a few hundred troops on the ground can do a number things given enough time. They can assess the condition of bridges, landing strips, and such, as well as gauge the local support/security for rapid deployment forces, tank columns, that sort of thing.
The Russians of course know that is exactly what the US Army is doing. The Soviets, I mean the Russian Republic forces already have this reconnaissance information, although it's decades out of date.
It's just moving pawns at this point.