The Pentagon has identified eight staging areas in Russia where large numbers of military forces appear to be preparing for incursions into Ukraine, according to U.S. defense officials.
As many as 40,000 Russian troops, including tanks, armored vehicles, and air force units, are now arrayed along Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia.
Additionally, large numbers of Russian military forces will conduct exercises in the coming days that Pentagon officials say could be used as cover for an attack on Ukraine.
“Russian units will likely practice reinforcing the [Crimean] peninsula through such activities as amphibious landings and air defense exercises, and this may involve the change out of equipment and long convoys of military vehicles,” one defense official said.
If I was in charge of Russia with its limited military, I'd take Kharkov and points south to pinch off the Ukrainian salient north of Russian-occupied Donbas, while pushing west to take Mariupol and other key territory to consolidate Russia's hold there.
UPDATE: This author has a point that Crimea is the starting link for Russian operations in the eastern Mediterranean--including Syria.
So perhaps the Russians are preparing to renew their efforts in Syria to deal with the Aleppo front and perhaps exploit our successes against ISIL in Syria in order to make gains in that direction, too.
Still, I'm not comforted by our people saying they see no indication of Russian preparations designed to move on Ukraine. Our people missed the initial invasion of Crimea, too.