US defense officials said Friday that Russian fighter jets flew into Ukrainian airspace a handful of times over the last 24 hours, in what
one called a continued provocation of the heightened tensions in the region.
The officials said it’s not clear what the intent was, but the aircraft could have been testing Ukrainian radar or making a show of force.
Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed the flights, adding that the U.S. is calling on the Russians “to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.”
On Saturday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk told reporters in Rome that “Russian military aircraft today at night crossed and violated Ukrainian airspace seven times. The only reason is to provoke Ukraine … and to accuse Ukraine of waging war against Russia.”
Russia denied the reports. “Russia’s means of objective airspace situation control did not record any violations of air boundaries of the states adjacent to Russia, including those of Ukraine,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Saturday. …
At the United Nations Friday, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, Danylo Lubkivsky said he feared an imminent Russian invasion.
“We have the information we are in danger,” Lubkivsky told reporters, saying Russian military maneuvers involving air and ground forces along the Ukraine border were a “very dangerous development.”