Russia is reportedly sending new troops and heavy weaponry in Ukraine in what NATO officials say is a “very serious build-up” that could lead to a full-scale war.
Russian forces first began streaming into Ukraine this summer, joining pro-Moscow rebels in the eastern portion of the country and annexing the contested Crimea region. Though a nominal cease fire has been put in place, skirmishes have persisted and reports indicate that Russia has continued to fuel the conflict by sending new troops.
On Tuesday, Germany’s foreign minister called the latest escalation “dangerous” and said the conflict appears to be headed to a full-scale war.
“There are no grounds for optimism in the current situation,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at a press conference after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Steinmeier also called for both sides to abide by a ceasefire drawn up in Minsk, one that appears ready to fall apart.
“The Minsk agreements are not perfect but it is the only thing that has been supported by all the key players — the European Union, the United States, the parties to the Ukrainian conflict and Russia,” he said.
Western nations have spoken out against Russia and its involvement in Ukraine, including a series of economic sanctions. The tensions spilled over at a meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) in Australia last week, where Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he needed to “get out of Ukraine.”
Putin himself has been ramping up his rhetoric, recently accusing the United States of targeting Russia.
After a participant as the All-Russia People’s Front forum asked Putin if the U.S. was trying to humiliate Russia, Putin responded (via the Telegraph):
“This is not so. The United States is not trying to humiliate us, it wants to subdue us, to settle its own problems at our expense. To make us succumb to its influence.”
There are also fears that Russia could bring nuclear weapons into the mix if the conflict in Ukraine continues on. Putin reportedly threatened to use nuclear bombs, and sources believe that some of the weapons being moved into Ukraine could include nuclear-tipped warheads.
[Image via Getty]