Published: Fri, August 12, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

NATO Concerned by Russia, Ukraine Tensions

Russian Federation annexed the Black Sea peninsula in March 2014 following a hastily called referendum.

He added that Russian Federation has a record of levying false accusations at Ukraine to deflect from its own "illegal" actions, and that the US would maintain its Crimea-related sanctions against Russian Federation until it returns the peninsula to Kiev's control.

Russian Federation says it caught the infiltrators after at least two armed clashes on the border between Crimea and Ukraine over the weekend, and one of its soldiers and an FSB security service employee were killed.

There is no evidence to back up Moscow's claim, but Putin is leaving very little to the imagination.

Russia's Kommersant newspaper on Thursday cited unnamed security sources as saying a group of men Russian Federation had arrested for planning attacks had confessed to seeking to destroy Crimea's tourist industry by bombing resorts.

The sources told Kommersant two of seven saboteurs in one group had been killed and five captured.

"From the Russian side there were losses - two servicemen killed".

"We certainly won't let such things pass by", Putin said. "We believe that any actions in any way, including rhetoric, including remarks, have the ability to escalate what is already a very tense situation and a very risky situation". "We will of course do everything to assure the security of infrastructure, citizens and will take additional measures to provide security, including serious additional measures".

Russian President Vladimir Putin held an urgent meeting with his security council to discuss additional measures in Crimea on Thursday, TASS reported.

Poroshenko had hit back on Wednesday, saying Moscow's claims were "senseless and cynical".

Like Putin, Poroshenko also held a meeting with the country's top security agencies earlier on Thursday.

Blaming the "escalation" on Russia, Ukraine's permanent representative to the Council of Europe, Dmytro Kuleba, said on Twitter that Moscow "tests West's reaction". Russian Federation said it had thwarted armed Ukrainian attempts to get saboteurs into the peninsula.

The two sides sides are accusing each other of destabilising the situation as Kiev prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ukrainian independence from Russian Federation on 24 August, and Russian Federation prepares for a parliamentary election on 18 September. Explosive devices and ammunition were also discovered at the scene. "We are ready in case of further provocations", said Ukrainian Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko.

The FSB said it had stepped up security measures around the peninsula following the alleged incidents. The Ukrainian government did not immediately specify what further steps it was taking after putting forces on combat alert.

The move shattered ties between the two ex-Soviet neighbors and sent relations between Moscow and the West plummeting to their lowest point since the Cold War.

"We still think that while clearly Putin and Russian Federation have capability for some landgrab north of Crimea, it won't serve the political ends of the Kremlin to begin an open war in Ukraine", Alexander Kokcharov from IHS Jane's 360 tells Newsweek.

Fighting in the east between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels is still rumbling on as a peace deal to end the violence fails to make progress.

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