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 Ukraine's army commander says Russian threat highest since 2014, - Reuters

Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces says Russia has been ramping up its forces near the border with Ukraine since August and now poses the greatest military threat since 2014, the year Moscow annexed Crimea.

As reported by Censor.NET, in his interview with Reuters on Tuesday, General Viktor Muzhenko gestured to a series of satellite images which he said showed the presence of Russian T-62 M tanks stationed 18 km (11 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

They had more than doubled to 250 from 93 machines within the space of two weeks from mid September to Oct 1.

For Muzhenko this is evidence of a concerted build-up of Russian forces in the run-up to Nov. 25, when Russia fired on and captured three Ukrainian vessels at the Kerch Strait, an action Kiev’s leadership fears may be a precursor to a full-scale invasion.

Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations over the clash. The Kremlin’s spokesman on Monday dismissed as "absurd" the notion that Russia wanted to forcibly take over Ukrainian ports.

Muzhenko said Russian troop levels were at "the highest" since 2014, when Moscow annexed Crimea and then deployed forces to eastern Ukraine.

"In front of us is an aggressor who has no legal, moral or any other limits," he said. "It is very difficult to predict when it will occur to him to begin active combat actions against Ukraine."

"This (the Kerch Strait incident) was an act of aggression from regular forces, the border service (of the Russian Federation) in relation to the Ukrainian armed forces," Muzhenko said.

The Russian defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Muzhenko said Ukraine had deployed more land and air forces to the region in response, and intensified military exercises across the country, but declined to go into specifics.

He added that Ukraine expects to complete the building of a military base on the Azov Sea, which had been planned before the navy clash, by next year.

Ukraine was also expecting help from allies, mostly the United States, for equipment including air and naval reconnaissance, boats and weapons for ground troops, he said.

On Nov. 25, Russian border vessels committed aggressive actions against three Ukrainian ships that set sail from the port of Odesa to the port of Mariupol in the Azov Sea. After that, Russian special forces opened fire on the Ukrainian tugboat Yany Kapu, small armored artillery boats Berdiansk and Nikopol in the Kerch Strait and seized them. There were 23 sailors on board the ships, and six of them were wounded.

Russia announced its intention to try detained Ukrainian sailors for allegedly illegal crossing of the Russian state border.

On Nov. 26, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on the situation in Ukraine related to the latest developments in the Black and Azov Seas.

Later on the same day, Ukraine's parliament gave the green light to a presidential decree on the introduction of martial law for 30 days in 10 regions of Ukraine – Vinnytsia region, Luhansk region, Mykolaiv region, Odesa region, Sumy region, Kharkiv region, Chernihiv region, Kherson region, Donetsk region and Zaporizhia region, as well as the inland waters of the Azov-Kerch water area.

On Nov. 28, the Russian rubberstamp district court of Simferopol city in Crimea arrested 24 Ukrainian sailors, who had been captured by Russian FSB near the Kerch Strait, for two months. They all face six years in prison.

Источник: https://censor.net.ua/en/n3100672
 
 
 
 
 
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