The Kremlin launched a disinformation campaign against Ukraine in early March that could support renewed Russian offensive conventional operations in 2021, but Russia is unlikely to launch offensive operations in the coming weeks. Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine deployed to full combat readiness on March 16. Despite that potential indicator of a possible operation, the Russian military is not postured to support an imminent offensive. The Kremlin’s disinformation campaign may be intended to pressure Ukraine into engaging in negotiations on unfavorable terms or to set conditions for a Russian escalation in late spring 2021 or both. ISW will continue to assess indicators of a potential Russian escalation and monitor the Kremlin’s ongoing disinformation campaign.
AllSource Analysis Imagery
New satellite imagery from AllSource Analysis. Istamo Weapon Facility in Syria (southeast of Latakia). Evidence of new paving/clearing operations, logistics/storage, and both Mi-17 and Ka-27/28 helos in newly-paved areas.
More Russian work at Al-Assad Airbase in Latakia, Syria. New images of multiple aircraft – both fixed and rotary wing. Multiples of these: SU-30SM (multi-role fighter)/SU-24 (all-weather attack/interdictor)/SU-25 (close air support)/ HIND-24 (attack helo), and an IL-76 (strategic airlift). Images: AllSource Analysis
A close-up view of 4x SU-30 (Flanker) Russian aircraft at al-Assad Airport on September 19, 2015.
Satellie image of al-Assad Airport September 20, 2015 showing 4x SU-30s (Flanker), 12x SU-25s (Frogfoot), as well as a possible fuel depot being established and a new logistics/vehicle park.
Multiple Russian transport aircraft, as well as helicopters, tanks, trucks, and armored personnel carriers arrived at al-Assad Airport between September 4-15, 2015
Satellite imagery of Latakia's Al-Assad Airport from September 4, 2015 reveals increased construction, possibly in preparation for Russian troops and equipment arrivals.
Kimberly Kagan is the founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a nonprofit, non-partisan organization with a unique, dual mission: provide real-time intelligence to help leaders make informed decisions in conflict zones around the world, and educate the next generation of national security leaders. ISW is globally recognized and cited for its daily analysis and maps of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.