Russia Moving Missiles, Rockets Toward Eastern Ukraine

NATO commander: Deployment of western “rotational forces” needed in Poland, Romania, the Baltics

Russia is sending additional military forces toward the border with eastern Ukraine, including units equipped with ballistic missiles, as part of Moscow’s ongoing destabilization effort in support of pro-Russian rebels.

U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports said one Russian military unit equipped with short-range ballistic missiles was detected this week near eastern Ukraine, where Russia has launched a destabilization program following its military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in March.

The military movements coincided with the an unusual number of flights last week by Russian strategic nuclear bombers and aircraft along Europe’s northern coasts in a what NATO’s military commander called strategic “messaging” toward the West.

“My opinion is that they’re messaging us,” Gen. Phillip Breedlove, the commander, told reporters at the Pentagon this week. “They’re messaging us that they are a great power and that they have the ability to exert these kinds of influences in our thinking.”

The bomber flights included three days of paired Tu-95 bomber flights that were to have circumnavigated Europe from the north but instead were halted near Portugal.

U.S. officials said Russia deployed several Il-78 refueling tankers in Egypt that were to resupply the bombers during flights over the Mediterranean, but those flights were scrapped for unknown reasons.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed concerns about Russian military moves in Ukraine during remarks to reporters Tuesday in Brussels.

“Recently we are also seeing Russian troops moving closer to the border with Ukraine, and Russia continues to support the separatists by training them, by providing equipment, and supporting them also by having special forces, Russian special forces, inside the eastern parts of Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.

The missile systems being deployed were described as conventionally armed, short-range ballistic missiles, multiple launch rocket systems, and BM-21 Grad multiple rocker launchers.

Additionally, Russian military forces are moving towed artillery pieces closer to the border.

The Russian “Spetsnaz” or special forces commandos are already inside the country, but the ground forces as of Wednesday appeared to be staging at the border.

Full article: Russia Moving Missiles, Rockets Toward Eastern Ukraine (Washington Free Beacon)

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