Following the talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the Russians have pulled back from the border with Ukraine. Dmitry Tymchuk, a military analyst who blogs for the Kiev Post and who gives first hand information about the location of Russian troops, reports on today's post that there are now only 10,000 Russian troops on the border. The Ukraine government had said that Russian troop levels were at nearly 100,000 in the past.
For the first time since the intrusion we breathed a little calmer. Not only is Moscow strongly insisting that it has no intention of invading Ukraine. But it really moved some of its units away from the border.
Was this the result of Putin’s notorious conversation with Obama? I don’t know.
As of this morning, we noted that on our very border remain 10,000 Russian military personnel. This is not a reason to relax: considerable enemy forces are capable of entering the territority of Ukraine from the midst of the Russian Federation in a matter of hours.
Moreover, the “withdrawal of troops” represents constant maneuvers. The military bases and units are moving along the border, and keep approaching it and moving away from it. Therefore, if tonight there is not too many Russian military by our border, tomorrow there might be more of them than within the past month.
But in any case, we have detected the lowest concentration of [Russian] troops. And that’s something.
Tymchuk also reports that Belarus, an ally of Russia, has ruled out allowing Russia to use their territory as a springboard for an invasion. Depends on whether you believe Lukashenko.
Belarus will not be the springboard for the invasion of Ukraine.A few hours ago, I posted about an NBC News story in which they saw few signs of an impending invasion and suggested that it was blown out of proportion. The article, however, was incomplete. The reporter only went from Kursk east when much of Russia's troop strength was concentrated in Klimovskiy, directly north of Kiev. This was based on the supposition that Russia was planning to peel away a corridor for Crimea and link up with Transnitria in Moldavia. The reporter drove along the roads; however, tanks and artillery could have easily been concealed in the wooded areas or fields. However, it did make the point that the Russia-Ukraine border is completely porous in some areas. In other words, if Russia had really wanted to launch an all-out invasion of Ukraine, they could have done so already. Russia has a clear military superiority to Ukraine given that Obama has ruled out the use of the American military.
This morning, during our update on the forces of the invader, we deliberately omitted the enemy troops stationed in Belarus. It was done after our consultations with Ukrainian government agencies.
Later, [acting President Oleksandr] Turchynov, after his meeting with the President of Belarus [Alexander] Lukashenko, officially confirmed this information. Belarus is insisting there will be no invasion from its territory.
We don’t mind, but we will not stop monitoring the situation. It is hard to believe Lukashenko, who previously recognized the annexation of Crimea.
Today, Kerry and Lavrov met for four hours regarding Ukraine. While no deals were signed, they agreed in principle on a few things.
But both nations support diplomatic solutions and “meeting the needs of the Ukrainian population,” Kerry said.But Ukraine angrily rejected a plan to turn it into a federated state.
Lavrov said at a separate briefing that the discussion was “very, very constructive” and that he and Kerry agreed to work with the Ukrainian government to improve rights for Russian-speaking Ukrainians and disarm “irregular forces and provocateurs.
“The ultimatum and the didactic tone of these statements demonstrate that as the real aggressor Russia does not accept any control over its own behavior. Under the barrels of its machine guns, this aggressor demands only one thing — the complete capitulation of Ukraine, its dismemberment, and the destruction of Ukrainian statehood. Russia’s proposals for federalization, a second official language, and referendums are viewed in Ukraine as nothing less than proof of Russia’s aggression. We sincerely regret that Minister Sergei Lavrov had to voice them.And Pro-Russian demonstrators are making new demands. Specifically, they are demanding to break away from Ukraine and form their own autonomous region in what is now southeast Ukraine.
"We would like to propose to the Russian side that before issuing ultimatums to a sovereign and independent state, it turn its attention to the disastrous conditions and complete powerlessness of its own national minorities, including the Ukrainian one. Why does not Russia give substance to the federalism which, incidentally, is in its official name and which remains a meaningless, declarative concept?
"Why not give additional powers to the national subjects of the federation, whose development is being suppressed today as harshly as during the tsarist and Soviet times? Why not introduce other official languages aside from Russian — languages spoken by millions of Russian citizens? Why not hold referendums on broad autonomy and, if necessary, the independence of the subjects of the Russian Federation?
Demonstrators at a pro-Russian rally in central Kharkov on Sunday called for the establishment of an autonomous republic consisting of southeastern Ukrainian provinces. The meetings in Kharkov were followed by big Ukrainian cities such as Dotetsk, Odessa and Lugansk. The demonstrators urged the southeastern Ukrainian provinces to unite against Kiev.The tactics of the demonstrators are clear -- bait the Ukrainians into repressing these demonstrations with great brutality. For Russia, that will "prove" massive human rights violations against ethnic Russians and "force" Putin to "defend" them. And Supreme NATO Commander Phillip Breedlove did an about-face and returned to Europe instead of giving testimony in Washington due to the tensions.
"We are the successors of the republics of Donetsk-Krovoy Rog and Odessa. We are not the surviving remnants of the Bandera forces. We have been and will be the pillar of our country," Yuri Apukhtin, a Civic Forum leader, told the demonstrators.
He urged the southeastern provinces to unite, create a coordination committee and campaign against the Kiev putschists in a single front.
"We see our place in Ukraine in a historically-shaped southeastern autonomy," Apukhtin said.
The head of the U.S. military's European Command was sent back to Europe prematurely from Washington amid growing tensions in the Ukraine, a Pentagon official said Sunday.
Hagel considered the decision a “prudent” one since Russian leadership has been cryptic about their intentions of military movements across the Ukrainian border, the spokesman said.While the Russians have pulled back from the border, tensions continue to remain high.