US troops have arrived in Poland for military exercises as tensions in the region over Ukraine rise.
The flexing of American armed muscle is a timely reassurance to NATO allies as Moscow’s rhetoric over protecting so-called Russian interests appears to be developing a more threatening tone.
In an interview on Russian state television, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov justified possible future military intervention:
“If we are attacked we would certainly respond. If our interests, legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example, I don’t see any other way but to respond with full accordance with international law,” he said.
Lavrov’s other claim that the US is “running the show” because Kyiv re-launched its ‘anti-terrorist’ operation during US Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit has been dismissed by Washington.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki was forthright in her response:
“I think many of the claims he made in his interview are ludicrous and they are not based in fact of what is happening on the ground. the actions of the Ukrainian government are a legitimate response by authorities to react to illegal armed seizure of buildings in a few towns in eastern Ukraine.”
Meanwhile the counter-terrorism operation against pro-Russian militants in the east is continuing but so far with little impact.
There have been reports of growing lawlessness in Donetsk and other separatist dominated cities, with Ukrainian speakers being intimidated, beaten and even abducted.