11 Mar 2014 22:00
In the Kherson region, just to the north of the Crimea and where Russian forces have their northern most front line in Ukraine, the small town of Chonhar sits quietly in the middle.
Separated by 20KM, both the Russians and Ukrainians lines are strengthening and digging in, with heavily armed soldiers and armored vehicles in defensive positions.
In Chonhar, residents are increasingly concerned that the fragile peace could be shattered if ‘provocations’ feared by both sides results in fighting.
Angry at the Russian presence on some of their agricultural land, including the apparent use of mines to protect the Russian lines, a small group of residents from Chonhar and the wider Kherson region walked towards the Russian lines.
At the checkpoint, pro Russian gunmen, wearing the uniform of the officially disbanded Berkut, cocked automatic guns and pointed them at the unarmed group of men, women and children before firing a handgun at the ground in front of them to make them disperse.
An hour later, a group of men claiming to be veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, approached the Russian lines in cars waving the Ukrainian flag resulting in further warning shots as the group massed in front of the guards before turning away.
Both sides say they have no wish for a war, and if the two sides stay where they are, fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces are unlikely, but things remain tense and any incident that leads to fatalities will only heighten the tensions further as Russia continues to tighten it’s grip on Crimea.