Russia is stationing more tanks, mobile rocket artillery systems and advanced short-range ballistic missile batteries near the border with Ukraine, according to new satellite images released on Thursday.
The release of the images, taken by satellite company Maxar Technologies on Dec. 13, came hours after Moscow and Washington traded warnings over what might come next in the tense standoff. Yet representatives confirm the two sides are working toward a meeting next month in an attempt to reduce tensions.
Over 100,000 Russian troops have massed in an arc along Ukraine’s borders, from Crimea in the south to its northeast frontier, complete with enough equipment and logistical backbone to make a quick push into Ukraine if so ordered.
A senior administration official, speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity, said if Russian forces move into Ukraine, the U.S. and its allies “are prepared to impose severe costs that will damage Russia’s economy and bring about exactly what [Russia] says it does not want — more NATO capabilities, not less, closer to Russia, not further away.”
The remarks were the clearest to date that the Biden administration is considering moving troops and equipment around Europe to defend its easternmost NATO allies.
In response to any Russian incursion, the U.S. would “increase support for Ukraine’s ability to defend its own territory and also to reassure our NATO partners and allies by changes in our force posture in frontline states,” the U.S. official said. “All of that planning is well underway on our side and we’re ready to act if and when it’s needed.”
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