Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday said that Moscow could formally sever diplomatic ties with Kyiv after reported clashes between Russian forces and alleged Ukrainian “saboteurs” in the annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Ukraine puts army on combat alert along border with Crimea
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has put the army on combat alert along the border with Crimea and the line of contact with Russia in the east. This follows Russian accusations of Ukrainian incursions into Crimea.
“I would not like this to end this way. However, if there is no other option to influence the situation, the president can probably make such a decision,” the premier said in comments carried by Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency.
“This act of sabotage is an act of crime in its essence, despite the fact that its plot failed, and it should be properly investigated while the persons implicated in it as well as organizers should bear responsibility, criminal responsibility,” Medvedev said. He was referring to Russian allegations that Ukrainian special forces sought to sabotage key Crimean installations over the weekend, claims denied by Kyiv.
In response to accusations that Kyiv attempted to undermine Russia’s alleged sovereignty in Crimea, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko placed the country’s military on “high-alert level” and deployed tanks to its frontier with Crimea. Russia has also amassed forces near the border, according to news agencies.
Poroshenko said that Moscow’s claims were “fantasies” aimed at providing Russia with a “pretext for the next military threats.”
The S-400 Triumph missile defense system is considered Russia’s latest development anti-aircraft setup
The S-400 “Triumph” missile defense system is considered Russia’s latest development anti-aircraft setup
Meanwhile, also on Friday, Russia’s southern military district reported that troops in Crimea “received the modern S-400 ‘Triumph’ air defense system.”
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council held a closed-door meeting in New York at Kyiv’s request overnight to discuss the latest developments in Crimea.
Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko called for Russia to submit proof of the allegations that Ukrainian security officers were conducting an operation in Crimea.
“If it is happened in reality, where are the proofs? Statements, pictures, photos, videos, whatever,” Yelchenko said. “They are only words.”
Relations between Moscow and Kyiv have nose-dived since Ukraine’s former Kremlin-friendly government was ousted, prompting Moscow to intervene in Crimea in 2014. The move was subsequently reinforced by a public referendum where voters expressed a desire to join the Russian Federation. However, the vote was condemned by the UN, Germany, the US and other Western allies.
The Crimean city of Sevastopol is one of Russia’s most strategically important ports and naval bases; Ukraine and Russia eventually agreed to share the facilities after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Fighting also broke out in 2014 in Ukraine’s eastern regions, the former stronghold of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s elected government, in the wake of Kyiv’s change of leadership. Attempts to broker a ceasefire, spearheaded by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and by Germany, have yielded only moderate success, while fighting has intensified in the region in recent weeks.
More than 9,500 people have been killed in the Ukrainian conflict, with more than 500,000 children affected, according to UN figures.