Relations between Russia and Ukraine have reached a new low in the recent days following Russia’s statement on Wednesday (August 10) wherein Ukraine was accused of killing two of its men over an alleged clash on the Crimean border.
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said that one of its agents and a soldier had been killed on separate occasions as they tried to foil Ukrainian attempts to raid Crimea. The FSB, which controls the Russian borders, claimed its officer had been gunned down on Saturday night during an attempt to thwart Ukraine’s attempt to storm vital Crimean buildings. The agency stated that it seized an arms cache containing 20 explosive devices as they smashed the Ukrainian “terrorist” group.
It also said a Russian soldier had been killed on Monday in another cross-border incursion by the Ukrainian combatants.
According to an article by The Telegraph, the agency said it had caught three of the “raiders,” as well as seven “accomplices” who it said were locals from both Ukraine and Russia.
Meanwhile, quite unsurprisingly, such allegations from Kremlin have been quickly and categorically denied by Kiev, which says the allegations are “insane.” It slammed the Russian report as “provocation” and accused Putin of “desperately” searching for a pretext for more “offensive operations.”
“Putin wants more war. Russia escalates, desperately looks for casus belli against Ukraine, tests West’s reaction,” wrote Dmytro Kuleba on Twitter, who is a spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign ministry.
Following the FSB’s report and its dismissal from Ukrainian officials, the Russian President Vladimir Putin branded the events as acts of “terror” from Kiev, as he spoke to reporters in Moscow on Wednesday afternoon. He called Ukraine’s actions “stupid and criminal.”
“From the Russian side there were losses – two soldiers killed. We obviously will not let such things slide by,” he said.
“Instead of trying to find peaceful solutions, Ukraine has resorted to the practice of terror.
“The attempt to provoke an uptick in violence, to provoke conflict is nothing but an attempt to distract public attention.”
Putin further expressed his distrust in holding planned discussions with his Ukrainian counter-part Petro Poroshenko regarding their differences at the G20 summit in China next month.
In the meantime, Poroshenko has bashed the Russian allegations and has urged Russia to respect international law, reports Foreign Policy.
“Russian accusations that Ukraine launched terror attacks in the occupied Crimea are equally cynical and insane as its claims there is no Russian troops in eastern Ukraine,” he said.
Furthermore, Volodymyr Yelchenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, found similarities between the current situation and the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, which started shortly after the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.
“This scenario looks very similar and very familiar,” said Yelchenko. “That’s why we stand ready for further provocative developments.”
Since the latest intensification of conflicts, the Russian government has increased its military presence in the Crimean peninsula. On Sunday, its border guards briefly closed road crossings from Crimea to mainland Ukraine, writes The Telegraph. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine with the help of Russian-backed separatists in 2014.
Crimea has remained relatively unaffected by the still ongoing clashes between pro-Russian and government combatants in eastern Ukraine. The latest tensions however, have added fuel to the animosity between Russia and Ukraine in the region.
The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the renewed tensions between the two nations had left him “seriously concerned.”
Russia is holding parliamentary elections on September 18 this year, with Crimea participating for the first time since the annexation. On the other hand, Ukraine is celebrating its 25th Independence Day on August 24. With both countries nearing important events on their own turfs, the relations between them over the borders has reached a new low.
[Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]