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​Why russians Set Up Mega-Train Barricade in Eastern Ukraine

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Illustrative photo: a russian armored train on the russian-occupied territories in the eastern region of Ukraine, September 2023 / Still frame of a russian state media report
Illustrative photo: a russian armored train on the russian-occupied territories in the eastern region of Ukraine, September 2023 / Still frame of a russian state media report

The unconventional fortification could protect russian forces from Ukrainian strikes with GLSDB guided bombs, and it tells a lot about Ukraine's progress in demolishing the russian army's logistics

Radar satellite images reveal the russians have assembled a train of 2,100 freight cars continuously stretching for a total of ~30 km between the occupied towns of Olenivka and Volnovakha. This object, described by DeepStateUA analysts as a "peculiar engineering structure," has been in construction since July 2023, and apparently was finished a few days ago.

The experts assume the structure is meant to be a physical barrier preventing Ukrainian forces from advancing in this operational axis because a chain of over two thousand wagons is impossible to damage, blow up, or move out of the way. Moreover, the unusual defense line aligns with the system of other fortifications russians built in the region.

Read more: russian Invaders Build Defenses and Prepare for Battles Against Ukrainian Forces in Occupied Crimea
The continous chain of freight cars on the railways between Olenivka and Volnovakha, February 2024
The continous chain of freight cars on the railways between Olenivka and Volnovakha, February 2024 / Image credit: DeepStateUA

On the other hand, Defense Express notes that additional data found in open sources suggest that the conclusion might be not so obvious.

Indeed, there were precedents when russians made up a similar structure: welded some stolen freight cars together to create an immovable obstacle hindering the relocations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. It makes a point to view the nowadays' mega-train as a larger-scale attempt to create a back-up defense line some 7 km from the current frontline in case Ukrainian forces manage to break through.

If that is the case, russia is by no means short of resources to build such a barrier: there are over 1.2 million freight cars in russia, according to publicly available statistics cited by Railway Supply magazine.

Illustrative photo: a russian armored train on the russian-occupied territories in the eastern region of Ukraine
Illustrative photo: a russian armored train on the russian-occupied territories in the eastern region of Ukraine, September 2023 / Still frame of a russian state media report

On the other hand, we should pay attention to the fact that the Olenivka–Volnovakha railway segment is basically adjacent to the frontline, so it would as well hinder the russian movements to the same extent. Furthermore, this part of the railway has two tracks, so technically while one of the tracks is occupied, the other can still be used for railway logistical support of the nearby military units, even though the capacity is halved.

That said, Defense Express suggests that more likely this train chain was built as a means of physical protection of logistics from Ukrainian rocket artillery strikes. Especially in light of the fact russian state media complained about Ukrainian rocket barrage targeting their supply locomotives in August 2023. All the more reason for them to worry about safety of their convoys is the arrival of GLSDB guided bombs in Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Illustrative photo: a russian armored train on the russian-occupied territories in the eastern region of Ukraine, September 2023
Illustrative photo: a russian armored train on the russian-occupied territories in the eastern region of Ukraine, September 2023 / Still frame of a russian state media report
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