Sunday, August 14, 2022

Satellite image shows Russia still building military near Ukraine

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New satellite images captured by a private US company show Russia has continued to build up its forces near Crimea and Ukraine in recent weeks, while the United States is being pressured to negotiate security guarantees. Is.

Reuters could not independently verify the latest images from US-based Maxar Technologies. The Kremlin reiterated Friday that it reserves the right to move its forces on Russian territory as it sees fit and that Western countries were conducting provocative military maneuvers near their borders.

US, European and Ukrainian leaders have accused Russia of building up troops again near Ukraine’s border since October after a brief build-up earlier in April, when Maxar also released images. What US President Joe Biden and other leaders say Moscow has repeatedly denied is weighing the attack on Ukraine as soon as next month.

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Images released late on Thursday showed a base in Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, filled with hundreds of armored vehicles and tanks by December 13. A Maxar satellite image of the same base in October showed that the base was half empty .

A satellite image shows the deployment of a Russian battle group to the Pogonovo training area near Voronezh, Russia, on December 21, 2021. Satellite image © 2021 Maxar Technologies.

Maxor said a new brigade-level unit, consisting of several hundred armored vehicles, including BMP-series infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, self-propelled artillery and air defense equipment, had arrived in the Russian garrison.

“Over the past month, our high-resolution satellite imagery has seen several new Russian deployments in Crimea as well as several training areas in western Russia along the periphery of the Ukraine border,” Maxar said in a statement.

It cited an increase in activity at three sites in Crimea and five sites in western Russia.

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia wants to avoid conflict, but its demands for security guarantees required an “immediate” response from the United States and its allies. Moscow has said it expects talks with US officials to begin in Geneva in January.

Asked on Friday about the build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was working to protect its security.

Peskov said, “Russia is moving its own troops into its territory against the background of highly unfriendly actions by our adversaries in NATO, the United States and various European countries, who are carrying out highly explicit maneuvers near our borders. “

“It forces us to take certain measures to guarantee our safety.”

If Russia invades Ukraine, Biden has threatened stronger economic and other measures, building on sanctions imposed on Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for an ongoing separatist insurgency by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. A US official has said retaliation could include tighter export controls.

Russia says it wants NATO to halt its eastward expansion and is seeking guarantees that the Western military alliance will not deploy some offensive weapons in Ukraine and other neighboring countries.

Other Maxar images showed a build-up at the Soloty staging ground in Russia, close to the border with Ukraine, with photos taken in early December showing a greater concentration of military hardware than in September.

Other photographs show continued construction in the Russian city of Yelnya, around 160 miles (260 km) north of the Ukrainian border, and at the Pogonovo training ground near the southern Russian city of Voronezh.

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