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Iran Press TV

Russia completes fence between Crimea and Ukraine

Iran Press TV

Sat Dec 29, 2018 08:35AM

Russian authorities say they have completed construction of a "defensive" fence dividing the Crimean Peninsula, which rejoined Russia in a 2014 referendum from Ukraine.

Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said the construction of the 60-kilometer-long fence on the Crimea-Ukraine border had been completed and that the barrier would help to prevent possible border violations and strengthen cross-border security.

The barrier, starting in 2015 at a total cost of $2.9 million, is equipped with sensors and CCTV cameras to protect Russia's southern border against "reconnaissance and sabotage groups."

"The fencing anti-intruder complex was completed and put into operation on December, 2018. It is equipped with a vibrating sensor," said Vasili Kochetkov, captain of the FSB's border guard unit.

"The intrusion of sabotage groups in Crimea through the border is one of the current challenges. So this complex is able to detect the intruder when he approaches the fence as well as in the very moment of him crossing the border."

Kochetkov added that the barrier would also prevent "attempts by criminal groups to smuggle weapons, ammunition, tobacco, alcohol, gasoline, drugs" and other items.

The rejoining of Crimea to Russia came following political changes in Kiev where a pro-Western movement staged weeks of street protests that led to the ouster of elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

People in Crimea and in the industrial eastern territories of Ukraine, areas which are dominated by ethnic Russians, effectively refused to endorse the new administration in Kiev.

Crimea decided to rejoin Russia in a referendum in March 2014 and two provinces in the east revolted by establishing self-declared republics.

Washington and allies in Europe have slapped rounds of economic and security sanctions on Russia over Moscow's alleged interference in Ukraine, especially in the two eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, where pro-Russia groups have been battling the Ukrainian military forces for the past four years.

Russia has downplayed the sanctions as insignificant while denying the West's accusation of support for the militia in eastern Ukraine.

However, Moscow insists it will intervene militarily if it feels Kiev is suppressing the ethnic Russian population living in areas close to the Russian border.

Tensions over Ukraine escalated on November 25 when Russian border patrols fired at three Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait near Crimea and then seized them along with their sailors because of illegal entry into Russian waters.

The recent military confrontation sparked a fresh row between Russia and the United States and even forced US President Donald Trump to cancel a planned meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Russia urged to release Ukrainian seamen

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday called on Moscow to free the 24 Ukrainian sailors who were seized along with their ships for illegally entering Russian waters off the coast of Crimea in the Sea of Azov last month.

"We demand safe, free and unimpeded transit for all ships through the Kerch Strait and the immediate and unconditional release of all illegally detained Ukrainian seafarers," Merkel and Macron said in a joint statement.

The leaders of France and Germany also called for a sustainable ceasefire in eastern Ukraine ahead of a planned cessation of hostilities in the volatile area.

Merkel and Macron urged the warring parties to hold a solid, full and permanent truce in the New Year's holidays, which could serve as an opportunity to focus on the needs of civilians in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

This comes as representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) announced that a fresh ceasefire would take effect on December 29.

International efforts to restore peace and stability to eastern Ukraine have largely failed, furthering the split between the two sides. So far, over 10,000 people have died in the armed conflict since 2014, according to the United Nations estimates.

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