January 23, 2016

They Have Learnt Nothing from History

Yuriy Radkovets


They Have Learnt Nothing from History or Why Russia Is Creating a New Attack Force

Instead of looking for compromises and maintaining a balance of power, Russia is now beginning to create a new Attack Force on the Western strategic direction.


Part 1. What for Does Russia Need Three New Divisions on the Western Strategic Direction?

One of the most important tasks of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in 2016 is formation of three divisions on the Western strategic direction, announced January 12, the RF Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu during the first in 2016 real-time conference of the military department. “It is necessary not only to create these divisions, but also, of course, to equip them in places of permanent deployment, to construct and create appropriate grounds, places of storage of military equipment, and to build houses for the personnel to live in,” said the Minister of Defence. Sergei Shigu did not mention other details concerning the new compounds, including the reasons for their creation.

The vast majority of leading Western military experts believe that in this way the Russian Federation plans both, “to avoid the danger posed by NATO/USA” (about which they have been speaking in the Kremlin for many years), and “to conduct advance preparation for Ukraine's joining NATO”.

December 11, 2015, at the expanded meeting of Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, S. Shoigu immediately began speaking about the dangers of NATO's enlargement. According to him, within 2015 alone, in the Baltic countries, Poland and Romania, the NATO troops had enlarged by aircrafts — 8 times, and by the number of military personnel — 13 times. According to him, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine are actively preparing for entry into NATO but “in the sphere of interests of the Alliance are also Finland, Sweden, Serbia and Moldova.”



A sort of confirmation of this postulate (about the danger which comes from NATO/USA) of Putin's apologists may be the fact that the approved by Putin in the last day of 2015 updated National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation reads about “intensification of military activities” of NATO, anti-constitutional developments in Ukraine and “containment” of Russia by the United States.

Ukraine, in particular, is defined in the document as “a long-term source of instability in Europe and right next to Russia's borders”. The blame for the emergence of the Ukrainian crisis is put by Russia on the United States and the European Union, which, according to the Russian side, supported the “anti-constitutional coup in Ukraine”, which led to “a deep split in the Ukrainian society and emergence of an armed conflict”.

Regarding the USA, the document states “the Russian Federation's independent domestic and foreign policy meets with opposition from the United States and its NATO allies, seeking to maintain dominance in world affairs”.


The political meaning of this decision — to create on the Western direction three new divisions — is absolutely obvious. In fact, it is the Russian response to the preparations for the deployment of advanced NATO forces in the Baltic countries, as well as in Poland and Romania, which in turn has become an asymmetric response to the Russian military adventures in the Ukrainian Crimea and the Donbas, and to the continuous provocations and violation of air and maritime borders of the Baltic States and Northern Europe. That is, the decision to deploy three new divisions — is another proof that Russia is rapidly moving to a new “cold war” with the West.

As for Russia's advance preparation to Ukraine's joining NATO, the decision seems to have the same right to life, as the Ukrainian direction — five regions on the border with Russia — in fact, has always been considered safe for Russia and there, according to Russian military experts, had never been deployed a single military unit. However, this is Russia's pure lie.



In December 2011, as part of the Southern Military District of the RF Armed Forces, was formed 49th new Combined-Arms Army (headquarters — Stavropol) specially for actions on one of the Ukrainian operating directions, the main groupings and units of which are stationed in the Stavropol Territory.

The 49th Combined-Arms Army is composed of three (3) Motorized Rifle Brigades (including two Mountain Brigades); combat units and subunits of the Army submission, as well as logistics support units. The 49th Combined-Arms Army's operational designation is keeping operations in the Azov-Black Sea operational direction.

The number of personnel of the 49th Army is about 35 000 people. The Army has at least 350 tanks (T-72 and T-90), 1 thousand BMPs and armored personnel carriers, 180 artillery pieces and mortars, 100 Grad systems, and 220 anti-aircraft artillery and anti-aircraft missile systems.

During 2015, as a result of the participation of the 49th Army's units and formations in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict in the Donbas, they have been actively replenished with the latest weapons and military equipment, as well as have been staffed additionally to the state of war time.


During the exacerbation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the Kremlin was forced to send there units from other military districts of the RF Armed Forces, including from the Central and Eastern ones, having created a group of Russian-terrorist forces in the Donbas in the amount of 42-45 thousand people, as well as a group of Russian troops of around 45-50 thousand people on the border with Ukraine.

As is known, in 2009 under the “Serdyukov's military reform”, in Russia took place the painful transition from the divisional structure of the Land Forces to the brigade one. There is reason to believe that a brigade, forming battalion tactical teams, is more effective especially in local conflicts. Which, by the way, was demonstrated during Russia's “hybrid war” in the Crimea and the Donbas.

But if you prepare for a large-scale war with the West (NATO), the full-fledged divisions of the Army with the appropriate reinforcements — are actually small armies, which proved to be a practically more useful tool exactly in a great (conventional) war. And, unfortunately, it is possible that the decision to establish three new divisions of the Army is only the beginning of a new reorganization of the Army of the RF Armed Forces in terms of their preparation for a major war with the West (NATO).

Currently, the Army of the Russian Federation has only three divisions: 2nd Guards Motor Rifle “Tamanskaya” Division (Kalininec), 4th Guards “Kantemirovskaya” Tank Division (Naro-Fominsk), which were restored in 2013 (now transferred from the 20th Combined Arms Army into the newly created (in June 2015) 1st Guards Tank Army), and 18th Machine Gun and Artillery Division (Goryachie Klyuchi, the Kurilsky Islands, Sakhalin region). All other units are Brigades.

The Command of the 1st Guards Tank Army in Bakovka (Odintsovo, Moscow Region) was formed in connection with the transfer to Voronezh from Mulino (Nizhniy Novgorod) of the Command of the 20th Combined Arms Army. As should be understood, the transfer of the Command of the 20th Army to Voronezh was caused by the need to deploy a permanent grouping of the Western Military District on the border with Ukraine. The group was united by the Command of the 20th Army.

Originally it was planned that the 20th Army's Command in Voronezh would include: 9th Red Banner Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, transferred from Nizhniy Novgorod to a new place of permanent deployment in Boguchar (Voronezh region); 1st Tank Brigade (of the created with the disbandment of the 10th Guards Tank Division of the 262nd Base of Storage and Repair of Armament and Equipment), which was planned to be deployed also in Boguchar, as well as a new Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, the formation of which began in 2015 in the city โ€‹โ€‹of Yelnya, Smolensk region.

Taking into consideration the latest data, we may state that the plans to create on a Western direction three new divisions provides for the formation of two Motorized Rifle and one Tank Divisions, which will be part of the 20th Combined Arms Army. At this, the Motorized Rifle Divisions will be transformed into two Motorized Rifle Brigades, one of which, 33rd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, has been moved from Maikop to Rostov region and the other began to take shape last year in Yelnya (Smolensk region), to where in the post-Soviet period it had been transferred from Germany the 144th Guards Motorized Rifle Division, disbanded in 1998. As for the third division, its deployment was announced a little earlier — here is meant restoration of the 10th Guards Tank Division in Boguchar (Voronezh region).

So, according to preliminary data, two of the three planned divisions will be deployed directly at the border with Ukraine — in the cities of Boguchar (Tank Division) and Novocherkassk (Motorized Rifle Division), and the third one — in the city of Yelnya Smolensk region (Motorized Rifle Division) on the border with Belarus. Units of the Divisions will be deployed in Voronezh, Belgorod, Smolensk and Rostov regions.

According to Western military experts, creating Divisions (numbering several thousand more people) instead of Brigades, can be explained by the fact that the armies of the Western strategic direction (1st Guards Tank and 20th Combined-Arms) have been decided to be turned into more powerful ones with a core of at least two or three full divisions.

Yet it is hard to believe that the creation/restoration and strengthening of the two armies of the RF Armed Forces in the West strategic direction — is purely for “guard against the danger posed to Russia by NATO/USA” and “advance preparation for Ukraine's joining NATO”. Because NATO/USA and Ukraine will never attack Russia! They will not do that!

Then why is Russia initiating all this in such a hurry?

There is another version in this regard, it also has a right to exist — Suvalki corridor or Suvalki gap. But more about this in another information-analytical study.

To be continued…


The article is available in the edition of the Romanian Center “INGEPO Consulting Company” —

“Geostrategic Pulse” โ„– 212 from April 20, 2016