Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (file photo)
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Ukraine is ready for any escalation with Russia and that Kyiv has information about a plan to stage a coup in December involving people from Russia.
Zelenskiy’s comments on November 26 at a press conference in Kyiv come amid a massing of tens of thousands of troops in Russia’s western regions and in illegally occupied Crimea.
Media outlets including The New York Times and Bloomberg have cited U.S. officials as warning that Russia might attack this winter, with some saying a potential invasion could be "on a scale far greater" than in 2014, when Russia seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.
The buildup of forces is evident in western Russia and also in Crimea, according to satellite images.
Zelenskiy said on November 26 that Ukraine was in full control of its borders and was ready for any escalation with Russia.
"There is a threat today that there will be war tomorrow," Zelenskiy told the press conference. "We are entirely prepared for an escalation."
Zelenskiy also spoke of a possible attempt to overthrow his government.
"We have challenges not only from the Russian Federation and possible escalation – we have big internal challenges. I received information that a coup d’etat will take place in our country on December 1-2," Zelenskiy said.
Zelenskiy did not give details of the coup attempt and did not accuse the Russian state of involvement.
U.S. intelligence officials and senior figures in Ukraine’s military have suggested that as many as 92,000 Russian troops are massed to the north and east of Ukraine — many in the area around Yelnya, near Russia’s border with ally Belarus — and in Crimea, the peninsula that lies south of mainland Ukraine.
Amid Russias buildup, CNN this week quoted sources in U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration as saying it was considering sending military advisers and new equipment including weapons to Ukraine.
Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington had "real concerns" about the Russian military moves and a possible new offensive, which he warned would be a "serious mistake."
Moscow, which also massed thousands of troops along its border with Ukraine last spring, has dismissed talk of a potential Russian invasion as "groundless."
With reporting by AFP and Reuters