Moscow will not allow any provocations in the Donbass region from the Ukrainian government or the West, Konstantin Gavrilov, the head of the Russian delegation in Geneva, said in an interview with YouTube channel ‘Izolenta live’. Gavrilov stressed that Russia had sent a “loud and clear” warning to all media. He added that by continuing to accuse Russia of planning an invasion of Ukraine, the West and Kyiv are trying to establish informational cover for these provocations.
Moreover, he warned that the Kremlin would not accept any attacks on Russian residents living in the region. On December 21, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia was aware of at least 120 US private military contractors (PMCs) in Ukraine who were transporting unspecified chemical components to cities in Avdeevka and Krasny Liman. The buffer zone separating the Ukrainian armed forces and the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk is not far from these two cities. This, according to Shoigu, was done in order to provoke the Donbass region.
Shoigu’s claims have been called absolutely incorrect by the US Department of Defense. However, the Pentagon spokesperson did not specify which aspects of Shoigu’s claims were inaccurate and how the Pentagon knew. Gavrilov’s warnings to Kyiv and the West about provocations in the Donbass region come as tensions in the region remain high. Western countries have accused Russia of gathering troops near the Ukrainian border, raising fears that Moscow is planning an invasion.
The Russian-Ukrainian conflict
The Kremlin has vehemently disputed the charges and lambasted the critics, saying Russia has the sovereign right to send its armed forces wherever it wishes within its borders. Russian diplomats met with their counterparts from the United States and NATO earlier this month to discuss ways to defuse tensions and restore strategic stability. Moscow sent its recommendations, which included a mutual reluctance to deploy certain armaments near each other’s borders as well as a demand that NATO not expand eastward.
Although NATO rejected the majority of the recommendations, the United States still welcomed the January talks, describing them as the start of a dialogue. Washington has pledged to respond in writing to Russia and formulate its own ideas. Simultaneously, the West maintained its rhetoric accusing Russia of plotting an invasion of Ukraine. The United States has created a list of alternatives to respond to such an offensive, including varying degrees of sanctions against Russia.