According to estimates by the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the holding of the Caucasus 2016 military drills has a number of political purposes of internal and external nature, including an attempt to legalize the Russian status of the annexed Crimea, as stated by a representative of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Vadim Skibitskiy.
“The first purpose of these military drills is to distract citizens’ attention from the social and economic challenges on the eve of the parliamentary elections – from internal problems to external. The second purpose is to legalize the annexation of the Crimea through visits by official foreign representatives to the peninsula. To this end, military representatives of diplomatic agencies of other countries accredited in Moscow were invited to the active phase of drills that will take place on the 9th of September at the Opuk test site,” Skibitskiy said.
According to Ukrainian Intelligence, a number of democratic countries refused to participate in the event. Skibitskiy noted that the representatives of Vietnam, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mongolia, Serbia and Uruguay gave their consent to participate in the event.
Ukrainian Intelligence doesn’t exclude that forces, which were deployed to the Crimea during drills, can be used against Ukraine should Russian leadership decide to do so.
The Caucasus 2016 strategic command staff drills began on the 5th of September in the Southern Military District of Russia. Drills that will last until the 10th of September are also being held in the Crimea. Approximately 12,500 servicemen took part in them. Aviation, military equipment and warships are also involved in the Caucasus 2016 drills. The trainings will take place at test sites in the Southern Military District, in the waters of the Black and Caspian Seas.
Experts have expressed their view that the Russian Armed Forces will conduct operations against Ukraine during the Caucasus 2016 drills. On the 18th of August, the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, stated that he doesn’t exclude a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine and warned about the possibility of imposing martial law in such a situation.