Kiev, Apr 3 (efe-epa).- Tensions in eastern Ukraine, where a war between the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed separatists has been simmering since 2014, have soared in recent weeks with Kiev and Moscow accusing each other of mobilizing troops and preparing for a possible offensive, as the US and Nato look on with concern.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has accused Moscow of flexing its muscles on the border with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and increasing troop numbers in the area under the guise of military exercises.
Zelenski on Friday enlisted the support of US President Joe Biden, who pledged his “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbass and Crimea.”
Kiev has accused Moscow of killing four Ukrainian soldiers last week in violations of the ceasefire that has been in force since 2015.
According to the UN, some 14,000 people have died in this armed conflict in seven years.
Ukrainian military intelligence claims Russia has started preparations, forcing the Ukrainian army to respond to “hostile actions” along the line of separation.
That would serve as an excuse for Russia to increase its military presence in the separatist territories by introducing “regular units” in order to “protect Russian citizens,” as tens of thousands of Ukrainians in the Donbas have already received Russian passports.
“An attempt by Russia’s occupation forces to move fully into Ukrainian territory is also not ruled out,” Kiev notes.
Such a scenario already occurred in 2008 in South Ossetia, when Georgia invaded the separatist region, triggering a Russian intervention called “Imposition of Peace” that led to the recognition of Ossetian independence by Russia.