NATO Recon Shows 40,000 Russian Troops, Hardware on Ukraine
NATO has released satellite photographs showing what it says are 40,000 Russian troops massed near the Ukraine border, along with tanks, aircraft and other hardware said to be awaiting orders from Moscow.
The imagery, released to news outlets Wednesday, follows repeated Russian assurances that the deployment is no cause for international alarm.
That satellite intelligence comes as the government in Kyiv seeks to defuse tensions in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian protesters seized control of government buildings earlier this week and issued demands for a vote on joining the Russian Federation.
However, several surveys, including a poll released Wednesday, have found that residents of the key eastern city of Donetsk overwhelmingly oppose any move to join Russia. That survey, conducted March 26-29 in conjunction with Donetsk National University, showed less than 27 percent of city residents supporting the building seizures, and only 4 percent wanting to separate from Ukraine.
A poll conducted by the Gallup organization in conjunction with the International Republican Institute found just 4 percent of respondents favoring secession. That survey was released April 5.
The White House says President Barack Obama conferred with German Chancellor Angela Merkel by phone Thursday, and that both leaders again called on Moscow to pull back its troops from the border regions.
Australia Confident Sounds are from Missing Malaysian Jet
Australian authorities say they are confident that underwater signals detected in the search for missing the Malaysian jetliner are from the airplane's black box recorders.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters in Shanghai Friday that search crews looking for the plane have narrowed down that patch of Indian Ocean where they are searching for the sounds.
Mr. Abbott briefed Chinese President Xi Jinping on the status of the search. Some two-thirds of the passengers onboard the flight were Chinese.
Pings consistent with a flight data recorder have been detected by an Australian ship that is using a U.S. naval device to detect black boxes.
Time is running out for authorities to locate the origin of the signals, since the batteries on the black box's locator beacon are set to run out after about 30 days.
The Malaysia Airlines jet, which was carrying 239 people, disappeared on March 8 while traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Malaysian authorities believe the plane was deliberately diverted and crashed into the sea. But without wreckage, many are skeptical.
If authorities can locate more pings, they plan to deploy a robot submarine to search the ocean floor.
Once the black box is retrieved, authorities will be able to determine what happened to the plane. Its fate has become one of the most puzzling mysteries in aviation history.