Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty on September 10, 2015, reported that NATO expressed concern after a news report that Russia is building a large military base near its border with Ukraine. Excerpts below:
Speaking to RFE/RL on September 10, a NATO spokesman said that, “Overall, NATO remains concerned about Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine’s borders and its continued attempts to destabilize Ukraine.”
Reuters reported on September 7 that Moscow had started building a major military base in Belgorod Oblast, which abuts the Luhansk region of Ukraine that has been a hotspot of conflict between Ukrainian forces and separatists that NATO says are being trained and reinforced by Russian troops.
The report said workers were erecting a perimeter fence at the alleged site, near the town of Valuiki, less than 20 kilometers from Ukrainian territory.
Citing public documents, the news agency said the Defense Ministry is building the base on a 300-hectare site.
The facility is to house ammunition depots and barracks for 3,500 soldiers, as well as a recreation center with a skating rink and a swimming pool.
The ministry says it plans to use the base to train soldiers on artillery and army air defense, as well as in driving armored vehicles. The plan includes a site for studying the tactics of the U.S. military.
Alina Polyakova, one of the authors of an Atlantic Council report released in May titled Hiding In Plain Site: Putin’s War in Ukraine, which documented alleged Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine, commented on the Reuters report:
“We documented very clearly the buildup of bases and also how Russia has been using these bases as staging points for training soldiers and then deploying them at key moments during battles in eastern Ukraine,” Polyakova said.
“I think there’s awareness in the Kremlin that they can keep pushing this line, almost essentially being out in the open about what they’re doing in eastern Ukraine, and they’re not going to face much pushback,” Polyakova said.
Polyakova pointed to a Daily Beast report in June saying a drone in Ukraine had documented a Russian military base being built there.
“To my mind, the construction of a Russian military base in Ukrainian territory, the so-called separatist-controlled region, is much more shocking than the last report from Reuters.”
Comment: This latest report from Reuters on a new military base near Ukraine is proof that Russia is planning a long lasting military campaign against Ukraine. The need for strengthening the Ukrainian Armed Forces is growing. Most urgent is delivery of defensive lethal weapons from the United States.