Vladimir Putin spent a marathon session in peace talks for the conflict in Ukraine before agreeing to a cease fire, but while this was happening Russia sent a giant convoy of tanks, missile systems and armored vehicles into the war-torn country.
This week Putin met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko along with German Chancellor Angela Merkal and French President Francois Hollande to broker the temporary peace deal. The participants decided to secure a cease-fire, withdraw heavy weapons, and create a demilitarized zone in Eastern Ukraine.
The cease-fire was set to start on Saturday, but in the meantime reports indicate that Vladimir Putin and Russia may already be increasing tension in Ukraine again. Business Insider noted that Russia sent a giant convoy of military equipment and new troops into Ukraine as the peace talks were ongoing:
About 50 tanks, 40 missile systems, and 40 armored vehicles crossed overnight into eastern Ukraine from Russia via the Izvaryne border crossing into the separatist Luhansk region, a Kiev military spokesman said on Thursday.
Armored columns of Russian-speaking soldiers without insignias have advanced around Debaltseve, which has seen heavy fighting recently.
The tanks and military hardware was entering Ukraine even as Russia denied sending military equipment into Ukrainian territory, said Ukraine spokesman Andriy Lysenko.
Since fighting started nearly 10 months ago, the conflict has claimed more than 5,300 lives, the AP reports. World leaders and those within Ukraine have blamed Vladimir Putin and Russia for heightening the conflict when it first started sending troops and military equipment into the contested region in eastern Ukraine last summer.
Pressure from the international community to leave Ukraine is not the only problem facing Vladimir Putin. The Russian president is also dealing with a faltering economy, which has been hit both by western sanctions and plummeting oil and gas prices.
“Fifty per cent of the Russian government’s income is derived from what you can take from the ground – oil and gas – and today oil is doing better but it is this huge dependency that is the main factor impacting the Russian economy,” said Joseph Dayan, Head of Markets at BCS Financial Group, Russia’s largest broker. “In good times this is a plus, but in bad times it is a burden.”
But many believe that the peace deal brokered by Vladimir Putin may in fact be beneficial to Russia, which retains control of the border in the contested region until after elections are held.