Ukraine Says Troop Call Up is Defensive Maneuver Over Concerns Russian Planning Invasion

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov responded Tuesday to Russian accusations that Ukraine is planning an attack after a buildup of troops in the east, saying this is a defensive measure against Russia's own troop buildup, but they have "no plans to attack anyone."

Tensions between the two countries have been rising since 2014, when the war against Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, collectively known as Donbas, began.

Though Russia continues to deny providing the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics troops and weapons, it also warned Ukraine against attempting to take the Donbas region back.

Russian officials alleged that Ukraine building its troops in the east was a sign of it trying to reclaim the rebel-controlled area, with Russian Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov previously warning that any "provocation" in the Donbas region would be "suppressed."

However, Ukrainian officials insist that this troop buildup is only a response to Russia's recent buildup of about 70,000 troops near its border with Ukraine.

"We don't plan to attack anyone and we don't plan to invade any other country's territory," Reznikov said. "Our defense capacity is important to protect our people, our society, our lives."

Reznikov has previously stated that in a worst-case scenario, Russia could invade as early as the end of January.

Ukraine is not the only nation worried about a possible Russian invasion, as several other Western countries have made it clear that they will support Ukraine should it be attacked.

Reznikov told reporters Tuesday that war in Ukraine would amount to war in Europe.

"There are clear signals from the international community that Ukraine will not be left alone in case of a Russian invasion," he said.

Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine does not plan to invade anyone, adding that Ukraine's buildup of troops is only in response to Russia's own buildup. Above, Reznikov gives a joint press conference with Sweden's Defense Minister in Stockholm, Sweden, on December 14, 2021. Photo by Christine Olsson/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has strongly emphasized that Ukraine's aspirations to join NATO represent a red line for Moscow, and also expressed concern about plans by some Alliance members to set up military training centers in Ukraine. He said that would give them a military foothold there even without Ukraine joining the 30-country military organization.

Reznikov said that Ukraine's right to join any military alliance, including NATO, was written down in the country's Constitution, adding "we are going to be a de facto NATO member and implement NATO standards."

"We are going to make to reforms because that is what we need," he added.

Reznikov was in Stockholm to meet his Swedish counterpart Peter Hultqvist and Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kherson, Ukraine
Russian officials accused Ukraine of building up their troops to try to take back the rebel-controlled Donbas region, but Ukrainian officials say it's a defensive measure against Russia's troop buildup near the countries' shared border. Above, a memorial where the former Lenin statue stood for Ukrainian soldiers who died during the ongoing war with Russia in Donbas on May 3 in Kherson, Ukraine. Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images