Russia has been amassing thousands of troops on its shared border with Ukraine for weeks, sparking concerns about an incoming invasion. Moscow has been at loggerheads with the international community since 2014, when Russian soldiers annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine. Kiev has estimated over 100,000 troops are now laying in wait at the border as Vladimir Putin warned of “appropriate military-technical measures” in response to NATO expansion.
The footage released on Christmas Day showed soldiers practicing “new forms and methods of modern combined arms combat” in the region of Voronezh, which borders Ukraine.
Over 1,200 air assault troops and 250 pieces of equipment were involved in the war games in the snow at the Opuk mountain range in Crimea.
The drills come after President Vladimir Putin announced the successful salvo launch of Mach-9 capable Zircon missiles – weapons Moscow claims able to evade missile defenses.
Putin said earlier this week: “Zircon are our newest missiles fired from the sea at sea targets, and land targets.
“The tests were carried out successfully, flawlessly.
“This is a big event for our country, a significant step in improving Russia’s security, in increasing (our) defence capability.”
According to reports, the war games involved “motorised rifle, tank, artillery and reconnaissance units’ as well as military drones, ‘electronic warfare equipment.”
The Russian Defence Ministry said the soldiers were challenged to take down targets posing as hostile military drones.
US, European and Ukrainian leaders have accused Russia of building up troops again near Ukraine’s border since October after an earlier brief buildup in April, when Maxar also released images.
Joe Biden and other leaders say Moscow appears to be weighing an attack on Ukraine as soon as next month, a claim Russia has repeatedly denied.
The images released late on Thursday showed a base in Crimea packed with hundreds of armoured vehicles and tanks as of December 13.
A Maxar satellite image of the same base in October showed the base was half empty.
Maxar said a new brigade-level unit, comprised of several hundred armoured vehicles that include BMP-series infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, self-propelled artillery and air defence equipment, had arrived at the Russian garrison.
In a statement, Maxar said: “Over the past month, our high-resolution satellite imagery has observed a number of new Russian deployments in Crimea as well as in several training areas in western Russia along the periphery of the Ukraine border.”