Ukraine's Troops 'Ready' for Russian Assault As Tensions Rise Amid Envoy Arrest

A top Ukrainian general said his troops are "ready" for any Russian military assault as concern grows over Moscow's build-up of troops on the countries' borders.

His comments come as tensions between the countries are increasing away from the frontline as well, after Russia's FSB security service said it had detained a Ukrainian diplomat for receiving sensitive information from a Russian national.

Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops by Ukraine's eastern border, including deployments of tanks, rocket artillery and air defense systems. Moscow said this is in response to NATO deployments and has suggested the measures are temporary.

However, as part of the biggest Russian military buildup since 2014—when Moscow annexed Crimea—the movements have raised the specter of another incursion into Ukrainian territory.

Major General Viktor Ganushchak, the deputy commander of what Ukraine calls its Joint Forces Operation, has said his troops are prepared for the Kremlin's next move.

Ukrainian serviceman in Schastya
A Ukrainian serviceman in Schastya, Lugansk region, near the frontline with Russia backed separatists on April 16, 2021. Russia has been building up a military presence on its border with Ukraine. Getty Images

"We are ready for the assault if it will happen," he told a briefing near the frontline, according to The Telegraph, "We can see the increase in the number of troops and equipment on our border but we cannot say for certain."

"We cannot make any kind of forecast. But they are bringing battalion tactical groups to our border," he added.

Adding to the distrust between Moscow and Kyiv was the detention of Oleksandr Sosoniuk from Ukraine's consulate general in St. Petersburg.

The FSB said on Saturday that Sosoniuk had been detained for obtaining classified information from databases belonging to the FSB and law enforcement.

"This activity is incompatible with the status of a diplomatic worker and has a clear hostile character towards the Russian Federation," the FSB said in a statement, according to news agency Tass.

Russia has detained Ukrainian nationals on suspicion of spying before but the detention of a diplomat is rare. As the news agency noted, under the Vienna Convention, diplomats have immunity in the country in which they work but can be declared persona non grata "in the event of a violation of the law or hostile actions."

Meanwhile, Russian foreign ministry sources told the newspaper Kommersantthat the envoy is likely to be expelled.

"The question is whether he will be declared persona non grata or will be limited to a statement about the undesirability of further stay in the country," one source told the paper.

Ukraine's deputy foreign minister Yevhen Yenin denied Russian accusations that Sosoniuk had received secret information, telling the Ukraine 24 TV channel that his detention was part of a "brutal provocation" against the background of the Russian troop build-up, Hromadske reported.

Meanwhile, Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, said that circumstances of the detention were being investigated and that Kyiv, "was preparing a response," RIA Novosti reported.

In a statement to Newsweek, a Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson said: "We absolutely reject the accusations made against the consular officer."

"In response to this provocation, a senior diplomat of the Russian Embassy in Kyiv has been ordered to leave the territory of Ukraine within 72 hours, starting April 19."

This story has been updated to include a statement to Newsweek from Ukraine's foreign ministry.