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 in Focus: Ukraine

Ukrainian Navy: A force in distress 

Feb 16: The ongoing tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and NATO countries with regards to the increasing Russian Armed Forces buildup along the Ukrainian borders are an extension of the eight-year-long conflict that began with the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. With the loss of Crimea and control over the Kerch Strait, Ukraine has become dependent on Russia for its access to the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov. The loss has not only shrunk the country's maritime boundaries, but also restricted the freedom of navigation of its commercial vessels, making its maritime trade dependent on Russian actions. The current virtual naval blockade of Ukraine as a result of the ongoing Russian naval exercises in the Black Sea is a testimony to the vulnerability of Ukraine's maritime access.

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Ukraine's Black Sea coast blocked by Russian live-firing exercise 

Feb 14: The Russian Navy has launched missile and naval gunnery exercises that will close off Ukraine's Black Sea coast for six days from 13 February, according to maritime safety notices posted online. The start of the exercises coincides with growing tension between Moscow and Western countries over Russia's troop buildup around Ukraine. Russia posted notifications of the live-firing exercises in eight areas of the Black Sea in the International Hydrographic Organization's NAVAREA alert website on 11 February. The original notice posted on 9 February also included the Sea of Azov in the exercise areas, but this was subsequently withdrawn.

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Russian troop build-up continues on Ukrainian borders 

Feb 21: As of 21 February, Russia has positioned major force deployments directly on Ukraine's eastern land border, in Russian-annexed Crimea on Ukraine's southern flank, and at dozens of locations along the border with Ukraine's northern neighbour Belarus, under the pretext of joint snap exercises called by Minsk and Moscow. Despite an announcement from the Russian Ministry of Defence on 15 February that its forces were beginning to withdraw from border areas and return to their permanent bases, there has been no publicly available evidence that Russia's force posture has amended or re-oriented towards de-escalation. Although the Russian Ministry of Defence has published some footage claiming to show units leaving Crimea, social media and satellite imagery analysed by Janes OSINT Force Monitor has cast doubt on this evidence.

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Russian naval exercises in Black Sea, Sea of Azov continue to restrict freedom of navigation 

Feb 23: The Russian Navy has moved three large landing ships, five warships, and several vessels of other classes, including one missile boat, to the Sea of Azov under the pretext of participating in exercises, Ukraine's Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov stated during a press briefing on 21 February. In video footage posted by Ukrainian media outlet MyKerch on its VKontakte social media account on 21 February, more than 10 Russian Navy warships could be seen headed towards the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait. This included the Ropucha (Project 775)-class landing ships Tsesar Kunikov and Novocherkassk , the Alligator (Project 1171)-class landing ship Saratov , the Bykov (Project 22160)-class corvette Pavel Derzhavin , the Tarantul (Project 12411)-class corvette Neberezhnye Chelny , and the Grisha (Project 1124)-class corvette Eisk.

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Technology Developments

Milestones: Orion UCAV 

Feb 8: In December 2021 the Russian company Kronshtadt completed construction of its manufacturing facility for the Orion unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), enabling serial production of the first aircraft to begin that month, the company noted in a press release. The announcement marked the end of a long gestation period for the Orion, which entered development in 2011 under the Inokhodets (Pacer) programme after a contract was signed between the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Transas, which became Kronshtadt in 2015. The programme set out to produce an unmanned medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft for use in reconnaissance and strike missions, if necessary. At the time, the Russian armed forces were beginning an extensive period of modernisation following the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.

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Admiralty Shipyards cuts steel for two more Lada-class SSKs

Feb 17: Admiralty Shipyards has begun the manufacture of the fourth and fifth Project 677 Lada-class diesel-electric submarines (SSK) for the Russian Navy. In a 14 February announcement, the shipbuilder said that steel cutting for both submarines was under way at its yard in St Petersburg. The two boats are being built under a contract awarded to Admiralty Shipyards in June 2019. A sixth boat is planned under an additional contract awarded in August 2020.

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Mission hypersonic: A race to capability or to satisfy national pride?

Feb 22: In 2021 there was a substantial increase in hypersonic weapon launches, including China's highly debated tests in July and August. In addition, North Korea tested two new claimed hypersonic missiles in January 2022. These examples demonstrate how some military powers are seeking to achieve supremacy in the hypersonic weapons sector. Efforts during past decades in emerging hypersonic technologies have resulted in advanced military operational capabilities. At present, developers are trying to exploit hypersonic weapons' full potential, including the development of new classes of offensive capabilities. As these systems mature, there is a growing requirement for developers to seek to close future capability gaps.

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Domestic Affairs

Update: Russia deploys Su-25SM jets to Belarus from Far East 

Feb 7: Russian Sukhoi Su-25SM ‘Frogfoot' ground attack jets have arrived in Belarus in a rare deployment of aviation assets from Russia's Far East to the European country, which is closely allied to Moscow. Russian land, air, and air defence forces from the Eastern Military District have been arriving in Belarus since early January as part of a build-up that NATO governments have said threatens neighbouring Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defence has denied it plans to attack Ukraine and says Exercise ‘Allied Resolve 2022' is a test of the Eastern Military District long-distance deployment capabilities, including the rapid re-positioning of aviation assets. A joint Russian-Belarus rapid reaction force is being tested during the exercise, according to Moscow.

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Russian Navy moves large landing ships to Black Sea as exercise deployments continue

Feb 16: Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on 14 February that Russian forces would begin wrapping up exercises and withdrawing from positions along the Ukrainian border, an announcement that was repeated by his ministry's spokesperson, Major General Igor Konashenkov, the next day. The announcement was followed by a flurry of video clips posted by the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) purportedly showing equipment being loaded onto trains and being returned to units' permanent bases.

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Russia announces drawdown but continues to move forces close to Ukrainian border 

Feb 16: Russian Sukhoi Su-25SM ‘Frogfoot' ground attack jets have arrived in Belarus in a rare deployment of aviation assets from Russia's Far East to the European country, which is closely allied to Moscow. Russian land, air, and air defence forces from the Eastern Military District have been arriving in Belarus since early January as part of a build-up that NATO governments have said threatens neighbouring Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defence has denied it plans to attack Ukraine and says Exercise ‘Allied Resolve 2022' is a test of the Eastern Military District long-distance deployment capabilities, including the rapid re-positioning of aviation assets. A joint Russian-Belarus rapid reaction force is being tested during the exercise, according to Moscow.

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Foreign Affairs

India's BDL wins Konkurs ATGW deal with Indian Army

Feb 7: India's Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) announced that it has signed a contract to manufacture the Konkurs-M anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) system for the Indian Army. BDL said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange that the contract was signed on 2 February and is worth INR31.31 billion (USD419 million). The company, which is majority-owned by the government, said the deal will be executed in three years but disclosed no details about the number of Konkurs-M weapons to be produced.

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Russia ups air power in Belarus, stands up forces at non-exercise site 

Feb 17: Open-source transponder data has indicated that the Russian Aerospace Force (RuAF) is operating from Zyabrovka airfield near Gomel, in southeastern Belarus, about 26 km from the Ukrainian border. To date, the Russian and Belarus military authorities had not declared the location as a site participating in exercise Allied Resolve 2022. A Tupolev Tu-134 transport aircraft was tracked landing at the former Soviet airbase, which is now a Belarus Air and Air Defence Force standby site. Commercial satellite imagery of the airfield from 10 February suggests it is now a major Russian base, hosting hundreds of vehicles – including infantry fighting vehicles – accommodation tents, and a field hospital.

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Threat Intelligence

Case studies

January 2022

Region of Focus: Western Pacific

Mali confirms Russians are training military

Dec 31: Russians have deployed to Mali to train its military and security forces, Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, a minister and spokesman for the country's transitional government, confirmed in a 24 December statement. “The government of Mali would like to point out that, like the European Training Mission (EUTM), Russian trainers are present in Mali as part of the strengthening of the operational capacities of the national defence and security forces,” he said. Col Maiga also dismissed a joint communique released by 14 European countries and Canada the previous day as “baseless allegations”.

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Shoigu outlines Russia's military priorities for 2022 

Dec 27: The Russian Ministry of Defence leadership met in Moscow on 21 December with the participation of President Vladimir Putin. Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu reported that the Russian armed forces received more than 5,000 weapons in 2021, with deliveries and overhauls of equipment for the army and navy allowing serviceability to be maintained at 95%. Russian Ground Forces received more than 2,400 new and upgraded pieces of equipment in 2021. Several new military units were created, including two new divisions (motorised rifle and tank), as well as a missile and an anti-aircraft brigade.

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Technology Developments

Russia tests Orion UCAV in air-to-air role 

Dec 22: Russia has tested an Orion unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) in an air-to-air engagement against a rotary wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) during tests in Crimea, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported on 19 December. The Orion was shown taking off with a missile tube under each wing and tracking the rotary wing target before engaging it with a missile that appears to be a variant of the 9M113 Kornet anti-tank guided missile family. The engagement reportedly took place at a range of 4 km.

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First Okhotnik flying prototype rolls out in Novosibirsk

Dec 22: The Chkalov Aviation Plant in Novosibirsk (NAZ) rolled out the first flying prototype of the S-70 Okhotnik (Hunter) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) on 14 December. The low observable (LO) UCAV is now being prepared for its maiden flight and trials, Deputy Defence Minister Alexey Krivoruchko told reporters. “The [UCAV] was made in the serial concept and is equipped with the necessary onboard devices in full compliance with the requirements. It will shortly make the maiden flight after all ground tests are completed,” he said.

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Russia's Strategic Missile Forces receive new ICBMs 

Dec 21: Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) are being re-equipped with new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the force's commander, Colonel General Sergey Karakaev, told the Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) military newspaper on 17 December. “We plan to place four regiments on duty in 2022. They include a regiment of the Uzhur missile formation armed with Sarmat missiles, one new regiment of the Yasnensky formation armed with Avangard, and missile regiments in the Tambov and Kirov regions armed with mobile Yars launchers,” he said. The Kozelsk formation will place a silo-based Yars missile system in service, while the Barnaul formation will do so with mobile Yars by the end of 2021, Col Gen Karakaev said.

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Russian invasion of Ukraine would prompt NATO reinforcement of eastern flank 

Dec 21: Russia knows if it invades Ukraine that NATO's military options are very limited, despite the alliance's warning that such action would have “massive consequences”. However, an invasion could lead to the exact scenario Moscow is attempting to avoid by its sabre-rattling, aggressive diplomatic language and an untenable new proposal to the allies: the military reinforcement of NATO's eastern flank with Russia, according to allied sources. “If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin heads into Ukraine, NATO will have no choice but to strengthen its deterrent position in those allies on Russia's border or close to it,” a NATO diplomatic source told Janes on 20 December. “It's precisely the wrong calculation by Putin.”

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Domestic Affairs

Getting it right: NATO tackles integrated air and missile defence

Dec 15: NATO requires airspace to be reasonably secure from attack by Russian strike aircraft, as well as ballistic and cruise missiles, to rapidly assemble and support forces moving from garrison areas across Europe by air, land, and sea to the scene of an evolving crisis along NATO's eastern frontier, such as the Black Sea littoral, the Baltic states, the Polish border, and the Arctic. Likewise, the conduct of successful combined arms land operations thereafter is predicated on capable air defences. The same requirements also apply to NATO maritime operations in relatively confined waters like the Baltic or Black Sea and to successfully mount combined air operations such as counter-air, precision strike, and close air support that could decide the outcome of a future confrontation.

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Ukraine strengthens air defence of critical infrastructure

Dec 14: The Ukrainian Air Force (UAF) has taken measures to strengthen air defences around critical infrastructure in response to the continued build-up of Russian troops on the country's borders, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website on 13 December. The Ukrinform news agency reported that the UAF is on constant alert to provide air defence of bridges, hydroelectric and nuclear power plants, and other critical infrastructure, the MoD said, adding that measures had been taken to strengthen the defences of these facilities.

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Open-sources enable monitoring of Polish-Belarusian migrant crisis 

Dec 14: On 8 November approximately 1,000 mostly Kurdish migrants attempted to cross the Belarusian-Polish border near Grodno. The migrants were – according to interviews conducted on the same day by the Guardian newspaper – lured to Belarus by travel agencies in their native countries, which promised them flights to Belarus and transfer to Europe's external border for between EUR15,000–20,000 (USD16,900–22,530). Upon arrival at the border, the migrants were stewarded by members of Belarus's Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who guided them to possible weak spots in the border. In some cases – according to the Polish Ministry of National Defence – the migrants were equipped with tools to break the border fence, and housed near the border.

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Foreign Affairs

Russia builds up forces on Ukrainian border 

Dec 10: Since late October Janes has identified a significant increase in anomalous Russian military activity across the Ukrainian border area of operations, defined as being within 250 km of the Russian side of the border. However, what at first sight appears to be a new Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border should instead be viewed as a continuation of last spring's (March–April) buildup. Many of the units involved in the initial spring buildup remained in the Ukrainian border area of operations and have redeployed to new sites.

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India and Russia agree on new deals to strengthen defence ties 

Dec 7: India and Russia deepened their long-standing defence alliance during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to New Delhi on 6 December by inking two agreements to advance strategic and military co-operation. These agreements comprised a INR51.24 billion (USD680 million) deal to produce in northern India 601,427 Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles for the Indian armed forces, and the renewal of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC) until 2031. Both accords were signed at the inaugural ‘2+2 dialogue' between the two countries' defence and foreign ministers ahead of a summit meeting between Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Russia deploys Bastion coastal defence system at new military facility in disputed Kuril Islands 

Dec 6: The Russian military has deployed its K-300P Bastion-P mobile coastal defence missile system in the Kuril Islands, a chain in the northwest Pacific Ocean, the ownership of which is disputed by Japan and Russia. The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on 2 December that the Bastion-P deployment signals the start of deployments from a new Russian military base on Matua, an uninhabited volcanic island near the centre of the Kuril chain that is not claimed by Japan.

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December 2021

Region of Focus: Western Pacific

Russia moves equipment to Crimea, continues to activate other units 

Nov 18: Russia has deployed elements of at least three units to Crimea since 12 November. They are equipped with armoured personnel carriers (APCs), self-propelled howitzers (SPHs), anti-aircraft missile systems, and main battle tanks (MBTs). Analysing footage posted on social media of military equipment being moved by train, Janes has identified the deployment of at least a battalion tactical group of the 49th Combined Arms Army's 34th Motorised Brigade (Mountain) equipped with MT-LB APCs and 2S1 Gvozdika SPHs and, what are likely to be, a battalion-sized element of Buk-M2 believed to belong to the 90th Air Defence Brigade and of T-72 MBTs from the 58th Combined Arms Army's 42nd Motorised Division to railway stations in Crimea. All three units are not normally stationed in Crimea and do not often exercise on the peninsula.

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Russian 1st Guards Tank Army equipment spotted in Voronezh 

Nov 11: 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. The new equipment seen at Maslovka is believed to belong to various 1st Guards Tank Army units, which have deployed nearly 500 km from their permanent bases in the Moscow area to the Voronezh region.

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Technology Developments

Russian forces receive 9M333 SAMs 

Nov 23: The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has received “the first mass deliveries” of 9M333 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) from Kalashnikov, Rostec announced on its website on 18 November. Rostec said the new missile is designed to arm the Strela-10M3 air defence system 9A34M3 and 9A35M3 combat vehicles. It replaces legacy 9M37 missiles, which only had a dual-mode seeker. The 9M333 can be traced back to 1989, but Rostec stated that the missile delivered to the MoD was first demonstrated publicly at the Army 2020 exhibition before successfully completing qualification tests for the Russian MoD last December. Development of the missile was initiated in 2018 and the successful tests in December 2020 led to its serial production.

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Russia tests DA-ASAT missile 

Nov 16: Russia has conducted a direct ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile test against the retired Cosmos 1408 electronic intelligence (ELINT) low Earth orbit satellite, according to the UK-based satellite tracking company Seradata. “The missile appears to have been launched from Plesetsk in Northern Russia at around 0630 on the morning of 15 November,” David Todd, head of space content at Seradata told Janes in an interview. “Earlier today, the Russian Federation recklessly conducted a destructive satellite test of a DA-ASAT missile against one of its own satellites,” the US State Department confirmed in a briefing later that day. After the explosion of the satellite at least 1,500 pieces of trackable debris were observed with hundreds of thousands of smaller pieces of orbital debris, according to the US State Department. Cosmos 1408 was a retired Tselina-D class ELINT satellite that was launched in 1982, according to the Seradata SpaceTrak launch and satellite database.

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Dubai Airshow 2021: Russia unveils upgraded Ka-226T rotorcraft 

Nov 16: The extensively upgraded Kamov Ka-226T light utility helicopter was unveiled at the Dubai Airshow 2021 being held from 14 to 18 November. A representative of Rostec's Russian Helicopters told Janes that the rotorcraft is designated ‘Climber' because of its high altitude performance in the mountains. The modernised Ka-226T has become the first Russian helicopter to be digitally designed. The Ka-226T Climber features an updated layout with improved aerodynamic performance. Its fuselage has been made with the use of modern lightened composites, while the control and electric subsystems have been improved. The rotorcraft has received a shockproof fuel subsystem and larger fuel tanks with centralised refuelling capability.

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Russia demonstrates Harpoon-3 C-UAV system 

Nov 16: Russian soldiers taking part in exercise ‘Indestructible Brotherhood 2021' – held from 8 to 12 November in Kazan with participants from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – demonstrated the Harpoon-3 handheld counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (C-UAV) system, the Central Military District announced on the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) website on 8 November. “For the first time, a mobile electronic warfare (EW) group was presented, which made it possible to successfully combat unmanned aerial vehicles and quadricopters,” said Lieutenant Colonel Andrei Marushkin, commander of the demonstrating unit.

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Domestic Affairs

Russia to receive 20 Armata MBTs by end of 2021 

Nov 29: Russian Ground Troops' operational units are to receive 20 T-14 Armata main battle tanks (MBTs) by the end of 2021, the TASS news agency reported 47th Military Representative Office acting head Major Dmitry Repin as saying on 26 November during a visit to the UralVagonZavod factory responsible for manufacturing the tanks in Nizhny Tagil. Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov told TASS in August 2020 that the Armata was in production, but the press agency reported Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in March as saying the first batch would not be received until 2022.

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Svalbard's strategic importance grows for Russia 

Nov 29: In a statement released on 12 November, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova responded to the 23 October visit of the Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl to the port of Longyearbyen, a Norwegian outpost in Svalbard. Zakharova said that the visit “implies the use of the archipelago's infrastructure in the military planning of the defence of Norway, including the reception of reinforcement from NATO allies.” Norway has sovereignty over the archipelago and consequently the Svalbard Treaty does not prohibit a Norwegian military presence unless a deployment is offensive in nature.

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Russia's Central Military District receives new equipment, including BMPT ‘Terminator' 

Nov 17: Russia's Central Military District (CMD) has been receiving new equipment in 2021. The CMD announced on the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) website on 10 November that its 90th Guards Tank Division would receive its first company of nine ‘Terminator' tank support combat vehicles (BMPTs) on 1 December. CMD Commander Colonel General Alexander Lapin reported that new techniques of using the BMPT to support tanks were tested during an exercise in June, which had shown “the tank support combat vehicle is very effective; this vehicle has no equal in terms of firepower in this class”. He spoke of plans for a larger-scale exercise in June 2022 to explore the possibilities of employing a BMPT battalion.

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Foreign Affairs

Taking no chances: Regional security challenges prompt Nordic military build-up

Nov 15: In response to Russian military threats and actions in and around the Arctic and Baltic regions since 2014, four Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden – are steadily merging regional defence policies and capabilities in concert with NATO collective security principles. Partner states Finland and Sweden have substantially increased defence co-operation with each other, member states Denmark and Norway, and the alliance in general. Boosted by generous national defence budgets, as well as strong public and political support, several initiatives are under way, including strengthening regional operational frameworks that support planning and execution of effective, combined rapid-response capabilities, robust security support for the Baltic states, and growing regional exercise programmes.

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South Korea, Russia to establish direct military hotlines 

Nov 11: South Korea and Russia have agreed to set up direct military hotlines between their respective air and naval forces as part of efforts to enhance communication and prevent accidental clashes. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Seoul announced that the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to this end on 11 November, pointing out that the move is also aimed at strengthening bilateral trust, helping to reduce tensions as well as establishing peace in the region.

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OSINT Force Monitoring

  • Russia appears to be continuing to deploy additional forces to the Ukrainian border area of operations
  • Further elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army equipped with long-range multiple rocket launchers have been identified deploying to the Pogonovo training ground in the Voronezh region.
  • Mechanised and air defence assets from the 49th and 58th Combined Arms Armies have been identified deploying to Crimea.
  • A 31st Air Assault Brigade battalion tactical group also appears to be deploying towards the border, with its equipment being seen on a train in the Volgograd region some 750 kilometres from the unit’s base in Ulyanovsk.
  • At least two battalions of the 55th Motorised Brigade (Motorised) have begun deploying over 4,000 km from central Siberia to Yelnya in the Smolensk region.
  • A pair of Baltic Fleet LSTs, MINSK and KOROLEV, entered the Mediterranean Sea having sailed from the Baltic Sea.
  • Russia conducted a live fire test of a Direct Ascent Anti-Satellite (DA-ASAT) missile, using the missile to destroy a retired Russian satellite – Cosmos 1408.
  • Four Russian and Chinese bombers conducted a joint air patrol over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea. The flight was conducted on the same day as two Russian bombers conducted a further patrol over the Sea of Chukotka and Bering Sea. 
  • Russian forces have also conducted joint special forces with other CSTO forces in Tajikistan, naval exercises with the Algerian navy in the Mediterranean Sea, and limited combined arms training with the Armenian military.
  • The 43rd Missile Ship Division’s Admiral Gorshkov Class frigate ADMIRAL GORSHKOV (pen. 461) has conducted two live fire Tsirkon missile tests in the White Sea.
  • A new – as yet unidentified commander – was appointed to lead Russian forces stationed in north eastern Syria. The commander will reportedly lead forces in the region for three months.

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November 2021

Region of Focus: Western Pacific

Chinese, Russian navies conclude first joint patrols in Western Pacific 

Oct 27: 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 

Oct 19: 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 

Oct 20: 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 

Oct 14: 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 

Oct 13: 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 

Oct 13: 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 

Nov 11: 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.

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Domestic Affairs

Russian airborne forces retool for expanded role 

Nov 25: 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 

Oct 28: 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 

Oct 21: 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 

Oct 15: 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 

Oct 25: 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 

Oct 7: 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.

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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.

(https://customer.janes.com/Janes/Display/BSP_8814-JDW) 

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/

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