Russian defense minister calls for more troops in Crimea

World News -

International observers have noted the increased presence of Russian troops along and across its border with Ukraine.

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Copyright 2014 Reuters
Copyright 2014 Reuters

"The deployment of proper and self-sufficient forces in the direction of Crimea is one of our top priorities." Sergei Shoigu, Russian Defense Minister

At a meeting with military generals Sept. 16, Shoigu said the "foreign military presence" in Ukraine warranted an increased number of troops in Crimea and in Russia's southwest. He said Russia would also consider missile units in "each military district."

NATO released imagery Aug. 28, showing what is says is the presence of Russian mobile artillery units inside Ukraine. NATO Brigadier General Niko Tak said that more than 1,000 Russian troops were inside Ukraine. Copyright 2014 Reuters

NATO released imagery Aug. 28, showing what is says is the presence of Russian mobile artillery units inside Ukraine. NATO Brigadier General Niko Tak said that more than 1,000 Russian troops were inside Ukraine.

NATO Sept. 5 approved the formation of a "rapid response force" to counter Russia's military moves along its border with Ukraine. The 4,000-strong force will be led by a British general and and have 1,000 British troops. Russia said NATO exercises in Ukraine would threaten a ceasefire between Ukraine and separatists agreed Sept. 5.

Ukraine said Aug. 26 that it captured 10 Russian paratroopers who had crossed into Ukrainian territory a day earlier. Russia later said the captured troops had accidentally crossed into Ukraine. The news came hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin was to meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Minsk.

Ukraine released videos of the captured paratroopers Aug. 26. In one video, translated by the New York Times, a man who identifies himself as Ivan V. Milchakov, says his unit knew they were headed across the Ukraine border for a 70km march lasting three days. He says the unit crossed through fields to avoid roads.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Aug. 25 that Russia has informed Ukraine that it will be sending another convoy of "humanitarian aid" to eastern Ukraine. Lavrov said that Russia would send the convoy in "a couple of days" and wants to use the "same route" that it did for the first convoy. Copyright 2014 Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Aug. 25 that Russia has informed Ukraine that it will be sending another convoy of "humanitarian aid" to eastern Ukraine. Lavrov said that Russia would send the convoy in "a couple of days" and wants to use the "same route" that it did for the first convoy.

134 trucks carrying what Russia said was "humanitarian aid" returned to Russia Aug. 23 after delivering their cargo to Luhansk, Ukraine. Only 37 of the trucks had been inspected by the Red Cross. Ukraine called the convoy a "direct invasion" by Russia but declined to use force against it. Copyright 2014 Reuters

134 trucks carrying what Russia said was "humanitarian aid" returned to Russia Aug. 23 after delivering their cargo to Luhansk, Ukraine. Only 37 of the trucks had been inspected by the Red Cross. Ukraine called the convoy a "direct invasion" by Russia but declined to use force against it.

NATO said Aug. 22 that Russia has moved artillery units manned with Russian soldiers across the border into Ukraine and is using them to fire at Ukrainian targets. Russia has long been accused of supporting separatists in east Ukraine with weaponry and training, but the presence of Russian troops within Ukraine is a clear escalation.

"These developments are even more worrying as they coincide with a major escalation in Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine since mid-August, including the use of Russian forces." Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General

Rasmussen condemned the movement of the convoy. In a statement he said NATO had observed an "alarming buildup" of Russian ground and air forces near Ukraine, and the transfer of large quantities of advanced weapons to separatists.

Gukovo checkpoint

Ukraine said it was working diplomatically for the safe return of 311 troops who crossed into Russia to avoid fighting with separatists. Russia said 438 were allowed to cross after giving up their weapons. Ukraine accused separatists of firing on unarmed soldiers when they crossed back into Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the Federation Council to revoke his authority to invade Ukraine June 24. Putin had been granted the authority after submitting a request in late February, at the height of the crisis in Crimea. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called it a "first practical step."

"[Putin and Poroshenko] discussed a series of priority measures that must be undertaken to implement a ceasefire, as well as the most efficient ways to monitor it." Office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

After a phone call with Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin on June 18, both sides said that a ceasefire had been discussed. Russia's Interfax news service quoted Poroshenko as saying he had already offered a plan that included a "unilateral ceasefire" in eastern Ukraine, but that has not yet been confirmed by either government.

The White House released a statement on March 28 that Russian President Putin called President Obama to discuss a diplomatic solution to the situation in Ukraine. Obama urged Putin to pull back his troops from Ukraine's border and reiterated that the U.S. opposes actions violating Ukraine's sovereignty.

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