President Joe Biden said the United States could not confirm Russia’s claims on Tuesday that it was withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border, but instead warned that the threat of an invasion of Ukraine remained possible.
“That would be good, but we haven’t tested it yet.” In fact, he said, “we have not verified the return of Russian military units to their bases. Indeed, our analysts show that they remain in a very dangerous position.” According to him, Russia still has 150,000 troops “surrounding Ukraine.”
As president publicly obliged to continue diplomacy with Russian President Vladimir Putin, analysts say they are skeptical of Moscow’s claims and intentions because of satellite imagery over the past 48 hours, recent actions by the Russian assembly and Tuesday’s cyberattacks targeting Ukrainian banks and defense facilities.
Satellite photos of Maxar, published on Monday night, show that military equipment and personnel are moving closer to Ukraine. “Significant new activities include the arrival of several large airborne helicopters and attack helicopters, the redeployment of attack aircraft and fighter-bombers to the forefront, the withdrawal of several ground forces units from existing garrisons along with other combat units seen in the convoy formation.” said Maxar. In particular, the photos show a new group of attack helicopters near Lake Danuzlaz on the annexed Crimean peninsula, a new SU-34 located near Primorsko-Akhtarsk across the Sea of Azov on the Russian side, tent shelters near the Russian city of Yelnya about 155 miles from the Ukrainian border; among other indicators.
This was stated by McDaniel Wicker, vice president of strategy on Babel Street Defense one. “Analysts using Babel Street tools did not see any signs outside the Russian media, and then the Russian media received information to justify the withdrawal of Russian troops.”
Laurent Speranza, director of the transatlantic defense and security program at the Center for European Policy Analysis, said: “Satellite imagery shows that Russia is setting up the latest pieces they would like to have there to support the invasion. Therefore, we must check the facts on the spot before taking the Kremlin at its word. “
Speranza said it was done by Russia similar withdrawal and de-escalation claims last spring after military build-up. “In practice, he only brought some elements out and kept others in place or nearby. Putin can be strategically positioned to allow another escalation or invasion in a few months. “
Russia’s attack on Ukraine in 2014 was accompanied by cyberattacks aimed at civilian targets. On Tuesday, there were two Ukrainian banks and Ukrainian defense sites hit with denial of service attacks. The Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security did not officially attribute the denial of service attack to Russia, but the center hinted in this direction, saying in statement“It is possible that the aggressor used the tactics of petty tricks, because his aggressive plans are not implemented on a large scale.”
Also on Tuesday, the Russian Duma voted to recognize independent of Ukraine two territories occupied by Russian troops in Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR). The provision was adopted with a wide enough gap to be considered directly by President Vladimir Putin. If Putin approves this measure, he will essentially collapse preconditions of the Minsk ceasefire agreement between Ukraine and Russia.
Next is the action of the Duma months rising tensions between the DPR and LPR and the Ukrainian government. Babel Street analysis social networks in eastern Ukraine found that on January 23, pro-Russian forces launched a “coordinated push on social media … to spread accusations of Ukrainian aggression and human rights abuses, as well as to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2022/02/satellite-images-and-experts-challenge-russian-withdrawal-claims/362045/ Satellite imagery and experts dispute the Russians’ claims to the withdrawal