Elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army were also spotted in the area. The military “was designed to conduct operations at all levels of combat, from counterinsurgency to mechanized warfare,” Jane’s analysis reports. “This is usually the first to receive the latest equipment and is also considered the primary formation for testing new equipment and tactics. “
The deployment “marks a clear departure from the standard 1st Guard Tank Army training model,” which normally takes place around Moscow, Jane’s said.
Tensions have grown between Moscow and the West in recent months, as Russian President Vladimir Putin bristled with new talks over Ukraine and Georgia’s possible NATO membership, and as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited both countries in October.
While in Kiev, Austin was asked about Ukraine’s candidacy to join NATO. He stopped before an approval, but said Ukraine “has the right to decide its own future foreign policy” and the United States “will continue to do everything possible to support Ukraine’s efforts. to develop their ability to defend themselves, ”he added.
A few days later, Putin published his answer during a speech in Sochi, warning that “formal NATO membership may never take place” for Ukraine, “but military expansion in the territory is already underway, and this really poses a threat for the Russian Federation, we are aware of this ”.
The Washington Post first reported on the troop build-up Saturday. This story referred to satellite photos but did not publish them. Reuters later quoted the Ukrainian Defense Ministry denying the Post’s report, claiming that from Monday the transfer of more Russian soldiers, weapons and equipment to the Ukrainian border “has not been recorded”.
The footage comes as tensions continue to seep between Kiev and the Kremlin. This spring, an accumulation of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border raised concerns in the Ukrainian capital and in Washington. The administration put together a lethal aid package for the country, but then, with a meeting approaching between President Joe Biden and Putin, chose not to send it.
Some of these Russian forces would later return to their bases, but left much of their equipment in the assembly areas, another in a long history of pushes and retreats along the Ukrainian border.
“We are aware of public reports of unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine, but we cannot speak of Russian intentions,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth said. “We continue to support de-escalation in the region and a diplomatic resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. As we have said, our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is unwavering.
As a sign of support, Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the end of the summer – a meeting Ukrainians have long been seeking.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday that the Biden administration “will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
Russia is also locked in a diplomatic confrontation with NATO. In the weeks leading up to NATO’s annual conference of defense ministers last month, the alliance expelled eight Russian diplomats it called spies. Moscow responded by ending its entire NATO mission.
“There are different ways in which Russia interferes with our neighbors, and indeed we are extremely concerned,” said Nathalie Loiseau, European Union parliamentarian and head of the Security and Defense sub-committee, on Monday, during her visit to Washington. “You will always have Europeans who see the Russian threat as a very immediate threat to our continent.”