Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zlensky said on Friday that the current conflict between Kiev and Moscow could lead to a “large-scale” war between Russia and Ukraine.
“I suppose so,” replied the head of state when asked about tensions with Moscow during the Forum Yes Brainstorming 2021 taking place in Kiev.
Zelensky said a full-scale war with Russia “would be the worst thing that could happen” but stressed that “unfortunately it is a possibility”.
“I think that would be Russia’s biggest mistake,” he added.
On the other hand, the Ukrainian head of state said that he would like to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the framework of a new meeting of the Normandy Quartet to find solutions on the situation in eastern Ukraine.
The last diplomatic meeting in the quartet format took place in December 2019.
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov immediately regretted Zelensky’s words about the possibility of war, adding that he did not want to comment on “apocalyptic scenarios”.
The Normandy Quartet is formed by Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.
The Contact Group, another diplomatic format on the situation in the region, is composed of Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The conflict in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian militias broke out in the spring of 2014 and to date has claimed the lives of 14,000 people.
Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Zelensky’s statements come on the same day that the completion of the controversial Franco-German pipeline Nord Stream 2 was announced.
Shortly before Zelensky’s statements in Kiev, the spokesman for the head of state of Ukraine told France Presse that the country would “struggle” against the exploitation of the pipeline.
“The president (Volodymyr Zelensky) has always said that Ukraine will fight against this Russian political project, during and after construction and after distribution begins,” said Segiy Nikirof, spokesman for the Ukrainian head of state.
Gazprom company announced this Friday that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, between Russia and Germany, is “completely completed”.
The project was even postponed due to threats of US sanctions and geopolitical tensions.
The undersea pipeline in the Baltic Sea is expected to double Russian gas deliveries to Germany.
For the United States and European detractors of the project, the pipeline will make a lasting increase in European energy dependence on Russia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin have insisted over the past few years that Nord Stream was a purely commercial project, without any political character.
The new pipeline, with a transport capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually, has a length of 1,230 kilometers under the Baltic Sea establishing the same route as Nord Stream 1, which has been operating since 2012.
In recent years, the project has been criticized by Washington, as well as by Ukraine, which sees the geopolitical position weakened by the operation of the gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.
The US position changed under President Joe Biden’s Administration, which reached a compromise between Washington and Berlin on the matter.
For Ukraine, the pipeline could deprive Kiev of at least US$1.5 billion a year that it receives for the transit of Russian gas through Ukrainian territory and destined for the European bloc.
In August, the German chancellor said in Ukraine that Berlin would “do everything” to extend the Russian-Ukrainian transit contract that formally expires in 2024.
At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Merkel to consider Nord Stream 2 a “dangerous geopolitical weapon”.