Various analysts and political observers have found a unique and unlikely source of vital information about Russian military movements along the Ukrainian-Russian border through the use of rising social media and video sharing platform TikTok.

TikTok, domestically known in China as Douyin, is a Chinese-owned social media platform owned by ByteDance Ltd. For those who are unfamiliar with TikTok, it is a platform where individuals can share 15 seconds to 3-minute videos across all genres, including but not limited to educational, comedy, and dance content. As of 2022, there are over 1 billion users of TikTok, where many are based in the United States, Russia, and Southeast Asia. The user base in Russia and Belarus had started sharing photos and videos showing Russian military weapons and vehicles being transported by train toward the border.

TikTok Military Tracking

This TikTok video posted by a certain Russian train enthusiast, Dinis Vogonov, whose name translates to Mr. Railway Car, shows military vehicles being transported via train to an unknown location. However, several internet sleuths and a slew of analysts have determined the train’s location, likely near the Siberian train station in Polushkino traveling westward – in the direction of Ukraine. The train contains Tigr-M multipurpose terrain vehicles, among other equipment.


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♬ Три белых коня – Лариса Долина & Alexander Petukhov & State Symphony Cinema Orchestra

Another video posted by a certain roma_collins19900 showed a train carrying tanks and other military vehicles from an unknown location. Many of the comments said that these pieces of equipment were for Russian and Belarusian military exercises, while some had said they were to strengthen borders. There are reports of military exercises and a base transfer from Russia to Voronezh and Yelnya, both of which are near Belarus and Ukraine.

However, even after the military exercises were completed, the equipment reportedly did not return to Russia. Various reports have also said that there were efforts to censor the movements across social media but failed, as shown by the prevalence of these videos on TikTok. Some posted videos were also determined to be less than 40 miles from the Belarusian-Ukrainian border. Several of the comments were worried that this transportation of military equipment was a potential staging for an invasion.