Satellite images released Dec. 23 offer new details about additional troops and military equipment which have been stationed near the Russia-Ukraine border since October amid growing tensions between the two nations.
The images, captured by satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies, show the troop buildup, including units newly moved to the border areas. The satellite imagery reveal the military developments and cites several new Russian deployments in Crimea and in western Russia near the Ukraine border. One image shows what is believed to be a new unit in a training area near the town of Valuyki, Russia, which is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) north of the Russia-Ukraine border.
A photo taken in December shows the movement of infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, self-propelled artillery, and air defense equipment into Bakhchysarai, Crimea. Additional images show the arrival of battle groups with tanks and artillery.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense previously told Military Times there are about 120,000 Russian troops deployed near Ukraine’s borders. Moscow denies that it has any plans to attack Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied plans for a military invasion, insisting the military moves are to protect his country against western aggression. Putin described a NATO expansion and weapons deployment in Ukraine as a “red line.”
President Joe Biden spoke to Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an effort to ease tensions. Biden warned Putin there would be “severe consequences” if Russia invades Ukraine, but also said that he would not deploy U.S. combat forces to the region to push back any such assault.
Moscow submitted draft security documents last week demanding NATO deny membership to Ukraine. A key principle of the NATO alliance is that membership is open to any qualifying country. The U.S. has said it won’t give Russia the kind of guarantee it seeks on Ukraine. On Wednesday, Russia’s top diplomat said Russia will sit down with U.S. negotiators for talks early next year about the demands.