London (CNN)For an army given to masking its moves, surely the worst way to disguise a potential imminent invasion of a country is by overtly preparing for it.
This is the paradox around Russia's visible buildup in its west, not far from the Ukrainian border. Were Moscow trying to reverse the military stalemate around the Donbas separatist region -- that it truncated from Ukraine in 2014 -- would it want to telegraph its moves so blatantly?
Russia's signals are obvious. Relentless social media videos show armored convoys moving towards the general border area. These led to open-source intelligence sleuths @CITeam_en spotting a congregation of likely hundreds of vehicles not far from the Russian city of Voronezh. That is still over 100 miles from Ukraine, but it is a sizeable buildup that was captured on satellite images from the Maxar technology group.
The White House said this week that Russia now has more troops near the Ukraine border than any time since 2014 -- when the peninsula of Crimea was annexed. Further south, military intelligence reports have assessed that some 4,000 heavily armed Russian forces had been seen moving in Crimea, a US defense official told CNN.
Moscow is also talking t