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Russia moves equipment to Crimea, continues to activate other units

Russia has deployed elements of at least three units to Crimea since 12 November. They are equipped with armoured personnel carriers (APCs), self-propelled howitzers (SPHs), anti-aircraft missile systems, and main battle tanks (MBTs).

Analysing footage posted on social media of military equipment being moved by train, Janes has identified the deployment of at least a battalion tactical group of the 49th Combined Arms Army's 34th Motorised Brigade (Mountain) equipped with MT-LB APCs and 2S1 Gvozdika SPHs and, what are likely to be, a battalion-sized element of Buk-M2 believed to belong to the 90th Air Defence Brigade and of T-72 MBTs from the 58th Combined Arms Army's 42nd Motorised Division to railway stations in Crimea. All three units are not normally stationed in Crimea and do not often exercise on the peninsula.

The deployments are part of a wider increase in anomalous Russian military activity along the Ukrainian border, which began at the end of October. The deployments, which have included elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army moving to the city of Voronezh near the Ukrainian border, have involved units outside their usual areas of operation out of sync with Russia's normal summer and winter training cycles.

In addition to the confirmed deployments to areas near the Ukrainian border, Janes has also identified the anomalous activation of additional units deployed deeper in Russia. These include the 79th Rocket Artillery Brigade, the BM-30 Smerch multiple rocket launchers – which were identified leaving the town of Tver in northwest of Moscow on 16 November, and a T-72B3 MBT battalion likely belonging to the 90th Tank Division – which was seen loading onto trains in Ekaterinburg in Siberia on 16 November. It is not clear where these units are heading. However, considering other anomalous movements, their activation merits continued observation.

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