The issue of a Russian military presence in Ukraine continues to buzz in international media outlets. The US administration and others have still refused to use the term “invasion” in reference to Russian actions in Ukraine, but it is widely believed that Russian regular military personnel and hardware have been active inside Ukrainian borders for several months. The threat appears to be building as winter approaches. Here is an excerpt from Shane Harris, writing in The Daily Beast webzine:
On Tuesday, the [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europea or OSCE] witnessed a convoy of 43 unmarked green military trucks with tarpaulin covers moving towards Donetsk. Five of the trucks were towing 120mm howitzer artillery pieces, and another five were towing partly-covered multi-launch rocket systems, the group said. That comes on the heels of a report last week of “convoys of heavy weapons and tanks” moving into the city, reportedly belonging to the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, a Russian-backed separatist group. The convoy included more than 40 tankers and trucks–19 of those were each towing a 122mm howitzer.
And according to an independent assessment provided to The Daily Beast, there are as many as 7,000 Russian troops inside Ukraine now, and between 40,000 and 50,000 amassing on the country’s eastern border.
Phillip Karber, a former Pentagon strategy adviser who has worked closely with the Ukrainian government, said in an interview that he had just returned from Ukraine, where he spoke with commanders at the front. Karber said that in addition to the thousands of ground troops, as many as 100 tanks are inside Ukraine now, more than 400 armored vehicles, and more than 150 self-propelled artillery and multiple rocket launchers. Another 350 to 400 tanks are poised along the border, along with more than 1,000 armored vehicles and 800 self-propelled artillery, Karber said.
As many as 7,000 Russian troops are already in Ukraine, by his estimate.