Russian Jets Have Entered Ukrainian Airspace
The US Department Of Defense (DOD) says Russian military aircraft have entered Ukrainian airspace on several occasions now, as tensions in the east of the country are on the rise.
UPDATED 4.26.14 12:00 AM
The Pentagon has repeated called for Russia to “de-escalate the situation.”
In a statement on Friday, Pentagon spokesman Col Steven Warren said Russian aircraft had entered Ukrainian airspace several times in the past 24 hours.
He gave no further details, but called on Moscow to take “immediate steps to de-escalate the situation”.
Last week, Ukraine and Russia struck an agreement in Geneva calling for separatists to leave official premises and give up their arms. The pact included an amnesty for those who left peacefully.
But so far pro-Russian activists have refused to give in to the demands.
Update 4.12.14 11:54 PM EST
Local media and witnesses have reported the take over of the police headquarters by pro-Russia militants , local media and witnesses say. The police station was over run after a gun battle between police and the militants. Several other government buildings have been seized throughout the Donetsk region.
4.12.14 10:00 PM EST
In Sloviansk police said the men fired shots and used stun grenades in a highly coordinated and professional attack to seize the offices and police station in the city.
According to BBC reporters on the ground in the city:
The interior minister called the gunmen “terrorists” and said special forces would repel the attack.
Pro-Russian activists have seized government buildings elsewhere in east Ukraine. Kiev accuses Moscow of orchestrating the unrest.
Interim Foreign Minister Andrei Deshchytsia urged Moscow to end “provocative” actions by its agents.
The Eastern regions of Ukraine have a large Russian-speaking population and has seen series of protests since the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych in February and the subsequent crisis in Crimea.
In Donetsk, one of Ukraine’s largest and most important cities dominated largely by a Russian-speaking population, protesters have been occupying government buildings for days, declaring an independent people’s republic and demanding a referendum on becoming part of Russia.
There is much speculation, by the Ukrainian government in Kiev, international experts, and to a lesser extent the US, EU, and NATO, that many of these events are not just supported by the Russian government but they are also being orchestrated and planned by the government in Moscow. Reports indicate that Russia has been sending groups of provocateurs into Eastern Ukraine, over the two countries extensive and largely porous boarder, in order to create unstable conditions as a pretext to invasion. Although recent events in Sloviansk and Donetsk point to the fact that this invasion may already be underway.
The government in Kiev has promised a swift and peaceful resolution of the seizures of government buildings in Eastern Ukrainian cities, but so far has only managed to take back the buildings seized in one eastern city. The situation in Ukraine is tense, and may believe that any small escalation of incident of violence could lead to a full fledged Russian invasion and a likely civil war in this heavily-armed country of 45 million. For now Russia seems intent on perpetrating a silent undeclared invasion of Ukrainian severity, that will most likely mean by the time and response by Ukrainian forces can be coordinated it will be to late to save most of eastern Ukraine.
Russian Troops Massed on the Border
The crisis in Ukraine is under an increasing threat of escalation according to NATO. This week, NATO released satellite photos that show an extensive buildup of Russia’s military personnel and hardware on its border with Ukraine — including fighter jets, tanks, artillery and reportedly up to 40,000 soldiers who are prepared to invade within 12 hours if called upon, say NATO officials.
These photos confirm what the government in Kiev has been claiming all along and what many Western military and political leaders fear. It seems all but certain that Russia is preparing for a ground invasion of eastern Ukraine, despite NATO’s call for Russia to withdraw its forces from the border.
What do the photos show?
The photos, which private satellite imaging firm DigitalGlobe says it took between March 22 and April 2, purportedly reveal dozens of Russian “fast jets,” helicopters and infantry units that were not spotted in photos of the same areas last year.
This photo shows tanks, artillery battalions, and infantry brigades near Novocherkassk — just 50 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
Photo purportedly shows a buildup of Russian Su-27 Flanker, Su-24 Fencer, and MiG-31 Foxhound fighter jets at the formerly vacant Buturlinovka air base, 150 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
Photo shows more than a dozen MI8 Hips or MI24 Hinds attack helicopters sitting in a sparse air field at Belgorod, a Russian facility just 40 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
Nato allies must respond to Russia’s “illegal aggression” against Ukraine and the potential aggression against member nations by spending more on defense, this according to the alliance’s secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
The alliance has found renewed purpose as Russia tries to “carve up” Europe.
“Every ally needs to invest the necessary resources in the right capabilities,” writes Mr Rasmussen. “That means modern equipment, intensive training for our forces, and closer cooperation among Nato allies and with our partners. I know how challenging this is in today’s economic climate, but the security climate makes it vital.”
Mr Rasmussen also added:
“In the long run, a lack of security would be more costly than investing now and we owe it to our forces, and to broader society.”
However, the burden of defending all of NATO’s 28 members falls increasingly on just one: the United States. According to the Telegraph: “Last year, America accounted for 72 per cent of NATO defense spending, up from 59 per cent in 1995.”
NATO has sought to reassure its members who boarder Russia, particularly the Baltic states, who have large Russian-speaking populations and fear they are next.