Russian military movements near Ukraine: What satellite images show

Satellite images show how Russian forces and materiel have moved toward Ukraine from as far away as Siberia.

12/9/2021 7:18:00 AM

Satellite images show how Russian forces and materiel have moved toward Ukraine from as far away as Siberia.

Satellite images show how Russian forces and materiel have moved toward Ukraine from as far away as Siberia.

Story continues below advertisementThe analysis stated that some 70,000 Russian forces are already near the border with Ukraine. Though it is unclear how the analysis arrived at that number, a significant portion of those are probably forces permanently stationed at military facilities near Russia’s western border and in Crimea, a peninsula Russia forcibly annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

AdvertisementSome of the forces and materiel, however, have moved toward the Ukrainian border from other places in Russia, including as far away as Siberia.Satellite images offer a partial snapshot of the materiel associated with those forces currently being housed in proximity to Ukraine.

YelnyaFor weeks, military analysts have been keeping an eye on the small Russian city of Yelnya, southeast of Smolensk. The city — not far from the Ukrainian border — is home to the headquarters of the Russian army’s 144th Motor Rifle Division. But the division recently has had some guests. headtopics.com

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Satellite images below show vehicle stores at the division’s garrison that were established in October. The equipment includes more than 500 armored vehicles, Iskander road-mobile ballistic missile launchers, artillery, communications and logistics support, according to the defense analysis firm Janes.

The equipment most likely belongs to the 41st Combined Arms Army, normally located in Siberia, and the 90th Tank Division, based near the Ural Mountains, according to Janes.AdvertisementStory continues below advertisementMuch of the force and its equipment first moved to the western part of Russia near the city of Voronezh during a buildup near the Ukrainian border in March and April. Then, the Russian military said it was keeping the materiel in the area to use during planned exercises in the area this September. After those exercises took place, however, the materiel didn’t return home but went to Yelnya instead, according to Janes.

PogonovoA Russian military training ground called Pogonovo, south of Voronezh, has attracted attention from analysts all year.In March and April, during Russia’s first buildup of 2021, the site hosted much of the equipment from the Central Military District that has now moved to Yelnya, according to Janes. Once that equipment emptied out, the site began hosting new materiel associated with elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army, normally based outside Moscow.

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The images below show two garrisons at the Pogonovo training grounds, each of which appears to be hosting a battalion-size element of around 30 main battle tanks, according to Janes. In addition to the tanks, other materiel has flowed into the site, including howitzers, thermobaric multiple rocket launchers and long-range multiple rocket launchers, Janes said. headtopics.com

The defense analysis group noted that there isn’t enough accommodation at the site to house sufficient personnel to operate the materiel, suggesting the equipment is being forward deployed.AdvertisementStory continues below advertisementRussian forces have begun to construct additional dividing walls within the main garrison — one of which is completely empty in the bottom photo — suggesting additional equipment is expected here, according to Janes.

CrimeaAnalysts have also been tracking movements of Russian forces in Crimea. Russia has built up its military presence on the peninsula since its takeover in 2014, making the region a likely staging ground for any new operation in Ukraine.The images below show a vehicle garrison on the southern coast of Crimea.

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Janes said the garrison — first established in late 2020 but expanded this year — houses large numbers of main battle tanks, self-propelled howitzers and towed howitzers, probably belonging to units from the 58th Combined Arms Army, headquartered in faraway Vladikavkaz. Janes said those units deployed to the area during the first buildup last spring.

There is a large, empty storage site on the west side of the garrison that probably will be used to store additional equipment or provide troop accommodation in the event of an offensive, according to Janes. As it stands, there appears to be insufficient accommodation on-site to house enough personnel to operate the tanks and weaponry, Janes said. headtopics.com

Read more: The Washington Post »

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