Tuesday, the US government released satellite images which show Russian forces still near Ukraine’s eastern border, contradicting assertions by the Russian government of late that the forces had been withdrawn.
The photos were published by the US State Department and on the US Mission to NATO’s Twitter account. The troops pictured are assembled at Belgorod, May 9.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced the withdrawal last Wednesday. Both the US and NATO countered that they had seen no withdrawal.
“The reality is that Russia continues to have 40,000 high readiness troops massed on Ukraine’s border and another 25,000 troops in Crimea,” countered NATO Allied Command Operations Spokesman Colonel Martin Downie. “The units on the latest satellite pictures show mechanised infantry, armoured vehicles and combat helicopters,” he said in a statement. “These units are there to intimidate Ukraine’s government and they could be used for an invasion of Ukraine, if ordered by Moscow. We will continue to keep a close eye on Russia’s actions near our borders.”
Last April, NATO published similar satellite images, but the Russian government denied the images were recent, saying they were taken last August.
By Day Blakely Donaldson