The Russian daily Kommersant published a report on Nov. 29 stating that up to 800 Russian special forces, or spetsnaz, began arriving in Kyiv early on the morning of Nov. 23 and changed into Ukrainian uniforms at a Ukrainian military base just outside the capital.
The report says that at 1:32 a.m. on Nov. 23 a Russian Antonov An-26 (serial number RA-26410) arrived at a Ukrainian military base near Irpen, located 10 km from the city center. The base is adjacent to a compound operated by the BARS government security agency, which has as many as 3,000 service personnel protecting the Presidential Administration in central Kyiv.
According to the Kommersant report, at 3:17 a.m. on Nov. 23, a second plane arrived, a Ukrainian-registered heavy lift Ilyushin Il-76. The occupants of both the Antonov and the Ilyushin boarded buses waiting on the tarmac and were transported to the base at Irpen. Kommersant also reported that up to 800 such spetsnaz forces of the Vityaz regiment have arrived in Ukraine from Russia on Russian military transport aircraft, many also having landed at Kyiv's Boryspil International Airport from Nov. 24-26.
The location of the troops is currently unknown.
There is more in the article.
This confirms the television reports at the time. Spetsnaz near Irpen. (In an earlier posting I had it Irpin.)
It can be amusing, if the consequences aren't dire, that is, to read that a certain person will not do a particular thing because it is not in his interest to do it. By interest, we usually mean long-term self interest and that has problems associated with it as a limitation on action. But what we really tend to mean is not that it is against some absolute interest found by some impartial, omniscient jury somewhere, but that it is against a person's interest as I conceive that interest to be. So we get statements like "Saddam won't develop WMD because he knows if he does that he will be subject to an overwhelming military response by the international community." But we know now that he was going to reconstitute his WMD program. There are lots of other statements like this made by serious people who use this too flexible rule of thumb to predict what a person might or might not do.
And "Putin won't send in the troops to Ukraine because..." is the same sort of thing. In the end, what we are really saying is that Putin will not do a certain thing because it is against his long-term interests as we conceive those interests to be. What those interests might actually be or what Putin considers those interests to be might be something entirely different. To him or to anyone else, the short-term interests might be more desirable and he might think he can weather the repercussions for some reason.
That said, this of course is not the smoking gun. It is interesting though that a Russian newspaper is now confirming what was reported here at the time. But we'll just have to see how this develops.