Miles of Russian armored vehicles are apparently heading to Ukraine’s border (VIDEO)

On Thursday afternoon, Russians were amazed to see a huge column of military vehicles traveling on the M4 "Don" highway — all heading toward the Ukrainian border.

Amateur videos show an endless line of armored personnel carriers, tanks, trucks pulling heavy artillery and vehicles transporting Russian soldiers. By some estimates, the convoy was several kilometers long. Combat helicopters reportedly followed overhead.

Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Oblast, Russia, April 24, 2014. 

The military vehicles passed through Millerovo and Kamensk in the north and Rostov-on-Don and Taganrog in the south, finally converging on Novoshakhtinsk.

The Russian city is located just a few miles from the Ukrainian border and sits on the main road to Donetsk, Slovyansk and other flashpoints of recent violence between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Novoshakhtinsk, Rostov Oblast, Russia. April 24, 2014.

Thursday's mobilization of air and ground troops coincides with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s announcement that military drills would resume on the border. This decision was prompted by Kyiv’s anti-terror operation, he said, as well as NATO's decision to conduct drills in Poland and the Baltic States.

Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Oblast, Russia, April 24, 2014. 

Eyewitnesses also reported that the military vehicles had “Peace Mission” or “Peacekeeping Mission” written on the sides — recalling Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Dmitry Medvedev, then president of Russia, stated that the country was acting to "to force the Georgian side to peace" and referred to Russian troops as “peacekeepers.” 

On April 23, Russia made the first direct comparison between the situation in Ukraine and Georgia, reports NBC. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russia Today that if ethnic Russians were attacked in Ukraine, Moscow would be forced to respond as it had in 2008.

Here are some additional videos posted to YouTube on April 24. (Note: These videos have not been independently verified.)

Novoshakhtinsk, Rostov Oblast, Russia. April 24, 2014.

Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Oblast, Russia. April 24, 2014.

Novoshakhtinsk, Rostov Oblast, Russia. April 24, 2014.

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