Russian troops have reportedly painted a mass of their assault vehicles with "invasion stripes" across Ukraine border, heightening fears of an all-out war breaking out. According to reports, Russian President Vladimir Pun also plans to soon have a staggering assault force of 107,000 troops massed at Ukraine's border.
The huge numbers of troops are far more than previously thought and emerged in documents leaked to the Daily Mirror which include details on the Russian military power involved in Ukraine border. An onlooker in the Astrakhan region of Russia, 350 miles from the border, filmed a column of armored personnel carriers with a white cross painted across the top.
Preparations in Full Swing
According to a report in The Mirror, Russia is preparing for a war and has already started painting "invasion stripes" on its assault vehicles. During the Cold War era, Russian forces painted the cross onto their vehicles when they were facing opponents who also used identical Soviet-made machinery in an attempt to avoid friendly fire.
The sighting of these invasion stripes has further 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. According to estimates from Ukrainian military, Russia is planning to advance huge force that includes 1,300 battle tanks, 3,700 drones, 1,300 artillery and mortar units and 380 multiple launch rocket systems.
The figures are based on intelligence intercepts and satellite photographs as troops and equipment travel hundreds of miles across Russia to amass around its neighbor.
Although in today's times this rudimentary identification makes it unnecessary, given that war in modern times is more technology dependent, the "invasion stripes" could be designed to intimidate opponents or boost the morale of the troops.
Moscow has claimed it has no plans to invade and is only carrying out military exercises, but yesterday footage in Astrakhan definitely is a cause of concern. The massive numbers of troops alone represents at least 35,000 more Russian frontline troops more than the entire British Army following defense cuts, reported the Mirror.
The shocking revelations come as Ukraine has accused Russia of planning to store nuclear weapons in Crimea amid escalating tensions in the region as the first of two US warships were expected to arrive during live-fire drills from the Russian navy.
However, things seem to have changed in the past couple of days after Ukraine's defense minister Andrii Taran on Tuesday warned that Moscow could attack to ensure water supplies for the annexed peninsula, which further raises the tension. Following this, the United States last night cancelled the deployment of the two warships to the Black Sea which had been due to arrive to show support for Ukraine.
The US Embassy in Ankara notified Turkey's foreign ministry of the decision, Turkish diplomatic sources said on Wednesday, but did not provide a reason for why they were no longer sending their ships.
Moreover, Russia's latest stance further heightened concerns among defense experts after giant robots appeared in the pro-Russian city of Donetsk. These giant robots are believed to be the work of a local artist but the intent remains unclear.
On Wednesday, Russian state TV showed two missile ships, the Graivoron and the Vyshny Volochek, taking part in sea-level and aerial target practice alongside a missile hovercraft, a frigate and a mine-sweeping ship. The Graivoron and Vyshny Volochek are Buyan-M class missile corvettes and are armed with 100mm naval guns, anti-ship cruise missile launchers, anti-air cruise missile launchers and anti-submarine hardware. Understandably, Russia doesn't want any US intervention in the Black Sea and this exercise is another signal for that.
Besides, 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. The parade, which is now in its 76th year, is held in remembrance of the 20 million Soviet lives lost during the Second World War.