Reuters reports that amid escalation tensions in Ukraine and a resurgence of hostilities in the Donbass region where ethic Russians are opposing Kiev's ethnic cleansing efforts, Russia has deployed its advanced S-400 air missile system to Crimea, the area annexed by Russia following the replacement of Kiev's democratically elected government in a coup known to have been engineered by the CIA on behalf of Washington.
In the latest escalation between the Kremlin and Kiev, it was reported yesterday that Ukraine had deployed troops near the Russia border on combat alert, following an incident that according to Russia was an attempted terrorist attack.
Russia’s secret service, the Federal Security Service, said on Wednesday that it had foiled “terrorist acts” prepared by Ukrainian military agents against infrastructure in the territory, with the aim of disrupting Russia’s parliamentary elections due on 18 September. Kiev denied the allegations. In response to Kiev's alleged actions, Russian president Vladimir Putin said he was pulling out of international peace talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He said he was no longer ready to meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko.
This probably means the Minsk peace process, brokered by German chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Francois Hollande, has been effectively put on hold ( read more here).
Ukraine has denied all accusations, while president Petro Poroshenko and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected Putin's accusations that Kiev is committing terrorist acts in Crimea. "Accusations against Ukraine of terrorism in occupied Crimea are as preposterous and cynical as the statements by the Russian leadership about the absence of Russian troops in Donbass region," Poroshenko said.
President Poroshenko escalated the rhetoric when he announced yesterday morning that he has put all forces forces on the border with Crimea and eastern Ukraine at the highest combat readiness, and said "we expect Russia to respond in kind very shortly, at which point we will update this story."
Overnight, Russia responded not once but twice.
First, after meeting the security council in Moscow, Putin and the Russian Navy announced war games in the Black Sea. This came only a day after the Russian president accused Ukraine of trying to provoke a conflict over Crimea, which Moscow seized and annexed in 2014. The Russian Defence Ministry said its navy - whose Black Sea Fleet is based in Crimea - would start to hold exercises in the area to practice repelling underwater attacks by saboteurs. As Reuters adds, there were reports on Thursday evening that the authorities had cut off Internet access in northern Crimea close to Ukraine.
Ukraine called the accusations false and claimed they are a pretext for Russia to escalate hostilities. Such an escalation could be used by Putin to demand better terms in the Ukraine peace process, or to inflame nationalist passions at home ahead of Russian parliamentary elections next month.
Then, as part of its retaliatory re-escalation, Russia announced it had deployed its advanced S-400 (Growler) air defense missile system to Crimea, Russian news agencies reported today.
The announcement comes after President Putin promised to take counter-measures following reports of clashes between Russian forces and Ukrainian saboteurs in northern Crimea.
Though Ukraine may protest loudly against what it will call an unprovoked aggression by Russia, the real targets of Putin's move is NATO, which as was reported in late May, installed the long delayed US missile shield called Aegis Offshore in the Romanian town of Deveslu. Located a few hundred kilometers from Crimea, and hence, in defensive range of the new Russian rockets, this was seen as part of the USA / NATO to surround Russia with missile bases. Aegis Offshore has also been installed in the Baltic States which prompted Putin to warn that Poland and Romania "are now in the crosshairs."
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