01:44 GMT08 May 2021
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    The reported aerial activity comes amid the continued escalation of tensions in the civil war-torn country as well as growing fears that the authorities in Kiev may try to take back the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine by force.

    Two US Air Force C-130 J Hercules military transports– one flying out of Riga, Latvia, and the other out of Stuttgart Army Airfield in Germany, have arrived in Kiev over the past twenty-four hours, data from flight tracking services harvested by open-source intelligence observers indicates.

    The flights’ missions and cargo are unknown, with the Pentagon giving no indication as to their purpose.

    The planes’ deployment follows OSINT reports from last week indicating that at least three US military aircraft had arrived in Ukraine between 2 and 6 April, including a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport flying to Lviv, western Ukraine, from an airbase in the continental United States, and two planes - a C-130 and a C-17, are making their way to the country from Germany’s Ramstein Air Force Base. Their missions and cargoes are also unknown.

    In a related development, OSINT observers reported Sunday and Monday about RQ-4 Global Hawk spy drone activity around Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

    US President Joe Biden spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on 2 April, with the White House releasing a brief readout promising that Washington would provide “unwavering support” to Kiev “in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression.” On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there would be “consequences” if Moscow acted “aggressively” against Ukraine.

    On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the US and its allies not to fuel Kiev’s “militaristic sentiments” amid concerns that the country’s leaders may be gearing up to launch a new offensive against the Donbass separatists. He stressed that Russian activities on Ukraine’s borders were related to the fact that Russia borders Ukraine, and asked what US troops and warships were doing in the country, thousands of kilometers from America’s shores.

    The civil war in eastern Ukraine began in May 2014, several months after the victory of the US and European-sponsored coup d’etat in Kiev, which overthrew the country’s democratically elected government. Residents of the predominantly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk declared autonomy from the new government after Kiev began making threats against Ukraine’s Russian-speaking residents. Kiev responded by sending troops to the region to ‘restore order’, sparking a war which killed up to 31,000 people and left over 2.3 million people internally or externally displaced.

    The war became a frozen conflict with the signing of the Minsk Agreements in February 2015, which committed Kiev to grant the Donbass republics broad autonomy in exchange for a formal return to Ukrainian jurisdiction. The accords led to an uneasy ceasefire between Kiev and the breakaway regions, but Ukrainian lawmakers have refused to provide them with autonomy, thus freezing the reintegration process.

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