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 on Russia derived from Janes connected intelligence solutions, including Intelligence Review and OSINT Force Monitor.

Region of Focus: Army 2021

Army 2021: Russia orders Shturm unmanned battle tank system

26th Aug: Russia's Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed the first contract for a prototype of the Shturm (Project Storm)  unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) system based on the T-72 main battle tank (MBT) at the Army 2021 defence exhibition being held in Kubinka from 22 to 28 August, the TASS news agency reported on 24  August. Shturm is a concept based on four T-72B3 MBTs developed by Russia's third Central Scientific Research Institute and T-72 manufacturer Uralvagonzavod.

Janes Analysis: Samuel Bendett, adjunct  senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security think-tank, told Janes on 24 August that the Russian military is seeking to develop technologies for urban warfare operations with minimal possible  soldier involvement, based on its experience in Syria.

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Army 2021: Russian MoD procures equipment, Rosoboronexport signs export contracts 

1st Sep: The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed 41 contracts worth RUB500 billion (USD6.8 billion) with  27 defence enterprises during Army 2021 for the delivery of 1,300 new weapon systems and the refurbishment of 150 existing systems, while Rostec's Rosoboronexport arms exporter inked deals worth  EUR2 billion (USD2.36 billion), Russian officials said at the defence exhibition in Kubinka, near Moscow, from 22 to 28 August. Deputy Defence Minister Alexey Krivoruchko announced the domestic contracts  on 24 August. The MoD signed a contract for 30 upgraded Kamov Ka-52M combat helicopters with Rostec's Russian Helicopters. In 2022 the helicopters will start receiving Vikhr-M guided missiles with a  range of up to 10 km.

Janes Analysis: The Russian MoD mainly ordered cutting-edge systems and high-precision weapons at Army 2021. The exhibition also saw the first export contracts for the upgraded Pantsir-S1M SPAAGM and the Krasukha and Repellent-Patrul EW systems.

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Army 2021: Kronshtadt displays expanded range of weapons for Grom UAV

27th Aug: Russian company Kronshtadt has taken the opportunity at the Army 2021 exhibition being held in  Kubinka near Moscow on 22–28 August to showcase a full-scale mock-up of its Grom (Thunder) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with two Kh-58UShKE anti-radiation missiles. Company officials told  Janes that the Grom has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 7,000 kg with a payload capacity of up to 2,000 kg. The air vehicle can operate out to a distance of 800 km when equipped with two Kh-58UShKE missiles, which weigh a total of 1,300 kg. However, maximum range decreases to 700 km  when fully laden. According to company specifications, the Grom has a length of 13.8 m, a wingspan of 10 m, and a height of 3.8 m. It can attain cruising and maximum speeds of up to 800 km/h and 1,000  km/h respectively, and an operating ceiling of 12,000 m (39,370 ft).

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Technology Developments:

KRET unveils Sapfir C-UAV system

10th Aug: Russia's KRET electronic concern, a subsidiary of state-owned corporation Rostec, has developed a  new counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (C-UAV) system called Sapfir (Sapphire), Vladimir Mikheev, adviser to KRET's First Deputy Director, told Janes in late July. According to Mikheev, the Sapfir C-UAV  system can be manufactured in both stationary and mobile configurations. The mobile variant of the C-UAV system comprises up to four detection-and-jamming stations, while the stationary mast-based variant typically integrates between three and four search/direction finding stations and a jamming  module.

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Checkmate looks to fill gap in emerging light fighter market

11th Aug: With arms deals continuing to be a major source of capital for the Russian government, particularly  during times of oil volatility, Sukhoi recently unveiled the Su-75 Checkmate: a lighter single-engine combat aircraft designed to compete in the emerging light fighter market. This marks a distinct pivot in  fighter sales strategy for Sukhoi and its parent company, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). Over the past decade that strategy was built around sales of Sukhoi's flagship fighter, the Su-30 ‘Flanker', and its  forthcoming advanced variant, the Su-35 ‘Flanker-E'. It also focused on sales to countries looking for affordable fighter aircraft solutions, countries with internal hesitation or restrictions on defence  technology transfers with the United States, or countries with longstanding trade relationships dating back to the Soviet era.

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Russia launches first Project 15310 cable laying ship

24th Aug: The first of the Russian Navy's two Project 15310 cable laying vessels, Volga, was launched at Zaliv  Shipyard in Kerch, eastern Crimea, on 18 August, the shipyard has announced. Volga and sister ship Vyatka were laid down at Zelenodolsk Shipyard in January 2015, with construction subsequently shifting  to Zaliv Shipyard. However, while the hulls were completed by early 2017, progress has since been delayed because of equipment availability issues. The ships are built to Ice-class 5 standard, equipped  with dynamic positioning systems, and have a fight deck forward of the bridge. They can carry 5,500 tonnes of cable and have an endurance of 50 days.

Janes Analysis: The Project 15310 ships are  intended for laying, lifting, and repairing fibre-optic cable communication lines, including in conditions in the Far North. However, as cable laying is well outside GUGI's usual remit – as far as it is known – the  full role of these vessels is the subject of considerable speculation.

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KTRV showcases UAV munitions

31st Aug: Russia's Tactical Missiles Corporation (KTRV) showcased two 100 kg-class precision weapons aimed  at unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) applications at the Army 2021 defence exhibition held from 22–28 August in Kubinka, near Moscow. While the company did not reveal accompanying information for the  displays, one of these had earlier been revealed at the previous year's event alongside Kronshtadt Group's Grom strike-capable UAV with its in-development name of ‘Product 85'. According to  specifications released at the time, the Product 85 munition is understood to be an air-to-ground missile armed with a 30 kg armour-piercing, high-explosive fragmentation warhead. The missile is 2,400 mm  long and 200 mm in diameter (with its stabilising fins increasing overall width to 400 mm), and has an all-up weight of 120 kg.

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Domestic Affairs:

Looking ahead to ‘Zapad-2021'

25th Aug: ‘Zapad-2021' (‘West-2021') is set to be larger in scale and ambition than the 2017 iteration of the  exercise and will serve to indicate Russian support for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko while exploring the capabilities of the modernised Russian armed forces. One aspect of the exercise  this year that will certainly be different from 2017 is the level of Belarusian involvement. In 2017 Lukashenko was ostensibly reserved in his public attitude towards a Russian troop presence in Belarus. Indeed, during 2014–20 Belarus sought to balance its relations between the West and Russia, outwardly leaning neither way and currying favour with both when possible.

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Russia practises using civilian docks and vessels in military operations ahead of ‘Zapad 2021'

25th Aug: Russian forces have conducted special logistics exercises in the Leningrad Oblast in the Baltic ports of  Vyborg close to the Finnish border and Ust-Luga near the Estonian border, the Western Military District (WMD) announced on Russia's Ministry of Defence (MoD) website on 23 August. The WMD said the  exercises focused on a military force taking over and defending civilian ports, and commandeering civilian cargo vessels and ferries to transport military equipment and personnel.

Janes Analysis: This  exercise marks a novel capability test for Russia's armed forces. The capability to utilise civilian docks and vessels is almost never demonstrated by Russian forces during exercises. Russian troops typically  rely on the navy's amphibious lift capability to move troops and equipment.

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Silo upgrade work identified at Russian ballistic missile facility

18th Aug: By June 2020, groundworks had started at one of the silo sites and co-located launch control facilities  of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces (Raketnye voyska strategicheskogo naznacheniya: RVSN) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) complex located approximately 20 km southwest of Uzhur in the  Krasnoyarsk Krai Oblast (55.114840, 89.634016). This site belongs to the 62nd Missile Division (MD) of the 33rd Guards Missile Army and is one of six operated by the 302nd Missile Regiment (MR) armed  with RS-20V/R-36M2 (SS-18 ‘Satan') ICBMs. One silo located at this position was designated 12C by the US intelligence community (USIC) as far back as 1966, according to Freedom of Information Act  (FOIA) data available from CIA records. The silos operated by the 302nd MR are within ‘Launch Group C (Uzhur)', according to the documents. 

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Foreign Affairs:

Kazakhstan to receive additional Su-30SM fighters by end of 2022

26th Aug: The Kazakhstan Air Defence Forces (KADF) will receive four Sukhoi Su-30SM ‘Flanker-H' multirole  fighter aircraft from Russia by the end of 2022, the Director of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Dmitry Shugayev, was quoted by Russia's TASS news agency as saying on 25 August. Shugayev noted that 20 Su-30SMs have been delivered to the KADF so far, adding that the  latest batch of aircraft to be delivered next year is part of an ongoing contract. Janes understands that these four aircraft will complete the KADF's second squadron of 12 Su-30SMs. The Kazakh government  first expressed its intention to buy a second squadron of Su-30SMs in August 2017 as part of a framework agreement signed with Russia.

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Large-scale exercise points to growing Sino-Russian military co-operation

11th Aug: In a sign of growing military co-operation between Moscow and Beijing, about 13,000 Russian and  Chinese troops have taken part in the ‘Sibu/Interaction 2021' exercise, marking the first time that such joint strategic military drills are held in China. The five-day-long manoeuvres began on 9 August at the  Qingtongxia combat training base in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in north-central China. Taking part in the large-scale manoeuvres were mainly troops from the PLA's Western Theatre Command and Russia's Eastern Military District, with the Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MND) saying ahead of the drills that they were aimed at “verifying and improving the troops' capabilities of joint reconnaissance,  search and early warning, electronic information attack, and joint strike and elimination”.

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OSINT Force Monitoring

1. Russian forces in the Western Military District continue to deploy to training grounds and conduct exercises in preparation for ZAPAD-2021:

  • The Western Military District announced on 07 August that some 6,000 troops would take part in battalion tactical group exercises across ten regions of north west Russia.
  • The Western Military District announced on 07 August that some 6,000 troops would take part in battalion tactical group exercises across ten regions of north west Russia.
  • The 132nd Mixed Aviation Division began command staff exercises in the Kaliningrad region. o Northern Fleet naval infantry have conducted joint exercises with their Baltic Fleet counter-parts in Kaliningrad.
  • Russian logistics troops began novel exercises at two civilian ports in the Leningrad region, where they practiced the loading of military equipment –including tanks and artillery – onto civilian vessels.
  • Russian railway troops began construction of a third railway-pontoon bridge over the Volga river near Myshkin in the Yaroslavl region, bringing the total number currently deployed in the region to as many as three.

 

2. The Southern Military District began wide-scale battalion tactical group exercises involving between 6,500 and 10,000 troops. The exercises will take place across the Southern Military District and run between 09  August and 15 September.

3. Russian-backed mercenaries began a recruitment campaign aiming to recruit Syrians to operate as guards for oil and mineral plants in the Central African Republic.

4. Reports indicate three fighters (one Russian and two Syrian) working for a Russian-backed private military  company in Libya where killed when their vehicle struck a mine. A further two Russian nationals were allegedly killed during a firefight in the Central African Republic.

5. Russian and Russian-backed forces have deployed into Daraa governate in attempt to restore peace 
following clashes between locals and pro-government forces.

 

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Threat Intelligence

Case studies

October 2021

Region of Focus: Western Pacific 

Chinese, Russian navies conclude first joint patrols in Western Pacific 

27th Oct: The Chinese and Russian navies have concluded their first-ever joint patrols in international waters east of Japan in the Western Pacific: a further indication of the growing defence co-operation between the two countries that has been raising concerns among the United States and its allies. The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement that the patrols, which took place from 17 to 23 October, involved five warships from each navy, with the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) being represented by Type 055 destroyer Nanchang, Type 052D destroyer Kumming, Type 054A frigates Liuzhou and Binzhou, and Type 903A replenishment vessel Dongpinghu.

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Strategic rapprochement: The growing Sino-Russian defence co-operation 

19th Oct: Speaking to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in January 2019 Daniel Coates, then director of National Intelligence, said that China and Russia had become “more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s”, noting that their bilateral relationship was likely to strengthen over the coming years as some of their interests and threat perceptions converged, particularly regarding perceived US unilateralism and interventionism. This competition would cut across all domains, involve a race for technological and military superiority, and be increasingly about values, as Moscow and Beijing seek to expand their global influence while eroding once-established security norms and aggravating the risk of regional conflicts, particularly in the Middle East and East Asia, said Coates at the time.

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Nowhere to hide: Undersea networks target the challenges of the deep 

20th Oct: A new type of underwater warfare seeks to create distributed networked systems composed of unmanned vehicles, surface and undersea sensors, and communications and power nodes. These diffused maritime battle networks are intended to provide greater command and control (C2) over smaller and more profuse at-sea elements capable of persistent underwater surveillance. Other mission roles include detecting and tracking submarines for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), locating mines and other explosive ordnance to aid mine countermeasures (MCM), and identifying terrorism events, coastal incursions, and even ship and/or force vulnerabilities.

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Technology Developments:

S-500 enters service in Moscow region 

14th Oct: The first S-500 55R6M Prometey (Prometheus) strategic air-defence system has entered service with a unit in the Moscow region, the TASS news agency reported on 13 October, citing a source close to the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD). The first regimental set is to be followed by a second in the first half of 2022, the source added. No official announcement has been made by the MoD, but Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told the RIA Novosti news agency in September that deliveries were under way to Russian forces. These initial S-500 units may be intended primarily for training purposes or limited service, as the Izvestia newspaper reported on 12 October that Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov has said serial production and deliveries of the S-500 are scheduled for 2025.

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Russia's Caspian Flotilla deploys UAVs at sea for first time 

13th Oct: Russia's Caspian Flotilla has used ship-launched unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the first time to monitor and adjust the effects of cruise missile strikes against coastal targets, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported on 12 October. The UAVs included the Orlan-10 and Eleron-3, which were launched from the deck of the Gepard-class frigate Dagestan to monitor the effects of Kalibr cruise missiles fired from the Buyan-M-class corvette Veliky Ustyug, the MoD said.

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Russia to conduct mass testing of Uran-9 UGV in 2022 

13th Oct: The Russian Ground Forces are to conduct large-scale tests of the Uran-9 armed unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) in 2022 to inform decisions on the total number of Uran-9s to be procured, the service's chief, General Oleg Salyukov, told the Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper on 1 October. Gen Salyukov indicated that both the Uran-9 combat UGV and the Nerekhta reconnaissance UGV would be accepted into service by the Russian Ground Forces during the course of 2022 and that “experimental military service” would be carried out using these systems. The results of these trials will inform decisions about the optimal number of UGVs to procure to meet the needs of the Russian Ground Forces, he said.

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Russian 1st Guards Tank Army equipment spotted in Voronezh 

11th Nov: Russia has deployed at least 60 tanks, supported by infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), and self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) from the Moscow area to Maslovka railway station south of the city of Voronezh and less than 250 km from the Ukrainian border. During Russia's spring 2021 build-up on the Ukrainian border, Maslovka railway station was one of the main stations used by Central Military District (CMD) forces deploying from Siberia to the Voronezh region. This CMD equipment was stored at Pogonovo between spring and early October, when it began redeployment. By 27 October satellite imagery showed Pogonovo's vehicle stores to be totally empty and the CMD equipment stored there redeployed to a garrison in Yelnya, Smolensk, near the Belarusian border. Already a Janes customer? Click here to read more.

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Domestic Affairs:

Russian airborne forces retool for expanded role 

25th Oct: The ‘winged infantry' of Russia's Airborne Troops (Vozdushno Desantniye Voyska: VDV) is an arm of service in its own right, with a strength of 45,000 paratroopers and rising, as well as a distinctive culture and esprit de corps. With its blue berets and blue striped telnyashka vests, the VDV is a fixture of parades and military open days, but it has long suffered from a tension in its roles. Historically, parachute divisions were envisaged as strategic forces at the disposal of the General Staff, while air assault units were operational forces supporting Military District commands. However, in practice they were repeatedly – from Afghanistan to Chechnya – pressed into service as light infantry because they had the toughness and willingness to act with the initiative that a mission demanded.

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Central Military District pulls more equipment from vehicle stores on Ukrainian border 

28th Oct: The Russian Central Military District's (CMD's) 41st Combined Arms Army has begun withdrawing equipment from the Pogonovo training ground south of Voronezh city and loading it on to trains at Maslovka railway station. Video and imagery sourced from social media and analysed by Janes has revealed the loading of large quantities of equipment at Maslovka railway station, including 2S19 self-propelled guns, T-72BM and T-72B1 main battle tanks, and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles. Janes has also been able to confirm that equipment belonging to the 41st Combined Arms Army's 35th Motorised Brigade has been loaded on to trains at Maslovka.

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Russia to extend service life of UR-100N ‘Stiletto' ICBM to 2023 

31st Oct: The service life of Russia's UR-100N (SS-19 ‘Stiletto') intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is to be extended to 2023, NPO Mashinostroyenia general director Alexander Leonov told the RIA Novosti news agency on 18 October. The last UR-100N missile was delivered to Soviet forces in 1985 with a guaranteed service life of 10 years, which Leonov said was repeatedly extended by checking the missile's fuel tanks, the condition of the liquid propellant, and the safety margins of the load-bearing structures. The first silo-based UR-100N variant entered service in 1979 and was modified three times to become the UR-100NUTTH (SS-19 Mod 3), which carried six multiple independent re-entry vehicle (MIRV) warheads.

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Foreign Affairs:

Russian casualties mounting in CAR 

15th Oct: Reports indicate 11 Russian-backed contractors have been killed in the Central Africa Republic (CAR) since August: the first consistent reports of Russians fatalities since their deployment in 2018. Correlating reports from the CAR-based news agency Corbeau News and the Nigeria-based HumAngle Media, Janes has identified four instances that resulted in the deaths of Russian-backed contractors. Most recently, on 12 October, five foreign contractors were killed in an ambush laid by rebels in the Bombo area in western CAR. Three contractors were reportedly killed in an ambush near Bombo on 2 October. A contractor was killed when rebels ambushed a convoy near the Cameroonian border on 1 September. A further two Russian-backed contractors were reportedly killed in a rebel ambush in Koui, close to the CAR's border with Cameroon on 5 August.

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Russia increases military engagement in south Caucasus 

23rd Oct: During the 45-day conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh during September–October 2020, there was intense speculation that Russia would intervene on the side of Armenia. Russian forces had previously backed Armenia in the first rounds of the fighting for Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s and have since maintained a garrison near the Armenian capital, Yerevan. Moscow's historic links to Christian Armenia and its recent policy of being loyal to its allies in Syria suggested that Russia would side with Yerevan against Baku's forces. In the end, Moscow declined to be drawn directly into the conflict, stating that its military obligations to Armenia only came into effect if Armenian territory was directly threatened. Russian forces only intervened when the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave populated by ethnic Armenians appeared to be on the brink of collapse.

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'Zapad-2021' shows advances in Russian military capabilities since 2017 

7th Oct: During The Russian military announced on 29 September that its forces had completed their withdrawal from Belarus that day, following the conclusion of ‘Zapad-2021' strategic exercises on 17 September. The scenario for Zapad-2021 was similar to that of its predecessor in 2017: an alliance of NATO countries conducting a limited invasion of Belarus following a period of political instability instigated by Western forces. For the purposes of the exercise, all parties were given pseudonyms; Belarus became ‘Polesei', Russia ‘the Central Federation', and their alliance ‘the Northern Coalition'. The NATO countries, ‘Nyaris' (Lithuania), Pomorie (Poland), and ‘the Polar Republic' (parts of Latvia and components of NATO partner forces in Poland), represent a belief or hope within the Russian military that a conflict with NATO would initially be limited in scope, enabling the Russian armed forces and Kremlin to manage escalation and limit its horizontal growth. This belief in turn determines the forces and means committed to the fight, with the intention of using only the forces needed to achieve the desired goals of protecting Belarus and forcing peace with NATO before the conflict escalates beyond control.

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OSINT Force Monitoring

  • Central Military District equipment deployed to Voronezh on the Ukrainian border in the spring of 2021 has been withdrawn and moved north to a new storage facility in Smolensk on the Belarusian border. 
  • Elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army have been identified in the Bryansk and Kursk regions on the northern Ukrainian border.
  • Elements of Russia’s Pacific Fleet conducted joint exercises with the PLA Navy (PLAN) in the Sea of Japan. The exercise involved seven surface combatants and two submarines from the Pacific Fleet and PLAN, supported by twelve aircraft including Russian Ka-27 and Su-30SM. Vessels from the two nations conducted relatively standard joint operations between 14 – 17 October, including anti-submarine warfare drills, take-off and landing exercises with shipborne helicopters, air defence exercises, and live artillery firing.
  • The joint squadron did not disperse and return to base as expected following the official end of exercises on 17 October. Instead on 18 October, a force of ten surface vessels – five from each nation – passed through the Tsugaru Straits, which separate two of the Japanese home islands, and sailed around the eastern coast of Japan before passing into the East China Sea on 22 – 23 October.
  • The Autumn conscription period began on 05 October and will run until 31 December. Some 127,000 civilians will be conscripted from across Russia, with the majority of conscripts expected to be deployed the Central, Western, and Southern Military Districts.
  • A brigade set of S-500 entered service with the 15th Special Purpose Air Defence Army in the Moscow region.
  • Russian forces took part in large-scale CSTO exercises in Tajikistan involving some 4,000 troops from Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan. The exercises are aimed at preparing CSTO forces for potential fighting in the region caused by the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
  • Five Russian-backed mercenaries were reportedly killed in an ambush on 12 October in Bombo, Central African Republic, bringing the total number of Russian-backed fatalities in the country to fourteen since July 2021.

 

September 2021

Region of Focus: Army 2021

Army 2021: Russia orders Shturm unmanned battle tank system

26th Aug: Russia's Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed the first contract for a prototype of the Shturm (Project Storm)  unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) system based on the T-72 main battle tank (MBT) at the Army 2021 defence exhibition being held in Kubinka from 22 to 28 August, the TASS news agency reported on 24  August. Shturm is a concept based on four T-72B3 MBTs developed by Russia's third Central Scientific Research Institute and T-72 manufacturer Uralvagonzavod.

Janes Analysis: Samuel Bendett, adjunct  senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security think-tank, told Janes on 24 August that the Russian military is seeking to develop technologies for urban warfare operations with minimal possible  soldier involvement, based on its experience in Syria.

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Army 2021: Russian MoD procures equipment, Rosoboronexport signs export contracts 

1st Sep: The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed 41 contracts worth RUB500 billion (USD6.8 billion) with  27 defence enterprises during Army 2021 for the delivery of 1,300 new weapon systems and the refurbishment of 150 existing systems, while Rostec's Rosoboronexport arms exporter inked deals worth  EUR2 billion (USD2.36 billion), Russian officials said at the defence exhibition in Kubinka, near Moscow, from 22 to 28 August. Deputy Defence Minister Alexey Krivoruchko announced the domestic contracts  on 24 August. The MoD signed a contract for 30 upgraded Kamov Ka-52M combat helicopters with Rostec's Russian Helicopters. In 2022 the helicopters will start receiving Vikhr-M guided missiles with a  range of up to 10 km.

Janes Analysis: The Russian MoD mainly ordered cutting-edge systems and high-precision weapons at Army 2021. The exhibition also saw the first export contracts for the upgraded Pantsir-S1M SPAAGM and the Krasukha and Repellent-Patrul EW systems.

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Army 2021: Kronshtadt displays expanded range of weapons for Grom UAV

27th Aug: Russian company Kronshtadt has taken the opportunity at the Army 2021 exhibition being held in  Kubinka near Moscow on 22–28 August to showcase a full-scale mock-up of its Grom (Thunder) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with two Kh-58UShKE anti-radiation missiles. Company officials told  Janes that the Grom has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 7,000 kg with a payload capacity of up to 2,000 kg. The air vehicle can operate out to a distance of 800 km when equipped with two Kh-58UShKE missiles, which weigh a total of 1,300 kg. However, maximum range decreases to 700 km  when fully laden. According to company specifications, the Grom has a length of 13.8 m, a wingspan of 10 m, and a height of 3.8 m. It can attain cruising and maximum speeds of up to 800 km/h and 1,000  km/h respectively, and an operating ceiling of 12,000 m (39,370 ft).

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Technology Developments:

KRET unveils Sapfir C-UAV system

10th Aug: Russia's KRET electronic concern, a subsidiary of state-owned corporation Rostec, has developed a  new counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (C-UAV) system called Sapfir (Sapphire), Vladimir Mikheev, adviser to KRET's First Deputy Director, told Janes in late July. According to Mikheev, the Sapfir C-UAV  system can be manufactured in both stationary and mobile configurations. The mobile variant of the C-UAV system comprises up to four detection-and-jamming stations, while the stationary mast-based variant typically integrates between three and four search/direction finding stations and a jamming  module.

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Checkmate looks to fill gap in emerging light fighter market

11th Aug: With arms deals continuing to be a major source of capital for the Russian government, particularly  during times of oil volatility, Sukhoi recently unveiled the Su-75 Checkmate: a lighter single-engine combat aircraft designed to compete in the emerging light fighter market. This marks a distinct pivot in  fighter sales strategy for Sukhoi and its parent company, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). Over the past decade that strategy was built around sales of Sukhoi's flagship fighter, the Su-30 ‘Flanker', and its  forthcoming advanced variant, the Su-35 ‘Flanker-E'. It also focused on sales to countries looking for affordable fighter aircraft solutions, countries with internal hesitation or restrictions on defence  technology transfers with the United States, or countries with longstanding trade relationships dating back to the Soviet era.

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Russia launches first Project 15310 cable laying ship

24th Aug: The first of the Russian Navy's two Project 15310 cable laying vessels, Volga, was launched at Zaliv  Shipyard in Kerch, eastern Crimea, on 18 August, the shipyard has announced. Volga and sister ship Vyatka were laid down at Zelenodolsk Shipyard in January 2015, with construction subsequently shifting  to Zaliv Shipyard. However, while the hulls were completed by early 2017, progress has since been delayed because of equipment availability issues. The ships are built to Ice-class 5 standard, equipped  with dynamic positioning systems, and have a fight deck forward of the bridge. They can carry 5,500 tonnes of cable and have an endurance of 50 days.

Janes Analysis: The Project 15310 ships are  intended for laying, lifting, and repairing fibre-optic cable communication lines, including in conditions in the Far North. However, as cable laying is well outside GUGI's usual remit – as far as it is known – the  full role of these vessels is the subject of considerable speculation.

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KTRV showcases UAV munitions

31st Aug: Russia's Tactical Missiles Corporation (KTRV) showcased two 100 kg-class precision weapons aimed  at unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) applications at the Army 2021 defence exhibition held from 22–28 August in Kubinka, near Moscow. While the company did not reveal accompanying information for the  displays, one of these had earlier been revealed at the previous year's event alongside Kronshtadt Group's Grom strike-capable UAV with its in-development name of ‘Product 85'. According to  specifications released at the time, the Product 85 munition is understood to be an air-to-ground missile armed with a 30 kg armour-piercing, high-explosive fragmentation warhead. The missile is 2,400 mm  long and 200 mm in diameter (with its stabilising fins increasing overall width to 400 mm), and has an all-up weight of 120 kg.

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Domestic Affairs:

Looking ahead to ‘Zapad-2021'

25th Aug: ‘Zapad-2021' (‘West-2021') is set to be larger in scale and ambition than the 2017 iteration of the  exercise and will serve to indicate Russian support for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko while exploring the capabilities of the modernised Russian armed forces. One aspect of the exercise  this year that will certainly be different from 2017 is the level of Belarusian involvement. In 2017 Lukashenko was ostensibly reserved in his public attitude towards a Russian troop presence in Belarus. Indeed, during 2014–20 Belarus sought to balance its relations between the West and Russia, outwardly leaning neither way and currying favour with both when possible.

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Russia practises using civilian docks and vessels in military operations ahead of ‘Zapad 2021'

25th Aug: Russian forces have conducted special logistics exercises in the Leningrad Oblast in the Baltic ports of  Vyborg close to the Finnish border and Ust-Luga near the Estonian border, the Western Military District (WMD) announced on Russia's Ministry of Defence (MoD) website on 23 August. The WMD said the  exercises focused on a military force taking over and defending civilian ports, and commandeering civilian cargo vessels and ferries to transport military equipment and personnel.

Janes Analysis: This  exercise marks a novel capability test for Russia's armed forces. The capability to utilise civilian docks and vessels is almost never demonstrated by Russian forces during exercises. Russian troops typically  rely on the navy's amphibious lift capability to move troops and equipment.

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Silo upgrade work identified at Russian ballistic missile facility

18th Aug: By June 2020, groundworks had started at one of the silo sites and co-located launch control facilities  of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces (Raketnye voyska strategicheskogo naznacheniya: RVSN) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) complex located approximately 20 km southwest of Uzhur in the  Krasnoyarsk Krai Oblast (55.114840, 89.634016). This site belongs to the 62nd Missile Division (MD) of the 33rd Guards Missile Army and is one of six operated by the 302nd Missile Regiment (MR) armed  with RS-20V/R-36M2 (SS-18 ‘Satan') ICBMs. One silo located at this position was designated 12C by the US intelligence community (USIC) as far back as 1966, according to Freedom of Information Act  (FOIA) data available from CIA records. The silos operated by the 302nd MR are within ‘Launch Group C (Uzhur)', according to the documents. 

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Foreign Affairs:

Kazakhstan to receive additional Su-30SM fighters by end of 2022

26th Aug: The Kazakhstan Air Defence Forces (KADF) will receive four Sukhoi Su-30SM ‘Flanker-H' multirole  fighter aircraft from Russia by the end of 2022, the Director of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Dmitry Shugayev, was quoted by Russia's TASS news agency as saying on 25 August. Shugayev noted that 20 Su-30SMs have been delivered to the KADF so far, adding that the  latest batch of aircraft to be delivered next year is part of an ongoing contract. Janes understands that these four aircraft will complete the KADF's second squadron of 12 Su-30SMs. The Kazakh government  first expressed its intention to buy a second squadron of Su-30SMs in August 2017 as part of a framework agreement signed with Russia.

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Large-scale exercise points to growing Sino-Russian military co-operation

11th Aug: In a sign of growing military co-operation between Moscow and Beijing, about 13,000 Russian and  Chinese troops have taken part in the ‘Sibu/Interaction 2021' exercise, marking the first time that such joint strategic military drills are held in China. The five-day-long manoeuvres began on 9 August at the  Qingtongxia combat training base in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in north-central China. Taking part in the large-scale manoeuvres were mainly troops from the PLA's Western Theatre Command and Russia's Eastern Military District, with the Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MND) saying ahead of the drills that they were aimed at “verifying and improving the troops' capabilities of joint reconnaissance,  search and early warning, electronic information attack, and joint strike and elimination”.

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OSINT Force Monitoring

1. Russian forces in the Western Military District continue to deploy to training grounds and conduct exercises in preparation for ZAPAD-2021:

  • The Western Military District announced on 07 August that some 6,000 troops would take part in battalion tactical group exercises across ten regions of north west Russia.
  • The Western Military District announced on 07 August that some 6,000 troops would take part in battalion tactical group exercises across ten regions of north west Russia.
  • The 132nd Mixed Aviation Division began command staff exercises in the Kaliningrad region. o Northern Fleet naval infantry have conducted joint exercises with their Baltic Fleet counter-parts in Kaliningrad.
  • Russian logistics troops began novel exercises at two civilian ports in the Leningrad region, where they practiced the loading of military equipment –including tanks and artillery – onto civilian vessels.
  • Russian railway troops began construction of a third railway-pontoon bridge over the Volga river near Myshkin in the Yaroslavl region, bringing the total number currently deployed in the region to as many as three.

 

2. The Southern Military District began wide-scale battalion tactical group exercises involving between 6,500 and 10,000 troops. The exercises will take place across the Southern Military District and run between 09  August and 15 September.

3. Russian-backed mercenaries began a recruitment campaign aiming to recruit Syrians to operate as guards for oil and mineral plants in the Central African Republic.

4. Reports indicate three fighters (one Russian and two Syrian) working for a Russian-backed private military  company in Libya where killed when their vehicle struck a mine. A further two Russian nationals were allegedly killed during a firefight in the Central African Republic.

5. Russian and Russian-backed forces have deployed into Daraa governate in attempt to restore peace 
following clashes between locals and pro-government forces.

 

To learn more about our OSINT Force Monitoring service please click HERE

August 2021

Region of Focus: Training Exercises

Russian troops training with Chinese equipment ahead of strategic exercise with PLA – 6 Aug

Russian troops set to take part in the 9–13 August ‘Sibu/Interaction 2021' strategic military exercise with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) have been familiarising themselves with Chinese military equipment in preparation for the joint manoeuvres: an indication of the growing military co-operation between Moscow and Beijing. Video footage released by the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 3 August shows Russian troops – under the guidance of PLA instructors – training on Chinese 8×8 vehicles, including the ZTL-11 fire support vehicle and the ZBL-09 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). Janes Analysis: The Sino-Russian military-technical co-operation has accelerated in recent years driven by an increasing alignment of interests and security concerns. The main reason behind this is the mutual desire to challenge the dominant position of the United States in the international sphere and to provide a level of insulation from some US foreign policy decisions.

Russian nuclear submarines conduct joint extreme depth exercises – 20 Jul

An unspecified number of Russian Northern Fleet nuclear-powered submarines have completed extreme depth exercises together in the Barents and Norwegian seas, Russia's Federation Council has announced. During the manoeuvres, which took place from 2–16 July, crews worked out tasks and tested weapon systems “at depths of more than 500 m, which is the limit for most modern submarines”, the Federation Council's press service stated on 16 July. The Barents Sea runs only to a depth of 300 m, while the open Norwegian Sea is nearly 4,000 m in depth. Northern Fleet rescue vessels Georgy Titov and Nikolai Chiker stood by while NATO warships and at least 10 NATO maritime patrol aircraft monitored proceedings daily, the Federation Council said. Janes Analysis: Nuclear submarines training alone, collectively, at maximum depth is an unusual occurrence. The objectives of all submarine fleets is to remain stealthy and undetected, if necessary by diving to extreme depth. The prime deployment objective of Russia's strategic deterrent submarines of the Northern Fleet is to get quickly into the deep, open waters of the Atlantic.

Technology Developments

Analysis: Checkmate looks to fill gap in emerging light fighter market – 11 Aug

Sukhoi's Su-75 Checkmate light fighter has projected performance characteristics and a competitive price tag that appear to make it an attractive option. However, this does not mean that the Checkmate is guaranteed success in an increasingly crowded market, writes Hamilton Cook. With arms deals continuing to be a major source of capital for the Russian government, particularly during times of oil volatility, Sukhoi recently unveiled the Su-75 Checkmate: a lighter single-engine combat aircraft designed to compete in the emerging light fighter market. This marks a distinct pivot in fighter sales strategy for Sukhoi and its parent company, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). Over the past decade that strategy was built around sales of Sukhoi's flagship fighter, the Su-30 ‘Flanker', and its forthcoming advanced variant, the Su-35 ‘Flanker-E'. It also focused on sales to countries looking for affordable fighter aircraft solutions, countries with internal hesitation or restrictions on defence technology transfers with the United States, or countries with longstanding trade relationships dating back to the Soviet era.

Technical hurdles remain in DEW counterspace applications – 3 Aug

Russia's apparent test of a co-orbital satellite kill system in July 2020 underlined many countries' interest in improving their counterspace activities. Several countries – including China, India, Russia, and the United States – have demonstrated this capability, ranging from ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) systems to the deployment and operation of co-orbital systems. The need to defend space-based assets is of high importance given the reliance placed on them for both civilian and military purposes. Janes Analysis: The deployment of a US space-based DEW system would most likely result in both China and Russia developing countermeasures to confuse the DEW's targeting and tracking systems, potentially involving a more careful selection of materials used in satellite and missile construction that would take into account material properties such as reflectivity, absorption, and emissivity.

MAKS 2021: Kalashnikov considers integrating Vikhr-1 missiles onto additional aircraft – 23 Jul

Russia's Kalashnikov Group is studying integration of Vikhr-1 (AT-16 ‘Scallion') anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) onto a range of new platforms, a representative of the company told Janes at the MAKS 2021 air show, held in Zhukovsky near Moscow from 20 to 25 July. “The Kalashnikov Group is considering integration of the Vikhr missile [onto] the Mi-28NE and Mi-35P helicopters and the Orion-E [unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)],” said the Kalashnikov official. He added that the holding continues to modify the Vikhr air-launched ATGM for various aircraft. Janes Analysis: The Vikhr-1, an upgrade of the original Vikhr air-launched ATGM, was unveiled at last year's Army 2020 defence show in Kubinka near Moscow. It has a range of up to 10 km and a velocity of 600 m/s. The containerised missile weighs about 50 kg.

Sprut-SDM1 light tank to complete state trials in early 2022 – 19 Jul

The state trials of Russia's Sprut-SDM1 light amphibious tank will be completed in early 2022, state corporation Rostec reported on 16 July. “Then the tank will be ready for serial production and adoption by the Russian military,” said Rostec's press department in a news release. By mid-July the system had completed the first stage of amphibious trials, including integration with landing ships. The second stage, including firing the tank's 2A75 125 mm smoothbore gun from the water at Sea State 3 (waves up to 1.25 m), is about to start soon. Meanwhile, the running trials of the Sprut-SDM1 are continuing. “The vehicle is set to cover 8,000 km in order to have its subsystems checked,” said Rostec. The light tank will start its climatic trials at low temperatures in the autumn. Janes Analysis: The Sprut-SM1 is being developed for the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV). However, the industrial director of Rostec's armament cluster, Bekhan Ozdoyev, marked the Asian and Middle East markets as potential foreign customers for the light tank, which has been adapted for mountainous and tropical environments.

Domestic Affairs

First footage of Russia's S-500 air defence system released – 21 Jul

The first footage of the Almaz-Antey S-500 Prometey (‘Prometheus') air and missile defence system (GRAU designation 55R6M), shown conducting a test launch, has been released by the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) via a video published on its YouTube channel on 20 July. The missile shown being launched was reported to have successfully intercepted a “high-speed ballistic target” during test firings at the Kapustin Yar range, about 100 km east of Volgograd, according to the video. Once tests are complete, the system is to enter service with air defence formations in the Moscow region, the video added. Janes Analysis: The completion of the S-500 system's development has been expected for a long time, with initial news regarding the project surfacing around 2009. This footage comes after a 28 June announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia's new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile, and the S-500 system were all due to enter service shortly.

Russia moves equipment away from training ground near Ukrainian border – 22 Jul

Video footage and imagery sourced from social media and analysed by Janes between 13 July and 21 July appears to show that Russia has begun to withdraw equipment from a training ground in Voronezh, close to the Ukrainian border. The equipment, which is assessed by Janes to belong to the Central Military District's 41 st Combined Arms Army, was deployed thousands of kilometres from central Russia to Voronezh during a build-up of forces in March and April. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed on 22 April that the 41 st Combined Arms Army's equipment would not return to central Russia until after it took part in ‘Zapad-2021': a large-scale Western Military District exercise scheduled to take place in September. Janes Analysis: It is likely that the withdrawal of equipment began around 13 July and has continued at a steady pace over the subsequent days. At the time of writing, Janes has not been able to definitively ascertain where the trains carrying the equipment from Maslovka are heading. It is possible the vehicles are being deployed to another location in the Western Military District to conduct exercises ahead of ‘Zapad-2021', which the Russian Ministry of Defence claimed they would do.

Foreign Affairs

Russia makes commercial offer to India for MiG-29 procurement – 22 Jul

Russia has made a commercial offer to India for the requested procurement of 21 second-hand Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Russia's TASS news agency quoted Valeria Reshetnikova, a spokesperson for Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), as saying on 21 July that the commercial offer was made in response to a tender inquiry sent by IAF staff for the procurement of the fighters in 2021. The statement was made during the MAKS 2021 international aerospace show, held in Zhukovsky near Moscow from 20 to 25 July. It comes after the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) approved in early July 2020 a combined INR181.48 billion (USD2.43 billion) for the procurement of 21 Mikoyan MiG-29 and 12 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter aircraft for the IAF amid heightened tensions between India and China over a border dispute along the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) in the Himalayas. Janes Analysis: The additional 21 MiG-29s would supplement the 59 aircraft of the type that were inducted into IAF service from 1986 and are gradually being upgraded to MiG-29UPG standard at the IAF's Base Repair Depot in Nashik, western India, under a INR38.42 billion (USD507 million) programme agreed with Russia in 2008.

Update: Moscow opposes establishment of US military bases in Central Asia – 19 Jul

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has expressed Moscow's opposition to the United States setting up military bases in Central Asia once the withdrawal of US and coalition forces from Afghanistan is completed by the end of August. Washington is looking at additional ‘offshore, over-the-horizon options' to conduct counter-terrorism activities in Afghanistan, if required, and US diplomats have been in contact with several countries in Central Asia to find new places to base US overhead intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets and other capabilities.

Sailing through troubled waters: Implications of UK, Russia standoff in the Black Sea – 9 Jul

On 23 June the UK Royal Navy (RN) Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender took a direct route from Odessa in Ukraine to its next sea area off Georgia, entering Russia's declared territorial waters off the Crimean Peninsula. The United Kingdom does not recognise Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and considered itself to be in Ukrainian territorial waters. What Defender actually did – conduct innocent passage – was well within international maritime law. That was not how Russia saw it, however, and its response, according to its own state reports, was to fire warning shots and conduct preventive bombing

           

OSINT Force Monitoring

  • Russian forces – assessed by Janes to be part of the 41st Combined Arms Army – were identified loading onto trains at Maslovka railway station in southern Voronezh city. Maslovka was one of the primary railway stations used to deploy troops to the Pogonovo training ground during the March-April build-up on the Ukrainian border. Imagery from social media shows the withdrawal of BMP-2, 2S3, BAT-2, MTU-72, TOS-1A, TZM, MT-LB, Tor-M2, and T-72 variant tanksfrom the region. Satellite imagery corroborates this analysis and shows a significant drawdown of forces from vehicle stores at Pogonovo.

     

  • The frigate ADMIRAL GORSHKOV conducted a live fire test launch of a Tsirkon missile in the White Sea.

     

  • Four Northern Fleet submarines – the OREL, KNYAZ VLADIMIR, VEPR, and VLADIKAVKAZ – and three surface combatants – the PYOTR MORGUNOV, VITSE ADMIRAL KULAKOV, and MARSHAL USTINOV – have entered the Baltic Sea bound for Kronstadt where the Russian Ministry of Defence reports they will take part in the main Navy Day parade on 25 July. They have all since departed the Baltic Sea.

     

  • The Russian Ministry of Defence reported that Colonel Ramil Ibatullin, the former commander of the 55th Motorised Brigade (Mountain)13 has been appointed the new commander of the Central Military District’s 90th Tank Division.

     

  • The Russian Ministry of Defence published footage showing an S-500 conducting a live fire test launch of what appears to be a 77N6 missile at the Kapustin-Yar training ground in the Astrakhan region.

     

  • Janes has identified the likely deployment of at least four 1st Guards Tank Army units from the Moscow region to training grounds in western Belarus. These deployments are almost certainly being conducted as part of ZAPAD-2021, which will involve Russian forces operating alongside Belarusian troops in Belarus. The 1st Guards Tank Army appears to have deployed troops to at least two training grounds within 150 km of the Polish border in western Belarus; one south west of the town of Baranovichi and the other south of Brest.

     

  • Russian forces began joint training exercises with Uzbekistan at the Termez training ground in the Surkhandarya Region the exercises will run until 10 August with the active phase finishing on 06 August. The exercises are believed to have involved some 1,500 troops from the Central Military District’s 15th Motorised Brigade (Peacekeeping) and the 3rd Spetsnaz Brigade, supported by four Tu-22M3 which conducted a flight from Russia on 06 July to bomb targets in Uzbekistan.

 

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/

July 2021

Region of Focus: Naval Affairs

Russia’s naval shipbuilding industry in need of modernisation

26th May: The proliferation of open-source intelligence (OSINT) tools such as commercial satellite imagery has enabled assessment of these targets by a greater pool of analysts. Shipyards in many ways are easy targets for imagery analysts to examine. They have significant industrial footprints and although much work is carried out inside assembly halls, eventually the finished products – ships and submarines – have to be unveiled. The modern Russian shipbuilding industry has emerged from the Cold War’s shadows to some degree. It is now largely owned by semi-private companies that are answerable to shareholders.

 

Russia's Baltic Fleet to receive SSK boost 

21st May: Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, announced on 18 May that the Baltic Fleet is to receive additional diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) to “correspond to the volume of tasks facing the fleet”. The announcement was made as part of the admiral's congratulatory telegram sent to all the fleet personnel on the annual ‘Day of the Baltic Fleet'. In the telegram, Adm Evmenov stated, “The Baltic Fleet must be balanced in its forces and resources in order to maximally fulfil the tasks entrusted to it. This is a requirement of the times and of the situation that is taking shape in the new direction.”

 

Russian Navy to restructure Project 955/955A Borey SSBN deployment 

19th May: The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to restructure the deployment of its Borey (Project 955A)-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) fleet, according to local media reports. Following Russia's recent ‘Umka 2021' military drills, which took place in March within the Arctic circle, a review is now under way to better place the SSBNs to counteract threats and deployments of NATO forces that operate in the North, Russian newspaper Ivestia reported on 11 May. Previous information released by the Russian MoD has alluded to the SSBNs primarily being deployed to the 25 th Submarine Division/16 th Submarine Squadron of the Pacific Fleet, based in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.

 

Russian Navy commissions Project 885M submarine Kazan

10th May: The Russian Navy (VMF) commissioned the Project 885M (Yasen-M-class) nuclear-powered attack/cruise missile submarine (SSN/SSGN) Kazan in Severodvinsk on 7 May, the Northern Fleet announced on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) website later the same day. “The Kazan nuclear-powered attack/cruise missile submarine was developed by the Malakhit Design Bureau and has effective strike and electronic weapons that allow it to carry out missions throughout the world’s oceans,” VMF commander-in-chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov said during the commissioning ceremony. Kazan was laid down on 24 July 2009 and launched on 31 March 2017. Factory sea trials of the submarine commenced on 25 September 2018. The Project 885/885M armament suite comprises Oniks and Kalibr missiles, to which the Tsirkon hypersonic weapon could be added in the near future.

 

Russian Navy ships continue to visit Sudan

5th May: The Russian Navy’s Amur-class repair ship PM-138 was photographed in Port Sudan on 2 May, continuing a series of recent visits after Khartoum reportedly halted work on a Russian naval base on its Red Sea coast. Russian repair ships typically accompany flotillas on extended deployments, but an Amur class vessel was the Russian Navy’s primary presence at the Syrian port of Tartus until the facility was developed into a more significant base after Moscow began its military intervention in 2015. Sudanese sources reported that PM-138 is accompanying the Vishnya-class intelligence ship Vassily Tatischev and would remain in Port Sudan for around 48 hours.

 

Technology Developments

Rules of behaviour: Orbital warfare

25th May: As the ultimate high ground, space-based capabilities undeniably provide integral support to defence, intelligence, and security services. Robust and capable space-based services, such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, provide global command-and-control (C2) facilities to militaries that enable enhanced situational awareness via the monitoring and tracking of both friendly forces and threats. “Although space started off as a strategic domain, today it is very much used for operational and tactical advantage on the battlefield,” Kestutis Paulauskas, senior strategy officer of NATO's Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia, stated in a March 2020 article, ‘Space: NATO's latest frontier'.

 

Russia details Mi-28NM helicopter

20th May: The Mil-Kamov National Helicopter Building Center’s chief designer of combat helicopters, Vitaliy Shcherbina, detailed the Mi-28NM combat helicopter in an interview with the TASS news agency on 18 May. He said the helicopter’s armament suite has been expanded to include new guided missiles and unmanned combat aerial vehicles. This is in addition to Corsar and Forpost-R medium-endurance reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have been integrated into the helicopter. The analogue drives of the baseline Mi-28N’s chin-mounted automatic cannon have been replaced with digital ones. The helicopter has also received a new dome-shaped radar mounted above the main rotor, which has new blades with an enhanced aerodynamic profile that have improved the helicopter’s speed and controllability, Shcherbina said.

 

HeliRussia 2021: Rosoboronexport plans to introduce upgraded Ka-52M to export market

20th May: Rostec’s Rosoboronexport plans to introduce the upgraded Kamov Ka-52M combat-and-reconnaissance helicopter to the global rotary-wing market “in the near future”, the arms exporter’s director general, Alexander Mikheev, told media the day before the opening of the HeliRussia 2021 International Helicopter Industry Exhibition being held in Moscow on 20–22 May. The Ka-52M is being developed by Rostec’s Russian Helicopters. ”During the last decade, Rosoboronexport delivered 850 helicopters worth USD20 billion to 35 countries,” said Mikheev.

 

Russia modernises Tor-M2 SAM system

1st Jun: Manufacturer Almaz-Antey is increasing the capabilities of the Tor-M2 short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system against tactical aerial targets, an industry source told Janes on 31 May. He said the Tor-M2 would receive new types of missiles: “Further modernisation of the system is planned to integrate a missile with a seeker that will complement the existing SAM with radio command guidance. It is also planned to incorporate dozens of compact missiles into the system to engage low-tier targets at ranges of 6–7 km.”

 

Foreign Affairs

UK and US confirm Russian responsibility for SolarWinds attack

6th May: The US and UK governments on 15 April 2021 attributed the high-profile SolarWinds intrusion campaign in December 2020 to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (Sluzhba vneshney razvedki: SVR). The move came as part of a package of sanctions and other measures aimed at Russia. Although media coverage portrayed these actions as driven by the SolarWinds intrusion, the emphasis in official comments was broader; the White House stated that the actions were taken “to impose costs on Russia for actions by its government and intelligence services against U.S. sovereignty and interests”.

 

States advance on agreeing international cyber norms

20th May: The digital revolution has brought tremendous social, economic, and political opportunities for societies, but it has also been accompanied by new threats that push the limits of even what science fiction has imagined. As Frédérick Douzet wrote in an article published in June 2020 in French geopolitical magazine Hérodote , “It [the digital revolution] has also grandly changed the strategic environment and the way powerful countries measure and confront each other”. Indeed, many states no longer deny conducting cyber operations. On the contrary, states develop offensive cyber capabilities and publish official doctrine exposing how they will defend themselves and use such capabilities.

 

Russia deploys Tu-22M3 Bombers to Syria

27th May 2021: Three Tupolev Tu-22M3 ‘Backfire' bombers landed at Humaymim airbase in Syria for the first time on 25 May, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on the same day. It released a video of the supersonic swing-wing bombers touching down at the airbase and said they would return to Russia after completing an unspecified period of training. “This is the first time that aircraft of this type are based at the Humaymim airfield,” it said. “Crews of the long-range bombers will acquire practical skills in training tasks in new geographical areas during flights in the airspace over the Mediterranean Sea.”

 

OSINT Force Monitoring

  • Satellite imagery shows continued activity at the Opuk training ground in Crimea in spite of Russia’s announced drawdown. Activity at the Angarsky training ground has reduced significantly.
  • Russian peacekeepers have deployed to support negotiations between Azeri and Armenian troops following an Azeri incursion over the Armenian border. • At least eight Pacific Fleet surface vessels are active in the Far East.
  • Images published to social media indicate the Northern Fleet has begun monitoring the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth taskforce in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • A squadron of five Caspian Flotilla vessels and an unknown number of 559th Bomber Aviation Regiment Su-34 will conduct joint exercises with the Kazakh navy between 18-24 May.
  • Russia completed the delivery of 30 T-72MS and 30 BRDM-2M vehicles donated to Serbia.
  • A Russian transport aircraft was photographed delivering equipment including helicopters to the Central African Republic
  • Three Tu-22M3 from the 52nd Heavy Bomber Regiment and possibly the 200th Heavy Bomber Regiment conducted a four-day deployment to Humaymim base in Syria. The deployment included a long-range patrol carrying Kh-22 missiles over the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The aircraft deployed for three days before returning to Russia.

 

To learn more about our OSINT Force Monitoring service please click HERE

June 2021

Region of Focus: Naval Affairs

Russia’s naval shipbuilding industry in need of modernisation

26th May: The proliferation of open-source intelligence (OSINT) tools such as commercial satellite imagery has enabled assessment of these targets by a greater pool of analysts. Shipyards in many ways are easy targets for imagery analysts to examine. They have significant industrial footprints and although much work is carried out inside assembly halls, eventually the finished products – ships and submarines – have to be unveiled. The modern Russian shipbuilding industry has emerged from the Cold War’s shadows to some degree. It is now largely owned by semi-private companies that are answerable to shareholders.

Russia's Baltic Fleet to receive SSK boost 

21st May: Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, announced on 18 May that the Baltic Fleet is to receive additional diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) to “correspond to the volume of tasks facing the fleet”. The announcement was made as part of the admiral's congratulatory telegram sent to all the fleet personnel on the annual ‘Day of the Baltic Fleet'. In the telegram, Adm Evmenov stated, “The Baltic Fleet must be balanced in its forces and resources in order to maximally fulfil the tasks entrusted to it. This is a requirement of the times and of the situation that is taking shape in the new direction.”

Russian Navy to restructure Project 955/955A Borey SSBN deployment 

19th May: The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to restructure the deployment of its Borey (Project 955A)-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) fleet, according to local media reports. Following Russia's recent ‘Umka 2021' military drills, which took place in March within the Arctic circle, a review is now under way to better place the SSBNs to counteract threats and deployments of NATO forces that operate in the North, Russian newspaper Ivestia reported on 11 May. Previous information released by the Russian MoD has alluded to the SSBNs primarily being deployed to the 25 th Submarine Division/16 th Submarine Squadron of the Pacific Fleet, based in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.

Russian Navy commissions Project 885M submarine Kazan

10th May: The Russian Navy (VMF) commissioned the Project 885M (Yasen-M-class) nuclear-powered attack/cruise missile submarine (SSN/SSGN) Kazan in Severodvinsk on 7 May, the Northern Fleet announced on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) website later the same day. “The Kazan nuclear-powered attack/cruise missile submarine was developed by the Malakhit Design Bureau and has effective strike and electronic weapons that allow it to carry out missions throughout the world’s oceans,” VMF commander-in-chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov said during the commissioning ceremony. Kazan was laid down on 24 July 2009 and launched on 31 March 2017. Factory sea trials of the submarine commenced on 25 September 2018. The Project 885/885M armament suite comprises Oniks and Kalibr missiles, to which the Tsirkon hypersonic weapon could be added in the near future.

Russian Navy ships continue to visit Sudan

5th May: The Russian Navy’s Amur-class repair ship PM-138 was photographed in Port Sudan on 2 May, continuing a series of recent visits after Khartoum reportedly halted work on a Russian naval base on its Red Sea coast. Russian repair ships typically accompany flotillas on extended deployments, but an Amur class vessel was the Russian Navy’s primary presence at the Syrian port of Tartus until the facility was developed into a more significant base after Moscow began its military intervention in 2015. Sudanese sources reported that PM-138 is accompanying the Vishnya-class intelligence ship Vassily Tatischev and would remain in Port Sudan for around 48 hours.

Technology Developments

Rules of behaviour: Orbital warfare

25th May: As the ultimate high ground, space-based capabilities undeniably provide integral support to defence, intelligence, and security services. Robust and capable space-based services, such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, provide global command-and-control (C2) facilities to militaries that enable enhanced situational awareness via the monitoring and tracking of both friendly forces and threats. “Although space started off as a strategic domain, today it is very much used for operational and tactical advantage on the battlefield,” Kestutis Paulauskas, senior strategy officer of NATO's Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia, stated in a March 2020 article, ‘Space: NATO's latest frontier'.

Russia details Mi-28NM helicopter

20th May: The Mil-Kamov National Helicopter Building Center’s chief designer of combat helicopters, Vitaliy Shcherbina, detailed the Mi-28NM combat helicopter in an interview with the TASS news agency on 18 May. He said the helicopter’s armament suite has been expanded to include new guided missiles and unmanned combat aerial vehicles. This is in addition to Corsar and Forpost-R medium-endurance reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have been integrated into the helicopter. The analogue drives of the baseline Mi-28N’s chin-mounted automatic cannon have been replaced with digital ones. The helicopter has also received a new dome-shaped radar mounted above the main rotor, which has new blades with an enhanced aerodynamic profile that have improved the helicopter’s speed and controllability, Shcherbina said.

HeliRussia 2021: Rosoboronexport plans to introduce upgraded Ka-52M to export market

20th May: Rostec’s Rosoboronexport plans to introduce the upgraded Kamov Ka-52M combat-and-reconnaissance helicopter to the global rotary-wing market “in the near future”, the arms exporter’s director general, Alexander Mikheev, told media the day before the opening of the HeliRussia 2021 International Helicopter Industry Exhibition being held in Moscow on 20–22 May. The Ka-52M is being developed by Rostec’s Russian Helicopters. ”During the last decade, Rosoboronexport delivered 850 helicopters worth USD20 billion to 35 countries,” said Mikheev.

Russia modernises Tor-M2 SAM system

1st Jun: Manufacturer Almaz-Antey is increasing the capabilities of the Tor-M2 short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system against tactical aerial targets, an industry source told Janes on 31 May. He said the Tor-M2 would receive new types of missiles: “Further modernisation of the system is planned to integrate a missile with a seeker that will complement the existing SAM with radio command guidance. It is also planned to incorporate dozens of compact missiles into the system to engage low-tier targets at ranges of 6–7 km.”

Foreign Affairs

UK and US confirm Russian responsibility for SolarWinds attack

6th May: The US and UK governments on 15 April 2021 attributed the high-profile SolarWinds intrusion campaign in December 2020 to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (Sluzhba vneshney razvedki: SVR). The move came as part of a package of sanctions and other measures aimed at Russia. Although media coverage portrayed these actions as driven by the SolarWinds intrusion, the emphasis in official comments was broader; the White House stated that the actions were taken “to impose costs on Russia for actions by its government and intelligence services against U.S. sovereignty and interests”.

States advance on agreeing international cyber norms

20th May: The digital revolution has brought tremendous social, economic, and political opportunities for societies, but it has also been accompanied by new threats that push the limits of even what science fiction has imagined. As Frédérick Douzet wrote in an article published in June 2020 in French geopolitical magazine Hérodote , “It [the digital revolution] has also grandly changed the strategic environment and the way powerful countries measure and confront each other”. Indeed, many states no longer deny conducting cyber operations. On the contrary, states develop offensive cyber capabilities and publish official doctrine exposing how they will defend themselves and use such capabilities.

Russia deploys Tu-22M3 Bombers to Syria

27th May 2021: Three Tupolev Tu-22M3 ‘Backfire' bombers landed at Humaymim airbase in Syria for the first time on 25 May, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on the same day. It released a video of the supersonic swing-wing bombers touching down at the airbase and said they would return to Russia after completing an unspecified period of training. “This is the first time that aircraft of this type are based at the Humaymim airfield,” it said. “Crews of the long-range bombers will acquire practical skills in training tasks in new geographical areas during flights in the airspace over the Mediterranean Sea.”

 

OSINT Force Monitoring

  • Satellite imagery shows continued activity at the Opuk training ground in Crimea in spite of Russia’s announced drawdown. Activity at the Angarsky training ground has reduced significantly.
  • Russian peacekeepers have deployed to support negotiations between Azeri and Armenian troops following an Azeri incursion over the Armenian border. • At least eight Pacific Fleet surface vessels are active in the Far East.
  • Images published to social media indicate the Northern Fleet has begun monitoring the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth taskforce in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • A squadron of five Caspian Flotilla vessels and an unknown number of 559th Bomber Aviation Regiment Su-34 will conduct joint exercises with the Kazakh navy between 18-24 May.
  • Russia completed the delivery of 30 T-72MS and 30 BRDM-2M vehicles donated to Serbia.
  • A Russian transport aircraft was photographed delivering equipment including helicopters to the Central African Republic
  • Three Tu-22M3 from the 52nd Heavy Bomber Regiment and possibly the 200th Heavy Bomber Regiment conducted a four-day deployment to Humaymim base in Syria. The deployment included a long-range patrol carrying Kh-22 missiles over the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The aircraft deployed for three days before returning to Russia.

 

To learn more about our OSINT Force Monitoring service please click HERE

May 2021

Region of Focus: Naval Affairs

Russia’s naval shipbuilding industry in need of modernisation

26th May: The proliferation of open-source intelligence (OSINT) tools such as commercial satellite imagery has enabled assessment of these targets by a greater pool of analysts. Shipyards in many ways are easy targets for imagery analysts to examine. They have significant industrial footprints and although much work is carried out inside assembly halls, eventually the finished products – ships and submarines – have to be unveiled. The modern Russian shipbuilding industry has emerged from the Cold War’s shadows to some degree. It is now largely owned by semi-private companies that are answerable to shareholders.

 

Russia's Baltic Fleet to receive SSK boost 

21st May: Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, announced on 18 May that the Baltic Fleet is to receive additional diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) to “correspond to the volume of tasks facing the fleet”. The announcement was made as part of the admiral's congratulatory telegram sent to all the fleet personnel on the annual ‘Day of the Baltic Fleet'. In the telegram, Adm Evmenov stated, “The Baltic Fleet must be balanced in its forces and resources in order to maximally fulfil the tasks entrusted to it. This is a requirement of the times and of the situation that is taking shape in the new direction.”

 

Russian Navy to restructure Project 955/955A Borey SSBN deployment 

19th May: The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to restructure the deployment of its Borey (Project 955A)-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) fleet, according to local media reports. Following Russia's recent ‘Umka 2021' military drills, which took place in March within the Arctic circle, a review is now under way to better place the SSBNs to counteract threats and deployments of NATO forces that operate in the North, Russian newspaper Ivestia reported on 11 May. Previous information released by the Russian MoD has alluded to the SSBNs primarily being deployed to the 25 th Submarine Division/16 th Submarine Squadron of the Pacific Fleet, based in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.

 

Russian Navy commissions Project 885M submarine Kazan

10th May: The Russian Navy (VMF) commissioned the Project 885M (Yasen-M-class) nuclear-powered attack/cruise missile submarine (SSN/SSGN) Kazan in Severodvinsk on 7 May, the Northern Fleet announced on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) website later the same day. “The Kazan nuclear-powered attack/cruise missile submarine was developed by the Malakhit Design Bureau and has effective strike and electronic weapons that allow it to carry out missions throughout the world’s oceans,” VMF commander-in-chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov said during the commissioning ceremony. Kazan was laid down on 24 July 2009 and launched on 31 March 2017. Factory sea trials of the submarine commenced on 25 September 2018. The Project 885/885M armament suite comprises Oniks and Kalibr missiles, to which the Tsirkon hypersonic weapon could be added in the near future.

 

Russian Navy ships continue to visit Sudan

5th May: The Russian Navy’s Amur-class repair ship PM-138 was photographed in Port Sudan on 2 May, continuing a series of recent visits after Khartoum reportedly halted work on a Russian naval base on its Red Sea coast. Russian repair ships typically accompany flotillas on extended deployments, but an Amur class vessel was the Russian Navy’s primary presence at the Syrian port of Tartus until the facility was developed into a more significant base after Moscow began its military intervention in 2015. Sudanese sources reported that PM-138 is accompanying the Vishnya-class intelligence ship Vassily Tatischev and would remain in Port Sudan for around 48 hours.

 

Technology Developments

Rules of behaviour: Orbital warfare

25th May: As the ultimate high ground, space-based capabilities undeniably provide integral support to defence, intelligence, and security services. Robust and capable space-based services, such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, provide global command-and-control (C2) facilities to militaries that enable enhanced situational awareness via the monitoring and tracking of both friendly forces and threats. “Although space started off as a strategic domain, today it is very much used for operational and tactical advantage on the battlefield,” Kestutis Paulauskas, senior strategy officer of NATO's Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia, stated in a March 2020 article, ‘Space: NATO's latest frontier'.

 

Russia details Mi-28NM helicopter

20th May: The Mil-Kamov National Helicopter Building Center’s chief designer of combat helicopters, Vitaliy Shcherbina, detailed the Mi-28NM combat helicopter in an interview with the TASS news agency on 18 May. He said the helicopter’s armament suite has been expanded to include new guided missiles and unmanned combat aerial vehicles. This is in addition to Corsar and Forpost-R medium-endurance reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have been integrated into the helicopter. The analogue drives of the baseline Mi-28N’s chin-mounted automatic cannon have been replaced with digital ones. The helicopter has also received a new dome-shaped radar mounted above the main rotor, which has new blades with an enhanced aerodynamic profile that have improved the helicopter’s speed and controllability, Shcherbina said.

 

HeliRussia 2021: Rosoboronexport plans to introduce upgraded Ka-52M to export market

20th May: Rostec’s Rosoboronexport plans to introduce the upgraded Kamov Ka-52M combat-and-reconnaissance helicopter to the global rotary-wing market “in the near future”, the arms exporter’s director general, Alexander Mikheev, told media the day before the opening of the HeliRussia 2021 International Helicopter Industry Exhibition being held in Moscow on 20–22 May. The Ka-52M is being developed by Rostec’s Russian Helicopters. ”During the last decade, Rosoboronexport delivered 850 helicopters worth USD20 billion to 35 countries,” said Mikheev.

 

Russia modernises Tor-M2 SAM system

1st Jun: Manufacturer Almaz-Antey is increasing the capabilities of the Tor-M2 short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system against tactical aerial targets, an industry source told Janes on 31 May. He said the Tor-M2 would receive new types of missiles: “Further modernisation of the system is planned to integrate a missile with a seeker that will complement the existing SAM with radio command guidance. It is also planned to incorporate dozens of compact missiles into the system to engage low-tier targets at ranges of 6–7 km.”

 

Foreign Affairs

UK and US confirm Russian responsibility for SolarWinds attack

6th May: The US and UK governments on 15 April 2021 attributed the high-profile SolarWinds intrusion campaign in December 2020 to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (Sluzhba vneshney razvedki: SVR). The move came as part of a package of sanctions and other measures aimed at Russia. Although media coverage portrayed these actions as driven by the SolarWinds intrusion, the emphasis in official comments was broader; the White House stated that the actions were taken “to impose costs on Russia for actions by its government and intelligence services against U.S. sovereignty and interests”.

 

States advance on agreeing international cyber norms

20th May: The digital revolution has brought tremendous social, economic, and political opportunities for societies, but it has also been accompanied by new threats that push the limits of even what science fiction has imagined. As Frédérick Douzet wrote in an article published in June 2020 in French geopolitical magazine Hérodote , “It [the digital revolution] has also grandly changed the strategic environment and the way powerful countries measure and confront each other”. Indeed, many states no longer deny conducting cyber operations. On the contrary, states develop offensive cyber capabilities and publish official doctrine exposing how they will defend themselves and use such capabilities.

 

Russia deploys Tu-22M3 Bombers to Syria

27th May 2021: Three Tupolev Tu-22M3 ‘Backfire' bombers landed at Humaymim airbase in Syria for the first time on 25 May, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on the same day. It released a video of the supersonic swing-wing bombers touching down at the airbase and said they would return to Russia after completing an unspecified period of training. “This is the first time that aircraft of this type are based at the Humaymim airfield,” it said. “Crews of the long-range bombers will acquire practical skills in training tasks in new geographical areas during flights in the airspace over the Mediterranean Sea.”

 

OSINT Force Monitoring

  • Satellite imagery shows continued activity at the Opuk training ground in Crimea in spite of Russia’s announced drawdown. Activity at the Angarsky training ground has reduced significantly.
  • Russian peacekeepers have deployed to support negotiations between Azeri and Armenian troops following an Azeri incursion over the Armenian border. • At least eight Pacific Fleet surface vessels are active in the Far East.
  • Images published to social media indicate the Northern Fleet has begun monitoring the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth taskforce in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • A squadron of five Caspian Flotilla vessels and an unknown number of 559th Bomber Aviation Regiment Su-34 will conduct joint exercises with the Kazakh navy between 18-24 May.
  • Russia completed the delivery of 30 T-72MS and 30 BRDM-2M vehicles donated to Serbia.
  • A Russian transport aircraft was photographed delivering equipment including helicopters to the Central African Republic
  • Three Tu-22M3 from the 52nd Heavy Bomber Regiment and possibly the 200th Heavy Bomber Regiment conducted a four-day deployment to Humaymim base in Syria. The deployment included a long-range patrol carrying Kh-22 missiles over the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The aircraft deployed for three days before returning to Russia.

To learn more about our OSINT Force Monitoring service please click HERE

 

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