February 25, 2014

Source: Ukraine Live Blog

2308 GMT: Is Russia really sending a new fleet to Sevostopol? Before Izvestia reported this (see previous update below) Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the far-right Svoboda party and a man known for firey rhetoric, reported the same thing.

“I can show you the SMS” said Tyahnibok, reading out: “A large landing ship from the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation is expected to arrive today in Sevastopol from the Russian port of Temryuk. It will deliver around 200 armed soldiers from the 328th detached battalion of the Marines, who are based in Temryuk, and 10 BTR-80s.”

He also mentioned that “between 22-23 February, personnel of the 45th Airborne Special Forces were airlifted from Kubinka (in the Moscow area) to Anapa on Il-76 flights, and four other IL-76 flights redeployed even more divisions from Pskov to Anapa. And six Mi-8 helicopters were airlifted from Sochi to Anapa” said Mr Tyahnibok.

Now, Izvestiya is carrying a report which, it seems, has a separate source. However, the Izvestiya story is about 9 hours old. In it they said that the ships would reach Sevastopol in 4 hours at a speed of 10-15 knots so…even if they were slower, unless the fleet stopped or turned around then the ships would be there by now, and there aren’t any reports of them arriving yet.

That Izvestiya and Tyahnibok are reporting that there are ships on the move is a story in and of itself, whether or not it proves true.

2200 GMT Could Russia really invade Ukraine? Two claimed pieces of news might indeed by tidings of war. Here is a translation by Catherine A Fitzpatrick:

Russian State Duma deputies have arrived in Simferopol. The delegation is headed by Leonid Slutsky, head of the committee on the CIS. Russians promise to simplify the issuance of passports to Crimeans.

Report summarizing their statements from Oleg Kryuchkov of censor.net.ua:

“Russia is starting to give out passports under a simplified procedure. Russia demands the fulfillment of the conditions of the agreements between the opposition and Yanukovych. And the main thing is that in the event of a decision of the Crimeans to have a referendum, or an appeal to the Supreme Council of the Crimea to Russia with a request to annex…Russia will review this question very quickly. Tsekov and Aksyonov mumbled, spoke about integrity and the Russian Word festival.”


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