KYIV, Feb 12 (Reuters) – The Ukrainian government urged citizens on Saturday to stay calm and united, saying the armed forces are ready to repel any attack on the country amid concern that Russia may be poised to invade.
“It is now critical to remain calm and united within the country, and avoid actions that undermine stability and sow panic,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“Ukraine’s Armed Forces are constantly monitoring developments and are ready to repel any encroachment on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” it added.
Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine and the United States said on Friday an invasion could come at any time. Washington also urged its citizens in Ukraine to leave as soon as possible, a call echoed by countries including Britain, Japan and Australia.
Moscow denies plans to invade, saying it is defending its own security interests against aggression by NATO allies.
U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin were due to speak on Saturday. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said he would talk to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk Editing by Frances Kerry)
Photo – Ukrainians attend a mourning service at the Mikhailovsky Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine, to honor the ‘cyborgs’, the collective name of Ukrainian soldiers who defended Donetsk International Airport for 242 days, as well as all defenders who died during the Eastern-Ukrainian conflict. The airport was a strategic location that had been the subject of heavy fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian militants in 2014-2015. EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO