Thursday, NATO released satellite images to confirm their claim that the Russians are mobilizing troops on the Ukrainian border. The Russians have repeatedly denied a mobilization, but pictures don't lie. Russia has insisted that they do not plan to invade eastern Ukraine and that the troop movements are part of normal exercises. NATO published the photos to rebut that explanation.
According to a NATO Allied Command Operations assessment "the Russian military has approximately 35-40,000 troops in the vicinity of the Ukrainian border, a claim Russian officials have repeatedly denied is anything to worry about."
Brigadier Gary Deakin, the Director of the Comprehensive Crisis Operations and Management Centre (CCOMC) at SHAPE, spoke to reporters regarding SHAPE’s assessment of the images."The Russians have an array of capabilities including aircraft, helicopters, special forces, tanks, artillery, infantry fighting vehicles… and these could move in a matter of hours,” said Brig. Deakin. "These forces have a destabilizing effect and present serious implications for the security and stability of the region,” he added.SHAPE is observing a small amount of Russian administrative movement on the ground, but the overall lack of activity is raising flags among military staff.According to Brig. Deakin, Russian units have moved into the region and are massing in various locations in the vicinity of the border, rather than conducting specific exercise manoeuvers. This assessment is shared by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Philip Breedlove, who said the previous day that he was concerned by the Russian build-up. In speaking about the Russian force, he said: "I would characterize it as a combined arms army… it has all of the provisioning and enabling that it needs to accomplish military objectives if given them."