Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ukraine celebrates 25th Independence Day, with an eye on Russia

August 24, 2016 (Politico) More than 200 military vehicles - including tanks and missile carriers - flanked by ranks of troops are being prepared for Ukraine’s largest-ever military parade on Wednesday.
The martial tone of Ukraine’s independence day celebrations isn’t unexpected. Two years ago, the date marked a large-scale offensive by Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine, while last year, late August saw another upsurge in violence. The worry is that the same thing will happen again this year.
In Kremlin-annexed Crimea, Russian forces conducted military exercises this week. Video footage showed soldiers and heavy machinery making amphibious beachhead landings.
Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists has escalated dramatically in eastern Ukraine, and Kiev officials say that some 40,000 Russian troops have moved close to Ukraine’s borders. Last week, Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, warned of the possibility of a “full-scale invasion on all fronts.”
Poroshenko has placed Ukraine’s army on high alert and said he could introduce martial law if the situation worsens further. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces reported their worst month of casualties in a year.