Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to destroy Ukraine as an independent country and re-establish the Soviet Union. Yatsenyuk made these comments at a news conference in Kiev, being attended by European and Ukrainian lawmakers.
The comments follow European leaders’ decision to implement new sanctions against Russia on Friday, which Yatsenyuk praised. American, European and Ukrainian leaders have repeatedly accused Russia of destabilizing the eastern part of the country by supplying arms to the pro-Moscow rebels and also sending troops into the region to pose as separatists. Russia has denied these accusations amid a shaky cease-fire between both countries.
“We are still in a stage of war and the key aggressor is the Russian Federation ... Putin wants another frozen conflict [in eastern Ukraine]," Yatsenyuk said at the conference, according to Reuters, adding: "His goal is to take all of Ukraine... Russia is a threat to the global order and to the security of the whole of Europe."
Yatsenyuk also said that NATO is not ready to accept Ukraine as a member of the bloc anytime soon, despite the increased cooperation, but the country is depending on its support.
"[Becoming a member of] NATO is not our goal yet, but when Russia has invaded Ukraine -- it has to be precisely and clearly stated that in such circumstances, NATO is the only opportunity to protect Ukraine. I realize that not all NATO members are content with such stance. I realize that in the short run NATO is not ready to accept Ukraine," Yatsenyuk said, according to Ria Novosti, a Russian news agency.
Russia had reacted to Friday's sanctions by saying that it will retaliate but will do it “calmly, appropriately,” Bloomberg reported, and called the sanctions “strange” as the cease-fire continued.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday that his administration will “deepen and broaden" its sanctions against Moscow, while Yatsenyuk said that Russia’s claim that the country is not affected by sanctions is a bluff.
Ukraine’s government, which is due to hold parliamentary elections on Oct. 26, is also facing financial trouble as investors are not entering the country due to the months-long fighting between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists in the east.
"It is very hard to attract investors when you have Russian tanks and artillery in your country," Yatsenyuk said, according to Reuters.