The Russian military is deploying additional forces to its southern flank, bolstering its positions in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, according to Ukrainian officials and videos posted on social media that were geolocated by CNN. Analysts suggest the move is presumably to try and counter an eventual Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Several posts on Ukrainian social media accounts reference the movement of heavy military equipment on top of trains or clogging up highways through the Crimean peninsula and into the Kherson region. CNN geolocated several videos, filmed in the past few days, which show convoys crossing from Crimea into Kherson. Other videos showed the convoys heading toward Crimea, across the Kerch straight, from Krasnodar in Russia.
The spokespeople for the Ukrainian General Staff and the Ukrainian Operational Command South declined to comment, but the Office of the Ukrainian President in Crimea said the “movement of military equipment, ammunition, and personnel of the Russian army continues throughout the territory of the occupied Crimean peninsula.”
“Every day, about 50 wagons with echelons of Russian military equipment move towards Dzhankoi, queues of military equipment are also noticed at the administrative border with occupied Crimea, near the settlements of Armiansk and Krasnoperekopsk,” the office said in a statement on Facebook on Monday.
Analysts have suggested this movement of heavy equipment could be in anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive to try and retake Russian-controlled areas in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia areas. In its daily assessment of the Russian campaign on Monday, the Institute for the Study of War said that “Russian forces continued to fortify their positions in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson Oblasts in preparations for Ukrainian counteroffensives.”
What Russia is saying: The Russian Defense Ministry denied Moscow is deploying additional forces to Ukraine.
“A number of foreign media outlets are spreading false information about alleged mobilization activities,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. “We draw your attention to the fact that only a part of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is involved in the conduct of a special military operation, the number of which is quite sufficient to fulfil all the tasks set by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.”
CNN's Zarah Ullah and Uliana Pavlova contributed reporting to this post.