Satellite Images Show Russia’s Expanding Ukraine Buildup

has moved military aircraft into Crimea and bases near Ukraine on a larger scale than previously revealed, increasing the potential for political intimidation or military intervention, according to commercial satellite photos of areas used for military buildup.

Photos seen by the Wall Street Journal show Su-30 fighter jets lined up on a runway at an airbase in Crimea. The satellite image of 16. The aircraft presented in April was not available at the end of March.

Other Russian military units on the Crimean peninsula include airborne troops, motorized gun and tank units, attack helicopters, smoke generators, reconnaissance drones, jamming equipment and a military hospital, according to the photos.

These troops and the deployment of Su-34s, Su-30s, Su-27s, Su-25s and Su-24s in other parts of the region, also pictured, have increased Moscow’s political leverage to coerce Ukraine, according to current and former officials.

They properly deployed the various elements of air power needed to achieve air superiority on the battlefield and directly support ground troops, said Philip Breedlove, a retired U.S. Air Force general who served as NATO’s top commander when Russian forces seized Crimea and intervened in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Russian troops, a field hospital, combat helicopters and military equipment in the Opuk training area in Crimea. The satellite photo was taken on the 15th. April included.

Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies

Russian airborne troops at the Angarsk shooting range in Crimea. The satellite photo was taken on the 15th. April included.

Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies

Russian motorized rifle brigade in the Pogonovo exercise ground in Voronezh. The satellite photo was taken on the 10th. April included.

Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies

A Russian Su-30 aircraft at Saki Air Base in Crimea. The satellite photo was taken on the 16th. April included.

Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies

General Breedlove said the photos show that Russian units are not ready to strike immediately, but that Moscow has several options for military action.

Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns made a similar assessment before Congress last week, noting that Russian troops may be intended to intimidate the Ukrainian government and send a message to the Biden administration.

This reinforcement has reached a point where it could also serve as a basis for a limited military invasion, Göran said. Burns for the Senate Intelligence Committee. So it’s not just the United States but our allies who need to take this very seriously.

Officials in the Biden administration are working on options for lethal and non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine in the event of a Russian attack. The options include anti-tank, anti-ship and anti-aircraft systems, according to a person familiar with the discussions, although they have not yet been presented to President Biden for a decision. The government is also considering additional economic sanctions against Russia, government officials said.

CIA Director William Burns said the Russian troops may be intended to intimidate the Ukrainian government.

Photo:

Al Drago/Presspool

Russian Defence Minister

Sergei Shoigu

Last week, the country held an exercise in response to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation threats against Russia, accusing Ukrainian authorities of trying to stoke tensions.

The satellite images were taken between 27. March and the 16th. April of

Maxar Technologies,

a commercial satellite company that provides extensive image data to the US and other Western governments.

Dan Jablonski,

said he had released the unclassified photos in the interest of transparency, but that the US government had not requested them.

I think it removes some of the uncertainty and doubt about what’s really going on in a fairly critical part of the world, Jablonski said.

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US officials estimate that as many as 80,000 Russians currently live in and around Crimea in Ukraine. That’s almost double the number of Russian troops deployed about four weeks ago officials said. Responsible for the European Union’s foreign policy,

Joseph Borrell,

He said the number would exceed 100,000, more than the forces the Russians deployed when they took Crimea in 2014 and sent troops into eastern Ukraine.

According to a U.S. military official, Russian forces now consist of 48 battalions of battle groups, each with several hundred soldiers and officers. However, U.S. intelligence has not yet discovered all the logistical capabilities and support units that would normally be used for a major attack across the Ukrainian border, including ammunition supplies and deployed hospitals, the official said.

Su-34 aircraft from the Morozovsk base in eastern Ukraine have been moved to the flight line, satellite images show, indicating a higher state of readiness.

Russian troops conducted military exercises in Crimea last month.

Photo:

Sergei Malgavko/TASS/Zuma Press

This is not a demonstration. This is preparation for a major offensive, said Philip Carber, president of the US think tank Potomac, who has traveled extensively on the war front in Ukraine. I’m not predicting an attack, but within two weeks it will be an option at the discretion of the Russians.

Other experts say the Russian president

Vladimir Putin

may seek to pressure Ukraine to restore the water supply to Crimea, which was cut off by Kiev authorities after the Kremlin annexed the peninsula.

We cannot rule out the possibility that this reinforcement is a coercive tool used by Putin to force Ukraine to open the water channel in northern Crimea, he said.

Glen Howard,

President of the Jamestown Foundation, a conservative, purifying research center. This is a huge military capability, and we don’t know which way the Russians will go.

In Ukraine, the increase in the number of Russian troops has left many in the dark about Putin’s intentions and led to a conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 14,000 people over the past seven years.

In a few weeks they will be close enough to combat readiness to continue the military escalation. According to our estimates, their total number will reach more than 120,000 people by then, the Ukrainian foreign minister said.

Dmitri Kuleba

told the magazine in a written commentary. We don’t know if Putin will decide to attack, but he will certainly be ready.

North Crimean Water Channel. Ukraine cut off the water supply after the Kremlin annexed the peninsula.

Oleg Zhdanov, a reserve colonel in the Ukrainian army and a military analyst, believes that the fact that much of the deployment took place in the open and was captured on Social Media is a sign that Moscow’s main goal is political. Putin is using it to create a wave of panic, Zhdanov said.

The situation can be somewhat volatile. Satellite imagery shows that a squadron of Su-25 Frogushatnik attack aircraft and a pair of electronic warfare aircraft spotted on Maxar satellite imagery in mid-April at an airbase in Astrakhan, Russia, were in operation through April 16. April at another airport. Russian news agency TASS reported Sunday that the Su-25s had arrived in Crimea.

Biden, who met with Putin last week, urged Russia to ease tensions with Ukraine. Last week, Biden spoke out in favor of new sanctions against Moscow for election interference and the SolarWinds cyberattack. Moscow denies any involvement in the hacking, and Russian officials have repeatedly denied any interference in the U.S. election.

Sir, I want to thank you for your support. Biden said he was not looking for escalation, but was prepared to take strong action if necessary.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met Monday with his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev. American and Russian statements about the conversation noted that the two officials discussed the prospect of a summit between Biden and Putin later this year. None of these statements make explicit reference to the Russian military buildup in Crimea and under Ukraine.

-Gordon Lubold in Washington and James Marson in Brussels contributed to this article.

Write to Michael R. Gordon at [email protected] and Georgiy Kanchev at [email protected]

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