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

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 of social media posts by residents of Vyborg and a report from the MoD's TV Zvezda on 25 August provided details of how these exercises unfolded and offered insights into potential Russian tactics, techniques, and procedures.

The port was secured by military police (MPs), BTR-80 armoured personnel carriers, a Pantsyr-S1 short-range air defence system, several Raptor-class patrol boats, and at least two Mi-28N attack helicopters. A command post and elements of Russia's new inflatable modular field hospital were also deployed.

Images analysed by Janes show Mi-28N, Raptor-class boats, and MPs swarming around the port of Vyborg conducting what are likely to be security and defensive drills as logistics troops unload T-72B3M main battle tanks and BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers from trains. The images also show Russian forces practising firefighting drills, evacuating wounded personnel, and laying down smokescreens to cover their activity in the port.

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