Satellite pictures near the Ukraine border show Russian forces gathering in southern Belarus, as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warns a "full-scale invasion" is likely to occur within the next 24 hours.
The aerial images from Maxar Technologies show new troop and equipment deployment with more than 100 vehicles at a small airfield in southern Belarus, which borders Ukraine.
According to US estimates, there are more than 150,000 Russian troops near Ukraine's borders, ordered there by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has also ordered soldiers into the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions to "keep the peace".
One of the images shows forces and vehicles in Belarus, north of the border with Ukraine.
The images come days after Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly gave troops the green light to launch a “full-scale assault” on Ukraine.
A US official told The Associated Press intelligence suggested Russian front-line commanders have been given orders to begin final preparations for an attack
On Sunday Russia rescinded earlier pledges to pull tens of thousands of troops away from the border after claiming they were there for military exercises. Roughly 30,000 Russian forces are also in Belarus, north of Ukraine.
Australia responds by imposing sanctions
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced immediate sanctions on Russia on Wednesday, joining the US, UK, the EU and Canada in pushing back against Russia's aggression towards Ukraine.
Mr Morrison said Russia is at "peak readiness" to complete a "full-scale invasion", which is likely to occur within the next 24 hours.
“And there are even reports already of shelling and things of that nature, which could indicate that it has already begun,’’ he said.
The Prime Minister said Australia will be joining the US, UK, the EU and Canada in pushing back against Russia's aggression towards Ukraine.
"They're behaving like thugs and bullies, and they should be called out as thugs and bullies," Mr Morrison said.
"Australians always stand up to bullies and we will be standing up to Russia."
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