A Southern MD staff source told TASS on 24 March the Russian Army will establish a “full-blooded” motorized rifle division in the vicinity of Rostov-na-Donu this year. The source indicated orders to this effect came from Chief of the General Staff Army General Valeriy Gerasimov.
The new division will reportedly be based in three garrison towns in Rostov Oblast. Staff buildings and barracks will be constructed initially, with other facilities to follow in 2017. Housing the division, storing its equipment, and providing training grounds and other essential infrastructure improvements will cost at least 5 billion rubles [$73 million].
Headquarters to the Southern MD, Rostov-na-Donu is opposite Donetsk and was the staging area for Russian forces that intervened in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
On 12 January, Defense Minister Shoygu announced that three divisions would be established in the western direction during 2016, but didn’t say where. He also didn’t indicate if they would be completely new formations or existing ones moved to a new location and beefed up.
Most Southern MD forces are located south of Stavropol (headquarters of the 49th CAA) and are oriented on the Caucasus.
But Aleksey Ramm has suggested that an MRD at Rostov-na-Donu might be formed out of the current 33rd Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade (Mountain) now based in Maykop and Novocherkassk. There aren’t other good candidates except to make a new division out of whole cloth.
If Rostov-na-Donu is one division, what about the other two?
The reincarnated 1st Tank Army just west of Moscow probably needs its 6th Tank Brigade to become a division for the army to be a real tank army (at least two tank divisions).
The 20th CAA — moved from around Nizhniy Novgorod to Voronezh — could have either its 9th MRB or 1st Tank Brigade (both near Boguchar) turned into a division.
But in light of increased tension with NATO, especially with its newest and easternmost members, it seems the Kremlin might want a new division opposite the Baltic states, or perhaps even in Kaliningrad. The latter would be a low-cost reorganization since the Ground Troops already have an independent brigade and regiment in the Russian exclave.