President Miloš Zeman does not expect Russia to start an armed attack on Ukraine, describing the information as another embarrassment of the American intelligence services in an interview with Mladá fronta DNES newspaper.
Zeman reiterated that the war would do more harm to the Russians in the form of sanctions than the benefit of sending a military warning to Kyiv and according to him, Moscow will not risk that.
He refused however to rule out that the situation could result in a local conflict on the borders of the self-proclaimed republics in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, declared by pro-Russian separatists.
U.S. officials have recently warned that the attack could come at virtually any time as Allies in Europe received information from the United States that the Russian invasion was due to begin on Feb. 16, a suggestion that was slapped down by Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, who quipped: “Wars in Europe rarely start on a Wednesday.”
“Russians are not crazy about embarking on an operation that will do them any more harm than good,” the Czech president told media.
‘Wars rarely start on Wednesday’ – Russian ambassador pokes fun at Western claims of imminent invasion of Ukraine
Escalation will not occur in the coming weeks or even months, stated the Russian diplomat
“As for the U.S. intelligence services, this is their third embarrassment. The first was in Iraq, where no weapons of mass destruction were found. The second was in Afghanistan when they claimed that the Taliban would never conquer Kabul. Well, the third is now,” Zeman added.
According to him, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg should resign due to the chaotic withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan. Zeman had opposed any draw down of troops in the country, saying he feared it would become a terror breeding ground once NATO left.
Russia has been gathering tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine for many weeks with Western countries warning the country of the danger of invading its neighbor. Russia has denied plans to attack Ukraine but warned it could take unspecified “military-technical” action if the West does not comply with its demands, including keeping NATO out of Ukraine and other restrictions on the alliance.
According to Zeman, the withdrawal of Russian troops after the completion of the military exercise means that there will be no war. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the return of some soldiers to the garrisons after training at the Ukrainian border. The United States, on the other hand, saw signs that more soldiers had set out in the opposite direction.
Zeman does not think that Russia would reconsider the planned attack, precisely because they knew about the plans of the Western intelligence service in advance and pointed it out.
“I think it’s an attempt to cover up the embarrassment. I received a message that the attack would begin in five days. It came from U.S. sources five days ago. Well, as you can see, it didn’t happen,” he said, adding that the notice came from the CIA.
“And I do not ask the CIA what information sources they have. Only based on the three cases mentioned I doubt the quality of these sources,” the president noted.
On the issue of Russian-Ukrainian tensions, Zeman shares the opinion of his predecessor in the presidency, Václav Klaus, who recently sent an open letter to Prime Minister Petr Fiala regarding the crisis. The former president called on Fiala to enforce negotiations to find security guarantees for all sides of the dispute. He considers the risk of open war real. Although Russia pursues its interests, which are not the same as those of other participants, its concerns are legitimate and should be taken seriously, Klaus stated.