Ukraine: Russian forces building up along border
artillery and multiple rocket launch systems, 900 tanks, 2,300 armored combat vehicles, 500 aircraft and 300 helicopters” along their common border.
These numbers, which have not been verified, would account for the vast majority of men and hardware assigned to Russia’s Western Military District.
The naval clash came as the Ukrainian ships sailed to the Kerch Strait, the only waterway leading into the Sea of Azov and the site of a new key Russian bridge linking occupied Crimea with the Russian mainland.
Russia accused the Ukrainian vessels of violating Russian territorial waters, a charge Ukraine has denied. Ukrainian officials say Russia has now imposed a de facto blockade on its two main ports in the Sea of Azov by allowing only ships destined for Russian ports through the strait.
Merkel criticized that Russian move, speaking to reporters Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires after holding a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A 2003 Russia-Ukraine agreement designates the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait as shared internal waters. But following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, Moscow has asserted greater control over the passage.
“The Kremlin is further testing the strength of the global order,” Poroshenko said Saturday, alleging that Moscow is waiting to see whether the international community will allow Russia to assert that the Sea of Azov and Black Sea are Russian territorial waters.
Poroshenko said Russia is also increasing its presence at sea.