Saturday, November 27, 2004

Did Putin send special ops forces into Ukraine?

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly has dispached elite commandos, wearing Ukrainian uniforms, into Ukraine to prop up the Kremlin-backed candidate who appears to have tried to steal the November 21 election.

First, a caveat: These are unconfirmed reports, there is presently no physical evidence, and the primary source of the reports is unknown. Additionally, false stories are a staple of Ukrainian politics. However, the commando story is plausible and bears full investigation.

Here's how it goes: The Yushchenko camp learned that on the eve of the election, two Russian aircraft landed at Ukraine's Boryspil airport with elite Vitnaz special operations troops. Some reports said that as many as 1,000 Vitnaz forces landed in Ukraine.

They reportedly wore Ukrainian uniforms. Russian officials deny the reports.

Vitnaz forces are attached to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). If the reports are true, the Kremlin's use of MVD troops - as opposed to military or foreign intelligence troops - is significant, showing that Moscow continues to consider Ukraine an "internal affair."


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