"Russia's main objective with regard to Ukraine is to disrupt early presidential elections in the country, and the risk of incursion of Russian troops into the mainland Ukraine is very high," National Security and Defence Council Secretary Andriy Parubiy said during a web conference with Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President of the U.S. Atlantic Council on Thursday evening.
According to Parubiy, the available data indicate that the annexation of Crimea was the first stage of Russia's plan of invasion of Ukraine, codenamed "Russian Spring". "The next stage should have been eight southeastern and eastern regions of Ukraine where they planned a scenario identical to that in Crimea, for the seizure of regional state administrations, public institutions, the proclamation of so-called "people's governors", and then an appeal to Russia for help," Parubiy said. According to him, the numerical strength of Russian troops deployed near Ukraine's northern and eastern borders exceeds 100,000. "Russian troops were supposed to be welcome in the east and south of Ukraine, but well-prepared protests have failed to receive wide popular support there. Now, along with the amassment of troops, they are employing a long-term political strategy to disrupt the Ukrainian elections. We are aware of the highly probably attack on the mainland territory of Ukraine and we are preparing for it. Our general strategy now is to ensure public order, avoid provocations, and prepare for the May 25th presidential election," Parubiy said. So far, there has been no progress in negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. "The sides are holding consultations and issues to be raised at a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian deputy foreign ministers," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoriy Karasin told reporters on Friday. He said it was too early to speak about any concrete date or venue for the meeting.