Pontoon bridge set up across Pripyat River near border with Ukraine — The Insider

17 February, 02:04 PM
Ukrainian officers pictured during a combat training in Chornobyl Zone on Feb. 4. (Photo:REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

Ukrainian officers pictured during a combat training in Chornobyl Zone on Feb. 4. (Photo:REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

A bridge has been built across the Pripyat River near the abandoned Belarusian village of Vepry, Latvia-based investigative journalism outlet The Insider reported on Feb. 16, citing evidence from satellite images.

According to the outlet, the first signs of activity near ​​the village came on Feb. 10, 2022, near where the Belarusian Ministry of Defense claimed to be conducting joint exercises with the Russian Federation, under the name Union Resolve-2022.

The Belarusian MoD claimed that the two militaries trained "the withdrawal and occupation of defensive lines and the crossing of a water barrier (the Pripyat River)".

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The Insider reports that the bridge significantly reduces the distance from the Belarusian village of Yampol, where a military base is located, to the border with Ukraine, cutting it from 167 km to 96 km. Prior to that, the 5th Guards Tank and the 37th Guards Rifle divisions from the Republic of Buryatia in eastern Siberia were seen near the village.

The Insider
Фото: The Insider

The pontoon bridge’s existence across the Pripyat, “4 kilometers from the border with Ukraine,” has also been corroborated by the Ukrainian Military Center NGO.

Analysts from the independent open source investigation agency Conflict Intelligence Team suggested that one of the pontoon trains transferred from the Eastern Military District earlier could have been used to build the bridge.

“On the one hand, the construction of this bridge corresponds to the exercise script published by the Ministry of Defense of Belarus, which mentions a crossing over the Pripyat. On the other hand, it could be used to create another offensive vector in the Kyiv region — via the Chornobyl exclusion zone,” a CIT expert said in a comment to The Insider.

The Union Resolve-2022 joint exercises of the Russian and Belarusian military are taking place amid the threat of a further Russian invasion of Ukraine. Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said on Feb. 16 that "not a single Russian serviceman and not a single piece of military equipment from the Russian Federation" would remain in the country after the completion of these "joint exercises.”

Currently, Russia has nearly 150,000 troops arrayed near the Ukrainian border in both Russia and Belarus, and in the temporarily-occupied territories of Crimea and the Donbas.

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