Rocket attacks and peace-deal violations fuel concerns
Military authorities in Ukraine believe the number of Russian troops within and close to its borders has risen to more than 50,000, raising fears of a substantial escalation in the conflict raging in Ukraine’s eastern regions.
Almost 9,000 Russian Federation Armed Forces personnel are believed to be based inside Ukraine, according to reports from the country’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) seen by The Independent on Sunday. The rest are based in the neighbouring Rostov region of Russia, including mechanised assault units and communications command systems.
Russia and Ukraine were heading Sunday, April 27, for their first battle over the rebel-held flashpoint town of Slavyansk, debkafile’s military and US sources report. The outcome will determine who controls the Donetsk region and possibly all of East of Ukraine – the separatists or the provisional government in Kiev.
With a superior, professional and well-trained force armed with a preponderance of fire power, the Kremlin has several options to choose from for this engagement:
1. To order the 11,000 troops, based at Rostov on Don 40 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, to cross over and head for Slavyansk and Donetsk.
2. To send a tank column against the 15,000 Ukrainian troops deployed over the weekend around Slavyansk. According to Russian sources, the force from Kiev is armed with 160 tanks, 230 armored personnel carriers and 150 pieces of artillery and missiles. Continue reading
Thursday, April 24, saw a steep escalation of tensions between Moscow and Kiev after the Ukrainian army killed up to five pro-Russian militiamen in an attack on three checkpoints outside the eastern town of Slavyansk. President Vladimir Putin threatened “consequences.” He added that the legitimacy of the May 25 elections was in serious question. Defense Minister Gen. Sergey Shoigu ordered the Russian army to start drills at Rostov on Don near the Ukraine border.
debkafile’s military sources report that this order amounted to a state of alert, which required the troops to close their distance to the Ukraine border and take up prepared positions as bridgeheads for entering East Ukraine when the order is given. Continue reading
Kiev (CNN) — Ukrainian acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Wednesday that the separatist protests in Ukraine’s eastern region would be resolved within 48 hours — either through negotiations or the use of force.
At the same time, Russia insisted that the presence of its troops just over the border was no reason to worry.
Using classified and commercial satellite imagery, the United States estimates there are up to 40,000 Russian troops on the border with eastern Ukraine. NATO has also warned of a major troop buildup. Continue reading
MOSCOW — With a referendum on secession looming in Crimea, Russia massed troops and armored vehicles in at least three regions along Ukraine’s eastern border on Thursday, alarming the interim Ukraine government about a possible invasion and significantly escalating tensions in the crisis between the Kremlin and the West.
The announcement of the troop buildup by Russia’s Defense Ministry was met with an unusually sharp rebuke from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who warned that the Russian government must abandon what she called the politics of the 19th and 20th centuries or face diplomatic and economic retaliation from a united Europe.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if Russia continues on its course of the past weeks, it will not only be a catastrophe for Ukraine,” she said in a speech to the German Parliament. “We, also as neighbors of Russia, would not only see it as a threat. And it would not only change the European Union’s relationship with Russia. No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically.” Continue reading