According to reports, Russia moved its elite paratroopers closer to Ukraine’s border for the first time amid concerns about a military operation to seize capital Kyiv.
A train carrying the crack troops with their equipment was spotted heading west towards the potential warzone. It is believed to be the 217th Guards Parachute Regiment (98th Airborne Division).
The deployment was seen passing through Russia’s Bryansk region which borders both Ukraine and Belarus, as shown in a video posted on TikTok.
Respected independent Russian researchers, the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), have identified that the tarpaulin-covered armored vehicles seen in the video are BMD-4M combat vehicles and BTR–MDM airborne armoured personnel carrier.
“The train includes five passenger carriages, which can carry more than 250 people,”CIT.
It was also loaded with eight shortened two-axle Kamaz-43501 trucks, as used by Russia’s Airborne Troops.
According to railway records, the train originated at Tekstilny station, Ivanovo, which is near where elite airborne forces are based.
“This is the first confirmed video of paratroopers moving closer to the border with Ukraine,”CIT.
“In any large-scale attack on the territory of Ukraine, the Airborne Forces should play a decisive role.”
They would take action “either in a landing operation to capture strategic objects in the rear or as shock infantry”.
According to the analysis: “The appearance of paratroopers looks all the more ominous because in recent days there has been a continuous build-up of Russian groups in the south of the Bryansk region and in Belarus – in the south of Gomel region, north of Kyiv.”
It was unclear if the paratroopers were heading towards Belarus or a Russian border region.
The Team was referred to “statements by British intelligence about the preparation of an occupying government of pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians, as well as the words of Prime Minister Boris Johnson about a possible ‘blitzkrieg’ attack on Kyiv”.
They warned: “We consider an offensive from the territory of Belarus and/or the Bryansk region in the direction of the Ukrainian capital as at least one of the possible scenarios of Russian actions in Ukraine.”
CIT investigative journalist Ruslan Leviev said recently of Putin’s military buildup: “Russia tried to justify itself, saying these are just exercises…
“But experience shows that exercises can easily turn directly into real military operations.”
This happened as Western arms control inspectors were suddenly banned from Bryansk and Smolensk by Russia this week, despite Moscow declaring it had given the go-ahead in accordance with long-standing international agreements under the auspices Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The visas were denied to a team from NATO member Latvia for the six-day inspection that was based on Covid restrictions. However, Russian state media reported two days later that it was proceeding.
“This refusal is incomprehensible in a situation where Russia is massively concentrating its troops on the Ukrainian border while claiming that it is not planning an invasion,”The Latvian defense ministry said so.
It continued: “Using Covid-19 restrictions as an excuse suggests that Russia has something to hide and that it does not want to reveal the true scope and intentions of its military activities, as required by the OSCE.”
Russia staged drills with its lumbering Yars – or Topol – intercontinental nuclear ballistic missile transporters in the Ivanovo region, as part of exercises by its strategic missile forces.
Elsewhere, in the Rostov region, bordering Ukraine, units of Russia’s 150th mechanised infantry division staged “combat readiness exercises” involving more than 1,000 troops after being moved from the country’s southern military district.
Moscow was also beefing up its already strong military presence in Crimea, annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
It was announced that aircraft from the Southern Military District plus the Black Sea Fleet’s naval aviation will be “redeployed to tactical airfields in Crimea, Krasnodar region, as well as Rostov and Volgograd regions, and will drill, carrying out missile strikes.”
Russia announced that over 6,000 soldiers from the Southern Military District were placed on training alert yesterday as part of the combat readiness test.
Similar “combat readiness training” was carried out by Russian forces in the Transnistrian breakaway region of Moldova, on Ukraine’s western flank.
For over 30 years, thousands upon thousands of Russian troops are stationed in Ukraine. They pose a threat to Ukraine if there is a conflict.
The drills involved about 100 military vehicles. They were used to practice the use camouflage and arranging firing positions. “preparing equipment for marching”.
Video of Su-35S fighters on route to Belarus.
Meanwhile in the Arctic, Russia’s Northern Fleet has started a major exercise “to practice combat actions”In a newly-formed “expeditionary force”.
“Up to 1,200 personnel, about 140 items of combat and special hardware, up to 20 aerial vehicles, and at least 30 ships, submarines, and auxiliary vessels are to be involved in the exercise,”Statement.
According to the fleet the war games will be held mainly in Barents Sea.
“Tactical groups of ships and vessels and units of coastal troops will test cohesion in carrying out joint training missions in the Arctic and practice tactical naval engagement manoeuvres and methods,”Statement.
Russia attacked the West for sending its military equipment. “countless”Ukraine advisors
“Cultivating Russophobia among its citizens and like-minded states, talking about the accumulation of Russian troops as almost the root cause of all problems, [the US] forgets to clarify that the talk is about Russian forces on Russian territory,” said Moscow’s mission to the UN.
“This is in contrast to American and NATO weaponry and countless advisers that have flooded Ukraine and some other states close to the Russian borders.
“There is also no explanation for what the American navy, increasing tension in the Black Sea region, is doing near the Russian coast.”
Despite a two-week surge of forces and equipment arriving in Belarus and regions close to Ukraine, in addition to 100,000-plus troops already in place, the Kremlin denies aggressive or provocative intent.