EPRS Admin By / February 4, 2022

Events timeline

Events timeline

Events timeline

A threatening military build-up of Russian forces on the Russia-Ukraine border and in occupied Crimea took place in the spring of 2021. It was estimated to include 100 000 soldiers and finished with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s announcement that Russia would withdraw its troops by 1 May 2021. While some military units were actually withdrawn to their permanent deployment locations, it was also reported that their equipment, including trucks and armoured vehicles, were left there. Should the need to use them arise, it would only require the transporting of soldiers back to the border.
The latest strengthening of Russia’s military posture near the border with Ukraine since the end of October 2021 has set off alarm bells in Brussels, Washington, and foremost in Kyiv. The number of Russian personnel at the border with Ukraine rose to 100 000 troops according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. According to Jane’s force monitoring, on 28-29 October Russia deployed forces near the northern Ukrainian border. Equipment belonging to the 1st Guards Tank Army was also believed to have been sent to the same location. The deployment of troops ‘marks a clear deviation from the 1st Guards Tank Army’s standard training pattern’, the analysis notes.
In contrast to the build-up of March-April 2021, this recent massing of troops does not seem to be aligned with a military exercise. Moreover, Russia blocked almost 70 % of the Sea of Azov in December 2021 and announced that joint military exercises would take place in February 2022 with Belarus along the latter country’s borders with Ukraine and the EU. The transfer of Russian soldiers and military equipment started to arrive in Belarus in January 2022.
In response, Ukraine deployed 8 500 troops in November 2021 to its border with Belarus under a ‘special operation’, as it feared Russia might stage a military assault through Belarus. Ukraine conducted a military drill to the north-west of Crimea to prepare for any emergency situations in late January 2022, and is organising Territorial Defence Forces (TDF) in each of the country’s regions. The TDF should first reach its permanent size of 10 000 troops for peacetime, then it will be extended to 130 000 reservists for special periods. The United Kingdom has provided Ukraine with light anti-armour weapons.
At the time of writing, tensions are high, with US intelligence identifying the preparation of provocative false flag actions on Ukrainian territory. There are also suggestions that the most recent cyber-attack of 14 January 2022 contained, among other possible purposes, false flag elements aimed at creating nationalist hatred, most probably in both Ukraine and Poland. The British government shared intelligence indicating that Russia is preparing to install a pro-Russian government in Ukraine; Russia, as in 2014, repeatedly denies it has any intention to invade Ukraine.


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