The purpose of the "Tsar-train", which was called to attention by the Institute for the Study of War and Ukrainian analytical X account DeepState UA, is unclear. However, it could be some kind of defensive barrier against future attacks by Ukrainian forces on Mauripol.
The Institute for the Study of War and DeepState UA describe that satellite images from 10 May 2023 and 6 and 10 February 2024 show that Russian forces have built a long line of railway wagons from occupied Olenivka (south of Donetsk city) to Volnovakha (south-east of Vuhledar and north of Mariupol) over the past nine months[.
According to the Institute, a Ukrainian source reported on 11 February that Russian forces had assembled more than 2,100 freight cars into a 30-kilometre-long train. The source reported that Russian forces began assembling the train in July 2023 and suggested that Russian forces intend to use the train as a defensive line against future Ukrainian attacks.
The railway line between Olenivka and Volnovakha is at its closest point approximately six kilometres from the currently assessed ISW front line, south-east of Novomykhailivka, and is located in an area of the front line that was relatively inactive when Russian forces reportedly began construction. Russian forces have recently made marginal territorial gains in this area. The Russians could have assembled the train for other purposes, the Institute concludes.