Russia has started a great war and deaths will be measured in the thousands, Ukraine's defence minister warns

Warning follows claims President Putin said that Russia could 'take Kiev in two weeks'

Russia is responsible for bringing a “great war” on Europe and will be responsible for “tens of thousands” of deaths if the crisis escalates, the Ukrainian Defence Minister has said.

“A great war has arrived at our doorstep, the likes of which Europe has not seen since World War Two,” Valeriy Heletey wrote on Facebook on Monday. “Unfortunately, the losses in such a war will be measured not in the hundreds, but thousands and tens of thousands,” he added.

Russia has consistently denied arming pro-Moscow insurgents, claiming that there has been - and will be - no military intervention.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told students yesterday that Russia backed a “peaceful settlement of this severe crisis”, having already called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.

On Tuesday morning, however, its Security Council announced that it would update its “military doctrine by the end of 2014 to reflect Nato expansion”.

It also warned that “military aggression against [Russian-controlled] Crimea will be considered aggression against Russia”.

 

The developments come after it emerged that Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly told the outgoing president of the European Commission he could "take Kiev in two weeks”.

According to Italy’s La Republica newspaper, Jose Manuel Barroso said that Mr Putin made the comment after the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had left the table at the Nato summit over the weekend during talks on the crisis.

Mr Poroshenko has accused Russia of “direct and undisguised aggression” in the east of Ukraine.

Mr Barroso reportedly said Mr Putin first made the remarks in a telephone conversation held on 29 August, when the Russian president was accused of being responsible for the military action of the separatists in Ukraine.

Mr Putin is reported to have interrupted, saying: “The issue is not this. If I want, I can take Kiev in two weeks”.

However, this morning a Russian official complained that the statement was "quoted out of context and carried a completely different meaning".

Tensions between Russia and the West increased yesterday after it was revealed that Nato will create a 4,000-strong spearhead force in the region with military equipment stockpiled at bases in Eastern Europe.

Its forces will be available within 48 hours should Russia militarily intervene in Ukraine.

On Tuesday morning, Mikhail Popov, deputy secretary of the National Security Council, said Russia would ‘alter its military doctrine towards Nato' in response to deteriorating relations with Europe and the US, Mr Popov told Russia's RIA news agency Nato was “aggravating tensions with Russia”.

He said that the “military infrastructure of Nato member states“ was ”getting closer to [Russian] borders, including via enlargement.”

There were no details on how the doctrine might change.

Clashes erupted on Sunday night between separatists and Ukrainian military, in which rebels pushed back government forces from an airport near Luhansk, the second-largest rebel-controlled city.

The fighting occurred a day before negotiations got underway in Minsk, Belarus, with pro-Russian fighters easing demands for full independence, instead calling for autonomy in a Ukrainian sovereign state.

Previous crisis talks have failed to reach an agreement, with this round of discussion including Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Russia’s Ambassador to Ukraine, representation from the separatists, and members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

READ MORE: Nato readies rapid-reaction spearhead force
Heavy clashes near Luhansk airport
John Sweeney doorsteps Vladimir Putin over killings

According to a statement from the rebels, distributed by Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency, they are willing to find a resolution to “the preservation of the united economic, cultural and political space of Ukraine”, as long as they can retain local powers including running their own law enforcement.

The talks, which lasted for a number of hours yesterday, have been adjourned until Friday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us