Ukraine has put its troops on combat alert along the country’s de facto borders with Crimea and separatist rebels in the east amid an escalating war of words with Russia over Crimea. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued the order after Moscow accused his country of sending several groups of “saboteurs” to carry out attacks in Crimea and said that two Russians died while fending off their incursions. Ukraine has denied the claim.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 following a hastily called referendum, and a conflict between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces flared up in eastern Ukraine weeks later. The conflict in the east has killed more than 9,500 people and is still raging.
Russia’s domestic security agency known by its Russian acronym FSB said in Wednesday’s statement that one of its officers was killed in a gun battle with a group of “saboteurs” from Ukraine over the weekend. It said the intruders carried an arsenal of bombs, ammunition and mines.