Russia moves more tanks near Ukrainian border, intelligence firm says
Russia is moving more tanks near the border with Ukraine, defense intelligence firm Janes said, reinforcing Western concerns over reports of an accumulation of Russian military forces near its neighbor.
At least one T-80U main battle tank battalion has been deployed to a station in the Voronezh region, according to social media images from Nov. 7, London-based Janes said in an analysis provided to Bloomberg News. The tanks appear to be heading for the Pogonovo training ground, the same where a Russian military build-up in the spring sparked Western demands for withdrawal, according to Janes.
Fighting has at times intensified in recent weeks between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country. Ukraine first used a Turkish-made drone to attack a separatist howitzer in response to a strike that killed one soldier and injured another on October 26. Last week Janes said she identified the deployment of tanks and self-propelled artillery from the same Russian division in the Bryansk and Kursk regions on Ukraine’s northern border on October 28 and 29.
The United States is monitoring the unusual increase in Russian military activity near Ukraine “closely”, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Friday. “Any escalation or aggression by Russia would be of great concern to the United States. “
Russia has declared troop movements on its own territory to be an internal matter and has denied any aggressive intentions. The Ukrainian government said the levels of Russian forces had not changed significantly since tensions rose in the spring. “There is some strengthening,” Presidential spokesman Serhiy Nykyforov said on Monday. “It is too early to draw any conclusions about Russia’s goals. “
In the spring, the United States and its allies accused Russia of moving up to 100,000 troops near the border. Amid withdrawal demands, the Kremlin said it began returning units to their bases in the heart of Russia in April, allaying concerns.
Unlike the fairly open buildup in the spring, the recent Russian deployment is secretive, often taking place at night, and being carried out by elite ground units, according to Janes. The measures appeared to be aimed less at intimidation than at producing an active threat, the company said.
President Joe Biden sent CIA Director Bill Burns to Moscow last week to warn the Kremlin that Washington is carefully monitoring the deployment of its troops near the border with Ukraine, CNN reported, citing US and Ukrainian officials. . President Vladimir Putin spoke to Burns by phone about regional conflicts, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.
Ceasefire violations have escalated in war-torn eastern Ukraine, where persistent violence has continued since the 2015 peace accords to end a conflict sparked by US-backed separatists. Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, seated next to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, second from left, during Russian Navy Day in St. Petersburg, Russia July 28, 2019 (Andrey Rudakov / Bloomberg)