Poroshenko says Russia’s Crimean base reopening a ‘devastating’ move

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivered a stern warning to Russia’s Vladimir Putin as Moscow pledged to resume construction on its naval base in the Crimea region, speeding up the construction of an underground launchpad and new missile-launching system in Crimea that Ukraine fears will be used for a new wave of cold war.

Speaking with Fox News’ Bret Baier, Poroshenko said Russia’s re-opening of the mission highlights the “serious deteriorating situation” in the country and his warning comes after Russia and Ukraine put down a spat over migration between the two countries.

“He is sending the message that if there is any violation of our sovereignty, including of the airspace, if there is any hostile move by Russia against our territorial integrity, the response will be devastating. That is what the president of Russia expects from the government of Ukraine, not allowing Ukraine to have a military victory over Russia.”

A new siting plan, as obtained by Fox News, appears to show a re-focus of the base. The new plan unveiled this week includes the construction of new outposts, construction of new bunkers and plans to reopen a manufacturing plant for launching ballistic missiles.

The plan also calls for construction of an underground launchpad, which Poroshenko said could be used to launch a new wave of high powered weapons from Russia. In retaliation, Poroshenko said his country will be shutting down border crossings.

“After the second military inspection, the Russian side asked for the access of the Ukrainian side to the sea base in Sevastopol. They said that there was a request for construction of a new facility and launchpad. They have asked for access to coastal facility. Russia will be expelled from certain Russian territory. All the border crossings of the Russian side, the Russian government will be expelled and we will be imposing sanctions and measures.”

While Poroshenko spoke, Russia has poured salt on the wound, denouncing a diplomatic exchange as illegitimate after Kiev said a trade deal would be issued for Ukrainian migrants in Russia, while Putin called the step illegal.

Poroshenko said Kiev is committed to fulfilling the terms of the accord.

But he said Russia will suffer most for the actions.

“The sanctions, the restrictions of trade and cargo, will hit Russia hard. We have agreed on these kinds of a concession, but we cannot always make things legal and legal things don’t always work,” Poroshenko said.

The trade deal will allow Ukrainian migrants who have been in Russia illegally to pay a fine and take over residence. Moscow agreed to the request but asked Kiev to hold back on its plans.

Poroshenko expressed concern over the exchange.

“We have recently extended the help of migrants. Those people come from different nationalities. They do not have any connection to Ukraine and they do not have any direct relationship with Ukraine. We think that is illegal. They have to pay a fine. And we told them all those matters,” he said.

— Samantha Vinograd contributed to this report.

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