Tensions over UkraineTroop movements and threatening gestures
Status: 04/02/2021 10:03 p.m.
Tensions between the USA and Russia have been increasing for days – the reason is the Ukraine. US President Biden has now pledged support for the government in Kiev. Russia warned the West against deploying troops.
By Silvia Stöber, tagesschau.de
The conflict over eastern Ukraine is fueling tensions between the US and Russia. Reports of extensive troop movements by Russian forces to the Ukrainian border were followed by warnings and threatening gestures.
Now US President Joe Biden said: He assured Ukraine of the “unshakable support of the United States for the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine in the face of the ongoing Russian aggression in the Donetsk Basin and Crimea”. This was announced by the White House after Biden made a phone call to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.
US Foreign Office spokesman Ned Price had previously spoken of an “escalation of the aggressive and provocative action by Russia in eastern Ukraine”. He warned Russia against attempts to “intimidate or threaten our partner Ukraine”.
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Military exercise near the Ukrainian border
For its part, the Russian leadership warned against sending Western troops to Ukraine. “Such a scenario would undoubtedly lead to a further increase in tensions near the Russian borders,” said President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. This would require additional measures to ensure security. Russia, on the other hand, “does not threaten anyone and has never threatened anyone,” Peskov claimed.
However, the Russian armed forces have now announced an anti- drone exercise near the Ukrainian border. 50 battalions with 15,000 soldiers would take part. The participants are to be trained in “electronic warfare and air defense to protect against drone attacks”. An exact time for the exercise to take place was not given.
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“Escalation” on the front line
Peskov insisted that his country was “not a participant in the conflict” in Ukraine and accused the Ukrainian armed forces of numerous provocations in the region. Earlier this week he had confirmed an increase in fighting in the region.
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In a statement, the parliament of Ukraine spoke of an “escalation” on the front line and noted a “significant increase in shelling and armed provocations by the armed forces of the Russian Federation”. On March 26, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two injured in clashes near the town of Schumi. The last time the ceasefire was renewed in Donbass was in June 2020.
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Numerous interception maneuvers
In response to the situation in eastern Ukraine and the Russian troop movements on the border with Ukraine, the US armed forces in Europe raised their alarm status to the highest level, as reported by the New York Times and other media.
NATO also announced that an unusually large number of Russian military aircraft had been sighted near the alliance area at the beginning of the week. During interception maneuvers over the North Atlantic and the Black Sea and the North and Baltic Seas, six different groups with bombers and fighter jets from Russia were identified within less than six hours. This was an extraordinary peak value.
The Russian newspaper “Roter Stern” then reported that Russian radar stations had located 37 foreign spy planes and 13 drones along the state border.
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Demonstration of strength …
Experts speculate about Putin’s intentions – is he pursuing military goals in Ukraine, does he want to test Biden’s determination or is he just a show of force?
The military expert Michael Kofman, for example, currently sees the Russian troop movements not necessarily as preparation for an attack, but as a demonstration of strength. They are unusual and designed to be noticed, writes Kofman on Twitter. However, he also pointed out that the parade was still in progress and did not yet provide a complete picture. The situation should be viewed with caution.
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… and domestic political motives?
The Russian journalist Konstantin Eggert, who works for Deutsche Welle, recalls in an article a statement by Putin at the Davos Forum at the end of January: Propaganda and aggressiveness against Russia are increasing. Such a game without rules increases the risk of unilateral use of military force, said the Russian President. State and government broadcasters in Russia then claimed that Ukraine was preparing for war.
Eggert sees domestic political reasons for this: the upcoming Duma election in September on the one hand and the extent of protests in connection with the poisoning of government critic Alexej Navalny on the other. The annexation of Crimea in 2014 brought Putin an approval rating of 70 percent. Eggert believes that such a strong effect can no longer be expected. But Putin’s critics, including Navalny, are faced with a difficult decision: either support Putin or be seen in Russia as the unpatriotic stooge of the West.
There are other motives for a massive military operation: To create a land connection between Russia and the annexed Crimea, to take the industrial and port city of Mariupol and to ensure the problematic water supply of the Crimea . But one characteristic of Putin’s policy is its unpredictability.
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Deutschlandfunk reported on this topic on April 2nd, 2021 at 11:00 p.m.
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