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Published in Stream:
Day 907: August 12, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
More Russian Military Movements In Occupied Crimea
6 years
One Ukrainian Soldier Killed, Four Wounded, While Separatists Report Civilian Death
Russian FSB Names Third Suspect In Alleged Terror Plot In Crimea, Releases Additional Details About Border Incident

Oleh Slobodyan, an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian State Border Service (DPSU), has told the 112 television channel that Ukrainian border guards have observed increased Russian military activity in the north of occupied Crimea, near the frontier with the Ukrainian mainland.

According to Slobodyan, Russian military trucks covered with tarpaulins, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles and troops have been deployed along the frontier. 

He also reported that Russian security forces continue to illuminate the Ukrainian-controlled side of the frontier with search lights and flares are being fired at night.

However Russian heavy artillery and rocket launchers have not been observed on the administrative border, Slobodyan said, while noting that the range of rocket artillery systems could mean they are deployed further back, out of sight.

RFE/RL's Crimean service reports, citing eyewitnesses, that the occupying Russian authorities in Crimea are conducting searches at frontier crossing points, where huge queues have again formed.

According to the report, snipers and security personnel armed with assault rifles have been deployed on the approaches to the Kalanchak and Chaplinka frontier checkpoints. More than 500 people are reportedly queued up at the latter.

Young men are reportedly being ordered to get out of their cars, remove outer layers of clothing, and are being interrogated.

Meanwhile Russian state media is reporting that one of the alleged Ukrainian "saboteurs" the FSB claims to have arrested after a fire-fight on Saturday night has confessed to planning to plant explosive devices at an airport and a bus station in Simferopol.

But new evidence analyzed by the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), a group of Russian investigative bloggers, proves that Russia was deploying military hardware, including anti-aircraft weaponry, to the north of occupied Crimea before the FSB claims to have had clashes with Ukrainian agents on Saturday and Sunday night.

This is the first verifiable video proof we have seen of military movement towards the north of the peninsula at that time. Other videos we have analyzed show units on the move near Kerch, Feodosia and Simferopol, far from the frontier.

Movements in the south of the peninsula had been presumed by many, including some Ukrainian officials, to be involved in the preparations for the Kavkaz 2016 military exercise, with a rotation of forces planned along the frontier. But the movement of anti-aircraft systems might indeed indicate planning for a confrontation or increased threat. 

Today, Russia seems to be continuing to step up its military presence on the occupied peninsula.

The Russian Ministry of Defence announced today that an advanced S-400 long-range anti-aircraft missile system has now been deployed in Crimea.

And video footage uploaded today, geolocated by Bild's Julian Röpcke in Voronezhskaya in Russia's Krasnodar region, shows a train headed west towards the Kerch strait, carrying armored personnel carriers and numerous types of military truck.

-- Pierre Vaux