Russia Masses Troops, Weapons Near Ukraine

Russian_fighters_Ukraine

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.”

Russian_vehicles_Ukraine

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.

    • Stratege

      What makes you think that there is no real pro-Russian Ukrainians?
      Ukrainian army is a comedy pardody on military forces. The hordes of Backfires are truly overkill.

      • William_C1

        There are indeed pro-Russian Ukrainians but I’d bet a lot of money that the Russians are already involved to some degree there, directly aiding those factions and making them seem larger than they really are.

        It’s true that the Ukrainian military is not in the best state. While their industry has made some capable modern vehicles and upgrade packages (the factory that made the USSR’s T-64s was in Ukraine), the Ukrainian military has gotten very little of this. It has mostly been only for export because they don’t have the money.

      • xXTomcatXx

        Regardless of there being pro-Russian Ukrainians or not, the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances signed by Russia, the US, the UK assures the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The only reason this was signed was because Ukraine handed over all of it’s nukes. What a message to send.

        “Give us all your nukes and we’ll make sure no one messes with you. Unless Russia comes in. Then you’re on your own.”

        • Stratege

          The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances the WAS NOT RATIFIED, not Russia, not by US! So, it’s firmness as an international agreement is very questionable (at least).

          • xXTomcatXx

            It was still signed as an Assurances Memorandum (e.g. not a guarantee, but a justification of political support). The ratification that’s talked about is to ratify the memo from “assurances” to a “guarantee” which obligates military action.
            http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/04/opinion/pifer-u

          • Guest

            Are you ready to see American blood and treasure spent and American cities “disappeared” over an “Assurances Memorandum”?

          • xXTomcatXx

            The implications of not holding up their end of the bargain reach far beyond Ukraine. The US is negotiating with Iran and North Korea to halt and eliminate their nuclear ambitions. One of the few bargaining chips the US has left is assurance that both these countries borders’ are preserved if they give up their nuclear programs. If the US falters on that same agreement with Ukraine then it’s word becomes completely devalued.

          • tiger

            Head scratch…….. Who the Hell wants Iran or North Korea? Nobody has any interest in their land.

          • Lightingguy

            Well, no, that’s not analogous. A better example would be assuring Taiwan that we will make sure their territorial integrity remains intact should they choose to not go nuclear.

    • Mick

      Back fire Bombers were Junk……you might mean the Bear……still crap….once a commie always a commie…..why POWER

  • 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.

    • Mic

      All Russians come from the Ukraine……..Back to the U.S.S.R. I see ….Loser asse’s

    • When It come to Foreign Relations Ron Paul is Foolish.

      • Truth fwd

        No, Ron Paul has the brains to know the truth and the courage to tell the truth, unlike the warmongering chicken hawks who are invariably puppets of the NWO lunatics from Big Oil and Military Industrial Complex.

        The truth is that it’s the US and NATO who covertly planned and funded the illegal coup against a democratically elected president in Ukraine. Practically the entire body of news and reports from the press have been lies and propaganda. It’s the same M.O. used in illegal military operations against Yugoslavia / Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Venezuela, Cuba, Vietnam etc.

        Unlike the illegal bombings and invasions by the US in various countries, Russia has a legitimate reason to get prepared to protected the ethnic Russians in Ukraine if their lives are threatened by the thugs funded by the US / NATO.

        • You may want to research how that “democratically elected” president got elected…

          You’ll find the FSB heavily involved as they are today in Crimea and the Ukraine. You have to read more than just RT.

      • No.

      • meow

        Matthew Jacobs, Ron Paul is light years ahead of you in foreign relations and sound government policies.

        don’t flatter yourself here. thanks.

    • Yeah, blame it on the ones getting invaded. Tell me, when has Russia complained about not getting paid? And the simple response is, don’t loan them money.

  • 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.

    • jake

      Lmao, I have to agree with you there. I do think we should always be looking at Russia as our standard for military training. I just think they’re doing this all as a plot to get the U.S. As the main supplier of natural gas. It’s all another corporate run agenda. Our elected officials are nothing but sales people for the corporations.

  • 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.

    • blight_

      Most Russians live west of the Urals or on the Pacific ocean, which is parallel to how most Americans live west of the Rockies or along the eastern seaboard. The people we define as “ethnic Russians” are of European origin, and the further into the ‘stans you go the more Asian they are, a product of early human migration patterns.

      • Reality_Check

        So compromise is always a good thing ?

        How about this one, both sides can send people with your I.Q. and below to death camps and both sides can win by taking your house, car and other property.

        Does that compromise work for you ?

      • Hunter76

        No, most Russian citizens live in the East.

        Early human migrations? There’s been plenty of migration in the last 2 millennia, including the eponymous Rus.

        • Hunter76

          Oops! in the West.

  • “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.

    • Reality_Check

      Really, when and where, and exactly what was the language in the bill that promised to pay Ukraine’s gas bill?

      The correct answer is: never, nowhere, such language does not exist in any bill.

      • ronaldo

        The gas situation is comical. Our Congress is pushing to supply American gas to Ukraine and any other country that is threatened by a Russian cut off of energy. The problem is, that even if we changed the law to allow this, the Russians would not lose any market share because they would just lower the price of energy below what the US would sell it for.

        Simple econ.

        • jake

          We are breaking into astronomical amounts of natural gas. There is simply no way we couldn’t compete with better prices and much much cleaner burning product.

          • As well as dropping the cost has an impact on Russia’s profit margins which is paying for their military growth.

    • Hunter76

      The US might have “backed” the coup, but really there was very little influence it could have had. The Ukrainians, a different language-culture group, simply hated that pro-Russian corrupt dictator.

      The EU is not a victim of the US, it was a victim of its own failure to plan for such an eventuality.

  • 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.

    • tiger

      Hunter, it is 2014 not 1938. Stomach for a fight? We have our own troops shooting each other. A debt of $17 trillion & military hospitals Like Bethesda rather full of 12 years of folks who have given up their stomachs, legs & arms. Not for for nothing, but these are not even a close ally your crying over. Sorry, but this one for the diplomats to solve.

      • Hunter76

        I’m not crying, only predicting. Neville Chamberlain is needed again.

      • Citizen of the World

        Tiger – You might recall that in the 1938 we were in the Great Depression and WWI had recently devastated Europe.

        • tiger

          Is Ukraine a Ally? Not really a 3rd tier one.

          Strategic importance? The Black Sea has always been a Russia backyard pool. No real economic or political importance to the US or the EU in general.

          The Nation? The place has never been very united still not. Many are Happy the Russians are there.

          Do you even see a fight going on? The Ukrainians rolled over and played dead with out a shot fired. Yet, your fired up to fix Bayonets?

          Is a Military response able to change facts on the ground? Nope……..

          Make any political or logistical sense? Nope……

          Does it effect my daily traffic, price of gas, the Sixers being a crappy b-ball team? Nope…….

          Can most Americans even find the place on a globe? Nope…….

          Sorry, but Putin is not wearing a funny mustache.

          • blight_

            So long as Turkey is our friend, the Russians can have the Black Sea to themselves.

            If the Turks need some anti-ship missiles and CAPTOR mines…

      • xXTomcatXx

        Poland and Czech Republic weren’t close allies either. Shall we wait for Lusitania or Pearl Harbor before acting? The diplomatic solution is completely nonexistent. Putin is not a diplomat. Remember, he’s ex KGB trained in the art of deception. Stateside lawmakers should be green with envy at his ability to deceive the masses. It’s astounding. Not to mention, the word of the US and UK is on the line since the Budapest Memorandum was signed.

  • 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.

    • tiger

      You must be on LSD or something?

    • Sacrifice Americans in support of Ukraine neo-fascists?
      Not a good idea.

      • You have to stop relying on RT for your news.

        • greg

          And turn to lies, propaganda, and rubbish trivia from FOX, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, or other US so- called media outlets instead?

        • peters

          You have to stop relying on FOX, CNN (or the likes) for your news.

        • fig spk

          majr0d, you are so clueless and misinformed. Why can’t you be like other US military leaders who have courageously written Obama about the torture being committed at CIA’s tortures camps at home and abroad, about the senseless mass murder of innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries by rogue elements in the US government and military, and about the utterly wasteful spending and runaway corruption in military procurement processes.

      • peters

        Not Ukrainian neo-fascists, but American neo-cons and neo-fascists. The illegal coup in Ukraine was concocted by neo-cons (aka defense industrial complex lapdogs) in the US.

        How else does one get big spending on military procurement from the government, or big weapons contracts from foreign buyers?

        To the neo-con fascists (e.g. Cheney, Condi Rice, Susan Rice, H. Clinton, Bush Sr., Bill Crystal, Bill O’Reilly etc), the US military is merely a tool. How many Americans die or how they die means nothing to the fat cats.

  • hibeam

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

  • 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.

    • orly?

      True, the administrations of the past failed because they were trying to prevent WWIII.

      And again, it is true now there is not much we can do in the current situation (yet too many ask to react unrealistically) without causing WWIII.

      But to prevent further aggression/escalation, to proceed cautiously both militarily and diplomatically would be the best course of action.

      • marrs101

        The moment the West made clear that they would not use force, the Russians had nothing to fear. “Cautiously”? C’mon guys, we both know what that it means. “No action”. You can tiptoe around the answer as much as you like. This WW3 bullshit was ok maybe in the 50’s, but today… Russia needs a WW3 just as much as the West. The west has no answer/balls to stand up, so Putin does whatever he pleases to.

        • tiger

          Not every solution to a problem is a gun barrel. This time last year, folks were crying about Syria. Now not even page 10 news.

          • ondeathsdoorstepp

            Just because the media stopped covering it doesn’t mean the situation didn’t deteriorate. Last I saw Assad was starving out the rebels and disarming them….

          • marrs101

            I’m not talking about gun barrel solution. It is the tendency, how much the west ignores everything in this area. And the argument was about the possibility of the WW3 from this situation. The Russians not going to fall for another western bluff. Since Reagan’s “Star Wars” they not believe a word the west saying. And they are not afraid to call any new bluff. Just remember that chemical weapon incident in Syria. Now that was an ice cold Putin, and Obama backed off. Putin will not blink this time either. Europe’s defense is a worthless mess, the USA just managed to drag her ass out of the afghan mess. This region’s just simply nobodies priority. The russians only understand one language: power. Nothing else matters.

  • Joey Byden

    Russian “soldiers” = Drunken conscripts