Mons, BELGIUM - Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) defends the accuracy of the images (found below) that were released to media on Thursday, 10 April 2014. The dates of the images released by SHAPE were collected by the DigitalGlobe satellite 'Constellation' between late March and early April 2014. The images are unclassified and are commercially available in DigitalGlobe's public archive. SHAPE did not alter or edit the images in any way prior to release.
Russian officials are quoted in various media sources claiming that these images were from August 2013, and that they depict an exercise conducted at that time.
SHAPE is releasing additional images alongside those that were released earlier, in order to clearly show that the claims of Russian officials are categorically false. These images, also taken from the DigitalGlobe satellite and commercially available, show the same areas of interest prior to any military build-up. The photographs, some dating from 2013, and others from early 2014, show that these areas were unoccupied prior to March 2014. There is no evidence of any military activity in these areas in 2013 or early 2014.
When reviewed alongside images released by SHAPE earlier today, it is clear that the military build-up of forces occurred in early March 2014.
SHAPE stands firm in its assessment that Russian forces in the vicinity of the border with Ukraine number in the range of 35,000 to 40,000 troops and are equipped with infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, combat aircraft, logistics, and artillery. These forces are destabilizing to the region, which is why the North Atlantic Council has repeatedly called upon Russia to de-escalate the situation by withdrawing troops from the border with Ukraine.
Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office