KEY POINTS

  • The vessels are being monitored by Belgian, British and French Navies 
  • More Iskander missiles are being moved to the Ukrainian border 
  • Russian troops are in Belarus, a key Russian ally and neighbor of Ukraine 

Russia stoked fears of a Ukraine invasion as six amphibious warfare vessels coursing through the English Channel seemed to be on their way to the Black Sea bordering the east european country. 

The Ropucha class landing craft belonging to Russia's Baltic and Northern fleets are on a possible voyage to the Mediterranean and eventually to the Black Sea, reported The Drive. 

The landing craft that can unload troops, vehicles and other equipment directly onto the beach via clamshell bow doors pose a heightened risk to Ukraine, already reeling under Russian activity on its borders with Russia and Belarus. 

The Northern Fleet vessels - Project 775 Olenegorskiy Gornyak and Georgiy Pobedonosets and Project 11711 Ivan Gren class Pyotr Morgunov - set sail from the Kalingrad base on Jan. 18, following the the Korolev, Minsk, and Kaliningrad of the Baltic Fleet.

The presence of the Northern Fleet vessels in the Baltic Sea itself was a cause of alarm with Sweden, calling it “highly irregular.” Sweden had sent extra troops to its Gotland island in light of the menacing visitors from the Arctic.

The vessels were shadowed by Dutch, Belgian and British naval ships throughout the journey. France too has sent a warship to monitor the progress of the Russian ships. 

Meanwhile, the Russia-Ukraine border seems to be witnessing much activity after Kremlin began moving more Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile systems to the border.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, there are now 36 Iskander launchers close to the frontier, reported The Drive.

Ukrainian capital Kyiv and many critical military targets are currently within the range of these missiles. Ukraine has warned that Russia has  "almost completed" its build-up and an invasion can happen anytime. 

The latest intelligence assessment by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry available with the  CNN  said Russia has now deployed more than 127,000 troops in the region. The Ukrainian military believes Russia could use Iskanders to "destroy vital objects," noting "additional tactical groups of 'Iskander' operational-tactical missiles" have been transferred to the border. 

The assessment also warned about the potential front line in Belarus, now that Russia has moved troops into Belarus. "The territory of Belarus should be considered as a full-fledged theater of operations that Russia can use to expand aggression against Ukraine," the document said. 

The West says Moscow has massed around 100,000 forces on the border with Ukraine, ahead of a possible winter invasion The West says Moscow has massed around 100,000 forces on the border with Ukraine, ahead of a possible winter invasion Photo: AFP / Sergei SUPINSKY