News from Russia: EU leaders urged to act or to face an all-out war with Moscow | World | news

Russian State Duma spokesman Vyacheslav Volodin warned EU leaders to pay attention to the ongoing dispute between Russia and Ukraine, as Europeans would be drawn into a widespread conflict with Moscow.

The warning came in response to statements made by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyi last week that war between Ukraine and Russia was possible, in response to questions from reporters at a YES brainstorming forum.

Mr. Zelenskyi added that the conflict was “primarily Russia’s biggest mistake”.

He argued that Russians and Ukrainians had become enemies with a huge gap between them now.

However, Mr Volodin warned that the Ukrainian President’s comments could only serve as a means of escalating tensions as he urged EU leaders to remain vigilant.

He said: “Do the leaders of European countries understand that these statements by Zelenskyi are very dangerous for their nations?

“The heads of state and government of the European Union should pay attention to what is happening in Ukraine.

“If they don’t want the Europeans to be drawn into a full-blown war.”

Ukrainians and Russians are “a people that has been divided because of politicians like Zelenskyi”.

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He continued: “We have a common history, culture, religion, we are united by the Russian language.

“So we need to think about friendship and relationship development, not war and divide.”

It comes as Russia deployed new combat robots and tactical vehicles on the second day of the main active phase of major military exercises with its former Soviet ally Belarus, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

The “Zapad-2021” war games, which will run until Thursday on the western flank of Russia and Belarus, also in places near the borders of the European Union, have alarmed Ukraine and some NATO countries.

Troops are using Platform-M combat robots, which are remotely controlled and armed with grenade launchers and a machine gun, the ministry said in a statement. Russian news agencies said it was the first time such hardware was used.

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Russian media announced that new tactical Sarmat 2 vehicles had also been used.

President Vladimir Putin denies that the exercises are directed against any foreign power, saying they make sense in light of increased NATO activity near the borders of Russia and its allies.

Neighbors like Ukraine and NATO members Poland and Lithuania say such large-scale exercises could provoke so close to the border.

“We have to realize that this (a Russian military attack on Estonia) can actually happen in the coming years,” said Martin Herem, commander of the Estonian Defense Forces, in an interview on Friday evening.

“Russia’s goal is probably not to occupy us, it does not want to gain control through occupation, but it enjoys instability and influence through instability,” the BNS news agency quoted him as saying.

The maneuvers take place every four years, but this year’s exercise was seen as a special signal of Russia’s support for Belarus and its leader Alexander Lukashenko, who has been ostracized by the West for cracking down on dissent.

Russia sees Belarus as a strategically important buffer for its West and helped with credit and political support to keep Lukashenko in power as he put down a popular uprising last year.

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