Russian Convoy Spreads out Into Forests and Towns Outside Kyiv

Satellite images indicate that the Russian military convoy outside of Kyiv has mostly disbursed into surrounding areas, raising questions about what the movement might mean for the assault on the Ukrainian capital.

Recent images from U.S.-based based company Maxar Technologies show that the 40-mile-long convoy of tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery has largely moved into nearby towns and forests after being stalled north of Kyiv for about a week.

In an intelligence update on Friday, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence said that the repositioning showed that the Russian military was "likely seeking to reset and re-posture its forces for renewed offensive activity in the coming days," which "will probably include operations against the capital Kyiv."

However, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby warned against drawing any firm conclusions about the apparent disbursement, while suggesting that it could be a defensive movement due to relentless Ukrainian attacks on the convoy.

"I don't want to make too much of the fact that there's satellite imagery [showing] this convoy moving into tree lines or disbursing," Kirby said during a press conference on Friday. "That could just be force protection because Ukrainians have continued to threaten that convoy and its progress."

"We don't see any progress by it to resupply and support operations to the south," he added. "I'd be careful making too much about this disbursal stuff."

Russian Military Convoy Ukraine Kyiv War Disbursement
A 40-mile-long Russian military convoy positioned outside Kyiv has largely disbursed into nearby towns and forests, according to satellite images. A Russian tank is pictured after being damaged in a Ukrainian attack on a road in the Lugansk region on February 26, 2022. ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty

Kirby said that U.S. intelligence indicated that Russian forces were "beginning to make more momentum on the ground towards Kyiv, particularly from the east" but "not quite so much from the north," where the convoy is located.

Land warfare analyst Nick Reynolds of British defense think tank Royal United Services Institute told the Associated Press that convoy movement "looks like a defensive measure" to protect itself, as well as an indication that Russia can't easily surround Kyiv.

Not long before the satellite images showed the convoy moving, a viral video appeared to show drone footage of a Ukrainian attack on a line of Russian tanks headed for Kyiv, which resulted in the death of a Russian commander.

The video was accompanied by narration, presumably from a Russian soldier, who said that the convoy suffered "a lot of casualties" and that the "commander of the column was killed."

Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the think tank Foreign Policy Research Institute, said on Twitter that the successful Ukrainian attack was indication of "very poor tactics displayed by this Russian armored force so close to Kyiv."

"They're well within range of Ukrainian artillery in Kyiv, they're on an obvious avenue of approach, and they still decided to bunch up like this, leaving them more vulnerable to indirect fire," said Lee.

Newsweek reached out to the Washington, D.C., embassies of Ukraine and Russia for comment.