With NATO’s support, Ukraine is apparently launching an active sabotage and terror campaign in Crimea aimed at destabilizing the situation on the Black Sea peninsula, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes on Wednesday. This coincided with the activation of the alliance’s military advisers from the US, the UK, Canada and Lithuania in Ukraine’s power structures in early November.
The two major goals are to persecute former Ukrainian troops who moved over into serving in Russia’s army after 2014 and to engage retired officers of Ukraine’s Armed Forces in reconnaissance, sabotage and terrorist activities, the paper says. The arrests of groups of Ukrainian saboteurs in Crimea over the past months and the November 20 abduction of two Russian servicemen, Maxim Odintsov and Alexander Baranov, should be viewed in this context, the paper says.
The latest incident may be also construed as an act of intimidation and an element of information war. Military expert Yuri Netkachev told the paper that in the future Ukraine’s main intelligence directorate will focus on new attempts of organizing “a partisan movement” in Crimea.
A source close to Russia’s diplomatic circles told RBC that the activities of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) are a response to the two arrests of suspected Ukrainian saboteurs in Crimea by Russia’s special services. “This is an exchange of provocations as part of a hybrid war,” a lawmaker of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada told the paper. Ukrainian political scientist Vadim Karasev also said this is a “symmetrical response.” “If Russia didn’t stop this, then it means that Ukraine doesn’t need to stop either. A symmetrical response was needed to halt the search for saboteurs,” he said.
Another diplomatic source said it is not expected that the two Russian servicemen may be released soon. There are more than 40 Russian citizens captured by Ukraine and talks on a swap are “not a rapid process,” he said. A member of Russia’s State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Sergey Zheleznyak said Russia should seek the assistance of foreign partners to release the servicemen.