"By its actions, Russia demonstrated a disregard of the principles and norms of international law as well as disrespect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine," Skibitskyi said.
"Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine was a pre-planned and carefully prepared special operation. In fact, its preparation began immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union," the representative of the Defense Intelligence noted.
Russia stepped up its claims on Crimea after Ukraine made statements about possible joining NATO.
"Russia's military aggression against Georgia in 2008 was aimed at testing the reaction of the international community to possible violations of international law. The slide shows the main directions of Russian army onslaught. We also indicated Russian forces created for military actions in Georgia.
At that time, the aggression did not receive a proper assessment on the part of the Western democratic world, and respectively the reaction of the international community was disproportionately weak. Moreover, the West and NATO after a while stepped up cooperation with Russia on many issues. It should be noted that it was during the war in Georgia that Russia was testing all the elements of its future hybrid war against Ukraine. From creating a propaganda image of the enemy among the Russian-speaking population to neutralizing the involvement of Western countries by means of the so-called peace enforcement operations," Skibitskyi said.
In 2004, Russia continued preparations on establishing control over South-Eastern Ukraine. After Putin failed in his attempt to split Ukraine into a federal state during the 2004 Orange Revolution, Russia's special services intensified their efforts to create a strong intelligence network in South-Eastern Ukraine. Certain social movements and political parties in Ukraine were given a kind of carte blanche.
"After Russia amended its foreign policy so that it provided for the preservation of Ukraine in Russia's area of influence, the most effective preparation for Crimea's annexation was launched. By tacit consent of the then Ukrainian government, preparation for a vigorous activity of radical anti-Ukrainian movements and parties in Crimea was in full swing. After Yanukovych in 2010 signed the so-called Kharkiv agreements, the Russian Federation in a short while was able to modernize its forces in Crimea, in particular ships and aircraft," Skibitskyi stated.
At the same time, Moscow upgraded the combat capabilities of Russia's Southern Military District and resorted to practical employment of its army near the Ukrainian border.
According to intelligence, in September 2013, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Belarus conducted Zapad 2013 joint exercise. It was this very exercise where for the first time in history a regional group of troops practiced fighting a large group of illegal armed units rather than a regular army of a neighboring country.
The slide shows the concept behind this exercise. The group was comprised of 23,000 soldiers, about 600 armored vehicles, 10 ships, and about 60 war planes/helicopters altogether employed against the so-called Kaliningrad region.
In the territory of the North Caucasus (Russia's South Military District), a significant group of the Russian Armed Forces was concentrated. It consisted of 73,000 people of them 12,000 military personnel. The rest were police officers, representatives of the FSB, and other security authorities. In reality, exactly this group was later used for the occupation and annexation of Crimea.