Russia has sent more troops and dozens of tanks into Ukraine as the conflict between the two nations intensified and fears of World War 3 in the region grew.
NATO confirmed on Friday that Russia sent a convoy of 32 tanks into Ukraine. Also included in the convoy were 16 howitzer cannons and 30 trucks of troops and equipment. The convoy entered Ukraine’s Luhansk region, which is controlled by pro-Russia rebels.
“The deployment continues of military equipment and Russian mercenaries to the front lines,” Ukraine’s military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in a televised briefing.
The latest build-up in Ukraine comes amid increased military activity for Russia. Within the past few weeks, Russia has sent dozens of fighter jets and warplanes into NATO airspace in what many believe is a test of their defenses. Much of the activity has been centered in the Baltics, areas with large pockets of ethnic Russian populations that many fear Russia could invade after Ukraine.
In a span of 24 hours last week, NATO intercepted 19 aircraft. The acts have many worried about possible World War 3 in the region, and had Pentagon officials worried about the threat to civil aviation.
“Well, we certainly don’t see this – these increased flights and activity as helpful to the security situation in Europe,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby. “Clearly, they – they pose the potential risk of escalation. They also, quite frankly, could pose just a potential risk to civil aviation just in the sheer number of and size of and scope of these flights. So, they’re not – they’re not exactly helpful.”
“But we’re watching these flights very, very closely. I can tell you that there was another – there were more flights today – NATO-tracked flights out over the Baltics and North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft involved fighter jets, long-range bombers, and tanker aircraft,” Kirby added.
While the latest invasion of Ukraine has sparked fears of World War 3, it has also dealt a blow to the economy in Russia. When news of the invasion broke, it sparked fear in the currency market, with the euro reaching the 60 ruble mark for the first time ever.