Russia continuing to mass troops on Ukraine’s borders, says open-source intelligence team

31 December 2021, 06:46 AM

Russian army encampments and stocks of military equipment on Ukraine’s border continue to multiply and grow, an independent Russian open-source intelligence group, Conflict Intelligence Team or CIT, said on its website on Dec. 30.

“Moscow is proceeding to swarm Ukraine with its military, as their talks with the United States, NATO, and OSCE loom,” CIT said in a posting.

“Even going by just publicly available data, we clearly see their existing military decampments are expanding, new ones keep popping up; armored companies of tanks and artillery are being reinforced with anti-air weapon systems,” CIT wrote.

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The areas close to the northeastern part of the Ukrainian-Russian border have seen the most Russian troop activity over the past month – a large distance away from the areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts that are currently controlled by Russian proxy forces.

The Russian towns of Klintsy and Klimovo in Bryansk Oblast, some 50 and 10 kilometers from the border with Ukraine respectively, host the highest concentrations of Russian troops, CIT said.

Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which has been under Russian military occupation since 2014, is another hotspot for the buildup of Moscow’s forces, the team also said.

In mid-December Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said about some 120,000 Russian troops were concentrated next to Ukraine’s borders. According to him, these troops are on high alert, and an invasion is not beyond the realm of possibility.

The current Russia-Ukraine crisis has been building since late October, with some western media warning that Russia might invade Ukraine with a force of 175,000 troops in early 2022.

U.S. and EU officials are concerned by the steady escalation of tensions on Ukraine’s eastern border. The White House is working on a potential response, hoping to deter Moscow from launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. president described the response as “a most comprehensive initiative, which is going to make it very difficult for Putin to do what many fear he just might.”

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