Russia has been at war with Ukraine for eight years now, and more incursions are very likely, according to a research fellow at the Australian National University’s Center for European Studies.
Sonia Mikac told CNBC that about 15,000 soldiers and civilians have been killed since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and invaded some areas of Ukraine. “Asia Street Signs” Tuesday.
She said the chances of a large-scale invasion were “unfortunately very high” at this point.
She said the build-up of troops on the border between Russia and Ukraine in the past months is not a “new or recent act of aggression”, but part of the “war waged by Russia”.
“What happened in the last 24 hours is simply part of the strategy of the eight-year war,” she said. “Further incursion into Ukrainian territory is very, very possible,” he added.
However, Mikac said whether Russia will intensify its aggression against Ukraine remains a question of “if” not “when”, especially if swift action is taken by European countries and the United States.
Her statements came after the Russian president Vladimir Putin Monday evening announcement that he will recognize him Two separate regions in eastern Ukraine as a standalone. Putin issued a decree calling on the troops to enter Donetsk and Luhansk – although it is unclear what this mission entails.
This appears to be a “pattern of behaviour” for Putin, Mikak said, referring to how he “allegedly recognized the existence of a breakaway region” in Crimea in order to “help” Ukrainians who wanted to secede before laws were enacted to bring Crimea into the Russian Federation.
“This is the danger at this point – that the so-called recognition of the independent regions of Ukraine is just a pretext to enter with a greater military force than it has already done up to this point, and then to incorporate those territories into the Russian Federation and thereby annex them.”
Peter Zwak, a global fellow at the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, said Russia is carrying out an informal “creeping annexation process”, which is similar to what Moscow did with Georgia in 2008 and Crimea in 2014.
He said, “The main point here is that they declared peacekeepers. This is what always happens here.”
CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to this report.
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