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Europe

Tensions escalate between Ukraine and Russia on independence anniversary eve

media A Ukrainian serviceman is seen at his position on the front line in Krasnogorivka near Donetsk, Ukraine on August 12, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine are in escalation again. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday arrived in Crimea that Russia annexed in March 2014, after he accused Kiev of attempting an armed incursion into the peninsula. Meanwhile the situation in Eastern Ukraine deteriorated with the death of three Ukrainian soldiers on Thursday Night.

There are two important dates coming up, the first is the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union on August 24, the second one is the upcoming meeting of the G-20 on September 4 and 5 in Hangzhou, China.

"The goal of the Russian aggression, when they annexed Crimea and why they intruded in the east of Ukraine is because Russia is not recognising Ukraine's independence,” says Alexei Ryabchin, of the Fatherland Party.

“For the regime in the Kremlin, 25 years of Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union is a very important date they really don't like and they want to spoil some things that are going on here.”

“So that is why there are stories about so-called intruders into Crimea, Ukrainian provocateurs that are somehow eliminated by Russians. Nobody saw them, but Russia claimed that Ukraine is trying to be aggressive in Crimea.”

This time it is Russia accusing Ukraine of causing trouble, turning the tables on Kiev, that in previous years accused Moscow of having “little green men” infiltrate parts of its territory and grab land and power.

“Russia is saying that the Ukrainian side has undertaken various activities vis-a-vis Crimea,” says Lilith Gevorgian, an analyst with IHS Global Insight in London.

“They are implying that Ukraine is not interested in finding a peaceful to the conflict in its eastern region, thereby they are undertaking these activities, as a result of which Moscow has declared that it doesn't see any point at this stage in continuing the peace talks.”

The Minsk agreements were signed in February last year and looked promising in the beginning, but are they dead now?

“We are all related to the Minsk agreements in which we are bound to a comprehensive cease fire,” says Ryabchin. 

“But unfortunately the Russian backed insurgence and followers are not following this. All the time through this year, we had military incidents at the contact line. And unfortunately almost every day in the summer we had casualties in our military forces.”

According to Ryabchin, Russia is shooting itself in the foot, because if it wants a political settlement that it favours, they should at least try and help implementing the cease-fire.

“It was recently reported three Ukrainian soldiers died and eight were wounded as a result of an insurgent attack shelling.”

“This means that it is impossible to move to any political settlement like preparations for the elections or many other things that Russia, France and Germany are insisting,” he says.

Meanwhile, Russia is cozying up to Turkey, and the Turkish President Recep Erdogan paid a visit to Moscow earlier this month. But in Ukraine, this development is watched with much suspicion.

“What we are seeing between Russia and Turkey is just a temporary marriage of convenience,” says Gevorgian.

“Turkey has trouble with the west and Russia is taking advantage of this rift between the west and Turkey. What this means for Ukraine is that Russia is becoming a stronger political player in the region, not just because the support of the Turkish president, we have seen the latest statements from Turkey, suggesting there is a huge turn in this country's position vis-a-vis Ukraine.”

“So that's not good news for the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people,” she says.

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