The Washington Post

Russia said it moved its troops away from Ukraine. Satellite images seem to say otherwise.

Earlier this week there was a rare sign of rapprochement in Ukraine's ongoing crisis, with Russian President Vladimir Putin suggesting his country's military had pulled back from its troubled neighbor's borders.

"We were told repeatedly that our forces by the Ukrainian border were a source of concern," Putin said on Wednesday. "We have withdrawn our forces and they are now not on the Ukrainian border but are carrying out their regular exercises at the test grounds."

The announcement was welcomed: The sheer scale of Russian troops on the borders had been a real cause of concern. But some United States officials were quick to voice skepticism. “To date, there has been no evidence that such a withdrawal has taken place," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Now on Friday, the United States Mission to NATO has taken to Twitter to show new satellite images that it claims are proof Putin is lying:

For more context, we've mapped the location of the image below:

(Gene Thorp / The Washington Post)
(Gene Thorp / The Washington Post)

Last month, NATO had shared satellite images from this area that appeared to show troop build up: A separate analysis from the Royal United Services Institute implies that the units now stationed there were from the 205th Motor Rifle Brigade, normally based just outside of Chechnya. As we noted at the time, this area is far from urban centers and military bases and doesn't appear to have previously been used by the Russian military. The distance from this location to Donetsk is just 80 miles.

Of course, the last time that satellite imagery was released by NATO, Russia dismissed it by saying they were taken from last year. We'll have to wait and see if they have a similar response this time, or whether NATO publishes any more images from different locations.

Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.



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