Russia has deployed as many as 10,000 troops in eastern Ukraine for more than a year and has actively sought to hide the deaths of its soldiers, according to a new report that provides a comprehensive assessment of the Kremlin’s invasion of its neighbor.
The report was published Thursday by the Interpreter, a daily online journal that translates Russian media and reports on Russian affairs, also detailed the Kremlin’s provision of increasingly sophisticated weaponry and vehicles to separatists in Ukraine. Nearly 8,000 people have been killed in the Ukrainian conflict since April 2014.
The conflict originated in March 2014 when unmarked Russian soldiers seized the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, an invasion that followed Ukraine’s ousting of a pro-Moscow leader. Despite denials from Russian President Vladimir Putin at the time that the troops belonged to Russia, he later admitted that he deployed them.
Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Putin escalated support to separatists in eastern Ukraine that resided in areas with a majority of ethnic Russians. Reserve officers in the Russian military, who also had ties to the Russian military intelligence agency known as the GRU, commanded the rebels in attacks. By June 2014, the Ukrainian military said that Russia had massed more than 40,000 troops on Ukraine’s border and deployed about 7,000 to 10,000 Russian soldiers inside Ukraine.
“The Russian military is digging in, building forward operating bases between Mariupol and Donetsk, and turning temporary staging areas on the Russian side of the border into permanent installations for invasion preparations.”
Putin has instituted several measures to prevent the deaths of Russian soldiers in Ukraine from inciting a backlash at home, the report said. The troops are often young enlistees from disparate regions of Russia, and they are treated at clinics scattered across the country. Groups and news outlets that attempt to report the deaths of Russian soldiers are harassed or attacked by authorities and unknown assailants.
In May, Putin signed a measure that prohibits information about the deaths of Russian forces in peacetime, an attempt to further conceal details about Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.
Full article: How Russia Invaded Ukraine (Washington Free Beacon)