Updated 9/02/2022

Number of troops: 119,000 ground troops – this is a new figure, which was announced by the Ukrainian Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov. He did not name the numbers of the sea and air contingent though. We recall that at the time of January 28 this figure from the Ministry of Defense was 21,000 (only the contingent of the Russian Navy and Air Force near Ukraine). Reznikov also said that the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine does not observe Russian strike groups needed for a full-scale offensive.

At the same time, for example, The New York Times reported on February 4 that Russian troops were in the last stages of preparation and could soon be ready to attack. They qute the sources among the leadership of the Ukrainian army. And already on February 6, Reuters reported that 70% of the troops that Russia needs, according to the Kremlin, were gathered on the Ukrainian border for an attack. They quote two U.S. officials, names not given because of sensivity of the topic.

Drills: On February 3, the first stage of Russia-Belarus joint military exercises started. Announced that they will be held at 5 training areas. Russian Ministry of Defense announced this on February 2. Announced training areas for the drills: Domanovsky, Gozhsky, Obuz-Lesnovsky, Osipovichsky and Brestsky (from the latter – only about 50 km awar from Ukraine’s border or about 1 hour or less drive.)

The first will last until February 9th. Announced tasks: deployment and creation of groupings of troops as soon as possible, checking the readiness of air defense forces. At the second stage – from February 10 to February 20 – the main part on joint drills “Allied Resolve-2022” will start. Announced tasks: suppression and reflection of external aggression, countering terrorism, protecting the interests of the Union State.

Meanwhile we discovered that these are not the only training areas for these drills and that they will also be held in the Narovlya region. At least this is reported in the Narovlyansk region newspaper, “Prypyatskaya Pravda”. It reported that from February 10 to February 20, “joint events of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation will be held in certain areas of the Narovlya district.” No further information.

screenshot of the news about the drills in the Narovlyansky district newspaper , “Prypyatskaya Pravda”

It is also interesting that this area is right on the border with Ukraine, and only 200 km from Kyiv. Moreover, apparently, this is not the only training area in Belarus not declared for these military exercises that will be used, and eyewitnesses also talk about the concentration of troops in locations that no one pays attention to, also in Belarus.

We read from the Russian Ministry of Defense press release about these rills closely and noticed that in addition to the already known training grounds and airfields, the Ministry of Defense states that the drills will also take place in “separate areas located on the territory of the Republic of Belarus.” Narovlya is definitely “a separate area” and is definitely ocated on the territory of Belarus. So all fair and square. Although what’s worrying now is how many more of these “separate areas” will pop up.

still shot on Russia MOD website

On January 29, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the drills of the Western Military District (ZVO) were completed and that they returned to the Leningrad Region at the PPD (points of permanent deployment). And indeed – if you look at later satellite photos of the Yelnya training area , for example – which is located in the Western Military District (ZVO)- you can see it is emptied, just as Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) and Rochan Consulting director Konrad Muzyka reported. But analysts also urge not to relax – according to CIT, these troops did not leave for the PPD, but to the south, to positions in the Bryansk region, closer to Ukraine. Kirill Mikhailov of CIT separately noted that these drils exercises “have nothing to do with the build-up of forces near the border, which continues.”

comparison of satellite photos of the polygon in Yelnya. Sources: Maxar Techologies, Capella Space

Equipment: it is known that Russia deployed, among other, 15 Su-25s on February 5, according to Chris Biggers from HawkEye 360, who also writes for the famous military publication Janes.

At least 15 x SU-25 have touched down at Luninets. pic.twitter.com/FjSjJfYXPT

— Chris Biggers (@CSBiggers) February 5, 2022

You can also learn about the Russian Su-25 deployment to Belarus from Belarusian government media Belta. It is reported that yesterday, on February 5, the Su-25SM crews of the Eastern Military District (VVO) completed the deployment.

They are also clearly seen on fresh Maxar satellite photoes

Russian Su-25, deployed to Belarus. Photo by Maxar Technologies, taken on Feb 4

A little earlier, Russian media reported that Russia also transferred twelve Su-35S to Belarus from the Russia’s Far East. All allegedly for the drills, as media reported (we are talking here about the joint Russian-Belarusian drills, the first stage of which began on February 3, the second will begin on February 10 and end on February 20)

Russian Su-35 credit: Russian MOD

Earlier Russia has already managed to transfer two divisions of S-400 missile systems to Belarus (one division includes 8 launchers).

Updated 28/01/2022

Russia again builds up troops on the border of Ukraine. Now their number is estimated at 127,000. This figure is given by CNN, referring to the data of Ukrainian intelligence, which, according to them, was exclusively shared with them by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. According to these data, more than 106,000 of this figure are the Russian ground forces, the remaining 21,000 are the Russian Navy and Air Force.

We can find the similar numbers in earlier BBC’s piece – they reported 109,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s, citing the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense – probably talking about the ground forces. We saw similar figure posted by The Kyiv Independent journalist Ilya Ponomarenko – he wrote about 112,000 – and noted that if you count them together with the Russian fleet, which is now also on exercises, it will be all 130,000, which is tens of thousands more than was at the borders of Ukraine in December and also matches the CNN data.

New info from ??Ukraine’s Defense Ministry: Russia now has 112,000 troops in and around our country. If we include naval and air forces, it’s 130,000. That’s +20,000 from what they had in December.

— Illia Ponomarenko (@IAPonomarenko) January 28, 2022

Richard Engel, an international correspondent for NBC, provides similar numbers – he mentioned “60 Russian battalions, about 112-120k troops”, and referring to Western intelligence, said that “more are coming”, and “could be a lot more.”

A Western intelligence official tells me Russia has 60 Battalion Tactical Groups around Ukraine, abt 112-120K troops, and more coming, “could be a lot more.”

— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) January 26, 2022

As CNN reported , quoting Ukrainian intelligence, Russia has deployed troops to its western border “on a permanent basis.” It is also known that in late December and January, Russia transferred “ammunition stocks, field hospitals and security services” to the border, which, according to intelligence, “confirms preparations for offensive operations.”

According to the same data, Russia supports more than 35,000 pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine, where there are also 3,000 Russian troops. Similar number of Russian soldier in those regions was previously reported by the Ukrainian army’ commander-in-chief.

Updated 16/01/2022

Most of the world’s media agree that there are about 100,000 Russian troops near the border of Ukraine – The Guardian for January 10, 2022, The New York Times for January 7, 2022, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine for December 3, 2021.

There is also active deployment of Russian weapons and part of the personnel – in connection with the “drills”, which are happening all simultaneously near Ukraine’s border.

On January 11th joint drills have started in Russia’s Western Military District (ZVO) – in the Voronezh, Belgorod, Bryansk and Smolensk oblasts, with at least 3000 military taking part. It is expected that final stages of these drills will be battle drills with a live firing – BMP-2 armored vehicles and T-72B3 tanks will hit targets at ranges up to 1.2 km.

On January 14th in the Eastern Military District (VVO) sudden readiness check have started as well.

And already in February, the joint exercises of Russia and Belarus should begin, called “Allied Resolve-2022”. Starting January 17th Russia’s military and weaponry have been already actively coming in Belarus. As Russia’s Ministry of Defence stated the first stage of military drills will last until February 9, and then the second one begins – on February 10, and will last until February 20.

At the same time, according to Boris Gryzlov, after the Russian Federation in Minsk, immediately after them, preparations will begin for the next exercise – Union Shield-2023, which will be held on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Where are Russian troops near Ukraine’s border

Map by Radio Liberty‘ Donbas Realii

Map from The New York Times

Map from DFRlab (Atlantic Council)

BBC map, Source: BBC, Rochan Consulting

We continue to monitor Russian troops’ movement on Ukraine’s border. If you have any information on the topic that you want to share, send it to us via an email to [email protected] or send us a message on our social media pages..