"The Black Sea Fleet and everything connected with its activities posed a threat, and this group could launch large-scale actions against our state at any moment," Vadym Skibitsky, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, stated on the air of Radio Liberty, the Ministry's press service reports.
According to him, the first signs that Russia could seize territory belonging to Ukraine by force were related to separatism and training of various paramilitary groups in Crimea. In particular, the 810th Marine Brigade of the Russian Federation practised training and equipping illegal armed groups on the territory of Crimea.
According to Ukraine’s military intelligence data, a group of Russian troops was created in 2013 to ensure the security of the Winter Olympics in Russia. During this period, blocking of maritime waters and airspace, conducting reconnaissance operations against Ukraine were practised.
“We analyzed the location of the first and second echelons, reserves and the configuration of troops at the joint Russia-Belarus exercises in 2013. This is exactly the scenario that was repeated in the occupation of Donbas in 2014,” the Main Intelligence Directorate’s representative said.
According to Skibitsky, on February 23, 2014, the command system of the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces and groups in Crimea were put on full combat alert. The units involved in strengthening the Black Sea Fleet had already left their permanent stations and started moving to Crimea, he added.
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