This new satellite photo appears to show a sign that Russia is preparing for war as its forces encircle Ukraine, experts say

T-72B3 tanks of the 150th Rifle Division of Russia’s Southern Military District take part in a military exercise at Kadamovsky Range. The division’s units will work on a wide range of tasks, including organizing overall tactical exercise support as part of the battalion’s battle groups during the exercise.Photo by Erik RomanenkoTASS via Getty Images

  • New satellite images of Russia’s significant military presence around Ukraine have been released in recent days.

  • A photo showed an apparent field hospital, which experts say could signal that Russia is preparing for a bloodbath.

  • Russia said on Tuesday it would withdraw some of its forces, but some questions remain over whether Russia is defusing.

New satellite images have emerged showing Russian troops and military equipment deployed near Ukraine, stoking fears that Russia is planning to invade the country. One photo in particular appears to show a sign that Russian troops have been there for more than training, experts say.

Satellite images, taken last week by US space technology firm Maxar Technologies, show Russian military buildups in Crimea, western Russia and Belarus. Along with troops and other equipment, one of the images appears to show a field hospital in Zyabrovka, Belarus, about 15 miles from the Ukrainian border.

Satellite image of a Russian field hospital in Belarus, several kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

Satellite image of an apparently Russian field hospital in Belarus, several kilometers from the Ukrainian border.Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

Expert observers told Insider that a field hospital, particularly considered with the 150,000 Russian troops near the border, is a troubling sign, which could signal preparation for serious bloodshed and is somewhat unusual for the country. ‘coaching.

Russia said on Tuesday that Russia was open to further talks and planned to withdraw some troops from Ukraine’s border, but the West remains skeptical. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared that Russia’s position is well-founded for “cautious optimism”, but further noted that the alliance has seen “no signs of de-escalation on the ground”.

Jeffrey Edmonds, a former CIA military analyst and current Russian expert at the Center for Naval Analysis, believes the threat of invasion remains imminent.

“It’s critical to remember the scale of this frontier deployment,” Edmonds told Insider, explaining that it’s “the biggest thing we’ve seen in modern history since the Cold War.”

Edmonds said Russia saying it was going to withdraw some units doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t invade.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “could do this to pick up the narrative,” Edmonds said. “He could do that to redeploy those troops somewhere else. There’s nothing saying the Russians couldn’t create some kind of pretext and come in next week.”

The field hospital is particularly important, he said, suggesting it undermines Russian claims that its forces are just training. Although it is normal to have medical assistance on site during military exercises, field hospitals and large quantities of medical supplies indicate that more bloodshed could occur.

“You don’t conduct a training exercise where you expect a high number of casualties,” Edmonds said.

“If that’s the case, you’ve either really done something wrong or your army is very incompetent,” he said, adding that his thought is that “you deploy a lot of medical resources when you expect bad things. heavy casualties from an actual war, not a training exercise.”

Mark Cancian, a former Navy colonel and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Insider that a field hospital isn’t necessarily a big deal, but it’s more worrisome associated with the other stocks. military of Russia.

“In addition to all the other things that are going on, this is one more indicator,” Cancian said Monday of the apparent field hospital, adding that the intelligence community is tracking many indicators, such as the place of a field hospital, that a country is preparing for war.

Cancian said he reluctantly came to the conclusion that Russian military action was imminent.

“For a long time I thought that Putin was going to defuse, demobilize, feeling that he had made his point, that everyone in the West now knew that if Ukraine became a member of NATO, he would react violently,” Cancian said. .

“The fact that these indicators continue to spin makes me think that some sort of military action is much more likely,” he said.

While some experts think Russia could go big, Cancian said he was thinking of smaller-scale Russian military action – such as invading territory near the Donbass region where Ukrainian armed forces are fighting pro-Russian separatists backed by the Kremlin for eight years. – is more likely than a “big sweep” in Kiev.

However, the United States is not taking any risks. It has relocated its diplomatic operations to western Ukraine, and President Joe Biden last week issued a warning to Americans in Ukraine, urging them to leave as soon as possible.

“It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization,” the president told NBC last week. “We’re dealing with one of the biggest armies in the world. It’s a very different situation, and things could get crazy fast.”

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Jack C. Nugent