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Voice of America: Russian Troop Buildup Along Ukraine Border Raises War Fears
18:04, 5 August 2016
Voice of America: Russian Troop Buildup Along Ukraine Border Raises War Fears

Voice of America gathered all the facts of Russia's constant increasing of its military presence at Ukrainian borders, the occupied Crimea and territories in Donestk and Luhansk regions

18:04, 5 August 2016

Voice of America

Russia's steady buildup of military forces along its border with Ukraine is raising concerns that Moscow, which annexed Crimea in 2014 and then began backing separatists in eastern Ukraine militarily — including with Russian troops — may be considering an overt military campaign against its southwestern neighbor.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in televised remarks last week that the military had created four new divisions, nine brigades and 22 regiments since 2013 and deployed them in the Southern Military District, adjacent to southern Ukraine, as well as in Russia's restive North Caucasus region.

Related: Ukrainian Foreign Ministry: complete break of diplomatic relations with Russia is not an issue

"In recent years, the military-political situation on the southwestern strategic direction has become more acute," Shoigu said in citing the rationale for Moscow's military buildup in the region. "Mainly, this is due to the growing military presence of NATO in eastern Europe, the situation in Ukraine and the activities of international terrorist groups, including in the North Caucasus."

In an interview with the newspaper Vedomosti, Russian military expert Ruslan Pukhov noted that along with reactivating the 1st Guards Tank Army in Russia's Western Military District, near its border with northern Ukraine, Moscow plans to form two other armored groups for deployment near the Ukrainian border.

According to Pukhov, along Russia's border with northern Ukraine "where three years ago there were absolutely no troops," Moscow seeks to deploy three major groups for forces "capable of, if the need arises, mounting a rapid attack in the direction of Kyiv, which is only 270 kilometers from the border through [the northern Ukrainian city of] Chernigov."

Further south, wrote Pukhov, Moscow wants to "create two powerful pincers to flank and strategically encircle the main group of the Ukrainian army in Left-bank Ukraine.” That is the historic name of the part of Ukraine on the east bank of the Dnieper River.

'Enemy' seen as easy target

An article that appeared last week in the Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye — a publication which frequently features material reflecting the official position of the Russian authorities — was headlined: "Ukraine has become Russia's strategic adversary: Moscow does not exclude the possibility of a major war."

Related: Hug: Militants continue to threaten OSCE SMM observers with weapons

Alexander Golts, an independent Russian military analyst who is a visiting researcher at Sweden's University of Uppsala, says it is not surprising that Ukraine is now openly being referred to in Russia as an "enemy."

"It is clear that Ukraine now is anything but a state friendly to Russia," he told VOA's Russian service. "In and of itself, the Ukrainian army, of course, is not a strategic problem for Russia. In Moscow, however, they are guided by phantom scenarios, in which Ukraine will eventually become part of NATO. One of Russia's excuses for its actions in Crimea and the Donbas is that it was acting to prevent Ukraine's possible entry into the North Atlantic alliance."

According to Golts, Russian Defense Minister Shoigu already considers Ukraine part of NATO.

Related: Turchynov: Do not be afraid of martial law and don't panic

According to Pukhov, along Russia's border with northern Ukraine "where three years ago there were absolutely no troops," Moscow seeks to deploy three major groups for forces "capable of, if the need arises, mounting a rapid attack in the direction of Kyiv, which is only 270 kilometers from the border through [the northern Ukrainian city of] Chernigov."

Further south, wrote Pukhov, Moscow wants to "create two powerful pincers to flank and strategically encircle the main group of the Ukrainian army in Left-bank Ukraine.” That is the historic name of the part of Ukraine on the east bank of the Dnieper River.

'Enemy' seen as easy target

An article that appeared last week in the Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye — a publication which frequently features material reflecting the official position of the Russian authorities — was headlined: "Ukraine has become Russia's strategic adversary: Moscow does not exclude the possibility of a major war."

Related: Turchinov named two possible scenarios of Russian aggression

Alexander Golts, an independent Russian military analyst who is a visiting researcher at Sweden's University of Uppsala, says it is not surprising that Ukraine is now openly being referred to in Russia as an "enemy."

"It is clear that Ukraine now is anything but a state friendly to Russia," he told VOA's Russian service. "In and of itself, the Ukrainian army, of course, is not a strategic problem for Russia. In Moscow, however, they are guided by phantom scenarios, in which Ukraine will eventually become part of NATO. One of Russia's excuses for its actions in Crimea and the Donbas is that it was acting to prevent Ukraine's possible entry into the North Atlantic alliance."

According to Golts, Russian Defense Minister Shoigu already considers Ukraine part of NATO.

See the full article here.

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