Russia: Large number of military tanks spotted on road
And Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba today confirmed he had spoken to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), of which Britain is a member, to alert them about Russia’s “systemic aggravation”. Footage tweeted by The Intel Crab shows scores of tanks, armoured cars and other vehicles loaded on a train heading for Crimea, the region which Mr Putin annexed from Ukraine seven years ago.
The military analyst, who describes themselves as an “open source intelligence aggregator & content contributor” for the @StratSentinel Twitter feed, commented: “Russian forces are deploying massive amounts of military hardware into #Crimea.
“One of the largest deployments I’ve seen in recent memory.”
They tweeted similar clips yesterday, posting: “Note: Spring exercise season is WELL underway across Russia, but the size and scale of these deployments are far from what typically occur in the region.
The video shows large numbers of tanks being moved into Crimea
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s President
“There are also unconfirmed reports of advanced missile systems being transferred (a-la Tochka U). Big development, if true.”
Speaking today, Mr Kuleba said he had spoken to OSCE, the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organisation, about what he called Russia’s “systemic aggravation” of the security situation in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame in recent weeks for a spike in violence in the eastern Donbass region, where Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed forces have fought a conflict that has killed 14,000 people since 2014 by Ukraine’s estimate.
Andrew Blinken, the US Secretary of State
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a phone call with Mr Kuleba yesterday, affirmed Washington’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity “in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression,” the State Department said in a statement.
Mr Blinken “expressed concern about the security situation in eastern Ukraine and offered condolences on the recent loss of four Ukrainian soldiers,” the statement added.
Chiefs of staff of the Russian and US militaries also spoke by telephone yesterday.
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Intel Crab’s tweet
The clip also shows large numbers of other military vehicles
Neither sides provided many details of the call between Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and General Valery Gerasimov, the head of Russian’s military general staff.
US military readout of the call said: “The two military leaders exchanged their views on issues of mutual concern.”
Ukraine’s armed forces said last week that four soldiers were killed in shelling by Russian forces in Donbass, the highest daily death total since a ceasefire agreement was reached last July.
Russia’s military strength in numbers
Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Ruslan Khomchak said on Tuesday Russia was building up armed forces near Ukraine’s borders in a threat to the country’s security.
The Kremlin said on Wednesday it was concerned by mounting tensions in eastern Ukraine and that it feared Kyiv’s government forces could do something to restart a conflict with pro-Russian separatists.
Meanwhile, Canada, which has 200 troops stationed in Ukraine, is concerned about a Russian buildup of forces near the war-torn east of the country and is watching the crisis closely, a senior source directly familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba
An insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, said of leader Justin Trudeau: “The prime minister was briefed this morning on this issue, the Russian troop buildup.
“We view this as significant and concerning. The fact we have troops there means we are more than just casual observers.”
A force of 200 Canadian military trainers has been based in western Ukraine since September 2015.
Canada, long one of Russia’s harshest critics, said on Monday it was imposing sanctions against two Russians and four business entities in response to Moscow’s “illegal occupation and annexation” of Crimea in 2014.