Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told reporters Thursday he fears a full-scale conflict with Russia could be likely.
Poroshenko’s comments follow reports that Russia has amassed 40,000 troops along the Ukrainian border. The forces, which include tanks, armored vehicles, air force and motorized rifle units, have been flowing in to eight staging areas that span a huge portion of the border over the past few months. To make matters worse, Poroshenko reported that attacks from pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine have doubled after a recent spat between Kiev and the Kremlin over claims that Ukraine planned to stage an attack on Russian-occupied Crimea last week.
“The last time we witnessed a similar intensity of fire using heavy armaments was a year ago,” Poroshenko told reporters. He added that he could “not exclude a full-scale Russian invasion [of Ukraine] along all fronts.”
“The likelihood of the conflict’s escalation remains very high,” said Poroshenko in a television address. Possible mobilization of reserve military forces and introduction of martial law may be necessary, he said.
Poroshenko’s concerns are not without reason, considering the last time Russia engaged in such a massive military exercise, it invaded Crimea in March, 2014.
[dcquiz] “We are extremely concerned about the increased tensions near the administrative boundary between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine,” Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez, spokesman for the U.S. European Command, told The Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz Wednesday.
A second unnamed defense official told Gertz that the Russian force will, “likely practice reinforcing the [Crimean] peninsula through such activities as amphibious landings and air defense exercises.”
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based think tank that tracks the Ukrainian conflict, agrees with Poroshenko’s assessment. ISW determined the deployments represent, “a significant expansion of Russia’s force projection capabilities and may signal preparations for a large-scale military conflict.”
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