Putin has gone as far as he needs to in Ukraine and has no plans to invade any more of its territory, it was claimed yesterday.
The Ukrainian government has been exaggerating Russian troop movements in order to garner sympathy and support from Western powers, reported Richard North.
Russia, he says, may have already achieved all it needs to by annexing Crimea and thus Putin sees no need to launch a full-scale invasion.
Russian military operations in the regions of Rostov, Belgorod and Kursk have been under intense scrutiny since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis. Media outlets have been reporting on troops mobilising in the regions bordering Ukraine, looking for signs of an imminent Russian attack.
Ukraine’s acting defence minister Admiral Igor Tenyukh has claimed that Moscow is preparing for an invasion. He asserts that Russia has amassed up to 220,000 troops, 1,800 tanks and 400 helicopters in the regions near the Ukrainian border, with a view to launching an all-out military attack.
Russia denies this, however, and says that nowhere near the level of personnel described by Tenyukh have been deployed.
North writes that that Russian forces were placed on a routine alert on February 20th to ensure combat readiness, but crucially, returned to their bases on March 7th.
During this time, North writes, “the Ukrainian military had been offered free access to fly reconnaissance aircraft over the exercise areas so that they could reassure themselves about Russian intentions. They could see for themselves that there was no plan to invade.”
Furthermore, no evidence has emerged of large-scale troop movements. In a country where many cars have cameras on their dashboards and there is widespread access to the internet, it is not credible that such large troop movements could go unreported.
Now that Russia has Crimea, all its objectives are achieved. It has control over the Black Sea and surrounds Ukraine on its eastern and southern fronts, thus making it less appealing for EU expansionism.
The only reason, North thinks, that Russia could have for attacking Ukraine is provocation from the West. For that reason Western sanctions, as ineffective as they may be, are now the main thing that could inflame the situation.
“If the situation does now calm down”, North claims, “it will be no thanks to the EU”.