Russia delivered another blow to attempts to contain the risk of war in Eastern Europe after President Vladimir Putin recognised as independent the rebel Ukrainian regions of Donetsk Luhansk. Russian troops are believed to have already entered the area in a show of support, heightening concerns of a potential incursion into wider Ukraine. Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko appeared to suggest there are concerns now Moscow may seek to deploy its whole arsenal, which includes nuclear weapons, to take over a larger chunk of his nation.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, the Ukrainian Ambassador said: “I was listening to what he was saying for almost an hour of this historic debate with himself.
“I have to tell you, when the nuclear nation is calling your nation a historic mistake which has to be fixed – yes, you have to be worried about what he has in mind.”
Asked about the threat of invasion, he added: “I believe that as of now, what we’re seeing is a blatant violation of international rules, not just the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
“This is a clear danger to our state. An incursion has already started.”
Reports have emerged suggesting troops from Russia have already begun to enter the regions of Donetsk Luhansk to provide support to pro-Kremlin forces.
Mr Prystaiko said Ukraine has so far managed to boost its response preparation on land but admitted sea and air attacks from Russia could prove to be more difficult to counteract.
He added: “We have more or less covered the immediate threat of a tank incursion.
President Putin’s announcement on Monday drew international condemnation and immediate US sanctions, with President Joe Biden signing an executive order to halt US business activity in the breakaway regions.
France and Germany also agreed to respond with sanctions, and Britain and the United States said they would announce further measures on Tuesday.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters on Monday: “The United States will impose sanctions on Russia for this clear violation of international law and Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“We can, will, and must stand united in our calls for Russia to withdraw its forces, return to the diplomatic table and work toward peace.”