The Russian naval forces’ intensified aggressive actions threaten Ukrainian infrastructure in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and significantly restrict and block important trade routes in international waters, causing economic losses to all the countries in the region.
This was announced by Ukraine’s Defense Minister Andrii Taran, the CFTS portal reports, citing the Interfax Ukraine news agency.
"We are also closely monitoring the possible addition of tank landing craft and combat vessels to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. If they come from the Mediterranean and Caspian Seas (and they have already arrived from the Caspian Sea and are already stationed in the Sea of Azov), Russian troops are potentially capable of carrying out significant amphibious operations with these additional ships," Taran said at a meeting of the European Parliament's subcommittee on security and defense.
According to him, Ukraine is very much concerned about the deployment of new Russian troops and facilities in the Crimea.
“Essentially, the Kremlin has significantly stepped up its policies and actions aimed at taking the entire Black Sea region under Russian control since 2008. Russia's aggressive actions have changed the scale of the threats and led to a change in the balance of power. Russia increases the scale and number of its combat training activities around Ukraine's borders year after year," he said.
According to him, Ukraine believes that the build-up of Russian forces for military exercises could potentially be used for "unpredictable, escalatory actions emanating from the occupied Crimea."
"As of today, Russia has increased its military contingent in the Crimea to 42,000 troops, which are integrated into joint strike forces capable of using a number of kinetic systems for offensive military operations," Taran said.
According to him, Russia has also significantly “strengthened its air component” by additionally deploying all types of aircraft in the Crimea.
“The Crimea’s infrastructure is being prepared for potential storage of nuclear weapons. The fundamental issue is that the very presence of nuclear weapons on the peninsula could ignite a whole range of complex political, legal, and moral problems. If Russia places nuclear weapons there, it would fundamentally violate the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty," the Ukrainian defense minister said.