End the Lie

NATO: satellite images show Russian military buildup on Ukraine border, Russia denies

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A satellite image showing what NATO says is a probable buildup of either airborne or Russian special forces (Spetznaz) near the border with Ukraine (Image credit: DigitalGlobe)

A satellite image showing what NATO says is a probable buildup of either airborne or Russian special forces (Spetznaz) near the border with Ukraine (Image credit: DigitalGlobe)

Satellite imagery released by NATO show a significant Russian military buildup across the border with Ukraine, according to NATO officials, but Russian officials say the images are actually from August of last year.

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This is the latest in a series of accusations leveled by NATO and the U.S. The West has repeatedly accused the Russian military of building up forces near the Ukraine-Russia border.

NATO has also said that the Russian military could swiftly carry out an incursion in Ukraine, an accusation that they now support with satellite imagery.

The latest images, released Thursday, show what the Guardian called “a powerful concentration of fighter planes, helicopters, artillery, infantry and special forces which officials say could be ready to move with just 12 hours notice.”

While Russian officials have maintained that the troop movements are not unusual, the pictures appear to show hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles, jets and more in what NATO says are around 100 staging areas.

These staging areas were almost entirely empty in February, according to NATO, but the images taken in the past two weeks show a massive buildup that leaves troops capable of moving within 12 hours of receiving an order.

“I would assess that this is a force that is very capable at high readiness, and…is close to routes and line of communications and has the resources to move into Ukraine if it was ordered to do so … It’s parked, it’s stopped. But it can move very quickly,” said Brig. Gary Deakin, the UK army officer who heads up NATO’s crisis-operations center, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Threat is capability and intent. … Undoubtedly, there is capability here,” Deakin said. “We are unsure of the Russian intent.”

NATO officials have said the images show that some 40,000 troops have been deployed, according to Reuters.

“They have all the capabilities: air, special forces, artillery. They have everything,” Deakin said.

NATO saw no direct threat from Russia at this time, according to Deakin.

Officials state that the military buildup began in early March after Russian forces entered Crimea.

While the Russian explanation has consistently been focused on military exercises, NATO officers say there is no evidence of exercises taking place.

“Potentially, they could be used for exercising … [But] it’s quite unusual to have so much stuff there,” Deakin said.

Still, Russian officials flatly deny the veracity of the images. A senior official at the Russian General Staff reportedly maintained that the images are actually from last summer.

“The photos distributed by NATO show units of the Russian Southern military district, which were conducting various exercises last summer, including near the Ukrainian border,” the official said on Thursday, according to official Russian news agency RIA-Novosti.

Russian officials also accused NATO of using the Ukraine crisis to rally support for the treaty organization.

“The constant accusations against us by the secretary general convince us that the alliance is trying to use the crisis in Ukraine to rally its ranks in the face of an imaginary external threat to NATO members and to strengthen demand for the alliance … in the 21st century,” a Russian foreign ministry statement said, according to Channel 4.

The photographs were taken between March 22 and April 2, according to commercial provider DigitalGlobe.

Sky News notes that the content of the photographs “has not yet been independently verified.”

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6 Responses to NATO: satellite images show Russian military buildup on Ukraine border, Russia denies

  1. Chris Devitt April 12, 2014 at 6:14 AM

    “All is fair in love and war” After paying for an orange revolution and now a coup in Ukraine NATO is relying on it’s people to “believe” them and support them. This coup took place on Russia’s border and is a direct threat to them, as it was intended to be, for NATO to cry foul now is beyond absurd, Russia has and will exercise every means it has to defend itself, NATO was not shy about taking over Ukraine, why should Russia be, if it decides to.
    The first causality of war is the truth, now NATO has to deal with the fall out of it’s lies and deceit, looks like they have stepped into deep water, with no life preserver.

  2. Jay Kenney April 12, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    If we are, “unsure,” of Russian intent, let’s not do anything rash, and see what happens. We really don’t have a dog in this fight.

  3. me who April 12, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    Why the hell does the US need to be there in the first place? I don’t want to see a single soldier killed because these money hungry oily dirty spoiled brats were never taught the value of human life!

    • Jay Kenney April 13, 2014 at 5:55 AM

      “Big Oil’s,” lack of any kind of morals…

  4. Willie April 12, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    In that part of the world, 40,000 troops is a drop in the bucket. The border between Russia and Ukraine was 1000 miles long before Crimea voted to change. 40,000 troops in such a vast area is nothing. As a reference, the US has 20,000 border patrol officers along its border with Russia. 40,000 troops along a 1000 mile border is of course 40 soldiers per mile. Which is not a ‘mass’ of troops.

    The NATO propaganda was thus nonsense to begin with. Thus its no surprise that the ‘evidence’ turns out to be pictures from last year.

    • Jay Kenney April 13, 2014 at 6:07 AM

      Still, we/they have no business being there in the first place.


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