Artillery vehicle

Lithuania speeds up purchase of artillery rockets in response to Russian military build-up

The elements are building for a massive escalation of the conflict in Donbass, highlighting an increase in tensions between Russia and Ukraine that could play out on the battlefield.

As Russia continues to build up its military along Ukraine’s borders and in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula captured by Russian soldiers in 2014, analysts are reluctant to predict what will happen next.

But while the more optimistic view is that the show of force is a bluff intended to test the West’s resolve to back Kiev in the face of Moscow’s backing for separatists in eastern Ukraine, the measures increase the risks that the fighting that has been contained in the Donbass since 2014 could escalate into a wider conflict.

“If it’s just a ‘show of force,’ Russia is doing an awful lot to make it totally convincing,” Nigel Gould-Davies, senior Russia and Eurasia researcher at the International Institute for Science, wrote on Twitter. Strategic Studies (IISS). April 14. Janes, who specializes in military and defense analysis, also identified army air defense systems being transported to the area as well as a long-range telecommunications system and a field hospital. Similar activity was seen in the Rostov region, which borders parts of Donbass held by Russian-backed separatists, and on the Tavrida highway towards Crimea, with eyewitnesses telling RFE/RL that the convoys include combat vehicles and multiple rocket launch systems.

Russia’s Defense Ministry, meanwhile, announced it was sending additional warships to bolster the Crimean-based Black Sea Fleet. Without evidence, Moscow accused Kiev of planning an offensive against separatist forces in the Donbass and warned it would intervene if necessary to protect Russian citizens – an apparent reference to residents of separatist-held areas who received Russian passports . it all comes as a ceasefire brokered last summer has collapsed in Donbass, with more than 25 Ukrainian soldiers killed in separatist-held areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions since the start of the year, compared to 50 in 2020, and separatist forces claiming that more than 20 of their fighters have been killed.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran told the European Parliament this week that Russia will eventually have 110,000 troops in 56 tactical battalions at its disposal in Crimea and near Ukraine’s borders, saying the force accumulated could be used for “unpredictable escalation actions”.

Summary of news:

  • Lithuania speeds up purchase of artillery rockets in response to Russian military build-up
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