August 2015 – UKRAINE – Military authorities in Ukraine believe the number of Russian troops within and close to its borders has risen to more than 50,000, raising fears of a substantial escalation in the conflict raging in Ukraine’s eastern regions. Almost 9,000 Russian Federation Armed Forces personnel are believed to be based inside Ukraine, according to reports from the country’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) seen by The Independent on Sunday. The rest are based in the neighboring Rostov region of Russia, including mechanized assault units and communications command systems.
This is in addition to 33,400 so-called “illegal armed formations” of Russian-backed separatist soldiers inside eastern Ukraine, with 400 main battle tanks and close to 2,000 armored troop carriers reported to be at “full combat readiness.” Western countries have repeatedly accused Russia of becoming involved in the conflict, a claim Moscow has denied – despite what Ukraine and other observers see as evidence of troop build-up.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) haves said that its monitors continued to observe ceasefire violations, including the use of heavy weapons, tanks and smaller-calibre weapons. The OSCE said that most of the violence they observed occurred in residential areas, where military positions continue to endanger civilian lives. Emboldened rebel commanders have launched renewed offensives against Ukrainian towns recently. Last week, up to 400 Russian-backed separatist fighters from the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) tried to storm Starohnativka but were repelled by Ukraine’s 72nd Brigade. with more than 130 were killed, with the Moscow-backed separatists were killed; they were described by one commander as “Russian cannon fodder.”
Separatist envoy Denis Pushilin was another to raise the prospect of “war”, telling a briefing this week: “Kiev most likely also understands that if the Minsk process will be halted as it is … this means war … not only in the Donbass [eastern Ukraine], but this may be a big war.” –Independent
Russia moves new tanks into arena: Russia’s newest tanks – Т-90А – have been spotted near Luhansk in east Ukraine, adding more evidence of that the Kremlin is behind the unremitting violence in Donbas. Russian officials deny involvement. Ukrainian activists on August 14-15 published photos of the Russian amour on their Facebook page, adding an ironic reminder to readers that the Russian military remains uninvolved in the year-and-a-half-long conflict that has killed at least 7,000 people. –Ukraine Today
Russia on alert as U.S. trains Ukraine’s troops
Deep in the forests and rolling fields of Ukraine’s western borderlands, a partnership that Russia hoped never to see is quickly – and noisily – taking shape. To the crunch of grenades and crackle of machine-gun fire, United States paratroopers are helping members of Ukraine’s National Guard to better defend the country’s east from separatist militants armed by Russia and assisted by its troops. The vast Yavoriv firing range between the city of Lviv and the Polish border hosts training that Ukraine says is vital to its security and sovereignty, but which Moscow warns will only deepen the country’s conflict and the rift between Russia and the West.
The “Fearless Guardian” program began in April and is due to end in November, having provided three groups of 200-300 Ukrainian soldiers with eight weeks of training focused on defensive techniques. As training resumed this week, however, it was clear that military co-operation between Ukraine and its NATO allies is only set to increase in the coming years, and that skills acquired here by Kiev’s troops could be used to great effect in a wide range of combat situations.
In such a situation, some analysts say, Kremlin backing for the militants and growing NATO support for Ukraine will not lead to victory for either side, but only escalate the conflict, increase casualties and create a proxy war between Russia and the West with unpredictable consequences for the wider region. Russian military aircraft and naval vessels are increasingly intercepted close to or inside the territorial space of NATO members, and war games by both sides are growing in size and complexity.
The European Leadership Network, a London-based think tank, said this week that recent major exercises showed that “each side is training with the other side’s capabilities and most likely war plans in mind . . . Russia is preparing for a conflict with NATO, and NATO is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia.” Moscow says the US presence at Yavoriv is evidence for its claim that Ukraine’s revolution and political and economic pivot to the west are all part of a US plan to weaken Russia, and to draw more NATO troops right to its border. Western powers note that no country is forced to join the alliance, and that it is Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and its de-facto annexation of two regions of Georgia that have made its neighbors nervous about their safety. –Irish Times
2011 COD Modern Warfare Game depicting war involving NATO nations leading to WW3