Thursday, August 11, 2016

Russia accuses Ukraine of attempted Crimea 'incursions'

August 11, 2016 (BBC News Europe) Russia has accused Ukraine of trying to carry out armed incursions into Crimea - the territory annexed by Russia in 2014 after an unrecognised referendum. The FSB intelligence agency said two attempted incursions had taken place over the weekend and a Russian soldier and an FSB employee had been killed. President Vladimir Putin vowed "further security measures" in response to Ukraine's "stupid and criminal" acts.

Russian ships and amphibious vehicles took part in military celebrations in Crimea on 31 July
Ukraine's president described the accusations as "preposterous". "Russian accusations against Ukraine of terrorism in occupied Crimea sound as preposterous and cynical as the statements of the Russian leadership about the absence of Russian troops in the Donbass [region of rebel-held eastern Ukraine]," Petro Poroshenko said. "These fantasies are only a pretext for making more military threats against Ukraine," he added. Russian intelligence also said it had smashed a Ukraine military intelligence network in Crimea and detained a number of people. They included a Ukrainian national named as Yevhen Panov, who is described by Russian sources as a Ukrainian military intelligence officer.
Russian state TV has been running pictures from the FSB, showing rucksacks packed with explosives. Ukrainian "saboteurs", sent by the defence ministry, were supposedly intending to use them in Crimea. The claims of Ukrainian "terrorism" on the peninsula have sparked concern here that Moscow could respond with some kind of military action. The possibility has been discussed actively on social media, especially after President Putin's comment that he will not just "pass over" the death of two Russians.
Others suggest that the incident will be used - or was engineered, depending on your viewpoint - to scupper the complex peace process in Ukraine. Straightaway, Mr Putin said more internationally-backed talks, due in the next few weeks, had been proved "pointless". So Russia has a reason to stall again on the Minsk peace process, maintain the unstable status quo in Ukraine and to blame Kiev for all of it.
Russia says one of those detained is Yevhen Panov. Initial reports suggest he was a former military volunteer fighting for Ukraine in the east of the country. However he has apparently more recently been associated with a charitable organisation.
Ukraine has managed to contain the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and, in purely military terms, it is hard to see what Ukraine has to gain by provoking its larger, much more powerful neighbour. For all the talk about rapprochements and peace in eastern Ukraine, there has been very little concrete progress. Fighting between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainians goes on every day.
Just two weeks before Ukraine celebrates 25 years of independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, relations between Moscow and Kiev have taken another turn for the worse.

The full article is available at