A large column of Russian military hardware, including anti-ship missile systems, has been spotted moving towards the Crimean city of Kerch, after Russian border guards faced off with Ukrainian ships violating Russia’s border.
A video exclusively obtained by RT’s video agency Ruptly shows a whole column of military trucks, as well as several ‘Bal’ coastal defense systems, moving along a road in Crimea. The troops were being relocated to an area near the city of Kerch, following the tense standoff on Sunday with a group of Ukrainian ships that, despite repeated warnings, had breached Russia’s territorial waters in the Kerch Strait.
The ‘Bal’ systems are equipped with eight X-35 cruise anti-ship missiles, capable of hitting vessels with displacement tonnages up to 5,000 tons at a distance of up to 20 kilometers.
The video emerged hours after the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) admitted that intelligence agents had been on the ships which entered Russian waters. Russia’s FSB had earlier accused the SBU or coordinating the “provocation,” and also released a confession of one of the two SBU officers detained and interrogated after the chase was over.
Moscow said the Ukrainian vessels had failed to apply to pass through the narrow strait as required, and were undertaking dangerous maneuvers while ignoring the orders of the Russian border guards. Following an intense hours-long game of cat-and-mouse and the blocked Ukrainians’ attempt to break through, the guards saw no option but to open fire and seize the vessels. Several Ukrainians who received shrapnel wounds were immediately treated and hospitalized.
Kiev immediately accused Russia of “aggression” and, on Monday, imposed martial law on its territories bordering Russia as well as along the coast of the Black and the Azov Seas. Moscow, in turn, has accused Kiev of staging a planned provocation aimed at stirring up the conflict between the two neighbors and justifying the imposition of martial law ahead of the presidential vote in March, in which President Petro Poroshenko is trailing behind several candidates in polls.
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