A day after the European Union’s top diplomat warned that more than 100,000 Russian troops have now gathered on the border with Ukraine and in annexed Crimea, new satellite images show the powerful stockpile of military materiel that the Kremlin has deployed to support them.On Tuesday, satellite images released by the the Wall Street newspaper showed the extent of the Russian force that is causing so much concern.
The photos, taken between March 27 and April 16 by commercial satellite company Maxar Technologies, show Russia is assembling fighter jets, attack helicopters and even the construction of a new military hospital.
Experts say the lineup and number of assembled fighter jets are cause for great concern. Philip Breedlove, a retired U.S. Air Force general who was NATO’s main military commander when Russian forces annexed Crimea in 2014, told the Newspaper: “They appropriately deployed the various elements of air power that would be necessary to establish air superiority on the battlefield and directly support the troops on the ground.”
Dan Jablonsky, chief executive of Maxar Technologies, said the company has decided to make its images public so the world will know more about what Russia is planning on the Ukrainian border. “I think it takes some of the uncertainty and doubt about what’s really going on in a fairly critical part of the world,” Jablonsky said.US officials are also showing growing concern about what could happen in the region. The US estimate of the number of Russian troops in or near the Crimea is 80,000, according to the Newspaper-double the number of troops deployed in the region just a month ago. However, officials said they would expect to see larger stockpiles of ammunition and more military hospitals if a full-scale invasion was imminent.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Newspaper: “In a few weeks, they will be almost combat-ready enough to continue military escalation. According to our estimates, their combined military strength will reach over 120,000 troops by then … We don’t know if Putin will decide to attack, but he will certainly be ready to do so.
Last week, in a call between President Joe Biden and Putin, the White House said that the US president “underscored the United States’ unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine ”.
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