CNN has geotagged and authenticated social media videos of these movements — though there are likely many more that go unobserved.
Some of the videos are from official sources; most are from TikTok or YouTube. They are analyzed by online observers and often complement satellite imagery.
There are also many other proofs of the military build-up in the Belgorod region.
CNN geolocated these videos in the village of Sereteno, about 24 kilometers from the border. They were uploaded on Sunday and show tanks moving through the area.
These videos can be geolocated here:
Russian forces are also moving through the area at night, with tanks being unloaded from trains.
There’s more snow here than further south — CNN geotagged this video to a village near Belgorod:
Tanks around Voronezh
And seen from other angles:
CNN geotagged these clips here:
Helicopters near Belgorod
Over the past two days, more and more videos on social media have featured the arrival of helicopters near the Ukrainian border. They could offer significant protection to ground troops in the event of an offensive. These were filmed near Belgorod:
Russian equipment includes tanks, infantry fighting vehicles known as BMPs and self-propelled artillery – as seen here on a train on the outskirts of Belgorod:
Missile and artillery support
Michael Kofman, a Russian analyst at CNA, a Virginia-based nonprofit, notes that Kursk units (such as the 6th Combined Arms Army) “appear to be moving toward Belgorod with district-level artillery support.” He says the 1st Guards Tank Army also began to move – “presumably to a final staging area”.
Of particular concern is the movement of Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile convoys, which appear to have accelerated in recent weeks in various parts of western Russia.
If a conflict broke out, these would likely be used to attack fixed Ukrainian positions, such as command and control sites. They have a range of up to 250 miles (402 km) and have been spotted in recent satellite images.
Rocket launchers near the border
CNN geolocated this convoy, which includes several rocket launchers, to a location about 24 kilometers north of the Ukrainian border.
Russian armament – and ships – continue to approach the Ukrainian border. Sites where equipment had been pre-positioned more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) of the border were gradually emptied as the units advanced.
There are Russian units a few kilometers from Ukraine from the Sea of Azov, along the Ukrainian border and into Belarus.
“Russia’s current military build-up near Ukraine is unprecedented,” tweeted Rob Lee, of the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. “It’s not like previous war crises or the buildup in the spring [of 2021]. The amount of Russian military air, ground and naval power near Ukraine is now much greater. »
While the equipment appears to have been assembled, where it is moved next – and when – remains unknown.