Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) has posted videos that may confirm Russia is deploying convoys of military equipment toward the border with Ukraine, while masking license plates on military vehicles.
On April 3, CIT said it had found two videos posted on Twitter by user @GirkinGirkin, who CIT says has been collecting evidence about the transfer of Russian equipment to the border with Ukraine. The user noted that the videos had been filmed on April 1 and April 2.
"Both show trucks towing Msta-B howitzers. In the first video, the operator says 'regional license plates have been covered," and in the other one, it is clearly visible that the trucks' license plates are sealed with blue tape: the code is covered, which on civilian plates tells the region and on military vehicles – most often the military district," notes CIT.
CIT experts claim they had located the site where the video was filmed – it was close to the city of Rostov-on-Don, on the M4 highway, which, to the north of the shooting location, runs close to the border with Ukraine.
"The convoys are also heading north. Although we don't know their destinations, it is worth remembering that not so long ago a convoy with code 76 on the plates appeared on the video in Voronezh – this is the code of the Central Military District, which doesn't border Ukraine at all," the investigators report.
CIT also claims that they were able to geolocate several photos and videos showing military hardware being transported, taken recently in Novosibirsk, Tyumen and Krasnoufimsk (Sverdlovsk region).
"This suggests that not only units from the Western and Southern military districts bordering on it, but at least from the Central one continue to be transferred to the border with Ukraine," the CIT added.
Ростовская обл, 01.04.2021 pic.twitter.com/i9PgC3W1yE— IgorGirkin (@GirkinGirkin) April 1, 2021
CIT refers to itself as a team of Russian independent bloggers investigating military conflicts and Russia's role in them, applying open source intelligence tools. The team previously published pieces covering the war in Donbas and Syria.
Russian military buildup near Ukraine: Background
On March 30, 2021, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ruslan Khomchak, said the invaders are reinforcing their advanced units with reconnaissance teams and sniper pairs, involving Russian army instructors in personnel training.
Russian occupation forces are also keeping alert artillery units in combat readiness for use in certain areas, including in settlements located on the occupied territory of Ukraine.
The Pentagon said they were aware of the maneuvers of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine. The U.S. is discussing the issue with NATO Allies.
On April 1, the Kremlin commented on the amassing of Russian military forces near Ukraine's borders, saying this "should not bother" anyone.
President Volodymyr Zelensky says Moscow is trying to put pressure on Kyiv by amassing its military forces along the Russian-Ukrainian border.
Ukraine's military intelligence agency, GUR MO, has reported that Russia may try to go for an incursion and deploy its troops deeper into the territory of Ukraine.
On April 1, Roman Mashovets, Deputy Chief of the President's Office, said that Russia is trying to disrupt the peace process. More than 570 ceasefire violations have been recorded since year-start.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has expressed concern over the latest escalation in Donbas, which he calls "largest in recent years", noting Russia's direct involvement in aggravation.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has reassured his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Andrii Taran, that Washington will not give up on Ukraine in case Russia escalates aggression. The two defense chiefs had a phone call April 1, on the initiative of the American side.
U.S. President Joe Biden in his first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky April 2 affirmed the U.S. "unwavering support" for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity "in the face of Russia's ongoing aggression" in Donbas and Crimea.