End of Game? Russia sends warships through English Channel and more Iskander missiles to Ukrainian border

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KEY POINTS

  • The ships are monitored by the Belgian, British and French navies
  • More Iskander missiles are moved to the Ukrainian border
  • Russian troops are in Belarus, a key Russian ally and neighbor of Ukraine

Russia has stoked fears of an invasion of Ukraine as six amphibious warfare vessels crossing the English Channel appeared to be on their way to the Black Sea bordering the eastern European country.

Ropucha-class landing craft belonging to Russia’s Baltic and Northern Fleets are on a possible voyage to the Mediterranean and possibly the Black Sea, reported The reader.

Landing craft that can offload troops, vehicles and other equipment directly onto the beach via clamshell front doors pose an increased risk to Ukraine, already reeling from Russian activity on its borders with the Russia and Belarus.

The Northern Fleet ships – Project 775 Olenegorskiy Gornyak and Georgiy Pobedonosets and Project 11711 Ivan Gren Class Pyotr Morgunov – left the Kalingrad base on January 18, after the Korolevs, Minsks and Kaliningrads of the Baltic Fleet.

The presence of Northern Fleet ships in the Baltic Sea itself was a cause for alarm for Sweden, calling it “very irregular”. Sweden had sent additional troops to its island of Gotland in light of threatening visitors from the Arctic.

The ships were followed by Dutch, Belgian and British warships throughout the voyage. France also sent a warship to monitor the progress of Russian ships.

Meanwhile, the Russian-Ukrainian border appears to be witnessing a lot of activity after the Kremlin began moving more Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile systems towards the border.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, there are now 36 Iskander launchers near the border, reported The reader.

The Ukrainian capital Kyiv and many critical military targets are currently within range of these missiles. Ukraine has warned that Russia has “almost completed” its construction and that an invasion could happen at any moment.

The latest intelligence assessment by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense available with the CNN said Russia has now deployed more than 127,000 troops to the region. The Ukrainian military believes that Russia could use the Iskanders to “destroy vital objects”, noting that “additional operational and tactical missile battle groups ‘Iskander'” have been transferred to the border.

The assessment also warned of the potential frontline in Belarus now that Russia has moved troops into Belarus. “The territory of Belarus should be considered a full-fledged theater of operations that Russia can use to expand aggression against Ukraine,” the document said.

The West says Moscow has massed about 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, ahead of a possible winter invasion Photo: AFP / Sergei SUPINSKY

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