Collegium on VDV

Sergey Shoygu had news on the Russian Airborne Troops at yesterday’s collegium.

The Defense Minister claimed the Pskov-based 76th DShD will get its third air-assault regiment this year.

The Kamyshin-based 56th Air-Assault Brigade will consolidate to a regiment by the end of 2021 and redeploy to Feodosia.

There (presumably) it’ll join up with the battalion based there to become the third regiment of Novorossiysk’s 7th DShD.

The 56th was a Ground Troops formation before its handover to the VDV in 2013.

The MOD and VDV have long talked of returning to the traditional three maneuver regiment structure in airborne (air assault) divisions. It’s taken quite a while.

In Pskov, finding manpower, equipment, and housing won’t be easy. In the south, fleshing out the 7th DShD costs a brigade but makes sense. Still its redeployment won’t be trivial.

What else from Shoygu?

  • VDV units now have 72 percent “modern” arms and equipment.
  • The Airborne got their tenth battalion set of BMD-4M combat vehicles in February, and are slated to get two more in 2021.
  • Contractees now comprise 72 percent of VDV personnel.
  • The VDV have made 40,000 jumps and air-dropped 44 pieces of large equipment this year. Sounds like they’ll drop a battalion and some BMD-4Ms using a new guided parachute system as part of preparation for Zapad-2021.

Besides raising their “combat potential,” the VDV are also upgrading their C2 system and infrastructure in Crimea, Pskov, and Omsk (242nd Training Center), Shoygu said.

Ex-RVSN Deputy Commander Guilty of Corruption

The GVSU site offered up a little sensation among its routine military crime reports recently. A general was convicted, and not just any general, but (now former) RVSN Deputy Commander General-Lieutenant Sergey Siver.

We’re not talking rear services or ground troops here, but a general officer with full knowledge of and responsibility for Russia’s land-based strategic nuclear forces.

For years people have argued that the kind of dysfunction described below may happen in the Russian armed forces, but not in its elite forces or important combat units. Well, it does.

Your author missed this one. The case came to light in September.

Also, Siver looked to be “green” or a good candidate for advancement, but it didn’t turn out that way. The 58-year-old general finished a three-year tour heading the RVSN’s most prestigious training establishment in 2019 and became a deputy commander in its headquarters. His prospects looked pretty good.

To reach that point, Siver stepped on every rung of the RVSN career ladder. He served in posts through command of a missile regiment, attended the General Staff Academy, and got command of the Irkutsk-based 29th Missile Division. Then he was commander of the 27th Missile Army — one of only three missile armies — in Vladimir before taking over the RVSN’s military academy.

Siver was one of a handful of generals with the experience to replace RVSN Commander General-Colonel Sergey Karakayev at some point. However, they are more contemporaries, and the RF MOD will probably go younger for the RVSN’s next commander.

According to Compromat.org, Siver may have faced a very serious charge at first, one possibly carrying a ten-year prison term. The site claimed that for many years he exacted tribute from subordinates in the form of money and gifts, some discovered at his home in Vladimir.

Those who ponied up reportedly got promotions, good assignments, and medals. Those who didn’t were subjected to severe pressure, transferred to remote units, or even dismissed from military service.

But Siver got off very easy against a much less severe charge.

Here’s a translation of the GVSU’s March 11 press-release on the case.

In Moscow oblast a serviceman has been convicted of misusing his official authority

The court found evidence, gathered by the Russian Federation Investigative Committee’s military investigative directorate for the Strategic Missile Troops (henceforth — RVSN), sufficient to deliver a guilty verdict on former deputy commander of the RVSN reserve general-lieutenant Sergey Siver. He was found guilty of committing a crime specified by ch. 1 art. 285 of the RF UK (misuse of official authority).

It was established that in August 2016 Siver, serving as chief of the federal state-owned military institution of higher education “Military Academy of Strategic Missile Troops named for Peter the Great” of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense, illegally relieved the lead engineer of the scientific-research department Vasiliy Bugay of his service duties in order to carry out his own [trans. — Siver’s] personal errands. Despite non-fulfillment of his official duties, pay and bonuses were regularly disbursed to him [trans. — Bugay] until July 2019.

In November 2020 general-lieutenant Sergey Siver was retired from military service for health reasons by order of higher command.

Taking into account in the course of the preliminary investigation Siver acknowledged his guilt for what was done and voluntarily returned to the state budget more than 1.68 million rubles, previously paid to Bugay as wages and bonuses, the Reutov garrison military court punished him [trans. — Siver] in the form of a fine amounting to 60 thousand rubles.

As concerns Bugay on the basis of para. 2 ch. 1 art. 24 of the RF UPK (absence of corpus delicti) it was decided not to open a criminal case. The supervising organ agreed with this procedural decision.

Some restitution and a slap-on-the-wrist fine. No forfeiture of retirement or benefits. No more than mild embarrassment. The investigators and courts apparently didn’t buy Compromat’s story about Siver’s extensive history of corruption. One wonders how deep the inquiry went. Perhaps the Bugay incident was a one-time thing from Siver, but that seems hard to believe. Possibly much was swept under the rug.

Can it be that a “lead engineer” from the RVSN’s premier schoolhouse had so little of importance to do that the academy’s chief would have him do his personal chores instead?

From the MOD’s standpoint, the case — at least in mild form — was put on public display, but the decline of Russia’s free media ensured it couldn’t reach a wide audience.

Military corruption has been off the radar for a few years. The MOD claims it’s continually declining. But the GVSU may be reviving interest in the issue. Or perhaps corruption has continued all along and the Kremlin decided the Siver case should be publicized (a little) for its deterrent effect on the high command and senior officers.

Chernigovka

The last OOB spreadsheet didn’t have much on the Eastern MD’s air forces (i.e. the 11th AVVSiPVO).

The 303rd Composite Aviation Division’s subordinate regiments are now included.

One is the 18th Guards Assault Aviation Red Banner Regiment based at Chernigovka.

Chernigovka last October

Some number (probably not two complete squadrons) of Su-25SM ground attack aircraft are parked along the flight line and on hardstands.

In 2015, Bmpd reposted an item from Alexeyvvo indicating this regiment was second (after Budennovsk — Southern MD) to receive the modernized Su-25SM.

Mil.ru confirmed the presence of an assault aviation regiment at Chernigovka in late 2019.

The helicopters on hardstands belong (ostensibly at least) to the 319th Independent Helicopter Regiment. Russian sources say the regiment has roughly 20 Ka-52 and 20 Mi-8AMTSh — either two large squadrons or maybe four smaller squadrons — two of each type (??).

The regiment has the same v/ch as the old 575th Aviation Base which can be considered replaced. The aviation bases were an innovation from Anatoliy Serdyukov’s tenure intended to save money by operating several aircraft types from the same airfield. It wasn’t popular with the aviators.

But a legacy from this is two different aviation units sharing the base at Chernigovka.

Muddying the waters is Mil.ru from early 2019 indicating there’s an army aviation formation [soyedineniye] at Chernigovka. Or a resurrected (and as yet unidentified) army aviation brigade.

For now let’s call it the 319th Regiment though now it’s probably a u/i brigade. Four smaller helo squadrons would make more sense as a brigade than a regiment.

Supporting the notion that the old 575th has reverted to an army aviation brigade, the old 573rd Aviation Base at Khabarovsk-Tsentralnyy airport is now the 18th Army Aviation Brigade with Ka-52, Mi-8AMTSh, and Mi-26 helos.

Similarly, in 2018, the VKS transformed the Central MD’s aviation bases into an army aviation brigade and an independent helo regiment.

These are largely organizational changes; the equipment has remained pretty much the same. But that’s some of the process of following the OOB. And here is the latest OOB, never finished, always a work in progress.

The Winner Is . . . .

Russian military men born in the 1950s have just about disappeared from active service. A couple who remain are General Staff Chief Valeriy Gerasimov and Ground Troops CINC Oleg Salyukov. But they aren’t likely to stay much longer.

The recent announcement that 65-year-old Army General Gerasimov has been elected president of the quasi-governmental Academy of Military Sciences makes his retirement seem imminent. Also 65, Salyukov’s circumstances can’t be much different.

Some thinking about changing faces and generations is in order.

The men of the ’60s — generals between the ages of 50 and 60 — are now firmly ensconced in most top Russian military posts except a couple of the most important ones — those Gerasimov and Salyukov still occupy.

Who will be the next General Staff Chief and Ground Troops CINC?

No special insight here. High-level military personnel decisions are made by Putin, his closest advisers, and Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and are closely held until made public.

It is possible, however, to identify several generals who are conceivable candidates. One critical factor could be their perceived willingness to use military force against Putin’s opponents or at least keep the army on the sidelines in a political showdown.

Army General Aleksandr Dvornikov…Commander of the Southern MD. Soon to be 60, Dvornikov is the oldest of the likely candidates.

He’s served more than four years in the key Southern MD. He commanded Russian forces in Syria and has long experience as deputy commander of the Central and Eastern MDs.

Dvornikov commanded combat troops during the First and Second Chechen Wars.

He lacks General Staff experience and his age might be against him.

He could be a suitable Ground Troops CINC. That would free up the Southern MD for a young, fast-burner.

General-Colonel Andrey Kartapolov…Deputy Defense Minister and Chief, Main Military-Political Directorate.

Turning 58 this year, Kartapolov also commanded troops in Syria.

He served briefly as Commander of the Western MD, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Chief of the Main Operations Directorate (GOU), and deputy commander of the Southern MD.

His appointment to the resurrected GlavPUR seemed to sidetrack a career already deficient in some respects. Unlike the other contenders, he doesn’t have a Hero of the Russian Federation medal.

But Kartapolov can’t be entirely dismissed. Putin and Shoygu have reemphasized political indoctrination in recent years. He might fit the job of Ground Troops CINC, if not General Staff Chief.

General-Colonel Aleksandr Zhuravlev (zhu-rav-LYOV)…Commander of the Western MD.

Zhuravlev turns 56 in December.

Twice he commanded Russian forces in Syria.

He served very briefly as Commander of the Eastern MD.

Zhuravlev also had short stints as Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander of the Southern MD, and Deputy Commander of the Central MD.


General-Colonel Sergey Surovikin…CINC of Aerospace Forces. Currently 54, Surovikin has an interesting array of experience.

In an unprecedented move, Putin appointed this career army officer to head Russia’s air and space forces in 2017.

He commanded Russian troops in Syria.

Surovikin commanded the Eastern MD for four years. He was Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander of the Central MD and served almost two years as Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Chief of the GOU.

He commanded the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division during the Second Chechen War.

Controversies have dogged Surovikin throughout his career but haven’t stopped his advancement so far.

If Surovikin were to become General Staff Chief (or Ground Troops CINC), a new CINC of Aerospace Forces would be needed. It’s unclear whether the MOD would return to a career air forces officer.

No one outside the Kremlin can say who will get these jobs when they become available. But these are clearly top candidates.

A senior officer probably can’t become General Staff Chief without command in Syria, command in one or two MDs, and some time in the General Staff at a minimum. Combat experience in the Chechen wars might help.

For Ground Troops CINC, there could be other candidates. One is Airborne Troops Commander General-Colonel Andrey Serdyukov. Nearly 59, Serdyukov had command in Syria and was Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander of the Southern MD. He participated in Russia’s “dash to Pristina” as well as the Chechen wars.

Does it matter who’s Russia’s General Staff Chief?

In the case of Gerasimov, he’s served in a professional, low-key manner. He managed the armed forces smoothly in a period of intensive rearmament, increased training, and significant real-world operations. Although events make us feel otherwise, he’s likely been the source of dispassionate military advice. He surely influenced and advanced the careers of like-minded younger officers. And Gerasimov served Putin and Shoygu without appearing overly close to them.

Another man of the ’50s below the radar is Deputy Defense Minister, Chief of Rear Services Army General Dmitriy Bulgakov. He’ll be 67 (!!) this year. Logistics boss since 2008, he’ll have to be replaced soon.

Similarly, Deputy General Staff Chief, Chief of the GOU General-Colonel Sergey Rudskoy turns 61 this year. His replacement can’t be more than a year or two off.

Arctic Interceptors

On January 16, Russia’s Northern Fleet announced the deployment of long-range MiG-31BM fighter-interceptors for “experimental” combat duty on Novaya Zemlya. They will secure the RF state border and expand the protected airspace over the Northern Sea Route.

The Russian fighters will operate from the airfield at Rogachevo (Рогачёво).

MiG-31BM combat radius from Rogachevo

Here’s another handy map.

From Rogachevo, the MiG-31BM’s approximately 1,500-km combat range would allow it to cover an arc from the northern Norwegian Sea, Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, and Severnaya Zemlya to the Taymyr peninsula. In other words, the entirety of the Northern Fleet’s Barents and Kara Sea bastion.

The 1,500-km is something of a WAG; the actual radius depends on variables like exact mission profile, ordnance loading, external fuel tanks, and aerial refueling.

Russia is renovating and maintaining at least two other air bases in the Arctic — Nagurskaya on Franz Josef Land and Temp in the New Siberian Islands.

Airfield at Rogachevo

The MiG-31BM aircraft (likely a three-aircraft flight) are detached from the Monchegorsk-based 174th Guards Fighter Aviation Pechenga Red Banner Regiment named for B. F. Safonov. Part of the 45th AVVSiPVO, the regiment has about 20 MiG-31s. The unit was established only in 2019. Its aircraft flew training missions from Rogachevo in 2020.

The 45th also maintains a SAM regiment — one battalion of 12 S-400 launchers and two battalions of S-300PM SAMs — at Rogachevo.

The MiG-31BM presence may not be entirely for strategic air defense. There are reports that Russian naval air regiments are getting the hypersonic Kh-47M2 Kinzhal system — essentially an air-launched Iskander ballistic missile — for their MiG-31s (MiG-31K).

As “experimental” suggests, the MiG-31BM deployment may or may not be permanent or become a routine part of Russia’s military posture in the Arctic.

As far back as 2013, the RF MOD said it planned to base a group (probably 4-6) of MiG-31s on Novaya Zemlya. Putin ordered the establishment or reconstruction of various Russian military facilities in the Arctic at that time.

Pacific Fleet Naval Aviation reportedly began flying the MiG-31BM from Anadyr in late 2020.

If the climate and weather on Novaya Zemlya doesn’t put you off, the archipelago’s history as one of the USSR’s main nuclear test sites might (although the Russian Navy says serving there is safe, if you believe that).

It also plays a role in the modern GULAG. The MOD sent one of Aleksey Navalnyy’s top supporters to Rogachevo for his conscript service before moving him to an even more remote outpost 200 km north of the airfield.

Northern Fleet Upgrade

Russia’s Military Districts

It’s official. At least it will be on January 1, 2021.

On December 21, RF President Vladimir Putin signed out an ukaz “On the Northern Fleet” recognizing it as “an inter-service strategic territorial large formation [obyedineniye / обьединение]” carrying out the missions of a military district. Russia’s most important fleet will be guided by the Regulation on the Military District (itself confirmed by presidential ukaz in 2017).

This has been done “for purposes of effecting measures to defend the integrity and inviolability of Russian Federation territory,” according to the verbiage.

Break out your map of Russia’s Far North.

Recall the stage was set in June when Putin signed an ukaz “On the Military-Administrative Division of the Russian Federation.” That decree put the Northern Fleet in charge of the Republic of Komi, Murmansk and Arkhangelsk oblasts, and Nenets autonomous district (all previously part of the Western MD).

We have to wonder a couple things.

1) If or when Russia’s Pacific Fleet might also gain the status of a military district. With all the Kremlin’s attention to the northern latitudes, can the Pacific Fleet with Yakutia and Chukotka not merit the same regard? And this even without pointing to the rest of the fleet’s immense AOR.

2) What about Krasnoyarsk kray and Yamalo-Nenets autonomous district currently under the administration of the Central MD? Which Russian military strategic entity should control planning and operations for the Kara Sea and this part of the Arctic? It seems the Northern Fleet does, though not officially its AOR.

This military-administrative reorganization probably isn’t over.

It’s worth reminding that this represents some unwinding of the 2010 reform that reduced the number of MDs to four and put the fleets under the control of those army-dominated MDs.

Promotion List

Here’s the latest promotion list. Roughly 620 general and flag officers from the Russian Federation Armed Forces. Always trying (and failing) to make it up-to-date.

Still color-coding (green, yellow, red, orange) individual officers for likely, uncertain, or unlikely future career progression.

What, you ask, are indicators of probable advancement? One is, ironically and simply, a recent promotion. An officer promoted to one-star rank is in the running for a second star, etc. But also whether an officer is in a line or staff position, his age (where we have it), and his past career progression.

Sometimes generals or admirals are marked yellow or red for lack of another rung to step up. General-Colonel Kim and Admiral Moiseyev are recent examples.

Orange is for those without an identified position or post (probably some are GRU and their names are kept out of the media). Some may be commanding militia forces in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine.

The folder of photos of promoted officers has been updated — 110 pics.

Latest Promotions

Here are the latest RF MOD promotees after confirming their current postings.

General-Colonel (3 stars)

Aleksey Kim…Deputy CINC of Ground Troops for Peacekeeping.

Admiral (3 stars)

Aleksandr Moiseyev…Commander, Northern Fleet.

General-Lieutenant (2 stars)

Roman Berdnikov…Commander, 29th CAA, Eastern MD.

Andrey Burbin…Commander, 27th Missile Army, RVSN.

Dmitriy Krayev…Commander, 14th Army Corps, Northern Fleet.

Sergey Ryzhkov…Commander, 41st CAA, Central MD.

Sergey Chuvakin…Deputy Chief, GOMU, General Staff.

Vice-Admiral (2 stars)

Arkadiy Romanov…Commander, Submarine Forces, Northern Fleet.

Aleksandr Yuldashev…Commander, Troops and Forces in the North-East, Pacific Fleet.

General-Major (1 star)

Aleksey Avdeyev…Commander, 3rd MRD, Western MD.

Aleksandr Anistratenko…Deputy Chief, Main Armaments Directorate, MOD.

Andrey Baranov…12th GUMO officer.

Oleg Botsman…Chief, Military Institute of Physical Eduation.

Vladimir Kutsenko…Commander, 1st Composite Aviation Division, Southern MD.

Sergey Marchuk…Chief, Space Test Center named for Titov.

Vadim Morozov…Commander, 132nd Composite Aviation Division, Baltic Fleet.

Aleksandr Osadchuk…Commander, v/ch 74455, GRU.

Dmitriy Pyatunin…Chief, Material Support Directorate, Central MD.

Oleg Stepanov…Chief, Directorate of Military Representatives, MOD.

Andrey Sukhovetskiy…Commander, 7th Air-Assault Division, Southern MD.

Dmitriy Sukhoruchkin…Commander, 18th Military-Transport Aviation Division.

Yuriy Khort…Chief, Railroad Troops Directorate, Southern MD.

Sergey Chubarykin…Commander, 76th Air-Assault Division, Western MD.

Valeriy Shkilnyuk…Chief, 392nd District Training Center, Eastern MD.

General-Major of Medical Service (1 star)

Aleksandr Sergoventsev…Deputy Chief for Medicine, Central Military Clinical Hospital named for Mandryk.

Four new generals and admirals could not be identified in a position.

* * * * * *

Some notes on the above-mentioned promotees:

New General-Colonel Kim served in Russia’s “reconciliation center” in Syria. He’s a military academic previously posted to MAGS and the Combined Arms Academy. A specialist without command experience, he’s probably achieved terminal rank.

Admiral Moiseyev is likewise unlikely to be promoted again. He’s an experienced operator but he and Navy CINC Admiral Yevmenov are the same age. Moiseyev will probably have to be content in Northern Fleet. But strange things happen….

Kim and Moiseyev defy the wisdom that getting a promotion makes one more likely to be promoted. For that to work, there has to be a logical higher position.

Krayev was commissioned an airborne officer. He’s served his career in naval infantry, demonstrating again that Russia’s VDV aren’t simply airborne — they’re a jumping off point for combat commanders throughout the armed forces.

Chuvakin has no clear biographic details, but his father may have been the two-star General Staff officer who served as secretary of the Defense Council in the last years of the USSR.

Romanov is a former SSBN commander with an impressive service record. He commanded Typhoon-class SSBN Dmitriy Donskoy during testing of Bulava SLBMs.

Baranov has apparently commanded several nuclear weapons storage facilities, including one where conscript Shamsutdinov went on a killing spree in October 2019. Not a good look for Baranov but he got promoted.

Osadchuk commanded the GRU hacking outfit that broke into Democratic National Committee servers and gave the contents to Wikileaks in 2016. He’s wanted by the FBI.

Image

Stepanov’s Military Representatives are the voyenpredy supervising work on MOD state orders in Russia’s defense enterprises.

Promotion Quicklook

Mr. Putin signed out the latest promotion list (for Constitution Day) yesterday.

For the MOD, it’s pretty thick — two three-stars, seven two-stars, and 20 one-stars.

Putin’s National Guard added one three-star, one two-star, and two one-stars.

But back to the MOD . . .

New General-Colonel Aleksey Kim is Deputy CINC of Ground Troops for Peacekeeping.

Admiral Aleksandr Moiseyev commands the Northern Fleet.

New general-lieutenants include commanders of the 29th and 41st CAAs, and the commander of the 18th MGAD.

The chief of the RVSN’s central command post got a second star, as did Deputy GUMO Chief Sergey Chuvakin.

General-Lieutenant Chuvakin

The commander of Russian Troops and Forces in the North-East (Kamchatka) and commander of Belomorsk Naval Base became Vice-Admirals.

Full rundown on the latest promotions after some research.

Peacekeepers Deployed

On November 20, Interfaks-AVN reported 250 VTA flights have deployed 1,960 troops of the Samara-based 15th Independent Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade (Peacekeeping) to Nagorno-Karabakh. Citing Defense Minister Shoygu, the news agency said 552 equipment items were also delivered.

Russian peacekeepers checking for roadside mines

Shoygu indicated Russian peacekeepers occupy 23 observation posts to oversee the ceasefire. Russian troops are divided into two zones — north and south.

Interesting what it takes to airlift a brigade, even a light one.