A pontoon bridge built across a key river in Belarus less than four miles from the Ukrainian border has been removed, according to new satellite images and sources familiar with the matter.
Western intelligence and military officials had closely tracked the bridge construction as part of the support infrastructure Russia is putting in place in advance of a potential invasion, three sources familiar with the matter previously told CNN.
Satellite images from Maxar and Planet Labs showed the appearance of the tactical bridge virtually overnight on Tuesday.
But by Thursday, the bridge was already gone.
It was not immediately clear why it had been constructed or removed. It’s possible that the bridge was used as part of what Russia has claimed are merely exercises inside Belarus, its closest international ally in the standoff on Ukraine border. It’s also possible that Russian or Belarusian forces deployed there — forces that Western officials assess could be used to invade Ukraine from the north — already moved materiel across and no longer needed it.
According to Western intelligence assessments, Russian President Vladimir Putin is positioned to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine at any time — although the U.S. still does not believe he has made a decision yet.