Russia deploys reserve forces near Ukraine for offensive operations: UK MoD

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Russia is redeploying its reserve forces to the border with Ukraine, which British intelligence officials on Saturday warned was preparation for future offensives.

British Ministry of Defense According to intelligence, Russia is using MT-LB armored personnel carriers, previously held in long-term storage, to transport an unspecified number of reservists to the common border with Ukraine.

The strategy echoes the offensive stance taken ahead of the invasion earlier this year.

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

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

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It remains unclear if these vehicles will then be used for a new ground invasion, but according to UK Defense Ministry officials, Moscow has historically been hesitant to rely on such equipment.

“Russia has long considered them unsuitable for use in most advanced infantry vehicles,” the report says. Ministry of Defence said in a tweet on Saturday. “It was originally designed in the 1950s as an artillery tractor, has very limited armor and is only equipped with a machine gun for protection.”

In its initial invasion, Russia reportedly relied on BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, which, by contrast, were equipped with more than an inch thick armor and mounted a “powerful” 30mm automatic cannon – a machine gun-like fully automatic weapon that shoots projectiles, not bullets – along with an anti-tank rocket launcher.

A Russian military convoy stands on the road to the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine on Sunday, May 1.

A Russian military convoy stands on the road to the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine on Sunday, May 1.
(AP)

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“Despite President Putin’s statement on July 7 that the Russian military has ‘not even started’ their operations in Ukraine, many of their reinforcements are special forces deployed with outdated or inappropriate equipment,” the Defense Ministry said.

The intelligence report says the newly recruited Ukrainian troops are heading to the UK for military training, where they will also be equipped with body armor, boots and clothing suitable for Ukraine’s field conditions upon their return to the front lines.

The decision to train more intensively Ukraine’s recruits, who have little to no military experience, came just weeks after Ukraine said it was losing 100 to 200 soldiers daily.

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Ukrainian soldiers climb onto a combat vehicle near Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 2, 2022. As Russian troops retreat from the Ukrainian capital region, retreating troops create "catastrophic" situation for civilians, leaving mines around houses, abandoned equipment and "even the bodies of the dead," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned on Saturday.

Ukrainian soldiers climb onto a combat vehicle near Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 2, 2022. As Russian troops retreat from the Ukrainian capital region, retreating troops are creating a “catastrophic” situation for civilians, leaving mines around houses, abandoned equipment and “even the bodies of the dead,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned on Saturday.
(AP Photo/Vadim Girda)

It is not clear what losses Russia is suffering, as it also hopes to bring in reinforcements.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said more than 37,000 Russian soldiers died in the fighting, but international defense officials have not confirmed these figures.