RUSSIAN forces gathering on Ukraine’s border have painted a mass of assault vehicles with “invasion stripes,” heightening fears of a full-on war breaking out.
Russia will soon have a staggering assault force of 107,000 troops amassed at Ukraine’s border, revealed the Mirror today.
The huge numbers of troops are far more than previously thought and emerged in documents leaked to the Mirror which include disturbing details on the Russian military power involved.
Ukrainian military estimates of the advancing force include 1,300 battle tanks, 3,700 drones, 1,300 artillery and mortar units and 380 multiple launch rocket systems.
The shocking numbers of troops alone represents at least 35,000 more Russian frontline troops more than the entire British Army following defence cuts, reported the Mirror.
Yesterday in Astrakhan, 350 miles from the frontline, Russian BTR 80 armoured vehicles painted with invasion stripes were spotted heading in convoy to the railway station.
The appearance of these markings has escalated alarm amongst military experts who have drawn attention to similar stripes on tanks used by the Soviet Army during then 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. The stripes help identify vehicles to friendly forces.
The revelations come as Ukraine has accused Moscow of preparing to store nuclear weapons in Crimea amid soaring tensions in the region as the first of two US warships is expected to arrive during live-fire drills from the Russian navy.
Ukraine’s defence minister Andrii Taran warned Moscow could attack to ensure water supplies for the annexed peninsula.
Speaking at the European Parliament’s sub-committee on defence, Taran said he could not rule out a possibility that Russian forces in Crimea could “undertake substantive military provocations” this year.
“Crimea’s infrastructure is being prepared for potentially storing nuclear weapons,” Taran said.
“The very presence of nuclear munitions in the peninsula may spark a whole array of complex political, legal and moral problems.”
Taran’s comments, ahead of an emergency NATO meeting with allied defence and foreign ministers, came as the Russian navy held snap live-fire drills in the Black Sea.
Two missile ships – the Graivoron and Vyshny Volochek – are taking part in sea-level and aerial target practice alongside the missile hovercraft Samum while accompanied by frigate Admiral Makarov and mine-sweeping ship Ivan Golubets.
Meanwhile the first of two US warships – thought to be destroyers USS Donald Cook and USS Roosevelt – are expected to arrive in the Black Sea today, despite Russian warnings to keep them away “for their own good”.
Russia has been flexing its military muscle ahead of a planned anniversary parade on May 9 to commemorate its victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War.
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Fighter jets performed high-speed aerial acrobatic stunts as tanks and military troops put on a show of strength in preparation for the upcoming Victory Day parade in Moscow.
Hordes of servicemen marched in formation at the Alabino training ground on Wednesday, wearing facemasks and carrying red flags as tanks and rocket launchers joined the training exercise.
The parade – now in its 76th year – is held in remembrance of the 20million Soviet lives lost during the Second World War.
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