MONS, Belgium - NATO unveiled satellite photographs on Thursday it said showed Russian deployments of some 40,000 troops near the Ukrainian frontier, along with long lines of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and aircraft ready for action.
"This is a force that is very capable, at high readiness, and, as we have illustrated through the imagery, is close to routes and lines of communication," British Brigadier Gary Deakin said at a briefing at NATO military headquarters at Mons in southern Belgium.
"It has the resources to be able to move quickly into Ukraine if it was ordered to do so," he said. If Russian political leaders took a decision to send forces into Ukraine, the first Russian forces could be on the move within 12 hours.
NATO has spotted Russian forces at more than 100 different sites close to the Ukraine border, he said.
The Western alliance displayed the commercial satellite images to reporters as evidence to back up its warnings of a Russian military buildup that could threaten Ukraine.
Russia denies massing forces near the border and accuses NATO of fomenting concern to rally support for the alliance.
Many of the sites in the images appeared to be fields rather than established military bases. The sites were located between about 40 kilometers (25 miles) and 150 kilometers of the Ukraine border, according to the images shown.