If Russia wants to increase the escalation, then it will attempt to do this on those territories where historically there are people who used to have family links to Russia, that is, to take over Kharkiv. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated this in an interview with The Washington Post.
Zelenskyy explained Russia might try to seize Ukrainian territories using the pretext of "protection" of the Russian-speaking population. According to him, this will be the beginning of a large-scale war.
"Kharkiv, which is under Ukraine government control, could be occupied. Russia needs a pretext: They will say that they are protecting the Russian-speaking population. After the occupation and the annexation of Crimea, we understand that this is feasible and may happen," he noted.
Zelensky stressed that he did not know "what they are going to do because these are big cities."
"More than a million people live in Kharkiv. It’s not going to be just an occupation; it’s going to be the beginning of a large-scale war," he added.
Context. Since the fall of 2021, the Russian Federation has been pulling in troops to the Ukrainian borders. Western media, citing sources, reported that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could occur in early 2022. About 175,000 Russian military personnel would be involved in it.