Some Russian military vehicles near the Ukrainian capital have aborted an attempt to orbit the city in an apparent retreat, according to new satellite imagery.
The images show columns of Russian armored vehicles forming into columns and convoys, according to analysts at Rochan Consulting, a private aerospace and defense consultancy, which first noticed the movements and shared their findings with The Daily Beast.
“Ahead of the March 25 convoy formations, Russian ground forces were dispersed over the forested areas near Lubyanka and Hostomel. From there, Russian artillery would be stationed in nearby clearings to fire on civilian areas,” said Chris Biggers, an imagery analyst overseeing the conflict.
The area where radar satellites spotted the vehicles is near Hostomel Airport, where special forces of the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) tried to capture the strategic airfield earlier in the war and failed.
While the withdrawal of some Russian forces is bringing relief to Ukraine, there is still no evidence that the Russian assault on Ukraine is abating overall, and it remains unclear whether the forces Moscow is now withdrawing will later be reinstated. Late Wednesday, Ukrainian and American officials said they believe Russian forces seen withdrawing from Ukrainian territory left to reset, resupply and move to other theaters.
Capella Space satellites captured the first images on March 26, two days before Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin claimed Moscow would “drastically and exponentially reduce military activity around Kyiv” after a failed attempt to encircle and capture the Ukrainian capital “.
Fomin presented the withdrawal pledge as a diplomatic concession “to boost mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations,” but military experts believe the move is less a magnanimous gesture on the part of Russia and more a nod to reality, how poor the Russians are The military’s efforts to take the capital are successful.
In the case of the Russian forces surrounding Hostomel, analysts at Rochan Consulting noted damage from strikes and devastated terrain near where Russian vehicles had previously been sighted, suggesting that Ukrainian forces had managed the attempted cordon to fight back from Kyiv.
Early in the invasion, Russian troops poured south from Belarus across the border into the north-western suburbs of Kyiv in an apparent attempt to capture the city and behead the Ukrainian government leadership. Ukrainian forces reported finding Russian saboteurs and assassins sneaking into the city as VDV forces launched their failed attack on Hostomel Airport.
“We heard sirens all night.”
In the weeks since the initial attacks on Kyiv failed to capture the city, satellite imagery has captured scenes of stranded Russian vehicles making little effort to advance further into the capital region. Images collected by satellite imagery company Maxar showed Russian armored vehicles near the scene of the latest retreat, digging in and fortifying their positions with earth embankments rather than moving forward.
Last week, the Russian military general staff indicated that the attempt to take Kyiv had never been an important part of the Russian invasion and that the main objective was further east. The head of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff, Sergei Rudskoi, improbably claimed that the first phase of the conflict had been successfully completed and that Moscow would begin to focus on “the main goal, the liberation of Donbass,” where the self-proclaimed peoples of Donetsk and Lugank are republics located along the border between Russia and Ukraine.
And while some vehicles are en route from Ukraine, Russian forces are still attacking Kyiv. Hours after Fomin’s announcement of an alleged goodwill gesture towards Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said the city remained under siege. Reuters reported that Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko told European Union officials: “We heard sirens, rocket attacks and huge explosions east of Kyiv and north of Kyiv all night.”