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US intelligence officials and satellite photos detail Russian military buildup on Crimea

[img]https://img.112.international/original/2019/06/11/283264.PNG">
S-400 "Triumph" surface-to-air missile system
Reuters
Russia has added troops, aircraft, and weapons to Ukraines Crimean peninsula in what amounts to a significant buildup of forces over the past 18 months, according toU.S.intelligence officials, observers, and new satellite photos that reveal the locations of new S-400 air defense systems and improvements to Soviet-erabases.

Those officials and observers of the region say the additional firepower gives Moscow greater defensive control over the Black Sea and puts offensive fighters and ships closer to the MiddleEast.
The photos, taken between January 2018 and April 2019 by private satellite imaging companyPlanet Labsand provided toDefense One, show five S-400 batteries, five S-300 air-defense systems, and fighter jets at four locations. They also show improvements to Soviet-era militaryinstallations.
In recent interviews, twoU.S.intelligence officials authorized to speak only on background detailed Russias recent activity on Crimea. One said that it is the assessment of their agency that Russia was engineering a deliberate and systematic buildup of their forces on the peninsula. Both declined to confirm or deny what the Planet Labs photos purport toshow.
Observers said the development likely means that Moscow has no near-term intention of returning the Ukrainian territory it seized in 2014, which the United States has said is required before it will resume normalizedrelations.
Instead, that buildup suggests that Russia is interested in being able to exercise more control over the Black Sea, which then affords them the ability to project power beyond their immediate environment, said Sarah Bidgood, the director of theEurasia Nonproliferation Programat Middlebury Colleges James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. This is a significant buildup.NATOis going to be under increasing pressure from allies in the region to show that its able to push back against Russian attempts to gain greater control of the Black Sea. To me, thats a really dangerousenvironment.
Western leaders are concerned Russia is positioning its military to be able to shut down the sea lane into the Mediterranean, a key supply route for its Syria operations. SomeU.S.lawmakers have called for a greater Western military presence to counter thatpossibility.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., speaking at theGLOBSECsecurity forum in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Saturdaysaid Ive called for a multinational freedom of navigation operation in the Black Sea to show, when Russia aggressively is using military action, makes incursions into the West, [and] does not abide by its own commitments, in terms of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, [that] we need to respond military as well not with kinetic military action, but with a very strong show of strength andresolve.
TheBuildup
Since 2014, Russia has added an airborne battalion to the naval infantry brigade that has guarded Crimea since the 1990s, doubling the total force there to an estimated 30,000 troops. Moscow plans to add another 13,000 within four years, said the firstU.S.intelligenceofficial.
The Russian military now has 81 airplanes and helicopters in Crimea. The combat radius covers all Ukraine and beyond the Black Sea. It significantly increases their strike options, potentially extending to the Middle East, the officialsaid.
Russias Black Sea Fleet recently added 10 warships that can launch the Kalibr cruise missile: six-diesel electricKilo-class attack submarinesand four surface ships, the official said. Thecurrent versionsof the Kalibr can hit targets up to 1,500 miles away; and Russia claims to be working on anew variantwith a range of 2,800miles.
The secondU.S.intelligence official said the Kalibrs will allow the fleet to strike targets beyond the Black Sea, including southern Europe and Syria, without even departingSevastopol.
In November, Russian officialsannouncedthey would be moving a fourth S-400 battery into Crimea. But Planet Labs photos show five S-400 batteries: one apiece near Kerch,Feodosia,Sevastopol(heres acloseup),Dzhankoi, andYevpatoriya. A Planet Labs graphicprovided toDefense Onelast week shows the location of the S-400s, whose range would cover much of coastal Ukraine and the BlackSea.
[img]https://img.112.international/original/2019/06/14/283336.png[/img]

Planet Labs photos show five S-400 batteries
Planet Labs

US intelligence officials and satellite photos detail Russian military buildup on Crimea

A Planet Labs chart shows the locations of Russias air-defense installations on Crimea
Planet Labs

US intelligence officials and satellite photos detail Russian military buildup on Crimea

A Planet Labs chart shows the locations of Russias air-defense installations on Crimea
Planet Labs

US intelligence officials and satellite photos detail Russian military buildup on Crimea

A Planet Labs chart shows the locations of Russias air-defense installations on Crimea
Planet Labs

US intelligence officials and satellite photos detail Russian military buildup on Crimea

A Planet Labs chart shows the locations of Russias air-defense installations on Crimea
Planet Labs

US intelligence officials and satellite photos detail Russian military buildup on Crimea

A Planet Labs chart shows the locations of Russias air-defense installations on Crimea
Planet Labs

S-400 missile systems on Crimea is mostly defensive, the firstU.S.intelligence official said, reflecting that Moscow may have a sense of vulnerability about a Ukranian-NATOeffort to retake it byforce.
Russian force modernization focuses mainly on improvements to air and naval and coastal defense forces to create this anti-access area denial zone, as you pointed out with the deployment of the S-400s, the official said. Weve seen the deployments of coastal defense missile batteries. Weve seen the modernization of their air forces and navalforces.
But others, including a second intelligence officer interviewed byDefense One, see the Black Sea Fleet modernization as intended to have effects far beyondCrimea.
The reinvigoration of the Black Sea Fleet is not contained to the Black Sea, the second official said. A lot of the stuff for their operations in Syria was coming out of the Black Sea, so we would see a heightened [operational] tempo as a result for thatAny time it becomes apparent we might strike into Syria as a response for chemical weapons use or something like that, youll see ships coming out of the Black Sea, moving down into theMediterranean.
The idea that Russia uses Crimea to project power was echoed by Ben Hodges, Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European PolicyAnalysis.
the original articlehere.
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