Ukraine increased its threat level because of Russia’s actions in the occupied peninsula, but the general staff is ready to respond to potential threats, Vadym Skibitsky, a representative of the Main Intelligence Department of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, told Ukrayinska Pravda.
“The movement of troops and equipment appeared to be related to an upcoming major Russian military exercise called Kavkaz 2016, which will be carried out by Russia in the southern district and involves groups deployed in Crimea,” he said.
“The level of threat to Ukraine from Russia is growing. It is always increasing when exercises are carried out near the Ukrainian border,” Skibitsky said.
He added that under the pretense of preparing for exercises, Russia can take steps “to hide enhancement or movement of troops”.
“In 2008 when the Kavkaz 2008 exercises were carried out, Russia created additional military groups in the Caucuses and this allowed it to occupy parts of Georgia. It was these troops that were used at the time. The main threat came from mobile airborne troops,” he noted.
Skibitsky also said that military equipment which is being transported by rail in the Crimea is performed for the purpose of a personnel rotation.
“According to the Intelligence Department of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, today, a partial rotation of the units of the Airborne Forces of Russia stationed in the North of the Crimea is taking place. According to preliminary data, this rotation was scheduled for August. And it was at this time, from 27 to 30 July, that echelons of equipment from the airborne forces which will undergo rotation, began to arrive in the Crimea,” he said.
According to intelligence, two battalion-strength tactical groups have been deployed in the Dzhankoy area, and one in the Kamyanske area of the Crimea.
“Today, the rotation of the battalion-strength tactical group in Dzhankoy is taking place. The 11th Separate Airborne Assault Battalion will be replaced by the battalion task group of the 7th Airborne Assault Division. As a rule, rotations take place every six months and now the 11th brigade has been in Dzhankoy since April,” he said.
When asked whether the threat has increased for residents in the border areas between the peninsula and mainland, Skibitsky answered that “people have been living in such a situation for two years; such rotations take place every six months.”
“The general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is aware of the situation and will respond adequately to any possible threats which could occur,” he added.