Russia Masses Troops, Weapons Near Ukraine

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Russia has amassed as many as 40,000 troops and dozens of fighter jets, helicopters, tanks and armored vehicles near Ukraine that could be mobilized within “hours,” according to a new assessment by NATO.

The analysis is based on satellite images captured by Longmont, Colo.-based company DigitalGlobe and released by the alliance on Thursday.

The pictures clearly show a build-up of Russian armament near the border with Ukraine, including Su-27/30 “Flankers” fighter aircraft, Mi-8 “Hips” and Mi-24 “Hinds” helicopters, tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, an artillery battalion and possibly an airborne or Spetsnaz (special forces) battalion.

“These could move in a matter of hours,” Brig. Gary Deakin, a director at NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, said in the announcement. “These forces have a destabilizing effect and present serious implications for the security and stability of the region.”

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The U.S., Europe and Canada have levied sanctions against Russia for deploying forces to and later annexing the Ukraine’s Crimea region amid political unrest there.

Top officials from the Group of Seven leading economies planned to meet Thursday to consider tightening the economic penalties amid fears that Russia plans to take over more territory in the Ukraine.

Russia has suggested the troop movements are part of normal military activity. But NATO says the Russian military has between 35,000 and 40,000 troops in the vicinity of the Ukrainian border, with units massing  — and not conducting training exercises or maneuvers — near such locations as Belgorod, Novocherkassk, Kuzminka, Yeysk and the Primorko-Akhtarsk Air Base.

“I would characterize it as a combined arms army,” Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove said in the announcement. “It has all of the provisioning and enabling that it needs to accomplish military objectives if given them.”

NATO has increased surveillance flights over Romania and Poland to monitor the activity in and around Ukraine.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Charles Kasper

    Either show the Russians that we mean business militarily or stop misleading the Ukrainians that we will come to their aid. Maybe the European partners could step up to the plate and get more involved,

  • William_C1

    Didn’t some “pro-Russian Ukrainians” in eastern Ukraine (not Crimea) just recently declare themselves an independent republic and are now asking for “Russian peacekeepers” to enter and secure the region.

    How strangely convenient for the Russians.

    Where are the hordes of Backfire bombers? Nothing says 1980s USSR like hordes of Backfires.

  • Ukraine does not pay its debts and mistreats the Russians. Vladimir Putin has been forced to act. Ron Paul has warned against interfering in Ukraine.

  • jake

    If these are pictures of Crimean airbases, I remember looking on Google Earth when this first began and there already were Russian Jets all over there. I saw these identical pictures and this was before they actually annexed Crimea.

  • Lance

    There Su-27s Russian passed over the SU-30 for the SU-34. Yeah so Russia has had those Flankers as well as many MiG-29s near Ukraine for months now. Its there territory I think its stupid to start WW3 over this. Besides the US and UK are downsized and too small to deal with a real war after years of nation building crap. I guess we need to reteach our men in the tactics and survival methods in the Nuclear battlefields again if you want to get back into possible shooting wars with Russia. But Obama thinks training for that is so 1950s.

  • Rob

    Someone needs to Remind Russia that they already have the largest land mass in the world. Build from within, no need to expand.

    But it appears Ethnic Russians live deeper into Europe then just Ukraine and they smell weakness in NATO to stop any of it. If invade, any attempts to remove Russian forces from Kiev, will bring on Chaos to Europe & America . Asia countries will choose sides &or stand frozen in fear.

    A solution is needed that allows both sides some economic & political gains.

  • “These could move in a matter of hours”
    I would speculate that “minutes” would be adequate for Russian forces.

    Meanwhile, as a result of the recent US-backed coup d’etat in Kyev the Ukraine economy is spiraling downward while the EU — victim of the US Nuland’s “F. the EU” strategy — is standing by helpless, and Russia gains from US/EU malfeasance. Not to worry — the US has voted to pay Ukraine’s gas bill, due to Russia.

  • Hunter76

    Russia will keep grabbing land until there is real military action. There are Russians in all countries bordering Russia. Putin can keep playing this game, the West doesn’t have the stomach for a fight. When he goes into a NATO country, probably one of the Baltics, NATO will probably react. A dustup– planes and armor. Putin is celebrated as a peacemaker. No land goes back.

    Putin believes the breakup of the SU was a catastrophe. He was embarrassed by the inferiority of (old) Russian arms in Afghan and Iraq. He wants his troops bloodied. Big winning streak for Puti coming up.

  • extreme_one

    Fake news. Again!
    The photos are from 2012 summer military exercise. The NATO propaganda machine is at work trying to secure as much funding as quick as possible

  • Sabre-rattling I would think.

  • TheReverend007

    I believe we should set up a couple of Battalions of troops like we dix in Germany. Using Marine and Army Striker units, placing them in Urkraine.

  • hibeam

    I see where this is going. When the Russian supply lines are stretched into France then we strike. Its a trap.

    • tiger

      My calender says 2014, not 1914. Hmmm, not happening……

  • JamcaicanMeAfraid

    Before the current administration decided to support overthrowing the rightfully elected government of Ukraine they should have had contingency plans. But then there are no adults in the situation room that have any clear knowledge of this region and Putin.

  • blight_

    You’d think the AP would simply send people to those coordinates and see what was up.
    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/t

    That said, perhaps they went to the wrong places and saw nothing, or were fooled by deception measures?

  • TonyC.

    Hitler will take the Sudatenland to save the oppressed Germans. Putin’s startegy is a very familiar one.

  • chaos0xomega

    Y’know, if you look at google earth imagery of these bases taken a few years back, you’ll find pretty much the exact quantities and types of these aircraft, so either Russia has been planning this for years now… or, this is simply where Russia has based these forces for years now, and there is no ‘buildup’, just what has already been there.

  • tiger

    “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

    Half a league, half a league,
    Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    ‘Forward the Light Brigade!
    Charge for the guns!’ he said:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    ‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
    Was there a man dismayed?
    Not though the soldier knew
    Some one had blundered:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them
    Cannon in front of them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of Hell
    Rode the six hundred.
    Flashed all their sabres bare,
    Flashed as they turned in air
    Sabring the gunners there,
    Charging an army, while
    All the world wondered:
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right through the line they broke;
    Cossack and Russian
    Reeled from the sabre-stroke
    Shattered and sundered.
    Then they rode back, but not
    Not the six hundred.
    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon behind them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    While horse and hero fell,
    They that had fought so well
    Came through the jaws of Death,
    Back from the mouth of Hell,
    All that was left of them,
    Left of six hundred.
    When can their glory fade?
    O the wild charge they made!
    All the world wondered.
    Honour the charge they made!
    Honour the Light Brigade,
    Noble six hundred!

  • notmyname

    I don’t worry with John Kerry on the case.

  • orly?

    I’m surprised no one here wants a “Preemptive strike.”

    • ronaldo

      Mc Cain does….lol

    • Joey Byden

      I do! (Only if it is thermonuclear!)

  • reader

    If NATO released these DigitalGlobe shots, one wonders how much the classified assets overhead are seeing and cataloging.
    The trouble is, there is no way to film or document how the “pro russian unrest” is actually being created in Ukraine and other neighboring countries. No satellite will ever capture that money trail.
    Estimate – to stir up largely ethnically russian masses in any border city, you’ll probably need to hire about a thousand highly paid activists, and maybe another couple thousand “plebs”. If that results in a “referendum” and joining the motherland – its a very small price.
    Its an old template, and has worked for Russia for hundreds of years.

    Also, trace back through history how did these ethnic russians get there in the first place ? Well, they were moved in during the last period of occupation with the freight trains. And during that occupation period, all policies and pressures were forcing the original population to migrate westward …

  • JohnB

    The bear is well fed and now it wants to bite back. And we the US have been feeding to strengthen our former commie enemies like russia, china, vietnam, and many to name.

  • marrs101

    Welcome to the Eastern European reality.

    Hungary: 1956

    Czechoslovakia: 1968

    Poland: almost regular uprisings against Russia

    Ukraine: ongoing aggression

    The west has always failed in this region.

  • Joey Byden

    Russian “soldiers” = Drunken conscripts