Russia: Military train spotted in Crimea
Nick Timothy was speaking at a time of dramatically increased tensions between Moscow and the West, with large numbers of troops and materiel massing at Russia’s western border with Ukraine and in Crimea, which Vladimir Putin annexed seven years ago. Meanwhile videos shared on social media yesterday purportedly showed a train laden down with tanks and armoured cars in Crimea heading north towards the Ukraine border – while Ukraine said Mr Putin was refusing to discuss the troops’ build-up.
Mr Timothy worked for Mrs May from 2016-2017, before resigning in the face of criticism over the decision to call a snap general election which resulted in the Tories losing their overall majority in the Commons.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he characterised the future as being “defined by huge change and uncertainty”.
He explained: “The rise of China means the relative decline of Western power.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks with Ukrainian troops last week
Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s former Chief of Staff
“The availability of chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry means states and terrorists might inflict unthinkable damage disproportionate to their size and numbers.”
Mr Timothy’s concerns were illustrated by a clip shared by military analyst the Intel Crab, military analyst, who describes themselves as an “open source intelligence aggregator & content contributor” for the @StratSentinel Twitter feed.
The video, posted by Twitter user Mikhail D., shows dozens of tanks and other military kit being transported by train.
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The clip shows large numbers of tanks apparently passing through Ukraine
He commented: “#CRIMEA: A citizen went to the station in Nizhnegorskiy, Crimea and stumbled upon a military train that he says is heading towards the northern border with #Ukraine.”
He subsequently added: “There’s too much military movement at this point we know there’s a massive buildup. We just have to wait if something comes out of this now…”
A spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy today said Mr Putin was refusing to discuss the escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over the worsening situation in the eastern Donbass region, where Ukrainian troops have battled Russian-backed forces in a conflict Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people since 2014.
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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin
Volodymyr Zelenskiy has not so far managed to speak to Mr Putin
Iuliia Mendel, Zelenskiy’s spokeswoman, said Mr Zelenskiy had tried and failed to speak to Putin about the matter.
She added: “The president’s office, of course, made a request to speak with Vladimir Putin. We have not received an answer yet and we very much hope that this is not a refusal of dialogue.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had not seen such a request for talks “in recent days” and was unaware one had been recently made.
When asked if Putin had anything to say to Zelenskiy, Mr Peskov said he hoped that what he called “political wisdom” would prevail in Kyiv when it came to de-escalating and avoiding a potential war.
Russia’s military strength in numbers
Ms Mendel said Russia had massed more than 40,000 troops on Ukraine’s eastern border and more than 40,000 troops in Crimea.
Those figures are higher than those previously disclosed by the head of Ukraine’s armed forces to parliament in March.
Zelenskiy is due to head to Paris for talks on Russia’s troop build-up and the escalating conflict in Donbass, she added.
A meeting between Zelenskiy and French President Emmanuel Macron is expected by the end of this week.
Military vehicles close to Russia’s border with Ukraine
Putin on Friday accused Ukraine of “dangerous provocative actions” in the Donbass region.
The Kremlin says Russia is free to move forces around its own territory as it sees fit for defensive purposes.
The standoff has triggered concern in the West, with Washington and the NATO alliance accusing Russia of a “provocative” build-up.
Ms Mendel said: “On the one hand, you cannot panic, on the other hand, you need to understand that Russia has shown more than once that it can invade different countries.”