Reznikov called on US President Joe Biden – who was to speak with Vladimir Putin from Russia in a video conference on Tuesday – to stand firm against Moscow.
“If I can advise President Biden, I would like him to state to Mr Putin that no red lines from the Kremlin side should be here. The red line is here in Ukraine and the civilized world will react without hesitation,” Reznikov told CNN in an exclusive interview Monday.
“The idea of not provoking Russia will not work,” he added.
“So we have 250,000 official … members of our army. Plus, I said 400,000 veterans and 200,000 reservists. 175,000 (is) not enough to go to Ukraine,” Reznikov said.
Reznikov stressed that a Russian invasion – if it happens – would have “catastrophic” consequences for the entire European continent, with an estimated 4 to 5 million Ukrainians possibly having to seek refuge in Europe. Reznikov also stressed that Ukraine is a major food supplier to Europe and Africa, supplies that he said would be disrupted.
The minister said the Ukrainian army has sent a request for additional military equipment assistance from its allies, including material support and training to its air force and navy. “We do not need troops, because I think it is not so fair that American soldiers die in Ukraine. No, we do not need it,” Reznikov added.
Ukraine has warned for weeks that Russia is trying to destabilize the country ahead of any planned military invasion, with NATO pointing out that Russian movements near the border have been unusual. Western powers have repeatedly called on Russia to take further aggressive action against Ukraine.
The Kremlin rejects plans to attack, claiming that NATO support for Ukraine – including increased weapons supply and military training – poses a growing threat to Russia’s western flank.
Because of the Kremlin’s motives, Reznikov told CNN that he believed Russia’s saber race was intended to spread fear and unrest in Ukraine, and to prevent Ukraine from moving closer to NATO and EU membership.
The Kremlin is demanding a legal commitment that NATO will not be expanded eastward to include Ukraine and that NATO’s military infrastructure, like missile systems, will not be built in the country.
“If we share or spread panic in our country and inside our community, it will be a gift to the Kremlin because they are trying to do so. Because this gathering of their troops next to our border is a major goal for “They are going to do a destabilization process inside our country to stop us on our way. But we are going into NATO allies, we are going to the EU,” he said.