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On a Russian base just 100 miles from the border, 15 supersonic strike jets await Putin's orders

Lined up on a runway just 100 miles from Ukraine, 15 supersonic Russian fighter-bombers await their orders from the Kremlin.

This and other satellite images have revealed the aerial power Vladimir Putin has amassed in the tense border region.

Seen for the first time, the pictures show the aircraft which experts fear could spearhead a Russian invasion of its Nato-supporting neighbour.

The 15 Su-34 fighter-bomber aircraft are on the runway at Morozovsk airbase. 

With a top speed of 1,367mph, they are armed with an array of laser-guided missiles and a 30mm autocannon capable of firing 1,800 rounds a minute.

Satellite images show the 15 Su-34 fighter-bomber aircraft that are on the runway at the Morozovsk airbase in Russia

The images have revealed the aerial power that Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed in the tense border region

At least 80,000 Russian troops are thought to be amassed around eastern Ukraine and Crimea as tensions continue to soar

The pictures reveal increased levels of Russian military activity at other bases inside Crimea and near the Ukrainian border including troop deployments, attack helicopters, smoke generators, reconnaissance drones, jamming equipment and a military hospital.

At least 80,000 Russian troops are thought to be amassed around eastern Ukraine and Crimea with a further 30,000 expected to arrive by the end of the month according to Ukrainian government reports seen by the Daily Mail. 

The satellite images emerged yesterday as Russia made further preparations for a possible invasion – with the Kremlin announcing it was closing the airspace over parts of Crimea and the Black Sea and the continuation of combat readiness exercises in the sea involving more than 20 military vessels and aircraft.

Pictures taken by space and technology firm Maxar of the same areas at the end of March did not show the aircraft, proving the Su-34s must have been moved into position since then. 

The Maxar satellites spotted increased levels of Russian activity at 15 locations along the Ukrainian border, more than previously thought.

Experts said last night the deployment of strike aircraft in such immediate range of Ukraine sent a very strong message to its neighbour. 

The Russian fighter-bombers are armed with an array of laser-guided missiles and a 30mm autocannon capable of firing 1,800 rounds a minute. (Stock image)

Earlier this month at least 26 Russian fighter jets were seen sitting on the tarmac at the Saki Airbase in Ukraine

Kirovskoye Airbase, Crimea: At least 13 Russian military helicopters could be seen at the Kirovskoye Airbase in Crimea  on April 14

Satellite images show the Kirovskoye Airbase with Russian military equipment, in Crimea April 14, 2021

Former US Air Force general Philip Breedlove told the Wall Street Journal: 'They have appropriately deployed the various elements of airpower that would be needed to establish air superiority over the battlefield and directly support the ground troops.'

CIA director William Burns told Congress: 'This is something not only the United States but our allies have to take very seriously. The build-up could provide the basis for a limited military incursion.'

Last week President Putin blockaded the strategically important Kerch Strait and Russian warships moved into position to cut off sea access to Ukraine's south-eastern coastline and eastern Crimea.

A leaked Ukrainian memo yesterday claimed that Mr Putin was conducting military exercises in more than a quarter of the Black Sea, a proportion that has inched up over recent weeks as Russia looks to assert de facto control over the waters.

Experts said last night the deployment of strike aircraft in such immediate range of Ukraine sent a very strong message to its neighbour. Pictured: Satellite view of the Pogorovo military training area near Voronezh, Russia on April 10

Foreign and Ukrainian military vessels are now forbidden to sail from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov for the next six months.

The war between the two neighbours is already the bloodiest in Europe since the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. 

At least 14,000 people have been killed since the Russian invasion in 2014 and more than 1.5million forced to leave their homes.

Russia's proposal is for Ukraine to federalise and for the breakaway regions to be granted autonomy. But this is unacceptable to the Ukrainian government and to the UK and US.

In a move which left the White House open to claims it capitulated in the face of Russian aggression, President Joe Biden last week turned around two destroyers bound for the area.

Six hundred UK troops are due to train with Ukrainian soldiers this summer while UK jets have already deployed to the region.

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