Chilling satellite images show new Russian military camp in Crimea, escalating fears of war with Ukraine

Der Spiegel has obtained satellite images of what is believed to be a Russian military camp in east Crimea.
Der Spiegel has obtained satellite images of what is believed to be a Russian military camp in east Crimea. Photo credit: Planet Labs, Inc via Der Spiegel

Russia has reportedly established a new military camp in Crimea as tensions with Ukraine continue to escalate, according to German media.

Moscow has deployed thousands of troops to the eastern border of Ukraine and into Crimea, a peninsula located in Eastern Europe, in response to increasing hostilities between Russian-backed separatists and Kyiv's military, according to reports.

German newspaper Der Spiegel obtained images from Planet Labs,, a private Earth imaging company, showing a new makeshift Russian military camp in the east of the peninsula. 

According to the outlet, the sizable camp is located roughly 280 kilometres by road from Ukrainian territories.

In a tweet on Sunday (local time), the Moscow-based Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) - a team of researchers specialising in investigating the Russian military - said it believes the satellite imagery shows elements of Russia's 58th Army.

"As we and other researchers have noted, units from the 58th Army (known for the 2008 Russia-Georgia war) have been arriving to Crimea, including the 291st Artillery and the 136th Motorized brigades," the CIT said. 

However, it noted the images do not appear to show heavy vehicles such as tanks or self-propelled howitzers, which were also seen to be transferred to Crimea. 

"This suggests the 58th Army might have more camps in the peninsula."

The area was reportedly empty on March 15, with vehicles and structures gradually being introduced over the following weeks. 

Speaking to Der Spiegel, Ruslan Leviev, an open source analyst with the CIT, said the relocation of troops to Crimea is a display of power by Russia, warning of the "greatest concentration of Russian armed forces since 2014 and 2015" near the Ukrainian border.

Last week, Moscow built another provisional base near the metropolis of the city of Voronezh in southwest Russia. According to the CIT, the Crimea "camp(s)" and the Voronezh base appear to be "the main staging areas" of Russian forces located near the Ukrainain border.

The discovery follows Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu's admission that the country is mobilising troops at Ukraine's border.

However, Shoigu insisted the military buildup is in response to threats from NATO, an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. According to Shoigu, the United States and its NATO allies have been continually building their forces near Russia's borders.

NATO has demanded Russia call off the "largest massing of Russian troops since the annexation of Crimea" in 2014, with the UK set to send warships to the Black Sea in May to show solidarity with NATO and Ukraine.