Russia has accused Ukraine of preparing for a new war after Ukrainian legislators described the conflict with pro-Moscow forces in the east of the country as a “temporary Russian occupation.”
Earlier on Thursday, Ukrainian lawmakers adopted a bill to restore “sovereignty over the Donetsk and Lugansk regions,” reiterating that Kiev needed to do its utmost to “re-integrate” those flashpoint regions even if it was a matter of using military force.
“You cannot call this anything but preparation for a new war,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday, warning that the provocative move “risked a dangerous escalation in Ukraine with unpredictable consequences for world peace and security.”
The newly-adopted bill calls Russia an “aggressor” and defines the self-proclaimed republics of Lugansk and Donetsk as “occupying administrations.”
The statement went on to say that the bill showed Kiev’s bid to shirk its responsibility for the destruction inflicted on eastern Ukraine and the suffering of the people brought by the Kiev-launched military offensives. It also accused the Ukrainian government of seeking a way to shift the blame to Russia.
The bill would not only violate the Minsk agreements but it would also tear down the whole international mechanism of the Ukrainian conflict resolution, including the Normandy Four format, the statement added.
Normandy format is a diplomatic group of the four countries of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, which was created in June 2014 to resolve the Ukrainian conflict.
According to the new legislation, Kiev would be able to charge all people currently working in the administrations of the self-proclaimed republics with criminal offenses. Furthermore, Ukrainian president would be allowed to send troops for the sake of “ensuring [Ukraine’s] sovereignty” to certain territories without declaring a war or a state of martial law.
The armed conflict erupted in Ukraine following the overthrow of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 and intensified after people in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for reunification with the Russian Federation in a referendum in March 2014. The West brands the reunification as annexation of the territory by Russia.
The pro-Russians have turned the two regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east — collectively known as the Donbass — into self-proclaimed republics.
Armed confrontation between the pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian military has killed more than 10,000 people, according to the United Nations.
In September 2014, the government in Kiev and the pro-Russia forces signed a ceasefire agreement in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk in a bid to halt the fighting in Ukraine’s eastern regions.
The warring sides also inked another truce deal, dubbed Minsk II, in February 2015 under the supervision of Russia, Germany, and France.
Since then, however, sporadic fighting has occurred, with the parties blaming each other for initiating the violations.