World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia's army is massing troops and hundreds of pieces of weaponry including mobile rocket launchers, tanks and artillery at a makeshift base near the border with Ukraine, a Reuters reporter saw this week.
Many of the vehicles have number plates and identifying marks removed while many of the servicemen had taken insignia off their fatigues. As such, they match the appearance of some of the forces spotted in eastern Ukraine, which Kiev and its Western allies allege are covert Russian detachments.
The scene at the base on the Kuzminsky firing range, around 50 km (30 miles) from the border, offers some of the clearest evidence to date of what appeared to be a concerted Russian military build-up in the area.
Earlier this month, NATO military commander General Philip Breedlove said he believed the s were taking advantage of a ceasefire that came into force in February to re-arm and prepare for a new offensive. However, he gave no specifics.
Russia denies that its military is involved in the conflict in Ukraine's east, where Moscow-backed s have been fighting forces loyal to the pro-Western government in Kiev.
Russia's defense ministry said it had no immediate comment about the build-up. Several soldiers said they had been sent to the base for simple military exercises, suggesting their presence was unconnected to the situation in Ukraine.
Asked by Reuters if large numbers of unmarked weaponry and troops without insignia at the border indicated that Russia planned to invade Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a conference call with reporters:
"I find the wording of this question, 'if an invasion is being prepared', inappropriate as such."
The weapons being delivered there included Uragan multiple rocket launchers, tanks and self-propelled howitzers -- all weapon types that have been used in the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Kiev's forces and s.
The amount of military hardware at the base was about three times greater than in March this year, when Reuters journalists were previously in the area. At that time, only a few dozen pieces of equipment were in view.
Over the course of fours days starting on Saturday, Reuters saw four goods trains with military vehicles and troops arriving at a rail station in the Rostov region of southern Russia, with at least two trainloads traveling on by road to the base.
A large section of dirt road leading across the steppe from the Kuzminsky range to the Ukrainian border had been freshly repaired, making it more passable for heavy vehicles.
The road leads to a quiet border crossing typically only used by local residents. On the other side is Ukraine's Luhansk region, which is controlled by s and has been the scene of intense fighting.
Trump, in a tweet, did not identify Holt by name but Utah Senator Orrin Hatch confirmed that the Utah resident had been freed.
Platini was banned from all football-related activities, later reduced on appeal to four years, by FIFA following a $2 million payment he received from the body in 2011 for work he did a decade earlier, with no contract to show for the deal.
The airstrike was believed to have been carried out by a U.S.-led coalition warplane
Video shows desecration with bacon, ‘bodily fluids’
South Korea's presidential office celebrates possible resurrection of Trump-Kim summit
For 9th Friday in row, Palestinians demonstrate near Gaza-Israel security fence despite risk of violent Israeli response
Baghdad says strikes are pre-approved by regime in Damascus
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a lawsuit on Tuesday claiming Anchorage Correctional Complex had violated constitutional prohibitions against "cruel and unusual punishment."
Turkmen, Arabs in oil-rich Kirkuk say results of May 12 parliamentary poll were manipulated, demand recount
Use of electronic voting machines in Iraq’s May 12 polls has led to allegations of electoral fraud
Mahmoud Abbas last year reduced salaries of 60,000 Gaza-based Palestinian Authority employees
'This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history,' Trump writes in letter
'Nikki Haley, the blood is on your hands!', one student shouted during her speech at a Texas university
Israel's West Bank settlements are illegal under international law and are bitterly opposed by Palestinians.