Russia’s 41st Combined Arms Army (CAA) and 1st Guards Tank Army in late October are unlikely to be preparations for an offensive against Ukraine, but do pose longer-term challenges to Russia’s neighbors and NATO. The Washington Post reported on October 30 that a “buildup” of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border concerned US and European officials. The report suggested that the Russian deployments are similar to those carried out on Ukraine’s border in March-April 2021. Open-source reporting does not support the assessment that Russia has moved any additional forces closer to the Ukrainian border or that a Russian offensive against Ukraine is imminent, however. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense stated on November 1 it has not observed any transfers of Russian units, weapons, or equipment to the Ukrainian border.
- Elements of Russia’s 41st CAA redeployed from temporary positions near Voronezh (northeast of Ukraine) to permanent basing facilities in Yelnya (east of Belarus) in late October. Open source satellite imagery confirmed that the elements of the 41st CAA had left Voronezh by October 27 and arrived at permanent Russian bases in Yelnya by October 31. Four battalion tactical groups and combat support elements from the 41st CAA, the equivalent of a small division, deployed to Voronezh from their permanent base in Novosibirsk, in the Russian interior, in April 2021. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed at the time that this deployment would support Russia’s Zapad-2021 military exercise, though the 41st CAA did not participate in the main Zapad exercises from September 10-16.
- An unidentified Iskander ballistic missile battalion, likely part of the 41st CAA’s assets that deployed to Voronezh, was spotted traveling through Bryansk. Open-source imagery of Russian bases in Bryansk taken on November 1 did not show the Iskander battalion, and its final destination is currently unknown, though it is likely redeploying to Yelnya.
- Elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army began major training exercises on October 27. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on October 27 that about 25 “subdivisions” (подразделение [podrazdelenie], a Russian word indicating units at the battalion echelon or lower) of the 1st Guards Tank Army, based east of Moscow, began exercises to earn the honorary title of “shock” units.