Ukraine Puts Troops Near Russia Border On Combat Alert As Tension With Moscow Spikes
It has been over a year since the market cared about potential military developments and escalation in the ongoing proxy war between Russia and Ukraine in the Donbass region, however as reported overnight, tensions are again rising rapidly. Two members of Russian government forces were killed last weekend in what President Vladimir Putin said were "stupid" and "criminal" incursions by Ukraine into the territory annexed by Moscow two years ago. Additionally, Putin on Wednesday accused the Ukrainian military of launching the incursions into Crimea as part of repeated efforts to reclaim the land.
As the FT noted yesterday, Russia’s secret service, the Federal Security Service, said on Wednesday that it had foiled “terrorist acts” prepared by Ukrainian military intelligence against infrastructure in the territory, with the aim of disrupting Russia’s parliamentary elections due on 18 September. Kiev has denied the allegations. In response to the alleged operation, Putin said he was pulling out of international peace talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He said he was no longer ready to meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, and German and French leaders in the so-called Normandy format, which has been used for negotiations. Mr Putin hinted at a possible meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China early next month.
“Under these conditions, meeting in the Normandy format, especially in China, is meaningless,” Mr Putin said at a press conference. “Apparently, the people who seized power in Kiev and continue to hold on to it, instead of seeking compromise, instead of searching ways of a peaceful settlement, have moved on to the practice of terror.”
The FSB, the successor organisation to the KGB, claimed that one of its officers and a Russian soldier had been killed while taking down the Ukrainian plot last weekend. The FSB said the soldier died in an exchange of fire with the Ukrainian army across the border that now separates Crimea from the rest of Ukraine — a level of fighting between the two militaries not seen even during the annexation. Moscow said it had arrested several people, including an Ukrainian military intelligence officer.
Ukrainian intelligence denied an officer was detained, and officials said Russian claims of a plot were unfounded. The Ukrainian defence ministry described the Russian claims, which could not be independently verified, as “an attempt to justify redeployment and aggressive actions by military units of the Russian Federation on territory of the temporarily occupied peninsula.”
To be sure, Ukraine promptly denied all accusations, when president Petro Poroshenko and Ministry of Foreign Affairs sternly rejected Putin's accusations that Kiev is committing terrorist acts in the disputed peninsula.