May 16, 2022 9:44 am

Russia denounces NATO as a “confrontation” factor and draws a “red line”

KIEV.– After a week of failed talks to unblock the crisis with the West over Ukraine’s security, Russia on Sunday described NATO as a “tool of confrontation”, while from the other side the Kiev government accused Moscow of a massive cyberattack on government offices.

“NATO is not the dove of peace, stability and prosperity, but a tool of confrontation”Russian government spokesman Dimitri Peskov said in an interview with the US television network CNN.

Peskov warned that the tension between the Kremlin and the Atlantic Alliance is approaching a “Red line” due to Western military support for Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is keeping the United States and its European allies on edge over the mobilization of some 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine, which for the West is the prelude to an invasion. Already in 2014, after the secessionist outbreak of the Russian-speaking population, Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

Ukrainian soldiers build a bunker on the front line on December 12, 2021 in Zolote, Ukraine. Brendan Hoffman – Getty Images Europe

Taking up the central argument of the Kremlin, Peskov denied any intention to invade Ukrainian territory, an accusation that he described as “crazy”, and found it necessary to keep troops near the border because Russia “cannot tolerate” NATO “gradually making its way” into Ukraine.

Russia is demanding that NATO ban Ukraine and other states of the former Soviet Union from joining the ranks of the Atlantic Alliance and pull its forces back to the positions they occupied in 1997.

Peskov lamented the lack of results in last week’s talks with the United States. “There are some agreements between us, but, in general and in principle, we can now say that we are on different paths, totally different paths, and that’s not good, that’s worrying,” he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dimitri Kuleba said that any decision regarding Ukraine’s entry into NATO belongs exclusively to the country itself and to the member states of the Atlantic Alliance.

“I think this decision depends solely on Ukraine and the 30 NATO member states,” he said in an interview with the German magazine. image. “Ukraine made its decision a long time ago, and we aspire to join NATO, as stipulated by our Constitution and our national foreign policy strategy,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin watches the Zapad-2021 military exercise in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
Russian President Vladimir Putin watches the Zapad-2021 military exercise in Nizhny Novgorod OblastAnadolu Agency – Anadolu Agency

cyber attack

In this context, Ukraine accused Russia of having “evidence” of Moscow’s involvement in a cyberattack against several government websites. in recent days, while diplomatic negotiations stalled. The digital assault targeted the sites of several Ukrainian ministries, which were inaccessible for several hours.

“All evidence points to Russia being behind the cyberattack,” the Ministry of Digital Transformation said in a statement. This sabotage “is the manifestation of the hybrid war that Russia has maintained in Ukraine since 2014,” added the organization about the instability that was unleashed with the annexation of Crimea, and that has continued since then in the east of the country between the forces of Kiev and pro-Russian separatists.

His goal “is not only to intimidate society,” but also “to destabilize the situation in Ukraine by undermining the confidence of Ukrainians in their power,” the ministry denounced.

Microsoft warned that the cyberattack could render the entire Ukrainian government IT infrastructure inoperable. The malware detected would aim to “destroy and render sites inoperable and not collect a ransom,” the software tech giant said.

Experts believe that an eventual invasion would be preceded by acts of computer sabotage, with the aim of disorganizing the Ukrainian authorities. In this context of instability and threats, the planned return for today of former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (2014-2019) after a month of absence risks provoking a political crisis.

Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky during a 2019 visit to the separatist war front
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky during a 2019 visit to the separatist war front

Main rival of the current president, Volodimir ZelenskyPoroshenko is accused by the authorities in Kiev of “high treason” for having negotiated with pro-Russian separatists in the east.

On the US side, after the lack of progress in the talks conducted so far, Washington said it would make a statement at the beginning of this week on the future of the negotiations.

“If Russia wants to continue down the diplomatic path, we are fully prepared. If Russia chooses the path of invasion and escalation, we are also prepared and will respond firmly.”National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said. “We are prepared for all scenarios,” he added.

“It is important to understand that the aggressor is Russia,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

AP, AFP and DPA Agencies

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