The photos of tanks, artillery battalions, and infantry brigades near Novocherkassk -- just 50 kilometers from the Ukrainian border -- show Russia's preparation for a potential invasion, says Igor Sutyagin, a research fellow for Russian studies at RUSI, a defense and security think tank.
Sutyagin says the recent build-up of these jets in what appear to be sparsely resourced air fields doesn't make much sense from a strategic standpoint.
"The planes seem to be more about parade than about preparation," he says. "Firstly, they're designed to fly hundreds of kilometers anyway, so moving them another 90 kilometers closer to the border won't make much difference."
He added: "If the Russians do not have installations to service the planes, or utilize weapons storages, and if they're far from their permanent bases where their rear-support units are concentrated, they cannot be operationally effective for an invasion."