Russia Claims Separatist Regions Have Asked For Its Help Fighting Ukraine’s Military
KHABAROVSK TERRITORY, RUSSIA - MARCH 13, 2017: A T-72B tank competes in an individual race at a regional stage of the 2017 Tank Biathlon Competition at Anastasyevsky training ground.
Yuri Smityuk TASS via Getty Images

The Kremlin claimed on Wednesday that the leaders of two separatist regions of Ukraine, which Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized as independent this week, have asked for Putin’s help in fighting Ukraine’s military, a sign that some analysts say might be what sparks Russia’s military invasion.

Russia’s TASS News Agency claimed:

The heads of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to offer help in repelling the aggression from the Ukrainian Armed Forces in order to avoid civilian casualties and prevent a humanitarian disaster in Donbass.

“Written requests have come through for Russian President Vladimir Putin from Leonid Pasechnik, the head of the Lugansk People’s Republic, and Denis Pushilin, the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “The heads of those republics on behalf of themselves and their peoples express their gratitude to the Russian president for the recognition of their states.”

Peskov claimed that “amid the current situation and in order to prevent civilian casualties and a humanitarian disaster, the two republics’ heads ask the Russian president to help in repelling the aggression of the Ukrainian armed forces and formations, in accordance with Articles 3 and 4 of the friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance treaties between Russia and the republics.”

The news comes as Russia has surrounded Ukraine on three sides with approximately 190,000 soldiers, armored military units, and Naval vessels.

A senior U.S. defense official told reporters on Wednesday that Russia has roughly 80% of its military forces in attack positions, ready to launch an invasion. “We assess that the Russian military forces arrayed around Ukraine and Belarus are as ready as they can be,” the official said.

Ukraine’s government was the victim of cyberattacks on Wednesday and its soldiers received text messages telling them to flee or be killed, according to The Daily Beast:

The sites of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its Security Service or SBU, and Cabinet of Ministers were all down Wednesday. Banks are also affected, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, said on his Telegram channel. Ukrainian soldiers have also recently reported receiving alarming text messages urging them to flee or be killed, in what appeared to be an attempt to degrade their morale. …

The attack appeared to have multiple prongs, including a psychological effects one: Ukrainians also received SMS messages alerting them that ATMS weren’t working in an apparent attempt to create panic in the country. The messages were fake, according to Ukraine’s police force.

U.S. officials have warned Ukraine that the invasion from Russia could come at any moment and is almost certain to happen within the next two days.

“The President of Ukraine has been warned Russia will highly likely begin an invasion within 48 hours based on U.S. intelligence,” a U.S. official with direct knowledge told Newsweek. “Additionally, reporting from aircraft observers indicates Russia violated Ukrainian airspace earlier today, flying possible reconnaissance aircraft for a short period over Ukraine.”

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