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Preparations for open conflict in Ukraine are ongoing as a sense of impending urgency is felt in the air.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invited Russian President Vladimir Putin for a meeting in Eastern Ukraine in a video address. He said that he went to the contact line every month, claiming that if war was to be avoided, discussions need to be held.
There is a diplomatic impasse between Russia and Ukraine and its allies. Diplomats were expelled throughout and any talks appear to come to a dead end. The US Ambassador to Moscow was recommended to leave Russia back on April 16. Initially, he boasted that he would not cave to the pressure, but then went to “visit relatives” back in the US.
On April 20th, the Normandy Format talks also concluded and achieved nothing of significance.
Russia closed the airspace over the Black Sea and Crimea for civilian flights between April 20th – 24th due to security threats. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the combat capabilities of the Southern Military District are increasing due to NATO’s attempts to oppose the normalization of the situation in some countries of the Caucasus and the Middle East. As a result, a new motorized rifle division had been formed in the district.
On April 20th, servicemen of the Russian military base in Abkhazia carried out controlled firing from various types of weapons on the Black Sea coast. More than 2,000 servicemen, as well as more than 500 units of modern military equipment, were involved.
Exercises in the Black Sea were carried out by the Russian Black Sea Fleet, as well as by warplanes from the Russian Aerospace Forces. Dozens of warships and warplanes were involved.
The concentration of Russian forces near the Ukrainian borders is fact, and it includes units from every branch of the military.
On the other side, American F-15E Strike Eagle fighter-bombers will arrive in Estonia for training flights on April 21st.
On April 19, twenty US F-15s from RAF Lakenheath in the UK and four F-16s from Spangdahlem air base in Germany were deployed to Poland within the framework of an Agile Combat Employment exercise.
The United Kingdom is to send warships to the Black Sea, and all the chips are falling into place and waiting for the incoming storm.
Ukraine itself is preparing for hostilities. The Security Service of Ukraine has declared high alert for its units in all regions. Kiev reportedly began digging trenches and setting up mines and fortifications in the Kherson Oblast, just north of Crimea.
The Ukrainian 128th Mountain Assault Brigade from the Transcarpathian region was deployed to the south of the DPR, near Mariupol. The unit replaced the 36th Marine Brigade, which went to its point of permanent deployment.
A chain reaction was initiated on April 15th, with the United States’ renewed row of sanctions, and the beginning of diplomatic expulsions, and they could all lead to a new hot war in the coming days.