Russian forces gathering at the Ukrainian border have smeared attack vehicles with threatening “invasion strips”, adding to fears of a widespread outbreak of war.
The Daily Mirror can also show exclusively that Russia will soon have an astonishing attack force of 107,000 soldiers on the Ukrainian border.
It’s far more than previously thought and appears in documents leaked to the mirror containing shocking details about Russian firepower.
Ukrainian military estimates of the advancing forces include 1,300 main battle tanks, 3,700 drones, 1,300 artillery and mortar units, and 380 multi-launch missile systems.
The shocking number of troops alone represents at least 35,000 more Russian frontline troops than the entire British army after defensive cuts.
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Yesterday in Astrakhan, 350 miles from the front, Russian BTR 80 armored vehicles with invasion strips were spotted in a convoy to the station.
The appearance of these markings has raised alarms among military experts who have drawn attention to similar stripes on tanks used by the Soviet Army during the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. The stripes help to identify vehicles to friendly forces.
In 2014, after the liberal Maidan revolution in Ukraine, Putin became nervous in Europe and NATO would soon be on Russia’s doorstep.
His GRU frightens armed pro-Russian separatists in areas of eastern Ukraine and triggers guerrilla war. Russia also annexed Crimea overnight.
Bitter fighting in eastern Ukraine has killed 14,000 people in six years, and it is possible that Putin believes it is time to attack large parts of Ukraine and place it under the rule of the Kremlin.
How does Russia justify the construction?
Russia’s ongoing military actions in eastern Ukraine play a role in the narrative that it is protecting pro-Russian civilians in the region who feared GRU ghosts warning of “Nazi Europe” return in a relapse into World War II .
While this clearly looks like an invading force, Putin could use the excuse of onslaught to protect his people while his troops are supposed to “train”.
What does Putin think?
There are several theories as to why Putin is behaving this way – including the fact that he was secretly ill and needs to reassert his position as Russia’s strong man.
He occasionally disappears from the public eye and occasionally has a very chubby face, as if he had received long-term treatment. He is in his 70s and is keen to build Russia to its former glory in the USSR. Putin is also paranoid if Ukraine one day gains NATO membership, which means the Alliance is on his doorstep. He would also like to take over Ukraine or large parts of it and act as a strong man in Russia to improve the weak domestic ratings.
Perhaps Putin believes the time has come for action against Ukraine – in disarray with Europe over the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.
His military doctrine is about putting pressure on other countries and disrupting them domestically to make them appear weak while constantly letting their resolve rest. It could also be a test of the new US President Joe Biden’s willingness to challenge Russia.
Could NATO and Great Britain get involved?
Although Ukraine is not a NATO member, it is an ally of the US and the UK.
British and US armed forces have contributed to the training of the Ukrainian armed forces in recent years, and the British Parachute Regiment – as Der Spiegel testifies – practiced jumping into Ukraine with local troops last year.
British forces are in the country to monitor the situation and the RAF has sent typhoon fighter planes to Romania to bolster the region. Two US warships are heading for the Black Sea, and Russia has warned America to stay away. This is a tense situation for the UK.
Defense Ministry sources say there are many meetings taking place on how to deal with the situation if Putin invades. It is unlikely to cross the threshold NATO would drag into war, but that depends on what red lines countries like Britain would impose.
If it does not “march in” beyond the front, our troops could be sent to help Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
What could happen next
At some point on the front lines there is likely to be a bigger than usual flare-up, which will almost certainly be triggered by Russia
This will be the precursor to a major escalation and possible invasion pervertedly justified by Moscow as a necessary mission to protect the Russian people from Ukraine. Experts believe that if this happens, Putin will command his troops, but it is possible that there will be restrictions.
Anything is possible, of course, but when soldiers and civilians die, Putin will pay close attention to America’s reaction.
It is likely that he would stop after taking parts of the territory just before he warranted U.S. intervention.
But a total war cannot be ruled out.