Russia: Nato photos of forces taken last year

2014-04-10 21:19
Military personnel stand near a Russian-made Kamaz truck in the eastern Crimea'a port city of Feodosiya. (Viktor Drachev, AFP)

Military personnel stand near a Russian-made Kamaz truck in the eastern Crimea'a port city of Feodosiya. (Viktor Drachev, AFP)

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Moscow - An official in the Russian military general staff said on Thursday that Nato satellite photographs purporting to show Russian forces concentrated near the Ukrainian border were taken in August 2013, state-run news agency RIA reported.

The report came hours after Nato unveiled photographs it said showed Russian deployment of about 40 000 troops, along with tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery and aircraft. It said the pictures were taken between 22 March and 2 April.

"These photographs that were distributed by Nato depict units of Russian forces of the southern military district which conducted various exercises last summer, some of them near the border with Ukraine," RIA quoted what it said was a high-level official in the Russian general staff as saying.

President Vladimir Putin secured permission for his parliament last month to send Russian armed forces into Ukraine to protect compatriots there if necessary, prompting Western concerns that Russia could invade the east after annexing the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine last month.

Moscow seized Crimea after Ukraine's pro-Russian president was toppled by protesters seeking closer ties with Europe.

Russia's southern military district includes territory bordering southeastern Ukraine.

Russia last month announced military exercises in the southern military district and areas bordering Ukraine further north, and has dismissed US and European concerns about the troop numbers.

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