Russia has been moving thousands of its troops, armour, and artillery to the borders of Ukraine, amid fears that it may be readying for an invasion. The military build-up has raised concerns in the west, with the United States putting nearly 8,500 troops on alert ready to be deployed and NATO sending in reinforcements and putting forces on standby.
The expansion – witnessed in neighbouring Crimea and Belarus, a close Russian ally – includes not just troops but a heavy cache of arms, armour, and artillery, many of which were transported by train from faraway bases, according to media reports.
Satellite images by Maxar, accessed by NDTV, show Russian troops, tents and new deployments at the Brestsky training ground in Belarus.
The imagery also shows the deployment of a mobile short-range ballistic missile system Iskander produced and deployed by the Russian military in Belarus’ Osipovichi training area.
The Obuz-Lesnovsky training area also has tents and troops deployed by Russia.
President Vladimir Putin’s government has deployed a huge force – more than 100,000 strong – on its territory near the Ukraine border and in Crimea, a Ukrainian region that Russia annexed in 2014, reported news agency AFP. When Russia seized Crimea, it backed separatist forces who took control of large parts of eastern Ukraine.
In Crimea, new housing areas have come up for the deployed troops and military equipment in Novoozernoye. Infantry fighting vehicles, tents for the soldiers and armoured vehicles are seen in the satellite photos of the area.
In western Russia, in areas near its border with Belarus and Ukraine, satellite images show battle groups in various training grounds, artillery conducting live fire training, armoured personnel carriers and trucks, storage facilities and artillery impact craters.
The buildup near Ukraine has expanded to include supplies of blood with other medical aid that would allow Russia to treat casualties, in yet another key indicator of Moscow’s military readiness, three US officials told Reuters.
Russian officials have repeatedly denied any plans of invasion. But Moscow says it feels menaced by Kyiv’s growing ties with the West, Reuters reported.
Washington and its NATO allies have offered Moscow arms control and trust-building measures to defuse the threat of a new Russian offensive against Ukraine, according to documents published by El Pais on Wednesday, reported AFP. The Kremlin has demanded that NATO guarantee that Kyiv is never allowed to join NATO and that the alliance withdraws forces from eastern member states that were Soviet allies or republics during the Cold War.
Russia and the United States faced off Monday at the UN Security Council over Moscow’s troop buildup on the Ukrainian border, as Western nations intensified their high-stakes diplomatic push to avert an open conflict in Europe. However, in the face of the troop buildup, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on the West to avoid stirring “panic”, according to an AFP report.
(With inputs from AFP and Reuters)