Russia is flexing its military might further with snap war exercises near Ukraine and in Crimea announced on Tuesday, also as its navy conducts pre-planned joint drills much further south with China and Iran in the Arabian Sea.
Russian language news agencies announced that some "6,000 troops and 60 warplanes have been deployed for so-called combat readiness drills stretching across three regions near Ukraine and in Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014."
The massive buildup of 🇷🇺 forces towards 🇺🇦 continues. Here it’s older T72 tanks on their way to the confrontation zone. Eurooe hasn’t seen a concentration of military forces of this magnitude since decades. pic.twitter.com/HipXARtmCB— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) January 24, 2022
Russian fighter jets will also be involved in the large-scale exercises, including squadrons of Su-27SM, Su-30SM2 and Su-34 fighters, which will "refine interaction when performing missile strikes at a maximum distance," the military said.
Additionally, as English-language Moscow Times details:
More than 1,500 Southern Military District soldiers will also maneuver to proving grounds “at a considerable distance from their points of permanent deployment,” according to Interfax.
Separately, the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet said T-72B3 battle tank crews staged shooting drills at a Crimean firing range.
It comes a day after a handful of NATO countries including Spain, Denmark, Lithuania and possibly France began sending limited military assets including jets and frigates toward Eastern Europe. The Biden administration also put 8,500 troops on "prepare to deploy" orders, but has yet to send them East.
However, NATO appears to be rapidly backing off its threatened military "option" and deployments toward Eastern Europe reported Monday...
NATO willing to "sit down and discuss arms control, disarmament, transparency on military activities, risk reduction mechanisms and other issues which are relevant for European security....But we are not ready to compromise on core principles," he says— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 25, 2022
As for the Russian drills in the Black Sea region, which have ramped up to the point of becoming almost regular and routine of late, the US State Department recently said they go "in exactly the opposite direction" of de-escalation. There's further preparations underway for major Russia-Belarus drills previously announced for February.
On Monday and Tuesday Russia's Navy also kicked off joint drills in the Arabian Sea with China and Iran...
However, the Biden administration has for now continued to express hope for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, while also threatening severe sanctions, including the imposition of export controls on Russia, hitting especially its ability to access US chips - which would strain the Russian population's access to common electronics, iPhones, and even cars. Likely in such an unprecedented move, Moscow would begin to rely more heavily on China.
Meanwhile, in the White House press briefing room, we hear bellicose talk of protecting "our" Eastern flank countries...
“Our eastern flank countries” 🤦🏻♂️ https://t.co/Y4SZZgDAx4— Chase Madar (@ChaseMadar) January 25, 2022