Amid escalating border tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the latest satellite images showed details of military maneuvres at the Belarus border with Ukraine ahead of joint drills announced by Moscow and Minsk.
The satellite images are published by a private US company on Sunday (February 6). NATO has called it the biggest deployment to Belarus since the Cold War.
Joint exercises by Russia and Belarus
Russia and Belarus have said they will hold joint exercises called Union Resolve 2022 on February 10-20.
The aim is to repel an attack on the southern borders of their alliance as the planned exercises are taking place at a time when tensions are high between Russia and the West.
The images by Maxar Technologies showed that military units armed with missiles, multiple rocket launchers and attack aircrafts had deployed to Belarus at three locations close to the border with Ukraine. However, there's no official statement to confirm the images.
As per Maxar Technologies, the images are of military hardware near Yelsk, Rechitsa and Luninets on February 4. All locations are within around 50 kilometres of the Ukrainian border.
S-400 air defence system, SS26 Iskander missiles
Satellite images showed what Maxar Technologies identified as 15 Su-25 ground attack aircraft and S-400 air defence system at Luninets airfield, as well as SS26 Iskander missiles and multiple rocket launchers near Yelsk.
Russian Defence Minister visited firing range
The Russian defence ministry said on Saturday that it had sent S-400 missile systems and Su-25 warplanes to take part in the drills.
Ahead of the exercises, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited a firing range in western Belarus on Thursday.
NATO on Russian maneuvres in Belarus
Reports have suggested and also satellite images show that Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near the border. Moscow has said it is not planning an invasion.
Russia said it could take unspecified military action if its security demands are not met. Those include a promise that NATO will never admit Ukraine, a demand the United States and the 30-nation Western security alliance have called unacceptable.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg last week called the Russian maneuvres in Belarus the biggest Russian deployment in the area since the Cold War and added that nuclear-capable Iskander missiles were a part of it.