World Satellite Images Show Russia Massively Bulking Up Military Near Ukraine Border
Kremlin says not moving towards war with Ukraine
The Kremlin on Sunday said it was not moving towards war with Ukraine as Russia increased its military presence on the border with Ukraine's eastern breakaway territories. In recent weeks fighting has intensified between Ukraine's army and pro-Russian separatists controlling two regions in the country's east, raising concerns of major escalation in the long-running conflict. "Of course, nobody is planning to move towards war and in general, nobody accepts the possibility of such a war," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a televised interview on Sunday.
A day after the European Union’s top diplomat warned that over 100,000 Russian troops have now gathered on Ukraine’s border and in annexed Crimea, newshow the mighty stockpile of military equipment that the Kremlin has deployed to back them up.
On Monday, the EU foreign affairs chiefa massive Russian army has gathered on the Ukraine border, adding: “It’s the highest military deployment of Russian army in Ukrainian borders ever... When you deploy a lot of troops, a spark can jump here or there.”
On Tuesday, the satellite imagesshowed the extent of the Russian force that’s causing so much concern. The photos, taken between March 27 and April 16 by commercial satellite company Maxar Technologies, show that Russia is gathering fighter jets, attack helicopters, and even building a new military hospital.
Ukraine says soldier killed in shelling by Russia-backed forces
Kyiv says another soldier seriously wounded by artillery fire by Russia-backed separatists in the east of the country.As of the reported attack on Sunday, Ukraine says 27 soldiers have been killed in the east this year, more than half the number who died in all of 2020.
Experts say the range and number of fighter jets gathered are a cause for sharp concern. Philip Breedlove, a retired U.S. Air Force general who was the top NATO military commander when Russian forces annexed Crimea in 2014, told the Journal: “They have appropriately deployed the various elements of airpower that would be needed to establish air superiority over the battlefield and directly support the ground troops.”
Gallery: On the line of separation in eastern Ukraine (Reuters)
Dan Jablonsky, the chief executive of Maxar Technologies, said the company decided to make its images public so that the world knows more about what Russia is planning on the Ukraine border. “I think it removes some of the uncertainty and doubt about what is really happening in a fairly critical region of the world,” said Jablonsky.
What is behind the growing tensions in Ukraine?
The Ukrainian government’s push for NATO membership could provoke a dangerous escalation of the Ukrainian conflict.Western observers have been speculating that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to test US President Joe Biden’s resolve or that he wants to distract public attention in Russia from the plight of the first poisoned, then imprisoned opposition leader Aleksey Navalny. It is also not inconceivable that he might be entertaining the idea of replicating the “Crimea effect” by waging “a small victorious war” on the eve of parliamentary elections in September. In 2014, the annexation of Crimea resulted in a huge surge in his personal popularity.
U.S. officials are also showing increasing concern about what could happen in the region. The U.S. estimate of the number of Russian troops in Crimea or near Ukraine stands at 80,000, according to the Journal—double the number of troops deployed to the region just one month ago. However, the officials said they would expect to see bigger ammunition stockpiles and more military hospitals if a large-scale invasion was imminent.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Journal: “In a few weeks from now they will be close to sufficient combat readiness to pursue a military escalation. By our estimations, their combined military force will reach over 120,000 troops by then... We don’t know whether Putin will decide to attack, but he will certainly be ready to do so.”
Last week,President Joe Biden and Putin, the White House said the U.S. president “emphasised the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Russia to pull back troops from Ukraine border .
Russia’s announcement comes after fears in Ukraine and the West that Moscow had been attempting to provoke hostilities. “I believe the objectives of the snap inspection have been fully achieved. The troops have demonstrated their ability to provide a credible defence for the country,” RIA quoted Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying. “In this regard, I have decided to complete the inspections in the southern and western military districts,” he added.