Satellite imagery provided to BuzzFeed News and a slew of videos on social media show that new Russian troops and heavy artillery have been moved to strategic locations around the virtual summit of Biden and Putin.
Kiev – tanks and other self-propelled artillery. A Russian Buk surface-to-air missile system like the one that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. Thousands of extra soldiers.
These are just some subordinate Russian forces And equipment He has been seen in videos posted on social media heading towards the Ukrainian border in the past week alone. Western and Ukrainian intelligence agencies estimate the presence of approximately 100,000 soldiers, along with combat aircraft and ballistic missiles. The agencies say that number could rise to 175,000 soldiers.
These deployments, combined with verbal threats and war games taking place in close proximity to Ukraine, do not bode well for peace in Eastern Europe. They are ominous indications that Russia may be preparing for another large-scale, multi-front invasion to retake the former Soviet republic that has moved increasingly out of Moscow’s orbit – and into the Western democratic world – since it gained independence 30 years ago.
Experts warn that the invasion could erupt into Europe’s bloodiest war since World War II. But the dangerous brinkmanship of Russian President Vladimir Putin alone also threatens to drag the United States and its allies in Western Europe, as well as NATO, deeper into the nearly eight-year war in Ukraine that has killed more than 14,000 people. Russian leader He said He wants NATO to fulfill its 2008 promise to Ukraine for future membership.
Recent satellite images provided to BuzzFeed News by Maxar Technologies and analyzed by military experts show what appears to be some of these new forces in strategic locations in Soloti, southwest Russia, about 30 miles from the Ukrainian border, and in Opuk, south of Crimea, peninsula. The Black Sea island that Moscow forcibly seized from Kiev in 2014.
This weekend, the Russian army held out Tank exercises with live ammunition With 1,500 soldiers in those and other nearby areas. Russian Federal Security Service FSB, Ukrainian Navy ship intercepted In the Sea of Azov she claimed that she was carrying out a “provocation”. Putin, the Kremlin, and the state-run media injected more and more hostile rhetoric.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters this week that Putin had not made a decision on whether to launch another large-scale invasion of Ukraine. But US military and intelligence analysts warn he would have plenty of Russian troops in place if he decided to do so.
“There is no indication that Russia is moving its forces away from Ukraine, but there is evidence that Russia continues to send more ground forces near the border,” said Rob Lee, a Russian military expert and doctoral candidate at King’s College London War. Studies section, for BuzzFeed News. “I would expect this to mean that Russia will maintain an enhanced military posture near Ukraine for the foreseeable future…even if they do not escalate into Ukraine.”
Konrad Muzica, a defense analyst focusing on Russia and Belarus, analyzed Maxar Technologies’ images for BuzzFeed News. He said Russia has created a new regiment within the 3rd Motorized Rifle Division, and that group is likely responsible for much of the surge in troops and equipment at Solotti seen in satellite images between September 7 and December 5. That was two days ago. President Joe Biden’s call with Putin.
“The regiment is based on BMP-3Ms [Russian infantry fighting vehicles] which were withdrawn from the base of the Central Reserve and Maintenance Tanks No. 22 in Bey in mid-November ”, referring to the city northwest of Moscow from where they came. The same facility delivered BMP-3Ms to a new regiment of motorized rifles of the 18th kinetic rifle division of Kaliningrad Altogether, between mid-November and early December, about 200 new vehicles appeared in Soloti, although not all of them may have come from Buy.”
Maxar Director Stephen Wood told BuzzFeed News that some of the recent increase in vehicles seen in the December 5 photo could represent military units returning after participating in Russia’s large ground forces exercise in the fall.
In Obock, Muzica said, it’s hard to tell what’s indicated in satellite images taken on November 27. “In the past couple of months, there has been a lot of movement in and out of Crimea. This is probably being done to obfuscate the size of the Russian forces there.”
Wood said this was “one of the areas where the Russian military deployed large numbers of troops and equipment in April.” Most of the equipment and troops had left the training area by early summer, according to Wood, but “this batch of equipment seen in the November 26 photo represents new equipment for the area as of late November.”
Muzica noticed a troubling element in these photos: marks where several tents with military equipment were standing. Having them in place means there is no need for them to be deployed outside the base.
“For me, the withdrawal of equipment from warehouses to create a new unit is an indication that Russia is preparing for conflict,” he said.
In a high-stakes diplomatic effort to avoid a new attack, Biden told Putin at a virtual summit on Tuesday that he would face dire consequences if he invaded Ukraine.
“I made it clear to President Putin … that if he moved toward Ukraine, the economic consequences for his economy would be devastating and devastating,” Biden said of their discussion on Friday.
The Biden administration said it is considering several options to deter aggressive behavior by Russia and possibly a new invasion of Ukraine. She said she might send more military aid to Kiev, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, and floated the idea of sending air defense systems. And Biden himself has said he’s ready to impose tough new sanctions on Russia — despite how difficult that may be.
“What the president has made clear to President Putin, what I have made very clear to Foreign Minister Lavrov, my counterpart, is that we are looking at him and we are ready to take the kinds of steps that we have refrained from taking in the past will have serious consequences for Russia,” Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken told NBC. Meet the press on Sunday.
Speaking from a meeting with top diplomats from the Group of Seven, Blinken said his counterparts “have the same resolve in their determination to stand up against Russian aggression, to deter and prevent it perfectly.”
Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday. The two talked about ways to try to break the diplomatic stalemate with Russia when it comes to the faltering peace agreement known as the Minsk Accords.
The Ukrainian leader also encouraged Biden to be proactive on sanctions and security aid, arguing that putting them in place and sending aid now could fend off an attack, a Zelensky adviser familiar with the call told BuzzFeed News.
In a sign that the situation could get worse before it gets better, as Biden and Zelensky spoke, Putin told Russian media that the actions of the Ukrainian military in eastern Ukraine were “Russian-hating” and “genocide-like”. In an interview program on Sunday evening on Russian state television, Putin lamented the dissolution of the Soviet Union, According to ReutersThis led to the end of “Historic Russia”.