Nuclear war alert: Russia ‘moving weapons’ to seized territory – urgent warning issued
Russia: Ukraine intrusion is a 'dangerous situation' says expert
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And Andrii Taran claimed Russia could attack his country in order to ensure ongoing water supplies for the peninsula, annexed by Moscow seven years ago. Mr Taran, speaking prior to an emergency NATO meeting with allied defence and foreign ministers yesterday, also said he was unable to rule out a possibility of Russian forces in Crimea undertaking “substantive military provocations” this year.
He told the European Parliament’s sub-committee on defence: “Crimea’s infrastructure is being prepared for potentially storing nuclear weapons.
“The very presence of nuclear munitions in the peninsula may spark a whole array of complex political, legal and moral problems.”
Mr Taran was able to offer no evidence to back up his allegations, but, citing the latest Ukrainian intelligence, said Russia was massing 110,000 troops on Ukraine’s border in 56 battalion-sized tactical groups.
Included within this figure were 42,000 military personnel stationed in Crimea, as well as naval and air capabilities, he claimed.
He described Russia’s movements as “potentially offensive military exercises” which could be used to “conduct unpredictable, escalating actions” from Crimea.
Speaking today, Mr Taran said the “red line” would be the point at which Russian forces crossed into Ukraine territory, stressing at that point Russia would have to “bear the consequences”.
Russia has countered by insisting NATO, not Moscow, is undertaking out threatening military action in Europe.
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Nevertheless, any Russian decision to move nuclear weapons to Crimea would significantly worsen already strained tensions between Moscow and the West.
It would also put pressure on a newly-extended arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, imposing limits on land- and submarine-based missiles which are used to carry nuclear warheads.
Fighting has increased in recent weeks in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have battled Russian-backed separatists in a seven-year conflict that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people.
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NATO says the number of Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s borders is at its highest level since 2014.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is in Brussels to discuss strategy with allies, referred to a “massive military buildup” of Russian troops.
He further insisted NATO would “address Russia’s aggressive actions in and around Ukraine”, without going into details.
Full-blown conflict would impoverish Ukraine and lead to more Western sanctions on Russia, diplomats and analysts have warned.
German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told German public TV channel ARD that Russia was wrong not to have forewarned NATO about its war games, saying that Putin was “waiting for a move (by Kyiv) towards NATO to have an excuse to continue his actions”.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO headquarters on Wednesday to discuss Ukraine ahead of the meeting of all 30 allies by video conference.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday tweeted: “The G7 are deeply concerned by the large, ongoing, build-up of Russian military forces on Ukraine’s borders & illegally-annexed Crimea.
“We call on Russia to end provocations &de-escalate tensions.”
Ukraine was a part of the USSR until its collapse in 1990, and staged its first Parliamentary and Presidential elections in 1991.
Since then, relations with Russia have often been strained, especially in relation to Crimea, the annexation of which prompted Western sanctions which remain in force.
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