’s threats”, a local journalist has told Newstalk as war between Russia and Ukraine looks increasingly likely.
“Now it looks like they [Russia] are pretty much ready,” Euan MacDonald told The Anton Savage Show.
“Everything is in place. There’s been reports of field hospitals even being spotted at airfields near Ukraine. So that’s a bad sign. Lots of signs of logistics, of fuel tankers moving around - especially in Belarus.
“And notably, the Ukrainian authorities have been a bit more sombre recently, saying the situation does look quite serious.”
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Earlier this month Washington claimed it had evidence that Moscow was preparing to fabricate evidence in order to create a pretext for invasion. It’s a scenario, Mr MacDonald says, Ukrainians are all too familiar with:
“There’s been a lot of speculation that the Russians would manufacture an excuse for going in. Perhaps by claiming that the Ukrainians attacked them in the Donbas and manufacturing evidence for such a claim,” he said.
“Just yesterday, the so-called authorities in the parts of the Donbas that aren’t under Ukrainian control said they’d found mass graves. It’s impossible to say whether that’s true or not. Some people thought that might be a pretext for invasion.
“We don’t know, there might not be a pretext at all.”
Ukraine has received support in the form of military equipment from some NATO countries, such as Britain and the United States. However, Kiev does not believes this would mean western boots on the ground if an invasion took place:
“Nobody expects NATO troops to come to Ukraine to fight for them,” Mr MacDonald continued.
“Ukraine does have quite a large army and a number of reserves but it doesn’t have the same kind of military equipment that Russia has. So it can’t defend itself from a long-range aerial attack, say by Russia’s missiles, which are in place around Ukraine now.
“What they are grateful for is the material that has been sent to them in the shape of anti-tank missiles… that will help in some of the defence if an invasion is actually going on.”
Despite it all, he adds, the mood in Ukraine remains defiant; last month a Ukrainian MP told Newstalk that the country feels it has been at war with Russia ever since it invaded Crimea in 2014 and Mr MacDonald says people are ready to stand up for their country:
“Among Ukrainians, I wouldn’t say people are panicking, people are concerned.
“There’s a lot of, I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of bravado, but people are saying that they’re prepared to fight, they won’t leave and they’re not intimidated by Russia’s threats.”
Earlier this month, the US estimated that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could lead to up to 50,000 civilian deaths and force millions more to flee to neighbouring countries.
Both British and US citizens have since been warned by their respective Governments to leave the country as soon as they can, while the Department of Foreign Affairs has urged Irish people in the country to make sure they are registered with the embassy in Kiev.
Main image: Ukrainian Army Ground Forces soldiers following a live-fire training exercise at Central City Camp, International Peacekeeping and Security Center October 29, 2015 near Yavoriv, Ukraine. Picture by: Alamy.com.