Satellite images released to Military Times on Wednesday show additional Russian troop deployments surrounding Ukraine, including recent movement to Belarus, where Russia announced it would hold drills.
Maxar Technologies has collected images over the last several months to track Russian military deployments. Images released Wednesday show troops and equipment in additional areas in Crimea and also in Belarus.
Nearly every area photographed now has tents or shelters for personnel, suggesting an increased overall readiness level. A few of the images show artillery training in progress.
Previously released photos included images showing troops and equipment in western Russia. According to Maxar, in many of the locations, few troops or new housing are spotted in the images, suggesting units may have already been deployed to those areas.
Russia recently announced it would hold naval drills in several parts of the world, in addition to war drills in Belarus, that would take place throughout February. Planned exercises that were originally scheduled to begin Thursday off the coast of southwestern Ireland were moved after Dublin raised concerns about them.
Tensions between Russia and western countries have been rising in recent months because of the military buildup near Ukraine and amid fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning an invasion. Ukrainian officials have warned Russia could launch an attack from various directions, including the possibility of a smaller incursion through Belarus.
Russian officials have insisted there are no plans to invade, and diplomatic talks between the U.S. and Moscow to ease tensions have stalled. Russia has demanded guarantees that NATO will not extend membership to Ukraine or other ex-Soviet nations, a request that Washington and its allies have rejected.
President Joe Biden will send about 3,000 American troops to Poland, Germany and Romania to show support for NATO allies in the region, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the forces will not enter Ukraine, echoing Biden’s promise not to put American troops in Ukraine to fight any Russian incursion. Additional U.S.-based troops are on alert for possible deployment to Europe.
Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backed an insurgency in the country’s eastern industrial heartland. According to the Associated Press, more than 14,000 people have died due to fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels. Efforts to reach a settlement have stalled.