“How else would one explain the reasons why the [Russian] troops are so openly concentrated before big international meetings like this one? Usually there is much more secrecy – hardly anyone noticed when the troops crossed into Ukraine last August, whereas now everything is done rather openly. What can be the goal?” Girnius of Vilnius University’s International Relations and Political Science Institute told the Žinių Radijas radio.
He thinks that the European Union’s sanctions have hit Russia hard, something that even Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has acknowledged.
“If he [Russian President Vladimir Putin] takes action that will almost definitely remove any possibility of the sanctions getting lifted, he must have a good reason. I therefore fear that an offensive might be in plans in order to consolidate the [rebel-held] territory – by, say, taking over Donetsk airport and a stretch of the Black Sea coast. It would make the situation much worse – supplies [from Russia] could be transported directly by sea and they wouldn’t have to worry about the border,” Girnius says.
According to him, the rising tensions might indicate that Putin is planning a campaign to open up a corridor to Crimea which was annexed by Russia last March.
“If anything, they might want a corridor to Crimea, but I do not know for sure, nor does anyone,” Girnius speculates.
OSCE observers reported on Tuesday that a convoy of 43 unmarked military trucks was moving to the separatist stronghold in Donetsk.