Intelligence Summary Russia

Reporting from Janes on Russian Military Affairs

Janes provides a wide range of data, insight and news across global defence and security. Here you will find a summary and curation of content around Russia derived from Janes connected intelligence solutions.

 

Region of Focus – Modernisation:

Russian Airborne Troops to receive some 250 weapon systems this year

23 Feb: The Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) are set to receive more weapon systems this year, VDV deputy commander Major General Anatoly Kontsevoy told the Ministry of Defence’s Krasnaya Zvezda ( Red Star ) newspaper on 19 February. “Some 250 modern and upgraded weapon systems, as well as 10,000 airdrop systems, will be delivered to the troops,” he said. Janes Analysis – “The VDV is being re-equipped with modern armour, communication systems, and UAVs that will increase its reconnaissance and combat capabilities. Its air assault component is also being reinforced.” 

Russia advances coastal cruise missile defence modernisation with new units

09 Feb: On 5 January 2021, then US Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite announced plans for the US Navy (USN) to increase surface combatant operations in the Arctic. Surface combatants operating in the Arctic theatre will face a threat largely unnoticed by previous USN submarine operations: Russian coastal defence cruise missiles (CDCMs). The Arctic is the latest theatre with an increase in the proliferation of modern, capable CDCMs by the Russian military. Janes Analysis – “The Baltic and Pacific Fleets will host new CDCM deployments in coming years. In late 2020, a new Pacific Fleet CDCM unit operating the Bal and Bastion-P was announced as having formed on Sakhalin Island, with recruitment of contract soldiers underway. Although the operating location was not given, Sakhalin previously hosted the 648th OBRB, with battalions at Korsakov and Mys Crillon south of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.” 

Access denial: Russia revamps its Coastal Forces

03 Feb: Nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), surface warships, and carrier-borne aircraft are the well-known public face of the Russian Navy. Moscow’s maritime strategy, however, has long involved an important land-based element. Russia’s geography means that strategic choke points and key seaways around its coastline are easily dominated by land-based weapon systems and sensors. Amphibious forces also have an important role to play in protecting key coastal zones and carrying out offensive operations. Janes Analysis – “It is important to assess the Russian Navy Coastal Forces differently from comparable Western organisations, such as the United States Marine Corps and the UK Royal Marines. It is not predominately an amphibious assault landing or expeditionary force, but is instead focused on dominating Russia’s coastal regions.” 

 

Technology Developments:

Russia develops Molniya swarming UAV concept

02 Mar: Russia is developing the Molniya (Lightning) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for use in swarms. A mock-up of the UAV was shown to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu when he visited Kronshtadt’s production facility on 26 February. Molniya appears to be conceptually similar to the US Gremlin UAV and it is probably designed to detect and defeat the most sensitive parts of enemy defences, primarily air defence facilities, without risking the crews of manned combat aircraft and helicopters. Janes Analysis – “The Molniya UAV will probably be air-launched by transport aircraft so that swarms can be formed. Recovery is likely to be similar to that of the Gremlin, which is retrieved in flight. The specifications and technical features of the UAV are preliminary and may be adjusted to the requirements of the Russian Ministry of Defence.”  

IDEX 2021: Russia’s Rosoboronexport unveils combined C-UAV network

24 Feb: Russia's Rosoboronexport exporting company (a subsidiary of state corporation Rostec) unveiled a multi-layered counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (C-UAV) network at IDEX 2021 held in Abu Dhabi from 21 to 25 February. The network is meant to combine both soft- and hard-kill components. Janes Analysis – “The new C-UAV network is the first Russian effort to create a scalable and structured C-UAV asset, unite multiple EW and air defence systems, and combine soft- and hard-kill components.”

 

Domestic Affairs:

Role of Russian FSO expands beyond presidential protection

15 Feb: The Federal Protection Service (Federalnaya Sluzhba Okhrany: FSO) traces its history back to the Ninth Directorate of the former Soviet Committee for State Security (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti: KGB). In 1991, it became the Soviet Presidential Security Directorate, then later in 1991 the Main Security Directorate of the Russian Federation, and in 1996, it became the FSO. Despite the numerous name changes, relatively few practical changes to the service have taken place. Janes Analysis – “Even in Soviet times, the Kremlin relied on elements of the security apparatus monitoring and counter-balancing each other, a trend accentuated under Putin as new agencies have been formed to check on others. This has included the National Guard (Rosgvardiya), formed under a previous SBP head, Viktor Zolotov. In this context, the FSO provides the ultimate backstop, with a remit explicitly requiring it to watch and report on the activities of the other agencies.” 

Russia to base non-nuclear deterrence on hypersonic missiles

11 Feb: Russia’s non-nuclear deterrent forces will be based on various types of hypersonic missile systems, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told the nation’s military leadership during an annual operational mobilisation meeting on 9 February. “The capabilities of non-nuclear forces, primarily high-precision weapons, are being increased,” he said. Janes Analysis – “Russia is gradually shifting its non-nuclear deterrent forces from Kalibr cruise missiles to hypersonic weapons capable of defeating air defences at speeds exceeding Mach 5. Russia has already adopted the Kinzhal (Dagger) air-to-surface missile with a speed of Mach 10. The Strategic Missile Forces are armed with Avangard hypersonic manoeuvring glide vehicles mounted on UR-100UTTKh intercontinental ballistic missile systems.” 


Foreign Affairs:

OSCE identifies Russian 51U6 Kasta 2E1 radar in Ukraine

01 Mar: The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) reported on 17 February that it had identified a 51U6 Kasta-2E1 target acquisition radar at a non-government-controlled training ground in Ukraine, which violates the 2015 Minsk agreement on weapon withdrawal. Janes Analysis - “Possible reasons that explain why the 51U6 Kasta-2E1 was covered with a tarpaulin range from concealment of what system it was to defiance or as a warning directed at Ukraine or the OSCE. The Kasta-2E1 is not a new system to the Russian Ground Troops, which raises the question why it was deployed to Ukraine.” 

Russia confirms Orion UAV strikes in Syria

25 Feb: The Russian Armed Forces have conducted operations with the Orion medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), including strike missions, in Syria, Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials told the Rossiya (Russia) 1 TV channel on 21 February. An Orion UAV shown in desert camouflage had 38 red stars containing either the Cyrillic letter ‘Р’ standing for a reconnaissance mission and ‘Б’ for strike mission. Examples of strike missions that destroyed targets were also shown. Janes Analysis – “Based on the Rossiya 1 report, it can be inferred that one of the weapons used by the Orion UAV is probably the OFAB-100-120 high-explosive fragmentation bomb produced by JSC SPA Bazalt. Possible precision-guided munitions were shown on Kronshtadt’s static display next to the Orion UAV at the Army 2020 defence exhibition held in Kubinka near Moscow on 23–29 August.” 

 

OSINT Force Monitoring:

FEB 2021: At least three UAVs, including two Orlan-10 and one ZALA 421-16, crashed in SYRIA.

18 FEB 2021: An unidentified Kilo Class patrol submarine and the tug NIKOLAI MURU left the BALTIC SEA and entered the ENGLISH CHANNEL heading south.

25 FEB 2021:  The 128TH SURFACE SHIP BRIGADE’S Steregushchiy I Class frigate STOIKIY (pen. 545) began counter-piracy operations in the GULF OF ADEN.

28 FEB 2021: A Russian Mi-35M crashed in HASAKAH near the Russian base in TAL TAMR. At least one crew member was reportedly killed, and others seriously injured.

Long Range Aviation Group Activity

Arctic Flight

06 FEB 2021: An A-50U departed IVANOVO and flew to OLENYA AIR BASE, MURMANSK.

09 FEB 2021: A pair of 121ST HEAVY BOMBER REGIMENT Tu-160 (tails. Red 04 Ivan Yarygin RF-94112 and Red 18 RF-94111 Andrei Tupolev), supported by an A-50U conducted a training flight over the BARENTS, GREENLAND, and NORWEGIAN SEAS. MiG-31 likely of the 98TH MIXED AVIATION REGIMENT, reportedly flying out of ROGACHEVO AIR BASE, provided escort at various stages of the 12-hour flight.

10 FEB 2021: An A-50U departed OLENYA AIR BASE, MURMANSK and returned to its base in IVANOVO.

Black Sea Flight

08 FEB 2021: An A-50U departed IVANOVO and flew to BELBEK AIR BASE, CRIMEA.

10 FEB 2021: A pair of 52ND HEAVY BOMBER REGIMENT Tu-22M3 (including tail. Red 35), highly likely supported by an A-50U conducted a training flight over the BLACK SEA. The aircraft were escorted by MIG-29 at various points during the five-hour flight.

Victory Day Parade Preparations

25 FEB 2021: 112TH MISSILE BRIGADE Iskander-M have departed their base in IVANOVO and at least three 54TH MISSILE DIVISION RS-24 Yars transporter erector launchers and a BSM support vehicle departed TEIKOVO bound for MOSCOW to begin rehearsals for the 2021 Victory Day Parade.

 

Details provided by the Janes Intelligence Unit (JIU). For more information on OSINT Force Monitoring, please reach out to the team: https://www.janes.com/defence-and-security-advisory/janes-intelligence-unit/

 

January 2021

Region of Focus – Treaties:

Putin signs five-year extension of New START treaty

01 Feb: Russia's State Legal Department said on the Kremlin website on 29 January that extension of the treaty was in the nation's national interests, allowing the transparency and predictability of strategic relations between Russia and the US and global stability to be maintained, as well as positively affecting the international situation and contributing to the development of the nuclear disarmament process. Janes Analysis – “The fact that Russia and the US are speaking the same language about extending New START provides grounds for cautious optimism. Extending New START by the full five years stipulated by the treaty gives Russia and the US the time necessary to negotiate a new strategic arms treaty, which will be complex with issues like verification, how to limit new weapons, and including China if the Biden administration wants to continue its predecessor's push to do the latter.”

Russia announces intention to withdraw from Open Skies Treaty

18 Jan: After the US declared its intention in May 2020 to withdraw from the treaty, 11 European countries – Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden – published a joint statement announcing that they would continue to implement the Open Skies Treaty, while calling on Russia to lift its restrictions on flights under the treaty. Janes Analysis – “With the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in August 2019 and now the Russian announcement that it intends to withdraw from Open Skies, the only strategic arms control treaty remaining is the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).” 

 

Technology Developments:

 

Russia takes first deliveries of Penicillin artillery reconnaissance system 

26 Jan: In March 2020 the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported that the first 1B76 Penicillin systems would be delivered to the “training centre for the combat use of missile forces and artillery, stationed in the Saratov region”, by the end of that year. Janes Analysis – “Russian brigade-level artillery assets typically include an array of fire-control apparatus and fire-locating systems. Examples may include artillery-locating radars such as the PRP-4 family of systems, which are based on the BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle hull.” 

Russian Ground Forces to receive more than 400 armoured vehicles in 2021

14 Jan: Russia’s Ground Forces (SV) will receive more than 400 armoured vehicles in 2021, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 11 January. “Under the Gosoboronzakaz [State Defence Order], the defence industry will hand over modern and modernised armoured platforms that have demonstrated high performance in various climatic zones,” the MoD said. Janes Analysis – “The delivery of some 2,500 land systems to the SV in 2019 increased the proportion of modern equipment in service from 54% to 60%. The delivery of approximately 3,500 platforms in 2020 increased this figure to around 70%.” 

Domestic Affairs:

Russian MiG-31BMs deploy to new Arctic base

18 Jan: A long-delayed project to upgrade Russian Northern Fleet Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) appears to be building momentum after a second boat was moved out of an upgrade hall. Video imagery of the Project 971I Schuka-B (Improved Akula)-class submarine Leopard being moved on a lift out of the Zvezdochka Ship Repair Centre facility at Severodvinsk shipyard after a rededication ceremony was posted online by the Russian Ministry of Defence’s Zvezda television channel on 26 December 2020.Janes Analysis – “The Northern Fleet only has one aviation unit equipped with the MiG-31BM, the 98th Separate Mixed Aviation Regiment, which is home-based at Monchegorsk on the Kola Peninsula. This follows other moves by the Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command or military district to enhance air-defence capabilities along Russia’s northern coasts and Arctic islands.” 

Rearmament of Kozelsk missile division continues

08 Jan: The rearmament of Russia’s nuclear triad continues, with state media-released video footage on 4 January showing the loading of an RS-24 Yars (NATO reporting name SS-27 Mod 2) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into a silo in Kozelsk, home to the 28th Guards Missile Division, in the Kaluga Oblast, southwest of Moscow. Janes Analysis – “The RS-24 development represents a significant step-up in capability over older systems such as the UR-100NUTTH and is part of a wider modernisation effort of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces. The missile is somewhat controversial in the West as it stems from an effort to introduce a modern MIRV-equipped ICBM potentially in breach of the US-Russian Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (STARTs).” 


Foreign Affairs:

Myanmar to acquire Pantsir-S1 SHORAD systems, radar stations, and Orlan-10E UASs from Russia

25 Jan: “The MoD said in a statement that the move is part of an agreement signed in Naypyidaw between Tatmadaw Commander in Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. The MoD provided no further details about the deal, including the value of the contracts, the delivery schedules, or the type of radar stations ordered, but pointed to the growing military-technical co-operation between Moscow and Naypyidaw since 2001. Janes Analysis - “Myanmar has relatively limited air-defence capabilities, consisting primarily of the short-range Kvadrat-MA, which is a modernised variant of the ageing ”Kub family”, as well as the medium-range Chinese HQ-12, and the obsolescent S-125 Pechora-2M. The addition of the Pantsir-S1 to Myanmar’s inventory will provide a much-needed boost to its SHORAD capabilities.” 

Belarus says exercise ‘Zapad 2021’ reflects NATO action

22 Jan: Joint Russian-Belarusian exercise ‘Zapad (West) 2021’ will be held on 10–16 September on both countries’ territories with a scenario reflecting the impact of NATO countries on Belarus’s internal affairs, the Belarusian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on 18 January, citing a report by Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin to President Alexander Lukashenko. Janes Analysis – “‘Zapad 2017’ was held on six ranges and two territories in Belarus and on ranges in Russia, involving some 13,000 servicemen, 70 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, and up to 680 land platforms, including 250 tanks and 200 artillery systems, multiple rocket launchers, and mortars. Representatives of seven states, including NATO members, observed the exercise.”

 

OSINT Force Monitoring:

4 JAN 2021: The 28th Missile Division was highly likely re-equipped with a silo-based RS-24 ICBM.

8 JAN 2021: The 34th Motorised Brigade (Mountain) highly likely received over 50 MT-LBVM1K.

26 JAN 2021: A pair of Tu-142MZ, escorted by MIG-31BM, conducted patrols over the Chukchi and Barents Seas. 

29 JAN 2021: S-400 highly likely belonging to the 568th Air defence Regiment took up active duty in the Samara region.

Mediterranean Sea Naval Activity

13 JAN 2021: The 4th Submarine Brigade’s Kilo Class patrol submarine NOVOROSSIYSK (pen. 555) and the tug NIKOLAI MURU left the Mediterranean Sea via the Straits of Gibraltar.

14 JAN 2021: The 43rd Missile Ship Division’s Admiral Gorshkov Class frigate ADMIRAL KASATONOV (pen. 461) entered the Mediterranean Sea, via the Straits of Gibraltar, accompanied by the tug NIKOLAI CHIKER.

26 JAN 2021: The 128th Surface Ship Brigade’s Steregushchiy Class frigate STOIKIY (pen. 545), the tanker KOLA, and the Northern Fleet’s tug NIKOLAI CHIKER docked in Limassol, Cyprus.

31 JAN 2021: The 128th Surface Ship Brigade’s Steregushchiy Class frigate STOIKIY (pen. 545) and the tanker KOLA left the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal.

Syria

Russia has deployed additional force to the Al-Qamishli region of Syria. A battalion sized element of the 108th Airborne Regiment deployed by Il-76MD on 18 JAN, followed by a contingent of Central Military District military police on 21 JAN also deployed by Il-76MD.

15 JAN 2021: Members of the 98th Airborne Division and 56th Air Assault Brigade were spotted training Syrian government forces in Khan Assubul.

Russian aircraft continued bombing targets in support of Syrian government forces.

Central African Republic

Russian-backed forces, highly likely private military contractors, continued to provide support to Central African Republic government forces. 

Russia has reportedly provided four helicopters to support this operation, two Mi-8AMTSh-V (tails. Yellow 73 and Yellow 74 RF-95603) and one Mi-8AMTSh have been identified as operating in the country by Janes.

Russian-backed forces have been identified operating on the frontline and taking part in combat operations, alongside CAR government troops, and providing close protection for senior CAR military and government figures including the Prime Minister, Firmin Ngrébada.

21 JAN 2021: Major-General Oleg Polguyev and an individual heavily affiliated with the Russian-PMC Wagner Group’s activity in Africa were photographed attending a security briefing chaired by the CAR’s Prime Minster, Firmin Ngrébada.

Details provided by the Janes Intelligence Unit (JIU). For more information on OSINT Force Monitoring, please reach out to the team: https://www.janes.com/defence-and-security-advisory/janes-intelligence-unit/

 

December 2020

Region of Focus – Modernisation:

Russian military’s proportion of new hardware exceeded 70% in 2020, says Shoigu

23 Dec: The Russian military’s proportion of ‘modern hardware’ exceeded 70% in 2020, said Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at an annual meeting of the Russian Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) board on 21 December 2020. According to the minister, the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) received three regimental kits of Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in 2020.Janes Analysis – “Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic the Russian defence industry has remained robust. According to Shoigu the State Defence Order for 2020 was 99.8% implemented in terms of deliveries and 99.7% completed in terms of repairs and upgrades.”

Russia takes delivery of first Su-57 fighter

04 Jan: Russia’s armed forces have taken delivery of their first serial production Su-57 fighter aircraft. Production aircraft #01 was delivered to the 929th State Flight Test Centre in Akhtubinsk in southern Russia on 25 December, according to Russian media reports. Janes Analysis - “The VKS has not announced which frontline aviation regiment or base will be the first to receive the new aircraft but Russian state news agency TASS on 25 December cited military sources as saying it would be in the Southern Military District.”

Russian MoD received 2,700 weapon systems in 2020

06 Jan: “The troops received 147 aircraft, the first reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial systems [UASs] with Inokhodets [Pacing Horse] and Forpost [Outpost] unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs], seven surface ships and two submarines, more than 1,500 land platforms, some 300 missile and artillery systems, and approximately 150 air defence weapons,” said Krivoruchko. Janes Analysis - “In 2020 the Russian MoD gave priority to unmanned aviation, including tactical reconnaissance systems and UAVs armed with guided munitions. The first Russian armed UAVs and smart weapons for them were unveiled at the Army 2020 defence exhibition held in Kubinka near Moscow on 23–29 August. According to official statistics, the Russian military had three units with 91 UAVs in its inventory in 2012.”

 

Technology Developments:

Unmanned Armatas not to be produced

08 Dec: There will be no mass production of an unmanned T-14 Armata main battle tank (MBT), Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency on 7 December. Janes Analysis – “It can be seen that Russia is progressing towards greater automation and integration of artificial intelligence into its concept of operations. While the Armata family may not produce an unmanned variant, the Russian MoD appears set on development of Project Storm, which will pave the way for interconnected and unmanned T-72s equipped for urban warfare.” 

Russia tests ground-launched anti-satellite missile

21 Dec: On 15 December Russia conducted a test of a direct-ascent – or ground-launched – anti-satellite missile, according to a Pentagon statement. Russia has recently demonstrated two different types of space weapons. The first type of kinetic weapon was a direct-ascent antisatellite missile capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), which the Pentagon said Russia has tested multiple times. Janes Analysis – “The biggest ramification from using antisatellite weapons in combat is similar to how land mines can cause problems long after a conflict. Garretson said the world will have to deal with the disproportionate effects on civil and commercial infrastructure of the remaining space debris long after anti-satellite weapons are used in combat.”

Upgraded Northern Fleet Akula moves out of repair hall

05 Jan: A long-delayed project to upgrade Russian Northern Fleet Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) appears to be building momentum after a second boat was moved out of an upgrade hall. Video imagery of the Project 971I Schuka-B (Improved Akula)-class submarine Leopard being moved on a lift out of the Zvezdochka Ship Repair Centre facility at Severodvinsk shipyard after a rededication ceremony was posted online by the Russian Ministry of Defence’s Zvezda television channel on 26 December 2020.Janes Analysis – “It appears that Leopard was the lead boat of the latest round of upgrades to the Akula class and that lessons were learned during the upgrade process. Vepr , a Project 971U (Akula II) boat, appears to have benefited from this experience; it underwent a similar upgrade inside the repair hall at Nerpa shipyard in Olenya Bay on the Kola Peninsula over a two-year period that concluded in August 2020.”

 

Domestic Affairs:

Russian armed forces take on geographical challenges

07 Dec: The Russian Ministry of Defence does not have its own railway network and has to cooperate closely with the country’s state-owned railway company, the Joint Stock Company Russian Railways (OAO Rossiyskiezheleznyedorogi: OAO RZhD). The OAO RZhD was set up in 2003 to replace the old Ministry of Railways and to run the 84,000-km railway track network on a more commercial basis. Janes Analysis – “Although there is little indication that the Russian government is making any moves to expand or widen its network of inland waterways in the near future, ongoing and planned developments for other aspects of Russia’s strategic infrastructure reflect the military’s strategic needs.”

Putin equates Northern Fleet to a military district

24 Dec: The decree confirms the Northern Fleet and will be treated “as a combined-arms strategic territorial Formation of the Armed Forces, which carries out the tasks of a military district … to protect the integrity and immunity of Russia”, according to the document. The decree is to become operative on 1 January 2021.Janes Analysis – “In order to respond to NATO’s military modernisation in the Arctic the Northern Fleet is being reinforced with modern weapon systems, including nuclear-powered submarines, frigates, landing ships, surface-to-air missile systems, antisubmarine warfare aircraft, and auxiliary vessels.”


Foreign Affairs:

Russia seizes initiative in Nagorno-Karabakh

07 Dec: Azerbaijani military forces entered Lachin on 1 December, the last of three districts ceded to Azerbaijan under the ceasefire agreement to end six weeks of fighting in NagornoKarabakh. The move into Lachin followed Azerbaijani forces entering Aghdam on 20 November and Kalbajar on 25 November. Janes Analysis – “The outcome of the Nagorno-Karabakh sixweek conflict has added even more complexity to neighbourhood relations in the South Caucasus at local, regional, and international levels. Locally, the priority will be to consolidate the ceasefire, stabilise ethnopolitical tension around Nagorno-Karabakh, delimit the borders, protect cultural and religious heritage, and prepare the ground to facilitate the rebuilding of trust with all stakeholders.” 

Japan protests Russian deployment of S-300V4 air-defence system to disputed Kuril island

07 Dec: Tokyo protested through diplomatic channels, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato on 2 December, reiterating the Japanese government’s opposition to the deployment of military equipment to the disputed islands of the archipelago, all of which are controlled by Russia. Janes Analysis – “The long-standing feud relates to a few islands (Iturup/Etorofu, Kunashir/Kunashiri, and Shikotan) and the rocky Habomai islets, all of which Russia seized after the Second World War.” 

 

OSINT Force Monitoring:

15 DEC 2020: Captain Andrei Saloshin was appointed commander of the 43RD MISSILE SHIP DIVISION.

19 DEC 2020 onwards: In response to an escalation of fighting by rebel forces in the CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, Russia has deployed a force of “military instructors”, highly likely private military contractors, and RUSSIAN AIR FORCE aircraft to support government forces. 

  • RUSSIAN AIR FORCE Il-76 and An-124 have been identified delivering supplies and equipment to BANGUI AIRPORT
  • At least two Mi-8AMTSh attack-transport helicopters have been deployed and are currently being used to fly combat patrols in and around the CAR’s capital BANGUI
  • Russian backed forces in the region have been identified conducting combat patrols with CAR troops and providing training to CAR troops.
  • Russian backed forces have been identified operating Ural-4320 transport trucks, Toyota pickup trucks, and unidentified MRAPs previously seen in service with Russian backed mercenaries in LIBYA

 

22 DEC 2020: A total of 15 Russian aircraft including pair of 182ND HEAVY BOMBER REGIMENT Tu-95MS (including tail. Red 53 RF-94195), at least two Su-35S, and an A-50U conducted a joint training flight PLAAF aircraft over the SEA OF JAPAN. 

28 DEC 2020: The 128TH SURFACE SHIP BRIGADE's STOIKIY (pen. 545), the tug YAKOV GREBELSKIY, and the tanker KOLA passed through the STRAITS OF GIBRALTAR heading east into the MEDITERRANEAN SEA.

29 DEC 2020: Three Russian troops were injured after an ATGM struck their BTR-82A in IDLIB.

31 DEC 2020: Civilians in HOUN protested the presence of Janjaweed and Russian backed private military contractors in the city.

1 JAN 2021: The NORTHERN FLEET has officially been re-designated as a military district.

Details provided by the Janes Intelligence Unit (JIU). For more information on OSINT Force Monitoring, please reach out to the team: https://www.janes.com/defence-and-securityadvisory/janes-intelligence-unit/

November 2020

Region of Focus – Cyber:

No direction home: GNSS could be augmented with LEO satellites, signal verification

17 Nov: Recent history has shown that GNSS jamming can cause disruption. Reports of GNSS jamming in Israel in June 2019, which affected civil aviation around the country, blamed Russian electronic attack systems deployed to neighbouring Syria. Platforms like the R-330Zh were reportedly deployed to Hmeimim airbase, northwest Syria, where Russia maintains a sizeable deployment. Janes Analysis – “It seems unlikely that a single technology or approach will emerge to guarantee the integrity of GNSS transmissions. Instead, a combination of measures may be taken that could help to ensure GNSS signals worldwide are protected from nefarious interference.”

Social media disinformation disrupts EU missions worldwide

20 Nov: Disinformation campaigns that target the EU’s military and civil security missions in Africa and elsewhere to undermine their credibility are rising, according to EU officials. A new approach to analyse and counter the problem will be launched in the coming months. “Policy-makers are under pressure to make decisions quickly regarding regions in crisis. If Russia sows enough doubt about things to delay EU decisions by a week or even a day, that can make a big difference out in the field.”

Technology Developments:

Update: Russia’s Southern Military District receives over 200 pieces of equipment

06 Nov: Russia’s Southern Military District (SMD) received over 200 new and modernised pieces of equipment within a month, the SMD’s press service announced on the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) website on 3 November. Equipment. Janes Analysis – “Judging from past MoD figures, the delivery of new and upgraded equipment to different armed services based within the SMD has gradually dwindled from around 2011. As the ratio of upgraded and modern equipment in the SMD’s inventory increases, reported to account for 66% in the summer of 2019, the focus is shifting away from the Southern and Western Military Districts to the Central and Eastern Military Districts.”

Russia’s CBRN Troops test TOS-2 MRL

17 Nov: Russia’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Protection Troops are testing the TOS-2 Tosochka multiple rocket launcher (MRL), the service’s commander, Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, told the Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper on 13 November. Janes Analysis – “The TOS-1A MRL is among Russia’s best-selling ground platforms. In July the director general of Rostec’s Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheev, said it has been among the top five most popular Russian land systems for almost 20 years of Rosoboronexport’s existence.”

Russia developing tactical hypersonic missile

18 Nov: The Russian defence industry is embarking upon the development of a tactical hypersonic surface-to-surface missile based on the Shipunov Instrument-Making Design Bureau Hermes family of guided weapon systems, according to a 3 November article published in the Russian daily Izvestia. Janes Analysis – “This development may be seen in the context of Russia’s continued drive to introduce hard military power into its force structure. The Russian MoD has emphasised the need for standoff weaponry and extensively pursued long-range precision munitions linked to real-time reconnaissance systems.”

Domestic Affairs:

Russia sends peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh after brokering ceasefire

11 Nov: Russian peacekeepers have arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh after Moscow brokered a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the disputed enclave. President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced in a joint statement on 10 November the ceasefire and complete cessation of hostilities at midnight Moscow time. Janes Analysis – “Russia brokered a shaky ceasefire on 10 October, the first of three brokered that month. However, this latest ceasefire is likely to succeed as it is enforced by Russian peacekeepers and the agreement stipulates some major territorial concessions by the Armenian side.”

Vanishing act: policing new Arctic routes as ice cover retreats

18 Nov: As the polar ice mass above the Arctic Circle rapidly retracts due to global warming, diminishing ice is leading to increased maritime access to Arctic sea routes. The decrease in permanent sea ice, especially from June to September, has exposed coastal borders, driven increased military activity, and set the stage for the Arctic region to play a prominent role in geostrategic competition. Janes Analysis – “Ice-free conditions between the east Siberian Sea and the western Beaufort Sea increased by nearly three months between 1979 and 2012, and the volume of September ice decreased between 1980 and 2018 by about 69% (declining by an average of 70,000 km 2 a year). With the Arctic melt season lengthening, future maritime activity is likely to be an order of magnitude greater by 2050.”

Foreign Affairs:

Russia releases details on naval base in Sudan

12 Nov: Details of a proposed Russian “logistical support point” in Sudan were published by Russia’s legal information website on 11 November. The document has been approved by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and submitted to President Vladimir Putin for his approval. Janes Analysis – “The document included co-ordinates showing the Russian base will be comprised of three areas that are currently inside the Sudanese navy’s base on the north side of Port Sudan, including about 200 m of wharf.”

Sudanese navy gets Russian training ship

26 Nov: Three Egyptian warships, the Perry-class frigate Alexandria, Gowind 2500-class corvette El Fateh and Ezzat-class missile attack craft M Fahmi , passed through Istanbul and entered the Black Sea on 15 November for the week-long exercise, which was held from 17-24 November off the coast of Novorossiysk. Janes Analysis – “Russia and Egypt usually conduct exercise ‘Friendship Bridge’ in the eastern Mediterranean, and the intention behind holding the joint exercise in the Black Sea this year could be related to a third country: Turkey. Relations between Egypt and Turkey have not recovered since the overthrow of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, whom Turkey had strongly supported, in 2013.”

 

OSINT Force Monitoring:

Peacekeeping in Nagorno-Karabakh

Russian forces deployed peacekeeping elements, reportedly 1,920 troops, from multiple units to enforce a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. The primary element of the taskforce is comprised of the 15th Motorised Brigade, which has deployed two battalion tactical groups equipped with BTR-82A, Orlan-10, Leer-3, and mortars. The taskforce is also supported by Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters from the 3624th Air Base and 332nd Helicopter Regiment.

Long range communications for the taskforce appears to be provided by a combination of 15th Motorised Brigade and 91st C3 Brigade units who deployed with some of the first flights into Nagorno-Karabakh.

  • Logistics support has so far been provided by the 30th Motorised Brigade and 92nd Missile Brigade’s logistics units who have both been identified as deployed mobile power generators to the region.
  • Engineering support including the deployment of Uran-6 EOD UGVs has been provided by elements of the 28th Pontoon Bridge Brigade, the 12th Engineer Brigade, and the 15th Motorised Brigade’s engineering company.
  • Other units operating in the region include the 102nd Military Base who have been manning some checkpoints and transportation, the 80th Tank Regiment who have also been spotted manning checkpoints.

Other Operations

  • During November several Russian ships including the destroyer Vitse Admiral Kulakov, the intelligence vessel Viktor Leonov have been identified as operating of the north eastern coast of Scotland in the Moray of Firth.
  • A pair of Russian warships; one Udaloy Class and one Slava Class, were spotted passing through the Singapore Straits.
  • Russian backed PMCs are reported to have deployed a radar to a suburb west of Sirte in the first week of November.

OSINT Force Monitoring Details provided by the Janes Intelligence Unit (JIU). For more information on OSINT Force Monitoring, please reach out to the team: https://www.janes.com/defence-and-security-advisory/janes-intelligence-unit/

October 2020

Region of Focus – Caucasus:

Russia to provide military assistance to Armenia if its major cities come under Azerbaijani attack

16 Oct: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed on 14 October 2020 to deploy its military forces in an observer and/or peacekeeping role to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone to monitor the ceasefire. Russia brokered a ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on 10 September, but it was broken shortly thereafter and fighting has continued unabated. Janes Analysis – “Russia would only deploy its military in support of Armenia in the unlikely case of military attacks on Armenia’s major population centres causing multiple civilian casualties, or in the case of attacks on critical national infrastructure such as power plants.”

 

Naval build-up and modernisation in the Black Sea region

26 Oct: The annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014 marked a seismic event that changed the strategic picture in the Black Sea overnight, decimated the Ukrainian Navy, and handed the Russian Navy a strong grip on much of the northern and central areas. The picture has continued to evolve ever since as regional navies adapt to the new reality. Janes Analysis - “Russia’s emerging anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy seems designed more to keep US Navy (USN) and NATO forces out of key regions within the Euro-Atlantic theatre. Moreover, with new capabilities being deployed to the Black Sea region – like the six latest (Project 636.3) Kalibr sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM)-capable, combat-proven Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines – Russia is seeking to further inflate the surface area of the Black Sea A2/AD ‘bubble’ far out into the eastern Mediterranean.”

 

Technology Developments:

Il-112V planned to enter serial production in 2023

12 Oct: The Russian MoD signed a contract with UAC for the initial batch of two Il-112Vs at the Army 2020 defence exhibition held in Kubinka near Moscow in August. UAC general director Yury Slyusar told media at the show that the two aircraft would be built in the reduced weight configuration. Janes Analysis – “The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade and UAC foresee high demand for the Il-112V so it is being developed for both domestic and international markets. Manturov said VASO can produce 10-15 Il-112Vs a year.”

 

Russia’s T-90M tanks offer all round upgrades

15 Oct: The T-90M Proryv-3 (Breakthrough 3) main battle tank (MBT) upgrade was conceived after the T-14 Armata and has borrowed certain features from its more expensive and advanced cousin. However, the T-90M is less costly than the T-14, and is therefore set to be fielded in larger numbers, while T-14 will be limited to about two tank brigades. Janes Analysis – “T-90M’s role as an economic alternative to T-14 means that it is not likely to be produced as a new-build vehicle in large numbers, but rather would favour upgrading older T-90 models.”

 

Mulling future Russian armour designs

20 Oct: A radical new proposal for a tank to eventually replace the T-14 Armata main battle tank (MBT) was floated by Russian state news outlet TASS during the Armiya 2020 exhibition. The article, originally published on 25 August, includes a description of a future concept for a tank from experts at Russia’s 38th Research and Testing Institute of Armoured Weapons and Equipment. Janes Analysis – “There are several elements of the 38th Institute’s concept that warrant a further investigation. At first glance the use of an articulated hull seems sensible; it would enable the vehicle to reach much higher weights than contemporary tanks and still maintain a good, or even improved, level of mobility.”

 

Domestic Affairs:

Russian Navy fires cruise missile from Arctic island

20 Oct: An NPO Mashinostroyeniya Oniks anti-ship missile has been fired for the first time from the Russian Northern Fleet’s Arctic Trefoil outpost on the Franz Josef Land archipelago. The test firing from a Bastion-P system was announced by the Northern Fleet’s press office on 16 October. Janes Analysis – “The test firing of the Bastion system from the Franz Josef Land archipelago is part of Russia’s continuing build-up of anti-access/area denial capabilities in the Barents Sea region. It comes a month after US and UK warships made a foray into the Barents Sea and appears to be aimed at reinforcing Moscow’s interests in the strategic Arctic region.”

 

Russia demonstrates Orion UAVs

30 Oct: ‘The three Orions were shown arranged on a runway with two control stations, with Russian personnel operating the UAVs in flight. The delivery has not been confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) but the news was reported separately by the Abkhazian Network News Agency and Regnum: an independent news outlet based in Moscow. Janes Analysis – “The Orion is the first UAV to be delivered to Russian forces that has the ability to carry weapons built into its design. Small munitions have been delivered by reconnaissance UAVs deployed by Russian forces in Ukraine but this does not represent the kind of capability that the Orion can purportedly deliver.”

 

Foreign Affairs:

Sudanese navy gets Russian training ship

13 Oct: The Sudanese Naval Forces received a training ship from Russia, the Sudanese Armed Forces announced on 11 October. It said a ceremony was held at the Port Sudan naval base where the Russian flag on the ship was lowered and the Sudanese flag was raised. Janes Analysis – “There were reports that President Omar al-Bashir offered to let Russia use Port Sudan as a naval base before he was ousted in April 2019. Defence relations appear to have continued, despite his demise.”

 

Russia begins delivering T-72B1MS MBTs to Serbia

27 Oct: Russia began delivering the T-72B1 MS White Eagle main battle tanks (MBTs) it is donating to Serbia under an agreement to supply 30 vehicles signed by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Aleksandar Vučić in December 2016, Serbian ambassador to Russia Miroslav Lazanski told the Serbian service of Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik on 30 October. Janes Analysis – “Lazanski did not reveal the number of tanks already delivered to Serbia but local media reported that 10 T-72B1MSs were airlifted by Il-76 transport aircraft from Moscow and Anapa to Batajnica airbase on 28 October and moved to Niš, where the Serbian Army is forming a new independent tank battalion to operate the tanks".

 

OSINT Force Monitoring:

Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh - Russian military activity in the Southern Caucuses is indicative of Moscow’s desire to maintain good relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russian forces are assessed to have deployed light forces to positions along the Armenian side of the southern Armenian-Azerbaijan border, likely to deter Azerbaijani forces from attacking sovereign Armenian territory. It is likely this deployment is an attempt to assure Armenia that Russia guarantees its borders without angering Azerbaijan by providing direct military to support. At the same time Russia’s military attaché to Azerbaijan was photographed visiting the town of Barda, alongside Azerbaijani and international counterparts to assess the damage caused by an Armenian artillery strike.

The Russian Air Force conducted one of the deadliest single airstrikes of the Syrian Civil War killing 78 rebels, and wounding over 135 others including civilians.

A Pantsyr air defence system, highly likely operated by Russian backed PMCs, was deployed to Brak air base in central Libya.

The Russian Ministry of Defence has conducted three tests of new weaponry during OCT 2020, including live fire testing of the 3M-22 Tsirkon hypersonic anti-ship missile and the 53T6M ABM missile.

A Russian destroyer, SEVEROMORSK, is operating within 40 nautical miles of Scotland in the North Sea.

OSINT Force Monitoring content provided by the Janes Intelligence Unit (JIU). For more information please visit here.

September 2020

Region of Focus – The Near Abroad:

Belarusian president likely to hold on to power with Russian help

24 Sep: Two small Russian military outposts are stationed in the country and Moscow is interested in additional military installations, which could potentially be used against Ukraine but also to intimidate NATO neighbours such as Lithuania and Poland. The Belarusian Ministry of Defence is also wary of a potential hybrid war threat from Moscow, similar to the annexation of Crimea in 2014 as Russia increased its military presence along its western borders. Janes Analysis - “The announced holding of bilateral exercises will establish a routine Russian military presence in Belarus that could provide cover for Russian military intervention in support of Lukashenka, should Russia decide on this option.” 

Analysis: fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh unlikely to change the wider situation in the region

01 Oct: The pattern of fighting indicates that the goals of the Azeri forces may be to retake the districts of Fuzuli and Jabrayil, which Armenian forces captured from Azerbaijan during the 1994 conflict in the region. Neither district is within the Nagorno-Karabakh region itself, instead sitting just below it. Janes Analysis – “Military involvement by Moscow is therefore assessed to be unlikely beyond maintenance of the Russian base within Armenia. The strained relations between Moscow and Yerevan caused by the departure of the Republican Party of Armenia in 2018 may serve to further limit the prospect of Russian involvement.”

Technology Developments:

Russia to cancel contract for two Karakurt-class corvettes

23 Sep: The Russian Ministry of Defence is planning to cancel the contract for the construction of two 22800 Karakurt-class corvettes at Vostochnaya Verf shipyard in Vladivostok, and as a result the company is preparing to introduce a part-time working week. The trade union at the shipyard has agreed to this move in order to keep as many of the shipyard’s employees in work as is possible. If the five-day working week was retained, the company would have to reduce its staff by 500 employees. Janes Analysis – “The construction of Project 22800 Karakurt-class corvettes is suffering major delays, primarily due to Germany’s refusal to supply MTU 20V4000TE93 diesel engines as part of the enforcement of sanctions against Russia and the slow production of outdated M-507D-1 engines by JSC Zvezda.”

Russia upgrades nuclear submarines

29 Sep: The Russian Navy will acquire the Project 949A Irkutsk nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine in 2023 after it is overhauled and modernised, following the completion of the upgrade of the Project 971U Magadan nuclear-powered attack submarine in 2022, Russian media reported on 25 September. Janes Analysis – “Today the Russian Navy is in urgent need of carriers of high-accuracy conventional cruise missiles, and the modernisation of Project 949A Antey and Project 971U Shchuka-B submarines will considerably support efforts to improve this capability. However, the Russian shipbuilding industry is not in the best shape and delays are the rule rather than the exception.” 

Russia’s repair and modernisation of Akula submarines inches forward

30 Sep: On 5 August 2020 the Russian Navy’s Project 971 (Schuka-B) Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) Vepr (K 157) was officially placed back in service with the Northern Fleet following the completion of a major overhaul and modernisation programme at Nerpa shipyard in Snezhnogorsk, on the Kola Peninsula. Janes Analysis – “Delays in the Akula repair and modernisation programme are also endemic. In 2016 Zvezdochka’s press-service reported that the shipyard routinely had to begin repair work – dismantling the hull and equipment – while awaiting design documents.” 

Domestic Affairs:

Russia modernises Eastern Military District

23 Sep: Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has reviewed the implementation of the 2019–25 defence plans for the Eastern Military District (EMD) during a meeting of the collegium of the Ministry of Defence in Moscow on 17 September. The EMD covers Russia's border with China and the Asia-Pacific region. Janes Analysis – “The city of Khabarovsk in the Far East has seen strikes and protests since its governor was arrested on questionable charges and taken to Moscow in July, largely it is said for being too popular. Leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny was campaigning in Siberia immediately before he was poisoned in August.”

New Russian military equipment 

01 Oct: ‘Kavkaz 2020’ involved some 80,000 soldiers, including up to 12,900 during active phases, and approximately 1,000 foreign troops from Armenia, Belarus, Myanmar, Pakistan, and China. Janes Analysis – “According to the Russian MoD, troops used combat experience gained through operations in Syria during ‘Kavkaz 2020’, namely integrating reconnaissance and combat assets and countering suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.”

Foreign Affairs:

Russian MiG-29s have crashed in Libya

14 Sep: Rear Admiral Heidi Berg, AFRICOM’s director of intelligence, told reporters on 11 September that the two MiG-29s were being flown by pilots employed by the Wagner Group private military company (PMC). The causes of the crashes are unclear but might indicate a lack of technical skill, she said. Janes Analysis – “There has been no indication whether the Russian Ministry of Defence, which has a large number of retired MiG-29s and Su-24s, donated the aircraft to the Russian PMC in Libya or demanded payment from a company that is being funded from local sources or another of the LNA’s foreign backers, but not Moscow.” 

China has ordered Mi-171Sh helicopters from Russia

18 Sep: In a 14 September news report about Russia’s Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant (U-UAZ, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters), broadcaster Phoenix TV showed footage of one of its reporters standing in front of a Mi-171Sh helicopter bearing what appeared to be PLA markings. Janes Analysis – “The Phoenix TV report did not provide any details about the Mi-171Sh, but it seems that the helicopter shown with the PLA markings at the plant will probably be ready for delivery in the near future.”

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