Ukraine Puts Troops on High Alert as Tension Grows With Russia

تم نشره في Thu 11 August / Aug 2016. 12:00 AM
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CAPITALS — Ukrainian troops along the de facto border with Crimea and facing rebels in the east have been placed on high alert amid a spike in tensions with Moscow.

President Petro Poroshenko said he had instructed all military units there to be combat ready.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his top brass to discuss beefing up security in Crimea.

Moscow accuses Kiev of carrying out armed incursions into Crimea - claims rejected as "a fantasy" by Ukraine.

Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014 after an unrecognised referendum.

The two sides sides are accusing each other of destabilising the situation as Kiev prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ukrainian independence from Russia on 24 August, and Russia prepares for a parliamentary election on 18 September.

In other developments:

·         The US envoy to Ukraine said he had "seen nothing so far that corroborates" Russian claims of Ukrainian incursions into Crimea

·         Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov accused the US of being behind the alleged armed incursions saying "Ukrainian officials wouldn't have had the courage for such actions"

·         Russia announced its two newest ships in the Black Sea Fleet - armed with cruise missiles - would begin exercises in the eastern part of the Mediterranean from 15 August

Russia's FSB intelligence agency on Wednesday said it had smashed a Ukraine military intelligence network attempting incursions into Crimea over the weekend. "Heavy fire" from Ukrainian territory resulted in the death of a Russian soldier. An FSB employee died while trying to detain infiltrators, it said.

A number of infiltrators were detained, the FSB said, including a Ukrainian national they named as Yevhen Panov. He was described by Russian sources as a Ukrainian military intelligence officer, but in Ukraine he is reported to be a former volunteer fighter who has more recently been associated with a charitable organisation.

President Putin accused Kiev of "practising terror" and vowed to "not let such things slide by", saying: "This is a very dangerous game".

President Poroshenko described the accusations as "preposterous and cynical", and said: "These fantasies are only a pretext for making more military threats against Ukraine".

About 9,000 people are reported to have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine that followed the Russian annexation of Crimea.

The annexation, which was itself largely bloodless, followed a vote to secede at a referendum on self-determination on 16 March 2014 - a ballot which was not recognised internationally.

The US and European Union imposed sanctions on Moscow in response to its seizure of the territory.