Skip to main content

Russian asymmetry, nukes and missiles for diplomatic measures



Until this weeks kaleidoscopic scramble across Russia’s the western frontier, the Russian armed forces have been following a largely routine schedule since the rolling readiness checks of the October 2017 and the massive Zapad17 exercise.

The recent flurry of activity started with the snap drills of the reconnaissance, artillery and combat engineering units, that are commonly associated with the spearhead formations of the Russian army. Alone these drills are not very remarkable and even when grouped like this, they shouldn’t cause a major alarm with the Western defense planners.

When the entire Strategic Rocket Force (RVSN), ie. the Russia’s ground based ICBM force was alerted and the mobile TEL:s rolled into the vast forests things started to look slightly suspicious. Especially when the readiness check of the nuclear forces coincided with the expulsion of the Russian diplomats by UK, EU and USA.



Simultaneously with the RVSN, the majority of the Russian air defense and anti-ship missile units along the western border from the Arctic to the Black Sea were alerted and sent out to missile drills.

The real surprises came on 29.3.2018, when Russia announced that it would conduct naval missile exercises in the western Baltic Sea. The target areas are closer to the Swedish territorial waters than ever before. There is also a secondary target area close to the Polish waters. Second Naval missile drill by a task force led by the Slava-class cruiser Marshall Ustinov is underway in the Barents sea north of Norway. This is a classic move in any Russian operation that is aimed against NATO or Sweden.

This provocative act is backed with a major annual air force exercise Ladoga 18, that is for the first time conducted with strike packages taking off without pre-designated targets. The pilots will only receive the targets for the live missiles while airborne. This kind of a drill could easily be used as a cover for a strategic strike against a nearby country. There is also an amphibious drill of the Baltic Fleet marines going on in the Kaliningrad as well as some peculiar VDV airborne drills.

Without the activation of the heavy hitters of the Russian ground forces, such as the 1st guards tank army, this isn’t going to be another invasion. Instead it is a very asymmetric response to the western diplomatic actions that were directed against Russia after the chemical weapons attack against the UK.

Russia is signaling loudly that it will not play with the same rules as the western nations. It isn’t even playing the same game.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Quick guide to identifying the Russian tanks Part 1: main platforms and T-72 variants

As most of the western nations have reduced their inventories to a few or mostly one type of main battle tank model in their active inventories, the myriad of tank platforms and distinct versions employed by the Russian armed forces may feel overwhelming. Here is a quick guide to identifying Russian MBTs. When you come across an image (or the actual thing), follow the steps to identify it properly. Family of the tank Russian Armed Forces currently operates, or at least storage, the following tank platforms/families: -           T-55 (<2000 in storage) -           T-62 (2000 in storage) -           T-64 (2000 in storage) -           T-72 (2000 active duty, 8000 in storage) -           T-80 (2000 active duty, 5000 in storage) -           T-90 (350 active duty, 600  in storage) -           T-14 (20 in field testing) So how can you identify what type of a tank are you looking at? There are two features that can be used to distingu

The Hammer and the Sickle - Potential Russian Pincer-Offensive

For the past weeks the social media has been filled with sightings of Russian troops moving towards the regions bordering Ukraine. The buildup was initially called an exercise, but in the most recent press releases Kremlin has been rather clear that the troops have been deployed there as an operational deployment, if Russia feels a need to act upon any real or imaginary escalation in Donbass. The troops will stay in the region as long as President Putin sees it necessary. Russia Serna-Class landing crafts of the Caspian flotilla The initial buildup was focused on occupied Crimea that has so far received an additional VDV airborne regiment, multiple mechanized battalion tactical groups and heavy artillery units equipped with at least the enormous 240mm 2S4 Tulpan mortars.  Additional trains and convoys have been spotted in Rostov, Krasnodar and Voronezh regions. The Russian controlled Belarusian military has also been alerted and multiple, very Russian looking units are operating in the

Death from above – Russian ad hoc top attack defenses

T-72B3 tanks with crude top armor cages The recent Russian tank upgrade programs and the ever slower moving T-14 Armata saga, have all had significant portion of the efforts put into improving the survivability of the tank and its crew. Both static and explosive reactive armor (ERA) have been upgraded and small amount of the latest T-90M and T-72B3 tanks have active protection systems that may be able to defeat most of the anti-tank missiles and slower moving HEAT shells. Environmentally friendly T-90M While these programs have put some emphasis on the armor on the top of the turret, the main focus has been in the sides and the front of the hull and turret. Additional ERA elements have been mounted on the skirts of the vehicles and slat-cage type standoff armor has been attached into the rear sides of the turrets and hulls. These modifications however have very little effect on direct top attacks by modern anti-tank missiles such as the American Javelin, that is also in the