The Ukrainian president said on Friday that satellite images alone were insufficient to determine the extent of Russia’s military build-up.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has criticized the US, saying it is damaging his country’s economy by unnecessarily causing panic that Russia may be planning an invasion.
Russia has joined more than 100,000 troops along with tanks and heavy weapons along the border, while denying any plans for an invasion. Zelenskiy said on Friday that satellite images alone were insufficient to determine the extent of the military build-up and that the situation had not escalated.
“We are grateful to the United States for supporting our independence and territorial integrity,” Zelenskiy told foreign media in the capital Kiev on Friday. “But I am the president of Ukraine, I am here and I know more details and I have deeper knowledge than any other president.”
His remarks come amid growing US warnings about Russia’s plans and continued resistance to such predictions by Zelenskiy and other Ukrainian officials determined to calm their nation and markets.
The issue resurfaced Thursday night when US President Joe Biden made a call with Zelenskiy. Biden told Zelenskiy “that there is a clear possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February,” according to Emily Horne, spokeswoman for the U.S. National Security Council.
“I’m not saying escalation can not happen,” Zelenskiy said Friday. “We’ve been saying this for eight years and part of our territories are already occupied.”
Zelenskiy has criticized Biden before, after the US president said earlier this month that he expected Russia to “move in” on its neighbor and that the US and its allies had not yet agreed on how to hold Moscow accountable for “a minor invasion”.
“We want to remind the great powers that there are no small invasions and small nations. “Just as there are no minor accidents and little grief due to the loss of loved ones,” Zelenskiy retorted in a tweet.
In another sign of tension, Ukrainian officials also objected to US advising families of embassy workers in Ukraine to leave the country. On Friday, Zelenskiy called it “a mistake, wrong overreaction steps that do not help us. This is not the Titanic here.”
The White House reading of the Biden-Zelenskiy call said the US president “made it clear that despite the departure of US family members from embassy staff, the US embassy in Kiev remains open and fully operational.”
Economic aid to Ukraine is also becoming an increasingly urgent issue. Ukraine needs as much as $ 5 billion to stabilize the economy, Zelenskiy said. The horvna has fallen by 8.4% against the dollar, one of the worst performers worldwide, since November when Russia once again fielded troops on the border.
The White House said in response to its call to Zelenskiy that Biden had said that the US was “examining additional macroeconomic support to help Ukraine’s economy.”