Tag Archives: 12th GUMO

Story of the Year

What was the Russian military story of 2019? Here are some possibilities:

  • The July 1 fire aboard the AS-31 “Losharik” — a secret deep-diving nuclear-powered submarine — which cost the lives of fourteen Russian Navy officers, two of whom were already Heroes of the Russian Federation.
  • The August 8 explosion near the Nenoksa test range in which seven Russian nuclear technicians died and others were severely irradiated, apparently while salvaging a nuclear-powered 9M730 Burevestnik (SSC-X-9 Skyfall) cruise missile that fell into Dvina Bay.
  • The December 12 fire aboard aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov caused by careless welding that killed two and injured 12 and could cost 95 billion rubles to repair. The ill-fated ship is already in an expensive overhaul and was damaged when it pulled away from its massive floating drydock in 2018.

But the real story — the tragedy — of the year is Ramil Shamsutdinov’s rampage. On October 25, the conscript killed eight fellow servicemen and wounded two more at his unit in Gornyy.

Ramil Shamsutdinov

Ramil Shamsutdinov

His unit belongs to the MOD’s 12th GUMO — Russia’s nuclear weapons custodian. Gornyy is a “closed administrative-territorial entity” (ZATO) — a high-security area off-limits to all but personnel working in the facility.

He shot down officers, contractees, and conscripts at the end of his guard shift while they were unloading their weapons.

Only contractees are pulling guard duty there now, and, according to NVO,  the unit will be disbanded and another will take its place.

NVO reported in early December that the MOD is extending its investigation into the case, and moving off its initial assertion that Shamsutdinov suffered a nervous breakdown because of “personal circumstances unconnected with his military service.”

Then the General Procuracy announced on December 24 that military prosecutors are investigating more than 40 units in Russia’s Transbaykal region following Shamsutdinov’s shooting spree. The procuracy spokesman said:

Simultaneously with overseeing observance of the law in the investigation of this crime, Main Military Procuracy, together with the RVSN’s military procuracy, in coordination with the task group established by the RF Minister of Defense for this crime, has organized joint investigative measures covering more than 40 military units.

He added that “making final conclusions about why Shamsutdinov committed the crime, and also about the conditions leading to it would be premature before the end of the investigation.”

According to his lawyer, Shamsutdinov committed the crime because of criminal hazing by his commanders and fellow servicemen. He and several other soldiers in his unit were victims of violence and dedovshchina [the rule of the ‘grandfathers’ or senior soldiers, officially known as non-regulation relations between servicemen]. At least one of their reported tormentors is alive and has been formally charged.

This account of the Shamsutdinov case appeared in the MOD newspaper Krasnaya zvezda. So the Russian high command is pretty much on-board with these facts to date. It’s surprising the MOD would decide to look into another 40 units where similar grievous events could occur. 

As Paul Goble observed the day after the murders at Gornyy, dedovshchina and violence in the ranks hasn’t receded into the past with the institution of one-year conscription making the difference between old and new draftees less pronounced or with the influx of “professional” contract soldiers.

He pointed to Ura.news which reported that the Transbaykal is an extremely remote backwater where bad officers often turn up. The same might be said of the entire Eastern MD. The distance to headquarters, poor communications and transportation, especially in winter, also weaken the chain of command. However, this happened in a unit with a critically serious mission.

An MOD source told Izvestiya in November the military will try to uncover problems in units by establishing a “sociological center” in each MD. Its personnel will assess the “moral-political situation” or MPS of units. Commanders reportedly will be accountable for a unit’s poor MPS up to and including dismissal.

He Simply Couldn’t Take It

Shamsutdinov detained in his barracks

Shamsutdinov detained in his barracks

Russian Army conscript Ramil Shamsutdinov may have killed his fellow servicemen because of the constant abuse he endured, according to a report in Gazeta.ru.

On October 25, Ramil Shamsutdinov killed eight personnel (including two officers) and seriously wounded two more during guard duty shift change at military unit 54160 in the Gornyy ZATO not far from Chita in Zabaykalye.

According to a former worker at the unit, one of the victims was “famous” for abusing his subordinates. Sources also said Shamsutdinov may have been ridiculed or singled out as a non-Russian. But the investigation on that score continues.

The 20-year-old was called up in early July, assessed to be psychologically stable, and allowed to carry a weapon. The draft board had placed him in the second group for “nervous-psychological stability” meaning he would experience a nervous breakdown only after being in a difficult or dangerous situation for a prolonged period. The MOD routinely trusts conscripts in this group to carry out missions with weapons and ordnance.

The MOD officially stated that Shamsutdinov’s actions may have been the result of a breakdown brought on by personal difficulties unrelated to his military service.

But, according to Gazeta.ru, media sources with sources in Shamsutdinov’s unit claim he was a target of constant abuse from other servicemen.

Tyumen news outlet 72.ru published a report from a unit source saying that one of Shamsutdinov’s victims, Senior Lieutenant Danil Pyankov, was well-known for abusing conscripts and driving them to a “serious psychological state.” Shamsutdinov is from a village in Tyumen.

The source said Pyankov once kept him awake studying military regulations for four days straight and forced his troops to put on and take off protective gear for five consecutive hours. He concluded Shamsutdinov simply couldn’t take it.

Shamsutdinov’s father — a policeman — said his son never complained about abuse from officers or more senior soldiers, i.e. dedovshchina. Friends say he once asked relatives to put money on someone else’s bank card because his was supposedly frozen. But he also said he planned to stay in the army as a contractee.

Unit 54160 is inside a closed administrative-territorial entity. It was formerly known as Chita-46 and is operated by the MOD’s 12th GUMO — Russia’s nuclear weapons custodial force.

It served the RVSN’s 4th Missile Division equipped with UR-100 (SS-11 / Sego) ICBMs at Drovyanaya in the 1960s and 1970s. In the late 1970s and 1980s, it transitioned to RSD-10 (SS-20 / Saber) IRBMs, then to mobile RT-2PM (SS-25 / Sickle) ICBMs before disbanding in 2002.

The unit is still under GUMO command and RVSN prosecutors went to investigate. It likely serves the 200th Artillery Brigade and newly-established 3rd Missile Brigade (Iskander missiles) in Gornyy and Drovyanaya.

The Russian military has avoided similar incidents for some time. The MOD claims the climate inside units and barracks has improved drastically over the past decade, but this assessment is apparently exaggerated.

With the fall draft underway, the MOD has to question the quality, or lack of quality, in the screening of potential soldiers. 

Surprise Inspection

Army General Valeriy Gerasimov

Army General Valeriy Gerasimov

Complete coverage of General Staff Chief Valeriy Gerasimov’s remarks on the surprise inspection and readiness exercise can be found on Radio Voice of Russia or Mil.ru.

According to the newly-minted army general (four stars), the General Staff planned the inspection on the Defense Minister’s order.  It evaluated command and control organs, formations, and units of the Central and Southern MDs, VDV, VTA, and the 12th GUMO.  It was the largest of its kind in 20 years. 

The inspection began at 0400 on 18 February when operational and unit duty officers received packets with General Staff orders to go to higher states of combat readiness and carry out combat training missions.  This, Gerasimov said, required moving and transporting forces to exercise areas and “unfamiliar terrain” far from their permanent deployment locations.  The inspection included 7,000 soldiers, several hundred pieces of equipment, and 48 aircraft.

The General Staff Chief emphasized that the inspection was a complete surprise to command and control organs and troops to allow for objectively the combat readiness of formations and uncovering problems.

He praised the readiness and performance of sub-units of the VDV’s 98th Air-Assault Division (Ivanovo) and the 4th Air Forces and Air Defense Command (Southern MD / Rostov).  What was likely a battalion tactical group of the 98th loaded in twenty Il-76 transports and flew to Shagol outside Chelyabinsk, marched 100 km under difficult conditions (-20° C / -4° F, broken terrain, deep snow cover) to Chebarkul, and conducted its combat training.  For its part, the 4th VVS and PVO Command’s aircraft conducted bombing exercises with good or excellent results.

There were, however, “a number of systematic deficiencies in the state of combat readiness and lever of personnel training.” 

In practically all evaluated elements, duty officers showed weak skill in transmitting orders via automated combat command and control systems.  They weren’t certain how to receive the order to go to higher readiness.  In the VDV and the 201st Military Base, it took too long to send signals to subordinate troops.

In the Central MD’s 28th Motorized Rifle Brigade, training center graduates, drivers, and mechanic-drivers showed a low level of training.  Tank and BMP crews usually got only satisfactory in firing exercises.  Young officers just graduated from military schools exhibited poor knowledge of weapons and equipment.

Equipment generally performed reliably, given the weather conditions and its age.  Some of it required repair in the field, and, according to Gerasimov, this demonstrated the expedience of the Defense Minister’s decision to reestablish maintenance units.  But they need more training, spare parts, and improved organization.  Factory repair is more problematic:

“Sufficiently efficient work by repair factories and industrial enterprises is a serious problem for the troops.  Equipment coming from capital or medium repair, even under a service guarantee, often breaks down in the first months of its use in line units.  An analysis of deficiencies discovered is currently being conducted.”

Interesting, where does the fault lie?  The factory or troops and young officers who don’t know how to use or repair it?

Gerasimov admitted and lamented that nearly two-thirds of aircraft (in units being drilled?) is out of repair.  He called effective resolution of this problem the most important joint task of command and control organs and industry.

Gerasimov called the BMD-2 both obsolete and worn-out at 20 to 25 years old, or even more.  At 14.2 metric tons, he said the BMD-4M’s weight is at the limit for air transport, and an Il-76 can only carry three.  The General Staff Chief cited repair problems with Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters, Su-25, self-propelled Msta artillery, and R-168-5un radio.  He indicated the still experimental Volk armored vehicle doesn’t meet 12 of its TTZs and won’t undergo repeat state testing.

Gerasimov said the Defense Minister has decided inspections like this will now take place on a regular basis.

Appointments, Etc.

Way behind on these.

On April 25, President Medvedev issued his most recent decree on Defense Ministry personnel.  Here’s what it does.


  • Colonel Sergey Vladimirovich Bibik, Chief, Armor Service, Western MD.
  • Colonel Viktor Vladimirovich Voronov, Chief, Rear Services Support Directorate, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Chief of Rear Services, Deputy Commander for Rear Services, Far East MD. 
  • Colonel Pavel Anatolyevich Shushpanov, Deputy Chief, 12th Main Directorate, Defense Ministry.

It’s Not Corruption

In a very unusual step yesterday, Mil.ru published an explicit denial that recent cadre changes have any connection to corruption.  The possibility of a link between high-ranking personnel dismissals and corruption cases has been the subject of some speculation.

The press release says the Defense Ministry is devoting great attention to anticorruption efforts, and talking openly about cases like Gaydukov’s.  But it denies that any other [read Verkhovtsev’s] recent dismissal is connected to this.

It maintains high-ranking officers are being dismissed for the usual reasons — age, health, and their own request.  It adds that they have many years of worthy service behind them.

As far as other moves go, it says “organizational-personnel measures” [i.e. orgshtat or TO&E changes] have caused some officers to be relieved of their duties or be assigned to new ones.

The Defense Ministry “doth protest too much” perhaps.  It might not want Congress asking questions about where U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction money has gone.  At any rate, it’s uncommon for the Defense Ministry to take offense, and react so immediately to media speculation.

Corruption in 12th GUMO?

Is corruption the cause for the recent spate of decrees on military personnel?

In today’s Nezavisimaya gazeta, Vladimir Mukhin reports a Defense Ministry source says the recent dismissals of high-ranking military men are connected to corruption by them or their subordinates.  He puts the sudden retirement of 12th GUMO Chief Vladimir Verkhovtsev in this category.  He reminds that the 12th GUMO is responsible for the safety, security, storage, testing, and reliability of Russian nuclear weapons, and is also primary recipient of years of U.S. taxpayer funding through the Nunn-Lugar Act.

Though he’s headed the 12th GUMO for the last five years, General-Colonel Verkhovtsev’s a relatively young 55, and could still serve 5 years under the law.

Mukhin says Defense Ministry sources say Verkhovtsev’s going down for corruption and theft by General-Major Viktor Gaydukov, commander of a nuclear weapons storage site, who together with his wife managed to steal 20 million rubles worth of U.S. aid intended for engineering work for “improving the secure storage and accountability of nuclear weapons.”

Gaydukov was the first to fall for failing to report his income and assets accurately under the provisions of the latest government anti-corruption campaign.  However, the authorities’ discovery of his theft of money intended for nuclear security was purely incidental.

Mukhin cites Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov’s persistent proponent, Igor Korotchenko:

“To the Defense Minister’s credit, he didn’t hide these facts and continues to sign dismissal paperwork for all officers and generals discovered mixed up in corruption.  That’s why there are so many retirements of military chiefs figuring in the president’s decrees.”

An anonymous 12th GUMO officer says:

“In Russia and the U.S., there are few ordinary people who know that, almost 20 years after the USSR’s collapse, Washington gives unreimbursed aid to the RF for the defense and support of its nuclear-technical facilities.  Why aren’t such activities promoted – it wouldn’t do to talk about them.  In Russia, they’re afraid that so-called patriots [Tea Party types?], the opposition, U.S. taxpayers wouldn’t like it.”

Mukhin says Moscow has spent much less on these facilities than the U.S. ($11 billion over two decades), but no one knows how much for sure because that budget article is still secret.  He says the Russian government may soon have to say whether the money’s been used as planned and effectively.

Viktor Litovkin called Verkhovtsev and asked him to react to claims his dismissal is linked to misuse of Nunn-Lugar funding.  He responded:

“My retirement has no relationship to this issue.  And to link it to the Nunn-Lugar program would be incompetent.  This is some kind of gibberish.  I personally made the decision to retire.  I wrote a request addressed to the Defense Minister at the beginning of November.  And I also recommended a man for my post.  He is a very good specialist whom I know well through joint work and service.  I’m sure that he’ll manage very well.”

Sounds like he’s pretty sure he won’t be facing any prosecutor. 

One should also observe that it might also be very convenient for a Defense Minister to label as corrupt anyone who opposes his policies and actions.  To complete the picture of possibilities, it’s also possible some are both corrupt and oppose Serdyukov on principle.

A short post-script . . . it’s a pity Mukhin didn’t also explore General-Major Fedorov’s move from one nuclear facility to another . . . Korotchenko credits Serdyukov for not hiding information about corrupt generals, but if he isn’t hiding it, where are the details of their crimes?

More Cadre Changes

As part of fairly wholesale turnover in command personnel, on 24 December, Kremlin.ru published two more presidential decrees with changes in a series of military posts. 

Commanders at four first-rank air bases (Budennovsk, Orenburg,  Shaykovka, and Belaya) are relieved of duty.  12th GUMO three-star Verkhovstev is replaced by a colonel who commanded a missile regiment just five years ago.  And there’s what sounds like a change at a national nuclear weapons storage site.  General-Colonel Gerasimov officially becomes a Deputy Chief of the General Staff.  And there’s more unwinding of personnel from former MDs.

Relieve of current duties:

  • Colonel Dmitriy Anatolyevich Voloshin, Commander, 6956th Air Base (1st rank).
  • Colonel Oleg Vladimirovich Makovetskiy, Commander, 6971st Air Base (1st rank).
  • Colonel Andrey Nikolayevich Medvedkov, Deputy Chief of Armaments, Air Forces.
  • Colonel Aleksandr Viktorovich Tsylev, Commander, 6951st Guards Aviation Base (1st rank).
  • Colonel Villington Vladimirovich Tsyrengarmayev, Commander, 6953rd Guards Aviation Base (1st rank).

Relieve of current duties and dismiss:

  • General-Colonel Vladimir Nikolayevich Verkhovtsev, Chief, 12th Main Directorate, Defense Ministry.
  • General-Major Andrey Yuryevich Glinskiy, Chief, Missile Troops and Artillery, Far East MD.
  • General-Major Anatoliy Yuryevich Razmakhnin, Chief, Personnel Directorate, Far East MD.


  • General-Colonel Valeriy Vasilyevich Gerasimov, Deputy Chief, General Staff, relieved of duty as Commander, Moscow MD.
  • Colonel Yuriy Grigoryevich Sych, Chief, 12th Main Directorate, Defense Ministry.

Dismiss from military service:

  • General-Major Aleksandr Anatolyevich Kukushkin.
  • General-Major of Justice Vladimir Polikarpovich Sviderskiy.

* * *


  • General-Major Sergey Valeryevich Kostarev, Chief, Military Communications Academy, relieve of duty as Chief of Communications, Deputy Chief of Staff, Siberian MD.
  • General-Major Vladimir Anatolyevich Fedorov, Chief, 1201st Facility “S” – Regional Nuclear Security Center, relieve of duty as Chief, 957th Facility “S” – Regional Nuclear Security Center.

Relieve of current duties:

  • Colonel Aleksey Alekseyevich Ivannikov, Chief, Armor Service, Siberian MD.
  • Colonel Vladimir Vladimirovich Morev, Chief of Inspections, Personnel Inspectorate, Defense Ministry.
  • Captain First Rank Aleksandr Veniaminovich Pepin, Chief of Inspections, Personnel Inspectorate, Defense Ministry.

Dismiss from military service:

  • General-Major Nikolay Vladimirovich Gorchakov.
  • General-Major Leonid Eduardovich Tishkevich.