USA Today reports on a Russian troop builder that a U.S. NATO commander says could be primed to threaten Ukrainian neighbor Moldova.
Russian forces massed along Ukraine’s eastern border could threaten stability in a separatist region of neighboring Moldova, the American general who serves as NATO’s top military commander said Sunday.
“The force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizable and very, very ready,” Air Force General Philip Breedlove said ….
Breedlove added that for the Russian land-grab in Crimea, the Russian used a tactic of coordinating military action with the illusion of a local popular uprising, something that would have required advance planning and, therefore, betrayed the fact that Russia had been scheming to seize Crimea for some time:
Breedlove added that Russia clearly had anticipated and prepared for action in Crimea for some time. ‘Russia tried to get a local face in Crimea with local militias, but there was a thin veneer of locals in the front and a lot of men in green behind,’ he said, referring to Russian troops in unmarked uniforms.
Another tactic has been the use of military forces that do not bear any insignia.
When Russia, on Saturday, seized a Ukrainian Air Force base near Sevastopol, in Crimea, the attacking forces “sent armored personnel carriers smashing through the base’s walls and fired shots and stun grenades” yet “[i]t was unclear whether the forces, who didn’t bear insignia, were Russian military or local pro-Russia militia.”
A Ukrainian opposition leader is claiming that the Ukrainian commander was taken hostage by the attacking forces and is now being held in a Russian military jail in Sevastopol, a city in Crimea where Russia has been maintaining a naval base under an agreement with the government of Ukraine.
Russia has tried to play down the presence of the troops massing on Ukraine’s eastern borders and the threat they could represent with regard to additional military adventurism and expansion.