On December 1st, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that there are 80,000 Russian troops in and around Ukraine.
These troops are more precisely positioned at Ukraine’s borders and the Crimean Peninsula, as well as the separatist-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
In one more step in Poroshenko and his entourage’s escalations in absurdity in attempts to gain further international support he claimed that Russia had about 1,400 artillery and rocket systems, 900 tanks, 2,300 armoured combat vehicles, more than 500 military planes and 300 helicopters in and around Ukraine.
According to him, the Russian Navy has more than 80 military ships and eight submarines in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Aegean Sea.
Al Jazeera cited Igor Koziy, military expert at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, who said that the numbers Poroshenko gave did seem accurate. “If you look at the organisational structure of the Russian military, you will see that there are up to 6,000 people in each brigade. They have up to three brigades in Crimea alone. There is also navy and air force there. In the south of Russia that borders northern Ukraine, there have built up two whole military bases – three to five brigades each,” he said. “The possibility of the Russian invasion at the moment is between 70 to 80 percent, especially during the upcoming holiday season. For three to five days, nobody in the world would care about what is going on,” said Koziy.
He also claimed that Moscow was just waiting for an excuse to justify the move to invasion.
“[President Vladimir Putin] is still not ready for a very open traditional method because there is no psychological readiness for it inside the Russian army, but it is still on the table.”
Poroshenko spoke from an unidentified location where he was overseeing the transfer of new and repaired fighter jets, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles to the Ukrainian army.
He said that “Russia continues to test the world.” And that Moscow wanted to find out if it would be possible to turn the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea into its “Russian lake.”
“This is a tremendous threat, to which we, together with our allies, are looking for a proper political and diplomatic response. But our internal correct answer is to strengthen the Ukrainian army, first of all, the air force,” Poroshenko said.
The Kremlin accused Poroshenko of attempting to escalate the conflict to secure a larger electoral support in the March 31st 2019 presidential election.
Olexiy Makeyev, the Ukrainian foreign ministry’s political director blamed Russia for the so-called militarization of Crimea.
“The occupation and subsequent militarisation of Crimea led to the expansion of the area of use of Russian warships and military aircraft in the Black Sea and far beyond, even the Mediterranean basin,” he said. “Such militarisation has far-reaching consequences for security not only in the Black Sea area but in the whole southern Europe, as well as North Africa and the Middle East.”
The foreign ministers of the G7 expressed their support for Ukraine on November 30th, but rhetoric is all they provided. No undertaking action of any sort. Similarly, to the EU, NATO and the US. Since, it is quite apparent that Ukraine is the side that caused the provocation.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Poroshenko “to be sensible” and said that war was no the solution. Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We have talked about the situation in Syria and we have talked about the situation in the Sea of Azov, of course, because here any tensions must be avoided,” she said. Also reiterating that access to the Sea of Azov must not be blocked, and it isn’t.
After instating martial law in 10 regions of Ukraine, Poroshenko called for NATO to deploy military vessels in the Sea of Azov, which was denied. He also claimed that “after seizing Crimea and the eastern regions, Moscow is aiming to monopolize the Azov Sea before coming for the whole of the country.”
On December 2nd, however, it appeared that Poroshenko changed course. He said that Kiev was ready to hold talks with Russia to de-escalate the conflict in “the Normandy format.” The other two participants in the four-way talks are to be Germany and France.
He said that Merkel agreed to his proposal.
“We will certainly take part in the meeting of the Normandy format at the level of political advisers, where we will raise the urgent question: the requirement for the Russian Federation to return our military, ships and open the Kerch Strait,” he said.
“We demand [from Russia]: stop violating international laws … [it] may have further consequences,” Poroshenko said.
Also, completely opposite of the facts, Volodymyr Fesenko, director of the Penta Centre for Political Studies in Kiev claimed that Ukraine has always been open to talks, but Russia kept refusing them.
Following, the negotiations offer, it appears that Poroshenko is attempting to present the provocation as an expression of “Russian aggression,” from which he protected Ukraine. Following it, he suggested taking part in negotiations to show that he is willing to “take the higher road” and show common sense. It is becoming a somewhat obvious play to hold onto power.