Risk of Russia using military force rising: Ukraine’s chief of military intel

The analysis of the security situation revolving around Ukraine proves that there is a rising risk of the Russian Federation using force, Krylo Budanov, the chief of the main board of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’s intelligence, said on Wednesday.

“Generally speaking, the analysis of the security environment around Ukraine confirms a growing level of risk that the Russian Federation would use military force,” Mr Budanov said, as quoted by Interfax-Ukraine press agency, during a meeting of a Ukrainian parliamentarian committee for national security, defence and intelligence.

According to Mr Budanov, Russia’s goal is to keep Ukraine in the Russian sphere of geopolitical influence, forcing Kyiv to step away from its Euroatlantic pursuits and resolving the question of Ukraine’s occupied territory in line with Moscow’s conditions.

The Ukrainian intelligence estimates that Russia could carry out three scenarios of anti-Ukrainian undertakings. The first scenario boils down to a demonstration of force along Ukraine’s state border and in the occupied Crimea by carrying out “military-type” actions.

Secondly, Russian forces may move in to settle the water issue of Crimea by capturing part of Ukraine’s southern provinces.

The third scenario envisages Russia provoking Ukrainian forces to undertake military actions in the temporarily Russian-occupied territory of Donbas, Eastern Ukraine. If this comes to effect, Russia would then accuse Ukraine of breaking applying agreements, the Interfax-Ukraina wrote.

“This kind of activities is unusual for the current period. The units assembled alongside Ukraine’s border generates indexes that resemble those from the beginning of the Russian aggression against our state in July 2014. We think that these actions are part of a decoy military dislocation operation whose genuine aim is to test [Ukraine’s] operational readiness in the event of Kremlin making a pertinent political ddecision,” Mr Budanov said.

The chief intelligence office added that according to the situation in March at the Ukrainian borders, there were two armies of the Russian air force, air defence forces and the Black Sea Navy, in addition to 28 battalions of tactical groups. All together 89,000 people were deployed. Mr Budanov felt that the deployment of the Russian forces and military equipment alongside Ukraine’s borders and the annexed Crimea would fall on April 20.

“The total number of staff should reach 110,000 people by April 20,” he said.

As many as six instances of violation of the applying truce by pro-Russian separatists were noted in Donbas in the last 24 hours. A day earlier there were five violations, including near the town of Mayorsk, where a Ukrainian soldier died from a granade explosion. The explosive was dropped by a drone that flew over the frontline coming from the Russian-backed separatists’ positions.