NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday (19 June) that at least a few thousand more Russian troops were now at Ukraine’s eastern border, a build-up he called a regrettable step backwards.
The Russian press wrote that Moscow could send troops to Ukraine to “encourage” government forces and separatists toward peace.
“We now see a new Russian military build-up around the Ukrainian border. At least a few thousand more Russian troops are now deployed,” Rasmussen said in London.
“I consider this a very regrettable step backwards. It seems Russia keeps the option open to intervene further in Ukraine,” he said. “The international community would have to respond in a firm manner if Russia were to intervene further in Ukraine.”
He added: “That would imply deeper … economic sanctions against Russia which would have a very damaging effect on the Russian economy.”
In last few days, NATO has seen evidence of a few mechanised units, consisting of a few thousand Russian troops, conducting new troop movements close to the Ukrainian border, a NATO military officer said.
“These troops don’t appear to be engaged in ‘border patrol’ duties. Rather they appear to be concentrating in staging areas and preparing and awaiting future orders,” the officer said, EurActiv reports.
Putin calls emergency meeting
Russian President Vladimir Putin called an emergency meeting with the permanent members of Russia’s Security Council late on Thursday, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Friday, VOR reported.
“The agenda for the session was dominated by the situation in the southeast of Ukraine,” Peskov said.
The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin, presidential chief-of-staff Sergei Ivanov, Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Federal Security Service director Alexander Bortnikov, Foreign Intelligence Service director Mikhail Fradkov, the Security Council’s deputy secretary Rashid Nurgaliyev, and Security Council permanent member Boris Gryzlov.