October 10, 2016
Russia Plans To Seize Ukraine Port Of Mariupol, U.S. Intelligence Official Says

Russia is planning to invade the Ukraine port of Mariupol this spring, according to at least one top United States intelligence official. Vladimir Putin reportedly considers the Ukrainian port a "strategic" location.

Vladimir Putin's alleged plan to seize the Ukrainian port of Mariupol would reportedly include boots on the ground assistance by pro-Moscow rebels. If the port does come under Russian control, Putin would essentially have a "land bridge" and solid supply right in the Crimea region.

To date, Russia had not been able to establish a secure supply route through Crimea. In 2014, Vladimir Putin was able to annex the Black Sea peninsula. Many in the intelligence community said such a move would indicate a significant enhancement of hostilities in the area. Putin has been forced to employ ferry services across the Kerch Strait to move supplies and equipment to the area.

National Intelligence Director James Clapper had this to say about Vladimir Putin's plans fo rUkraine and the increased presence of Russian power in the region.

"It is not our assessment that he is bent on capturing or conquering all of Ukraine. He wants a whole entity composed of the two oblasts [regions] in eastern Ukraine which would include a land bridge to Crimea and perhaps a port, specifically Mariupol. We do not believe that an attack on Mariupol is imminent. I believe they will wait until the spring before they attack."

Director Clapper also warned that Russian rebels are now "reconstituting and regrouping" along the Ukrainian border. Increased fighting in the region, ahead of a planned ceasefire, has reportedly increased fears that Russia will launch an attack on the Sea of Azov port in Mariupol.

As previously reported by the Inquistr, Vladimir Putin claims his nation will boast "military superiority" over the West until at least 2020. Putin is allegedly moving ahead with plans to enhance Russia's nuclear arsenal despite a recession prompted by decreasing oil prices and sanctions levied by the United States. Although the exact state of Russia's nuclear capabilities is not known, military officials reportedly believe that the nation led by Vladimir Putin currently possesses 8,500 warheads – 1,000 more than the United States reportedly possesses.

Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, the head of U.S. Military Intelligence, told Congress during a Senate hearing that Putin and the Russians "will up the ante if we do any lethal aid or take any actions to bolster the equation."

The debate about whether or not to arm Ukraine to fight the pro-Moscow rebels remains ongoing.

What do you think about claims that Putin and Russia will seize the Ukraine port of Mariupol?

[Image via: Degtyaryov Andrey / Shutterstock.com]