Russia Doesn’t Want ‘To Lose The Rest Of Ukraine’

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russia doesn’t want “to lose the rest of Ukraine” by mishandling other embattled regions in the eastern part of the country, Moscow’s top diplomat said Monday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

President Vladimir Putin’s government deployed unmarked special forces to annex Crimea during the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine that has claimed roughly 11,000 lives, according to Western assessments.

The operation has drawn comparisons to the 2007 invasion of Georgia, which ended in Russia recognizing the independence of two self-proclaimed republics carved out the country.

But Russia does not want to try to confer that kind of status on the territory taken from the Kiev government.

"You want to recognize the LPR and DPR?”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, according to state-media outlet TASS, referring to the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics.

“And what’s next? To lose the rest of Ukraine and abandon it to the Nazis?”

It is common for Russia to charge the Ukrainian government with fascism.

When former Soviet states seek to remove monuments to the USSR, the Kremlin often portrays it as an act of neo-Nazis.

The reference to the potential loss of “the rest of Ukraine” is more unusual, as Putin’s government insists that the conflict is an internal crisis.

"We will not wage war against Ukraine, I promise you,” Lavrov said.

"We are not fighting the Ukrainian regime. It is Ukrainian citizens living in Donbass who are fighting against the Ukrainian regime, which has full Nazi and neo-Nazi characteristics.”

A prominent Putin critic chronicled evidence of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but he was murdered before he could complete the report, which was published posthumously.

A senior U.S. diplomat confirmed earlier Monday that Russia has a heavy military presence in Ukraine. 

"This is something that has happened over a period of years," Ambassador Kurt Volker, the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine, told reporters.

"Russia invaded Ukraine, it took Crimea, it is occupying the Donbass, and it has, within Russia, built up significant military capacity and also in Crimea built up significant military capacity over time.” 

Russian officials often maintain that they gained sovereignty over Crimea not through an annexation but through a voluntary referendum undertaken by the ethnic Russian population in the country.

Likewise, they say the fighting in Donbass and Luhansk is an intra-Ukrainian conflict pitting ethnic Russians against an abusive Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko.

“Poroshenko is planning an armed provocation on the border with Russia, on the border with Crimea during the last 10 days of December,” Lavrov alleged.

Volker, to the contrary, suggested that Russia might be planning such an attack.

“I don’t perceive that you’re going to be seeing Ukrainian attacks, but these assertions may be ways of creating some cover for possible Russian attacks, which I hope don’t occur, but I have to say it’s possible,” he said.

Source: Washington Examiner