Russia moves reservist forces near Ukraine for offensive operations: UK defense ministry

Source: www.foxnews.com : 2022-07-09 16:10:21 : Caitlin McFall

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Russia is moving its reserve forces to Ukraine’s border in what UK intelligence officials warned Saturday was in preparation for future offensive operations. 

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said intelligence suggests that Russia is relying on MT-LB armored vehicles previously held in long term storage facilities to transport an indeterminate number of reservists to its shared border with Ukraine. 

The strategy echoes the offensive posture taken in the lead up to its invasion earlier this year.

A convoy of pro-Russian troops moves along a road in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday, April 21.

A convoy of pro-Russian troops moves along a road in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday, April 21.
(REUTERS/Chingis Kondarov)

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It remains unclear if these vehicles will then be used to mount another ground invasion, but according to UK defense officials, Moscow has historically been hesitant to rely on such equipment. 

“Russia has long considered them unsuitable for most front-line infantry transport roles,” the defense ministry said in a Saturday tweet. “It was originally designed in the 1950s as a tractor to pull artillery, has very limited armor, and only mounts a machine gun for protection.”

Russia reportedly relied on BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles in its initial invasion which, in stark contrast, were equipped with armor over an inch thick and mounted “a powerful” 30 mm autocannon – which is a fully automatic weapon similar to a machine gun that fires shells rather than bullets – along with an anti-tank missile launcher.

A Russian military convoy stands on the road toward the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in southeastern Ukraine on Sunday, May 1. 

A Russian military convoy stands on the road toward the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in southeastern Ukraine on Sunday, May 1. 
(AP)

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“Despite President Putin’s claim on July 7 that the Russian military has ‘not even started’ its efforts in Ukraine, many of its reinforcements are ad hoc groupings, deploying with obsolete or inappropriate equipment,” the defense ministry said.

The intelligence update posted as newly recruited Ukrainian forces head to Britain for military training where they will also be fitted with body armor, boots and clothing appropriate for Ukraine’s field conditions upon their return to the front lines.

The decision to more heavily train Ukraine’s newest recruits, all of whom have little to no military experience, comes just weeks after Ukraine said it was losing between 100 and 200 soldiers every day. 

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Ukrainian servicemen climb on a fighting vehicle outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 2, 2022. As Russian forces pull back from Ukraine's capital region, retreating troops are creating a "catastrophic" situation for civilians by leaving mines around homes, abandoned equipment and "even the bodies of those killed," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Saturday.

Ukrainian servicemen climb on a fighting vehicle outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 2, 2022. As Russian forces pull back from Ukraine’s capital region, retreating troops are creating a “catastrophic” situation for civilians by leaving mines around homes, abandoned equipment and “even the bodies of those killed,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Saturday.
(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

It is unclear what kind of loses Russia is taking as it too looks to bring in reinforcements. 

The Ukrainian defense ministry has claimed over 37,000 Russian soldiers have died in the fighting, but the numbers have not been verified by international defense officials. 

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