Putin moves his army west – along the Trans-Siberian Railway – Foreign Policy

Russian military power is on the march…

In April and again since October 2021, the Kremlin moved more than 100,000 soldiers from the southern, western, northern and central military districts to Ukraine. They are now holding out in huge camps along the Russian-Ukrainian border and in occupied Crimea, awaiting orders.

And since this week, even military experts have been looking at Russia in amazement. In a show of logistical strength, Putin is moving his army from the Eastern Military District west to position it on the western border.



A train carries war material west through the town of Janaul in the Bashkortostan regionPhoto: Twitter

The trains travel 7,000 kilometers – always along the mythical Trans-Siberian railway line – towards Ukraine and NATO countries.

“The Trans-Siberian Railway is an important channel for military movements through Russia. A military train takes six to seven days to travel from the Far East Pacific to western Russia. Trains from Siberia only take two to three days,” Irish defense expert Andy Scollick told BILD.

The BILD map (below) shows where military trains have been filmed along the Trans-Siberian Railway in the past 72 hours.


Putin on the Trans-Siberian Warpath Infographic
Photo: Twitter, TikTok

The scale of this troop movement amazes even experienced experts. Finnish military expert Petri Mäkelä says: “On January 11 alone, twelve military freight trains passed west through Krasnoyarsk. If true, it’s a massive move.

Expert: Wrong gear for “just rattling sabers”

Defense expert Scollick warns in BILD that the massive relocation “of course has nothing to do with Kazakhstan and nothing to do with the large-scale exercises planned by the Russian military. Therefore, they are supposed to head west to complement and support operational reinforcement near Ukraine’s eastern border.”

On the trains: everything you need for a war. Main battle tanks, rocket launchers, trucks, ambulances, nuclear-capable ballistic missile systems and countless of Russia’s most advanced logistics vehicles.

Security expert Andy Scollick is particularly concerned about the latter.

If Russia “just wanted to shake its sabers, a show with tanks and artillery would be more than enough.” “But large-scale logistical movement is indicative of the equipment needed to sustain a combat operation. And it’s not just the equipment. Most of these trains contain passenger cars for the troops and freight cars for their equipment.

Plain text: Putin seems to be serious this time. Contrary to all the assurances that his regime “expects no escalation”, the Russian president appears to be planning a campaign like the one Europe has not seen since World War II.

In line with this, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said yesterday that the talks with the United States and NATO were over. The West, Ryabkov said, said “no” to Russia’s offers.

By this he meant Putin’s demand that NATO withdraw its troops from all countries that were not part of the military alliance before 1997 (for example Poland and the Baltic states) and ensure that Ukraine and Georgia would “never” be part of the alliance.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister threatened that the military had offered Putin “options if the situation in Ukraine deteriorates”. But there is still hope for “a diplomatic solution”…

On Friday morning, the Russian Defense Ministry said that “a number of units from the Eastern Military District will be deployed to new training grounds further away from the areas of their permanent bases.”

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