The Ukrainian president has requested that U.S. President Donald Trump deliver a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Petro Poroshenko says he wants Trump to deliver the message at the G-20 summit this weekend in Argentina, saying, “Please, get out from Ukraine, Mr. Putin,” NBC News reported Tuesday.
Poroshenko made the remark during an interview with NBC News’ Richard Engel, adding that Ukraine is already on alert for additional attacks from Russia.
Watch it at 1:46 in the video below:
“We definitely should be ready for Russian aggression,” he said. “We’re preparing for protecting our country.”
Ukrainian Parliament approved a measure to implement martial law in several provinces on the Russian border effective Wednesday morning and lasting for 30 days.
“Martial law does not mean that we do not attack anybody. We do it just for protecting our country – for defense,” Poroshenko explained.
He said he has several planned meetings with Trump and has been assured of the United States’ support. He added that he is counting on the U.S. to aid them in their fight for “freedom and democracy.”
“We will fight for our freedom, we will fight for our democracy, and we will fight for our soil,” Poroshenko said. “Russia will pay a huge price if they attack us.”
In a separate interview on Tuesday, Poroshenko said Ukraine is preparing for a war with Russia, including an expected ground invasion by Russian forces.
“I don’t want anyone to think this is fun and games. Ukraine is under threat of full-scale war with Russia,” Poroshenko said Tuesday, according to Newsweek.
He added that Ukrainian troops have been activated in preparation for a potential “large-scale ground invasion.” He noted that “evidence collected by our intelligence” has demonstrated “serious grounds to believe Russia is ready to follow with a ground attack.”
Both Ukraine and Russia have positioned troops at their borders.
#UPDATE Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned of the threat of “full-scale war” and said Russia had sharply increased its military presence on their shared border as tensions escalate between the ex-Soviet neighbours https://t.co/rtYqUrCS7C
— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 27, 2018
On Sunday, Russia decided to block Ukraine’s passage in the Kerch Strait, a waterway frequently used by both countries. Russia, however, has attempted to control the Strait since 2014 when it took control of the Crimean Peninsula.
Russia rammed a Ukrainian Navy tugboat, fired on two other Ukrainian naval boats and seized all three – including 23 sailors.
Several U.S. officials condemned the actions, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
“The United States condemns this aggressive Russian action,” Pompeo said Monday evening, as reported by the Washington Examiner. “We call on Russia to return to Ukraine its vessels and detained crew members, and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters. We call on both parties to exercise restraint and abide by their international obligations and commitments. We urge Presidents Poroshenko and Putin to engage directly to resolve this situation.”
Russia dismissed the remarks, saying, “There is no more need to calm the situation.”
Russian officials maintain that Ukraine is at fault for the conflict and for trespassing on Russian territory.