UK & World News

  • 11 April 2014, 3:13

Satellite Images 'Show Russian Forces Massing'

Satellite images which appear to show Russian warplanes, combat helicopters, armour, artillery near Ukraine's border have been released.

The organisation's top military commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove said a probable airborne or special forces brigade deployement could also be spotted on the pictures as Russian armed forces maintained their presence the area's military bases.

The bases are in southern Russia - east of the Ukraine-Russian border - near Kuzminka, Belgorod, Yeysk, and Novocherkassk, east of the Sea of Azov.

"This is a force that is very capable, at high readiness, and, as we have illustrated through the imagery, is close to routes and lines of communication," British Brigadier Gary Deakin said at a briefing at Nato military headquarters at Mons, Belgium.

"It has the resources to be able to move quickly into Ukraine if it was ordered to do so."

The content of the photographs, which commercial provider DigitalGlobe said were taken on March 22, has not yet been independently verified.

However, Russia's RIAnews agency quoted the country's military general staff as saying the pictures were taken in August last year.

According to General Breedlove, possible countermoves to the Russian military threat against Ukraine could include sending US troops to alliance nations in eastern Europe who felt at risk.

Russian troops in March took control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula after local citizens - the majority of whom are ethnic Russians - voted in a referendum to secede and join Russia.

The US and other Western countries have accused Moscow of massing troops on Ukraine's border to maintain the pressure on the government in Kiev, and possibly for military use.

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