On Friday 8/11/14, Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said at least 32 tanks, 16 artillery systems and 30 trucks loaded with fighters and ammunition had crossed into eastern Ukraine from Russia. He said three mobile radar units loaded on trucks also crossed.
Lysenko provided no specific evidence, and it wasn’t immediately clear how his agency had obtained the information since parts of Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia have been under rebel control since August.
Ukraine and the West have continuously accused Moscow of fueling a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine with troops and weapons.
Russia denies those accusations. Yet !
Russia’s Defense Ministry had no immediate comment on Lysenko’s statement, but earlier on that Friday, it again rejected Western allegations that Moscow was deploying more troops near the border.
Those comments by Lysenko on Russian troop movements, were backed up today by Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose observers on the ground in Ukraine, says it has spotted 126 unmarked vehicles heading from an easterly direction into the contested Ukrainian town of Donetsk since Saturday.
Bociurkiw stated in an interview “Obviously this represents an escalation. Escalation remains high and is rising,”
On Tuesday, the group witnessed a convoy of 43 unmarked green military trucks with tarpaulin covers moving towards Donetsk. Five of the trucks were towing 120mm howitzer artillery pieces, and another five were towing partly-covered multi-launch rocket systems, the group said.
Phillip Karber, is a former Pentagon strategy adviser who has worked closely with the Ukrainian government and has just returned from Ukraine, where he spoke with commanders at the front.
Karber said in an interview that in addition to thousands of ground troops, as many as 100 tanks are inside Ukraine now, more than 400 armored vehicles, and more than 150 self-propelled artillery and multiple rocket launchers.
Another 350 to 400 tanks are poised along the border, along with more than 1,000 armored vehicles and 800 self-propelled artillery. In his estimation there are as many as 7,000 Russian troops inside Ukraine right now, and between 40,000 and 50,000 amassing on the country’s eastern border.
“Clearly something is up. The question is what,” Karber said. He speculated that Russia could be envisioning a number of scenarios, including pushing further into Eastern Ukraine; attempting to create a land bridge to the Crimea peninsula in order to resupply force there; or making a large land grab further into the country.
Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, while not singling out Russian forces by name, told reporters in Italy on Tuesday that he was “concerned about the increased movement” of armored vehicles and other military equipment into eastern Ukraine, and that the flows have been increasing in the past several days.
In September, NATO said that Russia had positioned several thousand combat troops inside Ukraine, along with another 20,000 close to the border. Breedlove said in October that a significant number of Russian troops had withdrawn, but he didn’t give specific figures. The head of a Ukrainian human rights group also said in September, that an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 troops were based in Ukraine, a figure in line with Karber’s estimate.
Christopher Harmer, an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War, stated that “If Putin decided to intervene decisively, the war in Ukraine would be over in 96 hours, weather dependent. But for whatever reason, Putin does not want to do that, so he is posturing a significant Russian military presence to remind the Ukrainian military that there is no chance for tactical victory if state vs. state conflict ensues.”
Breedlove seemed to echo that analysis. Speaking to reporters, he noted that in advance of much-disputed elections in eastern Ukraine earlier this month, when voters in rebel-led territory picked legislators and ministers in the separatist provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, Russian roces moved “very close to the border…to signal that the Russians were going to ensure that this election went according to their plans,” Breedlove said.
National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said on Sunday that the White House is “very concerned about intensified fighting in eastern Ukraine,” as well as reports from the OSCE and elsewhere “that Russian backed and supplied separatists are moving large convoys of heavy weapons and tanks to the front lines of the conflict.”
Obviously, given that US imagery could see Russian missiles in Cuba in 1962, the US well knows the strength of Russian forces moving into Ukraine in 2014.
The US chooses not to release any such images or information, which would make Putin a liar on the world stage, but would rather issue inane statements about being “very concerned” with developments.
Pussy footing around diplomatic channels might sound good in the PC brochures, but people like Putin understand only power and direct action.
Where’s Ronald Reagan when you need him??