Putin deploys Russia’s most advanced air-defence missiles in Crimea as alarm grows war is imminent

Tuesday, August 16, 2016
By Paul Martin

Kateryna Choursina, Stepan Kravchenko
NationalPost.com
August 15, 2016

World powers urged Russia and Ukraine to refrain from ratcheting up a confrontation over Crimea as President Vladimir Putin bolstered the disputed peninsula’s military with some of his army’s most advanced air-defence missile systems.

The European Union said there was no independent confirmation of claims that Ukrainian agents had killed two Russian servicemen in Crimea. Putin pledged a “very serious” response as he blamed Kiev for pursuing “terror” activities. The 28-member bloc called on both sides to refrain from intensifying what has led to the worst diplomatic standoff between the two countries since a 2015 truce eased hostilities in Ukraine’s separatist conflict. Germany said that Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, next week in Russia.

“We reiterate our condemnation and non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea,” European Commission spokesman Alexandre Polack said in Brussels on Friday. “There has been neither concrete evidence provided by Russia sustaining its claim nor any independent confirmation of the claims made by Russian authorities.”

The confrontation coincides with a surge in violence in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where government troops are fighting rebels who Kiev says are getting cash, weapons and fighters from Russia. The flareup torpedoed plans to revive four-way peace talks at the September Group of 20 meeting in China and raised warnings from analysts of a potential military conflict before Russia’s September parliamentary elections.

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