Ukraine warns it could be provoked by Russian 'aggression'


Ukraine has warned that it could be provoked by Russian ‘aggression’ as Vladimir Putin surrounds its borders with troops, tanks and missiles launchers with a US spy plane intercepted in the Pacific.

Andrii Taran, Ukraine’s defence minister, issued a statement on Saturday amid mounting tensions in the country’s eastern Donbass region.

He said Russian accusations about the rights of Russian-speakers being violated could be the reason for the resumption of armed aggression against Ukraine.

‘At the same time, it should be noted that the intensification of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine is possible only if an appropriate political decision is made at the highest level in the Kremlin,’ he said.

Kyiv has raised the alarm over a buildup of Russian forces, including troops, tanks and missiles launchers, near the border between Ukraine and Russia.

There has also been a rise in violence along the line of contact separating Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists in Donbass.

The Russian military movements have fuelled concerns that Moscow is preparing to send forces into Ukraine. The Kremlin has denied that its troops are a threat but said they will remain as long as it sees fit.  

Meanwhile, the United States is to dispatch two warships to the Black Sea next week in response to Putin’s colossal build-up of military hardware close to the front. 

Washington is also continuing to fly reconnaissance planes over the sea to monitor Russian activity and flew two B-1 bombers over the Aegean Sea earlier this week. 

But it comes as Russia claims to have intercepted a US spy plane with footage that is said to show a MiG-31 fighter jet intercepting a US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft the Pacific coast. 

Ukraine has warned that it could be provoked by Russian 'aggression' as Vladimir Putin surrounds its borders with troops, tanks and missiles launchers

 Ukraine has warned that it could be provoked by Russian ‘aggression’ as Vladimir Putin surrounds its borders with troops, tanks and missiles launchers

Kyiv has raised the alarm over a buildup of Russian forces, including troops, tanks and missiles launchers, near the border between Ukraine and Russia - some of them are believed to be staying at this field camp in the Voronezh region

Kyiv has raised the alarm over a buildup of Russian forces, including troops, tanks and missiles launchers, near the border between Ukraine and Russia – some of them are believed to be staying at this field camp in the Voronezh region

Andrii Taran (pictured), Ukraine's defence minister, issued a statement on Saturday amid mounting tensions in the conflict area of the country's eastern Donbass region

Andrii Taran (pictured), Ukraine’s defence minister, issued a statement on Saturday amid mounting tensions in the conflict area of the country’s eastern Donbass region

Senior Kremlin official Dmitry Kozak last week said Russia would be forced to defend its citizens in eastern Ukraine depending on the scale of the military conflict there.

Brittany Stewart, US defence attache in Kyiv, on Friday travelled to the eastern Ukrainian war zone to assess the situation on the ground. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his French and German counterparts also called on Russia to halt a troop buildup and reaffirmed their support for Kyiv in its confrontation with Moscow.    

But footage has emerged of tanks, missile trucks and howitzers being freighted to the Crimea and the border of the disputed Donbass region in eastern Ukraine which has been occupied by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

Satellite and social media images have revealed new Russian encampments and artillery batteries in the provinces of Voronezh and Krasnodar which lie to the east of Donbass. 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday the situation in eastern Ukraine was ‘very unstable’ and warned it risked leading to ‘full-scale combat operations.’   

Putin insists that his actions are purely defensive, but Washington has said it is ‘increasingly concerned’ by the largest Russian military presence at the border since the conflict began.

Amid soaring tensions, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy donned body armour and a helmet to tour trenches along the frontier on Thursday. 

But footage has emerged of tanks, missile trucks and howitzers being freighted to the Crimea and the border of the disputed Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. Pictured: Nuclear-capable 2S4 Tyulpan self-propelled mortar system moved in Krasnodar region

But footage has emerged of tanks, missile trucks and howitzers being freighted to the Crimea and the border of the disputed Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. Pictured: Nuclear-capable 2S4 Tyulpan self-propelled mortar system moved in Krasnodar region

The notorious Buk missile system was spotted being transported in the Voronzeh region

Other footage showed military trucks being freighted to the region

The notorious Buk missile system (left) was spotted being transported in the Voronzeh region close to the Ukrainian border as other footage showed military trucks (right) being freighted to the region

Amid soaring tensions, Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskiy (pictured) donned body armour and a helmet to tour trenches along the frontier on Thursday

Amid soaring tensions, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy (pictured) donned body armour and a helmet to tour trenches along the frontier on Thursday 

One of Putin’s top aides yesterday warned that any assault by Kiev on Russian ‘citizens’ in the region would be ‘the beginning of the end of Ukraine.’

Deputy head of Russia’s presidential administration, Dmitry Kozak, said that Moscow would not act first, but if Kiev did move against it, the response would be ‘not a shot in the leg, but in the face.’   

It was announced on Friday that the United States will dispatch two warships through the Bosphorus to the Black Sea in an attempt to head off Russian aggression.

Joe Biden sought permission from Turkey to transport vessels through the Bosphorus after his press secretary said the US is ‘increasingly concerned’ by Russian movements at the border.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed the American ships will pass through the narrow strait on April 14 and April 15. 

The official said the US notified Turkey 15 days prior to the ships’ passage in line with a convention which gives Ankara control of the straits.

Such visits by the US and other Nato ships have vexed Moscow, which has long bristled at Ukraine’s efforts to build up defence ties with the West and its aspirations to eventually join Nato.

Washington is also continuing to fly reconnaissance planes over the sea to monitor Russian activity and flew two B-1 bombers over the Aegean Sea earlier this week. 

But it comes as Russia claims to have intercepted a US spy plane with footage that is said to show a MiG-31 fighter jet intercepting a US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft the Pacific coast.

Vladimir Putin (pictured yesterday) insists that his actions are purely defensive, but Washington has said it is 'increasingly concerned' by the largest Russian military presence at the border since the conflict began

Vladimir Putin (pictured yesterday) insists that his actions are purely defensive, but Washington has said it is ‘increasingly concerned’ by the largest Russian military presence at the border since the conflict began

Russia claims to have intercepted a US spy plane with footage that is said to show a MiG-31 fighter jet intercepting a US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft the Pacific coast

Russia claims to have intercepted a US spy plane with footage that is said to show a MiG-31 fighter jet intercepting a US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft the Pacific coast 

The American plane is seen from the cockpit of the Russian warplane off the coast of the Kamchatka peninsula, reports claim.

‘To identify the air target and prevent violation of the Russian state border, a MiG-31 fighter from the air defence forces of the Eastern Military District was scrambled,’ said the Russian National Defence Control Centre.

‘The crew of the Russian fighter identified the air target as a strategic reconnaissance aircraft RC-135 of the US Air Force and escorted it over the Pacific Ocean.’

The statement said the Russians acted ‘in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace.

‘Violations of the state border were averted.’

Russia claims NATO has in recent months intensified aerial reconnaissance near the Russian border with such flight posing the ‘risk of an accidental escalation’.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.