Russian forces on the move; US accelerates Afghan peace efforts; A spate of POTUS interviews; Why Vermont’s ANG chief lost his job; and a bit more... - Defense One Ukraine: Russian forces massing along our border. Some 500 attack planes, 340 combat helicopters, and 25 “battalion-tactical groups” have appeared at nearby bases, Vadym Skibitsky, a spokesman for the Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, said Tuesday. (h/t @TetySt.) Skibitsky spoke amid tensions after Russia seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews on Sunday.
Russia says it’s sending more S-400s to Crimea. Moscow will add a fourth battery of the advanced anti-aircraft missiles to the Black Sea by year’s end, state-run media announced Tuesday.
Truck-mounted anti-ship missiles may also be taking station near the Kerch Strait, where the seizures took place. Watch purported video of that, via Russia’s RIA Novosti, here.
What else is the Russia military doing? The public has less information about that than usual, thanks to a clampdown on social media, according to Petri Mäkelä: “It is noticeable that Russian social media is not showing any troop movements. Also imagery from the conscripts and kontraktniks has dried up in the past 7 days. Control has been tightened considerably for the first time in past five years.”
The bigger picture, take one: Moscow doesn’t want a war with Ukraine — it just wants to choke off parts of its economy, undermine its government, and set the stage for the return of a pro-Russia leader, according to a Tuesday analysis from a Chatham House fellow. Bloomberg, limning: “By limiting access to the Sea of Azov — to which the two one-time Soviet allies have equal access under a bilateral agreement — Russia knows it can disrupt sea shipments of metals and agricultural goods that travel through Ukraine. Those industries are Ukraine’s two biggest export earners.”