Intimidation tactics Open data analysis points to highest concentration of Russian troops near Ukraine’s borders since 2015

The build-up of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine is the largest concentration seen since 2015, according to a report from the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) published by The Insider. Using open source data, CIT’s analysts tracked the movements of Russian troops and determined that they’re headed towards the Crimean Peninsula and the vicinity of Voronezh. According to CIT, these transfers are indicative of strategic military exercises, not local ones. However, the analysts also underscored that these aren’t signs that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent.

The recent concentration of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine is the highest seen in the last six years, according to analysts from the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), an investigative group specializing in open data analysis.

CIT’s analysts have established that in recent weeks, motorized rifle, artillery, airborne and, in all likelihood, tank units have been moving toward the Ukrainian border. With the help of Gde Vagon, an online system that allows you to track the route of railcars, CIT determined that some of these units are destined for the Crimean Peninsula, and the area surrounding the city of Voronezh.

Russian military equipment heading towards CrimeaInteresnoye vokrug Nas

Among the units being transferred are the 76th Airborne Division from Pskov, as well as the 74th Motor Rifle Brigade from Kemerovo. According to CIT, such large-scale transfers of forces from remote regions can only be attributed to strategic military exercises, not local ones — as the Russian authorities have claimed. At the same time, the “Zapad-2021” strategic military exercises are supposed to begin in September — that is to say, five months from now. 

A column of Uragan multiple rocket launcher systems near VoronezhThe Insider

CIT notes that while there still isn’t enough data available from open sources to estimate the total number of forces deployed to the border with Ukraine, they expect it will be possible to make a total estimate after the final points of arrival of the military equipment become known. “However, we can already say that we haven’t seen such a concentration of troops since the hot phase of the war in Ukraine in 2014–2015,” CIT’s analysts conclude.

At the same time, CIT underscores that as of yet, they aren’t seeing signs that Russian troops are preparing directly for an invasion of Ukraine. According to the analysts, Moscow’s actions indicate that it only plans “to intimidate the Ukrainian leadership, as well as to test the strength of the new American administration.”

Summary by Grigory Levchenko

Translation by Eilish Hart


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