Shelling in the Tamarchuk village in the Eastern Ukrainian conflict zone Shelling in the Tamarchuk village in the Eastern Ukrainian conflict zone 

Western leaders warn of consequences of attack on Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warns that Europe is heading towards its most significant armed conflict since the end of World War Two. Johnson made the comments as the West fears for an imminent full-scale Russian invasion into Ukraine.

By Stefan J. Bos

Britain's Prime Minister Johnson suggests that Russia seeks the biggest war in Europe since the end of World War Two. He says intelligence suggests Russia plans to launch an invasion that will encircle the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. "The plan that we are seeing is for something that could be the biggest war since 1945," he said. 

"Just in terms of sheer scale, you are looking at not just to an invasion through the east through the Donbas region but according to intelligence that we are seeing coming down from the north, down from Belarus and actually encircling Kyiv itself as [U.S. President] Joe Biden explained to us last night. And you know people have to understand the sheer cost in human life that could entail not just for Ukrainians but also for Russians," Johnson added.

He spoke at Germany's annual Munich Security Conference while fighting intensified between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

Video footage emerged showing Ukrainian officials, soldiers, and foreign journalists running away from what appeared to be shelling as they visited the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine on Saturday.

The group reportedly drove to an 'observational outpost' in the Donetsk region and took shelter when coming under fire by 120 millimetre artillery. A spokesperson of President Volodymyr Zelensky said they had to be evacuated to a shelter. 

Explosions continued in Donetsk on Sunday morning, while separatists in the Luhansk region claimed Ukrainian government forces mounted an attack that killed at least two civilians. Russian investigators said they opened an inquiry as Russia has given citizenship to at least 720,000 people in rebel territories. The incidents came after authorities said at least one Ukrainian soldier was killed in heavy shelling over the weekend.

Zelinsky attends Munich conference

The incidents added to the misery in the east Ukraine conflict that already killed some 14,000 people. Despite the ongoing battles, Ukrainian President Zelensky defended his decision to leave his troubled nation to attend the Munich Security Conference, where he expressed frustration about war rhetoric. "Putting ourselves in coffins and waiting for foreign soldiers to come in is not something we are prepared to do. And we are being told: 'you have several days, and then the war will start.' And I said: 'Okay, then apply the sanctions today,'" Zelenskyi stressed.    

However, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said: "We have prepared together economic measures that will be swift, severe, and united."

But the U.S. admits its threat of sanctions hasn't impressed Moscow with as many as 190,000 Russian troops now in and near Ukraine.

And, after pledging their drills would end this weekend, Russia and its ally Belarus said Sunday they would continue to test their military capabilities near Ukraine's border.

Yet, Russia maintains it has no intention to invade further into Ukraine after annexing its Crimea peninsula in 2014. But Moscow demands security guarantees such as not allowing Ukraine to join the NATO military alliance. The West says it's up to Ukraine to become a NATO member.

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21 February 2022, 08:45