Ukraine – Putin oversees strategic exercises, high tensions

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday launched “strategic” military exercises by launching missiles. The United States is committed to immediate Russian occupation of Ukraine.

A Russian soldier during a joint exercise with Belarus on February 17, 2022.

AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday launched missile launches and launched “strategic” military exercises, which show a new force from Moscow as Washington says it believes in Russia’s immediate occupation. Pro-Russian separatists, accusing Kiev of wanting to reclaim its territory, have declared a general “mobilization” of men ready for war, as incidents on the front lines in eastern Ukraine escalate.

Dead Ukrainian soldier

On the Ukrainian side, a military command announced on Saturday that a soldier had been killed in clashes with pro-Moscow separatists. The announcements come at a time when Vladimir Putin is personally overseeing large-scale military maneuvers and testing of ballistic and cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Washington “confirms” an attack

On Friday evening, US President Joe Biden said he was “determined” that Vladimir Putin had decided to invade Ukraine, and that the escalation of the conflict was aimed at creating a “false justification” for launching an offensive within a week or so. But he opened the door to conversation. Until the invasion, he said, “diplomacy is always possible.”

Firefights

If the Kremlin continues to deny any intention of attacking its neighbors, it demands guarantees for Russia’s security, such as the withdrawal of NATO from Eastern Europe, which the West has refused. In eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian armed forces and pro-Russian separatists blamed each other on Saturday for serious ceasefire violations. The Ukrainian military has reported 66 mortar fires of 82 and 110 mm caliber in the frontier cities until 7 am (5 am in Switzerland), especially in high numbers.

Ceasefire violations

Observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Saturday that there had been a “dramatic increase” in ceasefire violations, bringing the total to 870 on Friday.

According to Kiev, the situation is “under control”.

Despite the worsening situation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky has decided to continue his planned trip to the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. According to the president, the situation in the east of the country is “completely under control”.

For his part, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday that Russia was making a “blatant attempt to rewrite the rules of international order.” “We can’t allow that,” he said.

Expelled civilians

Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have been fighting since 2014 in a conflict that has already claimed more than 14,000 lives in eastern Ukraine. In addition, the Russian state-run Ria Novosti announced on Friday that two explosions, including an oil pipeline, had taken place in the separatist-held city of Lukansk in eastern Ukraine. Authorities in pro-Russian separatist areas have also ordered the deportation of civilians to Russia.

On Saturday, Rostov-on-Don, a Russian territory bordering Ukraine, declared a state of emergency following the arrival of refugees from separatist areas in eastern Ukraine. Several thousand people have fled the area, according to pro-Russian local officials.

Russian military maneuvers

For its part, Russia has never released the number of its troops concentrated on Ukraine’s borders or its involvement in maneuvers in neighboring Belarus. However, Washington estimates that there are 190,000 men in Russia’s suburbs of Ukraine and in its territory, including separatist forces. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it was “the largest concentration of military troops” since the Cold War, and ruled that Moscow could “strike without further warning.”

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said during a visit to Lithuania on Saturday that Russian troops concentrated on the border with Ukraine were “stopping” and “preparing to attack.”

“Instability Campaign”

The exercises, conducted by Russia on Saturday, mobilize troops from the southern military district, space forces, northern and Black Sea navies and “strategic forces”. The latter are equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic bombers, submarines, surface ships and a naval aircraft carrying conventional missiles. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Pesko, this is a “routine training process”.

Western nations have unanimously pledged to impose catastrophic sanctions on Moscow in the event of an invasion of Ukraine. But Vladimir Putin again rejected the threat: “Sanctions will be introduced anyway. Whether there is a reason or not, they will find one because their purpose is to stop the growth of Russia.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Russian Parliament Vyacheslav Volodin promised that Russia would “protect” Russian citizens living in separatist territories in Ukraine if their lives were threatened. “If war breaks out, Europe will become a hotbed of hostility,” he warned.

(AFP)

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