by Dish Staff
In Brussels, a Nato military officer told Reuters that the alliance believes there are now more than 1,000 Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly denied it is fighting in Ukraine, and speaking after the Minsk negotiations, Putin said that a solution to the crisis in east Ukraine is “not our business; it is a domestic matter for Ukraine itself”. He said all Russia could do was “support the creation of an environment of trust”. … Russia’s denials appear increasingly flimsy.
When the Guardian saw a Russian armoured column cross the border two weeks ago, the foreign ministry and local security services denied any incursion had taken place, saying it was a border patrol that had not strayed into Ukrainian territory. Earlier this week, when Russian paratroopers were captured well inside Ukraine, sources in the defence ministry also said they had been part of a border patrol that had got lost and entered Ukraine “by accident”. The head of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, admitted on Thursday that there are serving Russian soldiers among his fighters, but claimed they were volunteers who were taking a holiday in the region.
Dutch Brigadier General Nico Tak, director of the Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Centre (CCOMC), Allied Command Operations said the images confirmed what NATO and its Allies had been seeing for weeks from other sources. “Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia’s military interference in Ukraine,” said Brigadier General Tak. “The satellite images released today provide additional evidence that Russian combat soldiers, equipped with sophisticated heavy weaponry, are operating inside Ukraine’s sovereign territory,” he said. These latest images provide concrete examples of Russian activity inside Ukraine, but are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the overall scope of Russian troop and weapons movements.
Lest anyone forget, Ilya Somin stresses that Russia already invaded Ukraine a while ago:
In the discussion over whether Russia has “invaded” eastern Ukraine in recent months, few mention that it already invaded Ukraine in a more blatant way months ago, and continues to occupy a large swath of Ukrainian territory. While Putin’s efforts to aid the brutal separatists in Eastern Ukraine are reprehensible, at least the West continues to oppose them, and Ukrainian forces may well defeat the separatists before Russia is willing or able to provide them enough assistance to save them. By contrast, little effort is being made to challenge Putin’s annexation of Crimea -a much more flagrant invasion that has largely become a fait accompli. It may be that nothing can be done to reverse it, at least in the short term. But we should at least remember the true nature of what has happened, and look for opportunities to change it in the future.
Dmitri Trenin hopes a peace deal is in the offing sooner rather than later:
Any future settlement would probably have to include Kiev engaging in a serious political dialogue with the eastern regions, and adjusting its nation-building policies to take into account Ukraine’s diversity. Wide-ranging amnesty would be granted to the participants in the conflict. It would also need to include Russia’s acceptance of Ukraine’s European choice, and specifically its association with the EU. NATO membership for Ukraine, by contrast, would remain out of reach to Kiev—more as a result of a German veto than a product of Ukraine’s federalization. Ukraine would not become a formal federation, but the “unitary nature” of its state would allow a significant degree of decentralization, including in economic, financial and linguistic issues. At some point, Russia and Ukraine would settle for a mutually acceptable gas price, with the EU guaranteeing the gas transit across Ukraine, and the case against Gazprom would be withdrawn from the Stockholm arbitrage.
A deal along the lines described above may look too unpalatable to many people. However, the absence of any deal deemed minimally acceptable to all sides would steer Europe toward an abyss.