Russian tanks in Voronezh Oblast that borders on the north of Ukraine's Luhansk Oblast amid Russia's massive military buildup near Ukrainian borders. Early April 2021. Screenshot via CIT Team
“Starting from 18 March, Ukrainian intelligence forces and means have been recording Russia’s large-scale measures for transferring its troops from remote regions to its areas adjacent to Ukraine. According to available information, the transfer of said units should be completed by the end of April,” the intelligence agency says.
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The statement says that Russia has already sent 16 battalion-tactical groups comprising motorized infantry, tank, and airborne units to the borders of Ukraine and to the annexed Crimea.
“The military training grounds Pogonovo (Voronezh Oblast), Klintsy (Bryansk Oblast), Opuk and Angarsky (both in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea) were chosen as the main gathering points,” according to HUR.
The gradual escalation in hostilities started at the beginning of 2021 in the frontline area of Ukraine’s Joint-Forces Operation – the warzone in the east of Ukraine, yet starting from March it’s incrementally gaining even more momentum.
The Russian Federation’s armed formations are increasing the number of daily fire attacks, as the sniper ones as those involving the infantry and heavy weapons. In March, nine soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were killed in hostilities, and now the Ukrainian military has lost ten soldiers in the first 13 days of April.
On March 30, Ruslan Khomchak, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, stated in his report to the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament, that Russia was concentrating its troops near the Ukrainian border under the guise of preparations for the annual West 2021 military exercises.
A group of independent investigators, the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), analyzed multiple videos that emerged on social media showing the military equipment on move, and confirmed that Russia was concentrating military equipment on its borders with Ukraine while obscuring number plates and side numbers on some vehicles. CIT also found a field camp of Russian troops in the Voronezh Oblast some 150-250 km away from the Ukrainian border. The group concluded that the Russian forces’ disposition was “offensive rather than defensive.”
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The Kremlin said in the same days that Russia “could stand up for the people of the Donbas” and that it would “take action if Donbas became like Srebrenica.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky held several meetings on the issue and talked to the leaders of NATO partner countries. On April 8, he visited the front line.
Russia wants “the West to be frightened of Russia’s strength, of her power,” said Zelenskyy in an interview with TIME on 9 April.
The Ukrainian military intelligence warns that Russia may be preparing large-scale provocations:
“Such deployment was observed by the military intelligence of Ukraine in 2014-2015. Sometime later, the direct aggression of the Russian Federation against our state began,” says the Intelligence Directorate in there reply to BBC Ukraine.
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