March 14, 2014
The following is an extract of a long foxnews.com news summary of today’s developments in the Crimea:
"While veiled threats emanate from the city of Kherson, the capital of the province of the same name, tension is high on the Crimea border. There are only two main roads leading into Crimea from the rest of Ukraine, one crossing the narrow Isthmus of Perekop in the west and another eastern route on the Azov Sea, known as the Kharkiv-Simferopol highway. Both are now patrolled by Russian and Ukrainian military units.
Ukraine’s State Security Service on March 12 said it had detected and detained a Russian military reconnaissance team dispatched to Kakhovka, Kherson region to assess Ukrainian troop strength near Kakhovka, south of Kherson.
“The group was monitoring the activities of the 3rd rocket artillery division in Kakhovka, the 208th rocket artillery brigade and the 79th motorized brigade,” the State Security Service spokeswoman said, adding its agents had confirmed that one of the men detained is a citizen of the Russian Federation from Ryazan, Russia working for Russian military intelligence.
DmytroTymchuk, who heads the center for Military and Political Studies and has been monitoring Russian troop movements, noted hat he called “a very disturbing picture” of Russian forces massing in the area of the narrow strip of land connecting Crimea to the mainland during the last 24 hours.
Tymchuk said at least 500 Russian soldiers from a battalion from Chechnya, Russia and up to 25 Russian artillery units, equipped with armored personal carriers and Russian Tiger fighting vehicles, are currently dug in at Perekop, south of Kherson province, with a corresponding number near deployed to Chonhar.
“The primary task of these units is to prevent Ukrainian troops from entering Crimea before the referendum on March 16. The military units may later be used to invade mainland strategic facilities in Kherson region,” Tymchuk said.
Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council head Andriy Parubiy said 80,000 Russian troops are deployed along the borders of Ukraine’s eastern regions. The Russian armed contingent includes 270 tanks, 180 armored personnel carriers, 18 rocket launches, 18 fighter jets, 90 combat helicopters and up to 19 navy vessels.
Yuri Bochkovsky, head of the all-Ukrainian Border Guards Veterans Association, told FoxNews.com that Kiev has dispatched armored personnel carriers and airborne troops from Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions to checkpoints along the highway on the western route, at Chaplinka and Kalanchak a south of Kherson, as well as in eastern Kherson region at Chonhar, along the Kharkiv-Simferopol highway.
“I think we have enough armor on the ground now to repel any Russian advance,” Bochkovsky told FoxNews.com.”