Russia builds up 'invasion forces' near Crimea as satellite photos show military aircraft on the border
11th December 2018

The deployment comes amid rising tension after Russian FSB border guards seized three Ukrainian navy vessels and their crew.

Satellite photos captured by Imagesat International show three heavy IL-76 cargo aircraft, used by the Russian military to deliver rapid deployment troops and heavy loads, flying into the Dzhankoi air base in occupied Crimea.

The peninsula was seized from Ukraine by Russian special forces in 2014.

Moscow-backed insurgents have been fighting Kiev government forces in the east of the country ever since, who often receive open backing from Russia.

According to social media reports in Russia, four IL-76 planes departed on December 6 from Anapa airport in Novorossiysk and landed in Dzhankoi.

One of those airplanes returned Saturday to Anapa, while the three remain on base.

The base of the elite Russia Airborne troops, the 7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division is in Novorossiysk, not far from Anapa.

Analysts at the have also highlighted Google Earth images which they claim reveals a build-up of 100s of Russian main battle tanks at freshly built or expanded facilities right on the border with Ukraine.

Masses of trucks, tanks and stores have been assembled at facilities including Kamensk-Shakhtinsky and Valuyki, Belgorod Oblast.

Ukrainian media said large numbers of Russian armoured infantry vehicles have also been seen crossing Moscow’s controversial Kerch Bridge into Crimea.

Ukraine imposed martial law for 30 days in 10 regions that border Russia, the Black Sea and the Azov Sea on November 28, and as banned all Russian men of military age from entering the country.

In a television address the country’s president Petro Poroshenko revealed he is introducing the measure in order to "ensure security."

He said he has "serious grounds" to believe Russia is ready to follow up the naval clashes in the Black Sea with a full-scale ground attack.

Poroshenko also called on Germany and other NATO countries such as Britain to boost their naval presence in the Black Sea to scare Russia off.

His warning came as satellite images last week appear to show Russia has also deployed S-400 surface-to-air missile battery on Ukrainian border.

Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile defence system

Russia has deployed its state-of-the-art S-400 anti-aircraft missile defence system at the Dzhankoy Airbase.

First developed during the Cold War by the Russian state-owned arms company Almaz-Antey, the system was completed in February 2004 and approved for service in 2007.

Using long-range surveillance radar, the system scans the skies for potential targets. When a threat has been identified, a message is sent to the command vehicle which then launches its surface-to-air missiles.

The S-400 is said to use four different types of missiles: the-very-long-range (400km); the long-range (250km); the medium- range (120km) and the short-range (40km).

It is also said to be able to shoot down 80 planes at once and is designed to destroy aircraft as well as missiles, including ballistic ones.

The defence system is also reportedly capable of travelling at 10,000mph and has an anti-stealth range of 150km.

Costing £313m ($400m) per unit, it was first deployed in Syria in 2015 when tensions between Russia and Turkey were raised due to a Turkish jet being shot down but remains largely untested.

Earlier this year the US imposed sanctions on the Chinese military after it purchased S-400 missiles from Russia

The recent tension began when Russia stopped three Ukrainian navy vessels passing beneath a bridge in the hotly-contested Kerch Strait.

Two artillery ships and a tug boat were subsequently fired upon and seized – in clashes which left at least six Ukrainian seaman injured.

Russia said its patrol boats seized the vessels and crew after they entered its territorial waters illegally and carried out “provocative actions”.

However, Ukraine insists it had given Russia plenty of advance warning of the route being taken by its ships.

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