The situation in Ukraine is becoming more strained and volatile as time goes on. Ukrainian military forces along the border with Crimea, along with those facing the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in the east have increased their combat readiness. The move was ordered by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as Moscow continues to loudly accuse Ukraine of making incursions into Crimean territory. Kiev has flatly denied undertaking any such actions. US and European diplomats in the Ukrainian capital have bolstered this claim, stating that no evidence of alleged incursions has been presented to corroborate Russia’s allegations.
Yesterday, the FSB, Russia’s principal security agency, claimed to have uncovered a Ukrainian military and intelligence network attempting to make incursions into Crimea last weekend. ‘Heavy fire’ from the Ukrainian side of the border is said to have resulted in the death of one Russian soldier and an FSB officer was killed while trying to ‘detain infiltrators.’ FSB has in fact detained a number of suspected infiltrators and has even gone so far as to declare one to be a Ukrainian military intelligence officer.
Vladimir Putin has accused Kiev of ‘practicing terror’ and vows that he will not allow ‘such things to slide by.’ Poroshenko, for his part, has labeled the Russian allegations as ‘absurd and cynical.’ He has also suggested that Russia is looking for a pretext for further military action in Ukraine.
Poroshenko’s suggestion does carry water. This crisis certainly appears to have been artificially manufactured and is escalating at controlled intervals scripted by Moscow. Preparations for a renewed separatist offensive have been underway for weeks in eastern Ukraine. New equipment and supplies have arrived in separatist-held territory from Russia. Russian ‘advisers’ have been seen in Donetsk training separatist groups to operate more effectively under combat conditions. These ‘incursions’ by Ukrainian military and intelligence personnel into Crimea provide Russia with a convenient and timely justification to take a larger role in conflict.
The situation on the ground in Ukraine right now is very fluid. If it continues to play out along the same lines that it has all week, expect there to be some tense moments in the coming days.