After U.S. intelligence revealed that Russia may be preparing for a full-on invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine’s Minister of Defense, Oleksiy Reznikov told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview that the 7-year-long military conflict is even more dangerous today than it was in April of this year, when Moscow deployed up to 150,000 troops along the Ukrainian border. “The West did not react in time,” the minister said on Monday, adding that it’s now clear that the Kremlin has been plotting an offensive on Ukraine for months. “Russia has de facto annexed Belarus, which adds more than 1,000 km along the border that we have to defend.” Up until now, Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko has tried to maintain a somewhat neutral position on the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. Just a few months ago, Lukashenko claimed he would recognize Crimea as Russian territory only “when the last Russian oligarch delivers goods” to the peninsula, referring to the Russian elite’s reluctance to invest in Crimea for fear of getting sanctioned. But now, with Lukashenko fuming over Western sanctions and reliant on the Kremlin’s support, “Minsk is serving as Moscow’s proxy and is used for actions that Russia cannot do with its own hands,” Reznikov told The Daily Beast. On Saturday, Ukrainians woke up to a flurry of chilling headlines after The Washington Post reported that Russia may be gearing up to attack Ukraine in a matter of months, based on information gathered from a U.S. intelligence analysis. The plan reportedly involves the deployment of over 175,000 Russian troops. All the while, Russian officials have reportedly been pressuring the U.S. into guaranteeing that Ukraine will be blocked from joining NATO. In other words, the message to America and its allies is clear: Mind your own business, and stay out of it. According to Reznikov, it gets worse. Not only are there more Russian soldiers on the border than there were in April, but the fact that Ukraine, Poland and three other Baltic states are now “surrounded” with Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipelines presents its own fresh set of challenges to Ukraine’s resistance efforts. “ We are already dealing with several wars at the same time. ” “The direct gas pipeline to Germany sharply increases military threats to the four NATO states and also to Ukraine. Russia now has the potential to destabilize [their gas supplies] and in doing so, block a strong reaction from Europe,” the minister said. “We saw what that can look like: the Kremlin carried out a hybrid attack on Poland and Lithuania with the help of migrants,” he added, referring to the recent border crisis at the Poland-Belarus border. The minister warned that in the case of a Russian invasion, millions of Ukrainian refugees would flood the European Union. “The sudden appearance of 3-5 million refugees from Ukraine would be just one of many serious problems that the European society would have to deal with,” he said. “We are already dealing with several wars at the same time: a political conflict between President Zelensky and oligarch [Rinat] Akhmetov, economic crises and a COVID-19 pandemic,” editor-in-ch . . . read the full article here.