New satellite photos show Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine as western nations fear a full invasion of the former Soviet state.
The photos, provided to Global News by American space technology company Maxar, show Russian military equipment, like tanks and artillery, stationed throughout western portions of the country near Ukraine’s borders this week.
Tension has been building between Ukraine and Russia in recent weeks, stoking fears of an armed conflict between the two countries.
Russia has positioned about 100,000 troops across Ukraine’s borders, along with tanks and other heavy artillery. Russia has denied it intends to launch an invasion, but western nations are unconvinced.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden said he expects Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine, but that Russia would pay a “dear price” in lives lost and a possible cutoff from the global banking system if it does.
The Canadian government has also warned Russia it will impose severe sanctions on Russian officials if the country takes further military action to compromise Ukrainian sovereignty.
Meanwhile, Ottawa on Friday announced it will loan Ukraine’s government $120 million to help bolster its economy, which has been crushed in recent weeks due to Russian aggression.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Russia is trying to destabilize Ukraine, and is pushing for Putin to de-escalate and engage in meaningful dialogue.
“We are looking to support the people of Ukraine in the challenges they’re facing against an aggressive Russia that has amassed troops at the borders, that is interfering in Ukrainian political affairs, that is using cyberattacks and propaganda to destabilize Ukraine,” Trudeau said.
“Canada has been and will continue to be a friend and ally of Ukraine, and we will continue to be there to support them and to ensure that Ukrainian people get to determine their futures — not Vladimir Putin.”
Putin has claimed the increased military presence along the Russia-Ukraine border is in response to provocations from the West.
Ottawa’s announcement came on the heels of talks between the United States and Russia on Friday.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Geneva, Switzerland at what the American said was a “critical moment.”
Blinken said Lavrov repeated Russia’s insistence that it doesn’t plan to invade Ukraine, but stressed that the U.S. and its allies were not convinced.
“We didn’t expect any major breakthroughs to happen today, but I believe we are now on a clearer path to understanding each other’s positions,” Blinken told reporters after the meeting Friday.
Lavrov, meanwhile, told reporters he couldn’t say whether diplomacy was on the “right track or not.”
“We will understand that when we receive the U.S. written response to all of our proposals,” he said.
Moscow wants the NATO alliance to promise that Ukraine — a former Soviet republic — will never be allowed to join. It also wants the allies to remove troops and military equipment from parts of eastern Europe.
The U.S., Canada and its NATO allies have rejected those demands and said Putin knows they are non-starters. However, they are open to less dramatic moves.
Ukraine is already beset by conflict after Russia seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backed a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people have died since.
Putin faced limited international consequences for those moves, but the West has said a new invasion would be different.
— with files from The Associated Press