The Ukrainian government is reportedly preparing a provocation in the east, which will be used to launch a major offensive operation against rebel forces, Moscow said. It may happen in days and would affect the presidential poll.
The Ukrainian military has amassed troops in Kiev-controlled eastern parts of the country, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday citing reports from international monitors. Moscow believes it to be a sign of a looming escalation between the Ukrainian government and rebel forces.
“There are reports that within several days Kiev will stage an armed provocation on the contact line,” Maria Zakharova said, referring to the border, which separates rebel-held parts of Ukraine from the rest of the country.
She added that martial law, imposed by the government in the east last month, will allow for the mounting of a “lightning offensive from the direction of Mariupol aimed at capturing territories on the Azov sea coast up to Russia’s border.”
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Martial law was imposed in some parts of Ukraine in response to an incident in the Black Sea. Ukrainian ships attempted to pass through the Kerch Strait, a narrow corridor controlled by Russia, situated south of the Azov Sea which separates Crimea from mainland Russia.
According to Russia, the Ukrainian Navy boats were ignoring instructions from maritime traffic control, so Russian border guards had to intervene and detain the violators. Ukraine called the incident an act of military aggression by Moscow.
Zakharova reiterated that martial law is likely meant to keep Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko in power. His approval ratings give him little hope for reelection, but an escalation of hostilities in the east will serve as a popularity boost. And if that would not be enough, martial law gives the legal ground to cancel the election altogether, she pointed out.
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