March 16, 2014 -- Ukrainian Interim Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsa accused Russian forces of entering the Ukrainian mainland, calling their actions a “provocation” and warning that his country is prepared to defend itself.
Deshchytsa told ABC News' Bianna Golodryga in a phone interview today that a reported visit by Russian troops to a natural gas terminal just beyond the border of the largely pro-Russia region of Crimea was “one of those many provocations that Russians are trying to organize on the territory of Ukraine.”
But he added that Ukraine “will not go” for such a provocation because it is still holding out hope for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
Deschytsa said, however, that his country is prepared to defend itself against Russian aggression but acknowledged that Ukraine’s military is no match for its neighbor.
“If you compare the military arsenals of Ukraine and Russia, of course Russia's positions are much better,” Deshchytsa said.
He said the Ukrainian people have a strong spirit, suggesting that could help them get through a period of fighting.
Just hours before the people of Crimea are expected to vote in a referendum to become part of Russia, Deshchytsa said Ukraine considers the vote illegal and laid out how his government will respond.
“It will very much depend how Russia [reacts to the referendum] and will Russia recognize this referendum,” he said.