Kyiv, Ukraine – Russia denies it wants war.
Asked why the country accumulated 40,000 troops, armored aircraft carriers, tanks and artillery near Ukraine’s eastern border and another 40,000 troops in the annexed Crimea in recent weeks, Moscow “refused to provide information. significant news, “Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
One day earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “No one intends to go to war”.
However, he added a veiled threat.
“But Russia has always said that they will not be indifferent to the fate of Russian-speaking people in southeastern Ukraine,” he said, referring to the populations of Donetsk and Luhansk, where pro-Russian separatists have been armed against back to the central government in 2014 and engraved two “People’s Republics”.
Although other Russian officials insist the construction is preparation for conventional exercises, there is ample evidence that Moscow was prepared for war.
There are amateurs video shows the movement of armed firm personnel near the western Russian city of Voronezh located some 250km (155 miles) east of Ukraine’s border, and tank on the train carriages in the southwestern region of Krasnodar, where a newly built bridge to Crimea begins.
According to Ukrainian officials, witnesses and media, there are satellite images of Russia’s military build-up in similar areas – including the deployment of the 76th Guards Air Force Division, a division. of the Russian airborne force suffered heavy casualties in 2014 while assisting the separatists reported.
Russia denies it ever sent troops to Ukraine and called the conflict a “civil war”.
And there was an increase in the deaths of Ukrainian soldiers on the front-line trenches, despite a ceasefire mediated last July.
Latest casualties happened on Sunday, bringing the number of deaths this year to 27. In 2020, 50 Ukrainian soldiers were killed.
Military experts and analysts believe the Kremlin’s preparations for war are in full swing.
“[Russian President Vladimir] Mr. Ihor Romanenko, a retired lieutenant general and former deputy chief of staff of Ukraine, told Al Jazeera to have made a preliminary decision to “start a low intensity local war in separatist areas. “.
“Doesn’t mean the war starts tomorrow, but it does mean he is facilitating final decision-making,” he said.
The concentration of soldiers and artillery was similar to similar constructions in late 2013 and early 2014 before the annexation of Crimea and the separatist war left more than 13,000 dead, hundreds of thousands uprooted, and making Ukraine’s economy difficult.
Nikolay Mitrokhin, a researcher at the University of Bremen in Germany, told Al Jazeera: “All the signs are that military action is inevitable.
Russia has a lot of reasons, he said.
Putin’s popularity is plummeting amid an economic slowdown and pandemic, reportedly killing more people than the Kremlin admits.
At the same time, Western pressure is growing on Moscow to imprison opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who began a hunger strike in prison after being accused of being denied medical care.
In 2017, Ukraine beating a canal supplied 85% of Crimea’s annexed water, destroyed agriculture and forced the pro-Russian government to allocate water supplies.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this year has begun eliminating pro-Russian politicians and curbing their influence, close the door three television networks run by Viktor Medvedchuk, who is controlled by Kyiv. Putin is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter.
“Putin is the master of imitation and emptiness, and now is a good time for world leaders to show their solidarity with Ukraine and the importance of pro-European choice,” Mitrokhin said. Europe of this country, ”said Mitrokhin.
These leaders have begun to warn Putin.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “If Russia acts recklessly, or aggressively, it will pay the price and there will be consequences.”
One day earlier, British Defense Minister Dominic Raab urged Moscow to “immediately de-escalate the situation”.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has begun meetings with key NATO allies in Europe and Israel, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg phoned Zelenskyy on April 6 to discuss “the situation. more serious”.
However, some analysts believe the building is nothing more than a show of force designed to force Ukraine and its pro-Western countries to adhere to the 2015 Minsk agreements that provide for a rebirth. Peaceful integration of separatist areas and amnesty to separatist forces after they disintegrate.
Moscow insisted that under the agreement, Ukraine had to “federalize”, giving more autonomy to the separatist areas known collectively as the Donbas, where it would be possible to use Russian as a second official language and trade more freely with Russia.
So is accumulation a hoax?
“Russia did it on purpose, making people think they didn’t want war but wanted to pressure Ukraine into implementing the Minsk agreement on its own terms, and put pressure on Germany and France. let them put pressure on Ukraine. “Pavel Luzin, a defense analyst with the Jamestown Foundation, a consulting organization in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera.
However, “Russia can use the current escalation to shift its military presence in the Donbas from something they deny and hide. [presence] disguised as a ‘humanitarian activity’, ”he said.
Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief Ruslan Khomchak said 28 Russian battalions deployed along the Ukrainian and Russian borders plan to add 25 more.
Other officials say there is a growing presence of Russian sniper and reconnaissance groups in separatist areas, while Russian guides train local fighters.
However, a military officer stationed near the front lines in the Donetsk region said “nothing to panic”, and the recent increase in casualties was partly related to landmines and mines buried deep in 2014 and is now closer to the thawing surface. land.
“The boys are exploding on the mines because the earth is pushing them up,” the officer, who was not authorized to speak to the media, told Al Jazeera.
During the 2014 offensive, the poorly equipped and disorganized Ukrainian army suffered heavy losses.
Since then, however, Ukraine has trained more soldiers, significantly modernized its weapons, and received substantial military aid from the West.
“We have become much stronger,” said Oleh Korostelyov, head of the Luch Design Bureau in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where advanced weapons are developed.