As Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) is keeping a close eye on Russia’s movements across the military, cyber, and information domains. With more than seven years of experience monitoring the situation in Ukraine, as well as Russia’s use of propaganda and disinformation to undermine the United States, NATO, and the European Union, the DFRLab’s global team presents the latest installment of the Russian War Report.
Signs of renewed Belarusian troop movements towards Ukrainian border
On May 26, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka ordered the creation of a new military command center in southern Belarus, which borders Ukraine. Russian state media outlet TASS reported on the new command post, saying that Belarus “has to practice defending its southern frontiers quickly.”
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said on May 25 that it had received intelligence that Belarus was taking practical actions to check “the combat readiness” of its armed forces and that exercises were planned at ten training grounds in Belarus, including Brest, Grodno, Minsk, Mogilev, and Vitebsk. “As part of the same exercises, it is planned to remove weapons and military equipment from storage, as well as to carry out marches,” said Oleksandr Motuzianyk, spokesperson for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
On June 2, videos of Belarusian military equipment being transported via railway appeared online. Ukrainian journalist and former presidential spokesperson Iuliia Mendel said the video captures more than fifty units of military equipment being transported from Grodno in the north to Brest in the south. Mendel said the train carried thirty-seven infantry fighting vehicles and anti-aircraft missile systems. However, the DFRLab could not confirm these figures as the video features cuts and transitions that make it difficult to accurately assess the amount of equipment visible.
The DFRLab geolocated another June 2 video of military equipment in transit to an area near the rail station in Baranavichy, in the western Brest region.
It remains unclear how many Belarusian forces are being relocated to the Ukrainian border, what their purpose is, or how long their deployment will be.
—Lukas Andriukaitis, Associate Director, Brussels, Belgium