The US Embassy in Kyiv has issued a security alert advising citizens of unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine’s borders, as of November 25th. The alert reiterated the US travel advisory to avoid Crimea and Ukraine’s southeastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions. US and Ukrainian officials continue to report Russian troop movements and deployments in western regions of Russia bordering Ukraine and in the Black Sea and in Crimea, which Russian annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The most significant concentration of men and military equipment has been reported in Yelnya, Smolensk Oblast, where around 114,000 troops are reportedly deployed. In recent days, deployments have continued, most notably to Crimea and in the Voronezh Oblast; however, Russia has increased operational security and now conducts many transfers at night, increasing the difficulty of assessments. Large troop movements were previously reported in the Belgorod, Bryansk, Kursk, Rostov-on-Don, and Voronezh oblasts, which all border Ukraine. Additionally, the Ukrainian military has repeatedly stated that an unknown number of Russian troops are permanently stationed in areas bordering Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which are partly under the control of pro-Russia separatist militants. Some media reports indicate Russia has mobilized reservist troops; however, this would indicate a potential escalation and remains unconfirmed.
Road and rail movement of large numbers of military vehicles could cause temporary disruption on regional highways and arterial rail lines. Increased scrutiny of foreigners’ identity and visa documentation is likely near any military sites in Russia and near the border with Ukraine and in areas where additional military units are deployed.
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