There will be a “really bloody massacre” if Russia invades Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov, the Ukrainian defense minister, told CNN.
The armed conflict would have “disastrous” consequences for Europe as an estimated 4 to 5 million Ukrainians would attempt to seek refuge throughout the continent, Reznikov told CNN. He warned that Ukraine would not be the only country to suffer losses, as “Russian guys also will come back in the coffins.”
Increased Russian troops and military efforts near the Russia-Ukraine border have raised alarms about a potential invasion, the Associated Press reported. President Joe Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday amid tensions surrounding the troop movements.
Reznikov urged Biden, who had yet to speak with Putin when interviewed, to not back down against Moscow, emphasizing that avoiding the provocation of Russia would not lead to success.
“If I can advise President Biden, I would like him to articulate to Mr. Putin that no red lines from the Kremlin side should be here,” Reznikov said. “The red line is here in Ukraine and the civilized world will react without hesitation.”
The U.S. estimated 175,000 Russian troops could be assembled for an invasion, but Reznikov said the battle-hardened Ukrainian forces should not be underestimated. “So, we have 250,000 official … members of our army. Plus, I said 400,000 veterans and 200,000 reservists. 175,000 (is) not enough to go to Ukraine,” he told CNN.
Reznikov said he requested further military equipment from its allies, but did not expect foreign troops to be necessary for the country’s defense.
“We don’t need troops, because I think it’s not so fair that American soldiers will die in Ukraine,” he told CNN. “No, we don’t need it.”
The Kremlin has denied it is planning to attack Ukraine, instead arguing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) support for the country is a threat to Russia, CNN reported. Reznikov said the real goal of Russia’s aggressions is likely to inspire fear within Ukraine and prevent it from becoming a member of NATO and the European Union.
“If we share or spread panic in our country and inside of our society, it will be the gift to the Kremlin, because they trying to do that,” he said. “Because this gathering of their troops alongside of our border, it’s a main goal of them to make destabilization process inside of our country, to stop us in our way. But we go into the NATO ally, we’re going to EU.”
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