North Caucasus: when the rear becomes the front
How Russian leadership responded to the changing nature of threats in a troubled region
About the Author: Alexander Anatolyevich Khramchikhin - Deputy Director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis.
The armies of the Russian Empire, the USSR and the Russian Federation shed a lot of blood in the mountains of the North Caucasus in battles with both internal and external opponents. Now here is almost a peaceful period. Albeit at the second attempt, but Russia won the war against the internal enemy (in Chechnya), and in 2008 she also defeated the external enemy, defeating Georgia (see “War 08.08.08 - afterword” - “NVO” of 08.08.18). Although the threat of radical Islam in the Caucasian republics of the Russian Federation has not been fully eliminated, now the Rosguard (former Internal Troops) and local police forces are coping with it. The most effective of them were just the Chechens, who not only very successfully suppress the radicals on their land, but also fight for Russia outside the country (for example, in the same Georgia, as well as in Syria).
A powerful grouping of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has been deployed in the republics of the North Caucasus. It is based on the 58th Army with headquarters in Vladikavkaz. Its largest compound is the 42nd motorized rifle division deployed in Chechnya. It consists of the 70th motorized rifle regiment, the 71st motorized rifle regiment, the 291st motorized rifle regiment, the 50th artillery regiment, the 1203rd anti-aircraft missile regiment, several separate battalions and companies. The division has about 100 T-72B3 tanks, about 430 armored combat vehicles, 90 Gvozdika and Msta self-propelled artillery guns (SAU), Gvozdika and Msta, more than 50 mortars, 18 Grad rocket launchers, and more 30 Thor and Strela-10 anti-aircraft missile systems (ZRK) and the Tunguska anti-aircraft missile and gun systems (ZRPK). The 19th and 136th motorized rifle brigades and the 291st artillery brigade, which are armed with a total of about 80 T-72B3 and T-90A tanks, about 350 armored fighting vehicles of various types, more than 80 SAUs (including the number of 203 mm self-propelled guns “Pion”), about 40 towed and anti-tank guns, more than 40 mortars (including 240 mm self-propelled mortars “Tulip”), more than 40 MLRS “Grad”, “Tornado-G” and “Uragan” , more than 40 self-propelled ATGM “Shturm-S” and “Chrysanthemum-S”, up to 50 ZRK “Thor” and “Strela-10” and ZRPK “Tunguska”. The 12th missile brigade, formed in 2015, is deployed in Mozdok (North Ossetia) and is armed with 12 launchers (PU) of the Iskander operational tactical missile system (PTRK). And one of the batteries (2 PU) of the brigade is located in South Ossetia as part of the Russian 4th military base. In turn, the 67th anti-aircraft missile brigade includes four divisions of the Buk-M1 air defense system (in each division there are six launchers and three launch-loading installations). In addition, as part of the 58th Army, there are brigade control and reconnaissance, as well as an engineer-sapper regiment and regiment of radiation, chemical and biological protection (RCBZ). The latter is armed with three flamethrower RSZO TOS-1A "Sunpipek". A special forces brigade is also stationed in the region, which is directly subordinate to the command of the Southern Military District (SKR).
AVIATION AND FLEET
In Mozdok, there is an airfield capable of receiving airplanes of any type and class, but on a permanent basis, no parts of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the republics of the North Caucasus are based.
But in the Dagestan Caspian (satellite city of Makhachkala) is the main naval base (naval base) of the Caspian Flotilla. Its headquarters is currently located in Astrakhan, but will also be transferred to Kaspiysk. The ships that make up the main striking force of the flotilla are based here - two rocket ships of project 11661 (Tatarstan and Dagestan) and three small rocket ships of the project 21631 (Velikiy Ustyug, Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich). At rather small sizes, they have a very powerful attack tool - Caliber missiles, which in 2015–2016 have already been used from the Caspian water area for targets in Syria. In addition, there are two old 12411T project missile boats in Kaspiysk, one of them (the Stupinets) in its “original” form, that is, the P-15 anti-ship missiles (PCR), and the second (MAK-160) - without PCR, used as a patrol boat. The landing forces are represented by six boats: the Ataman Platov of Project 21820, D-185 of Project 1176 and four boats of Project 11770 (D-56, D-131, D-156, D-172). The base command also has two base minesweepers of project 12650 (Magomed Hajiyev and German Ugryumov), a land mine sweeper RT-233 of project 10750 and an anti-diversion boat of project 21980. The 177th Marine Regiment is also stationed in Kaspiysk, with about 60 armored personnel carriers and more than a dozen SPGs in service, among other things.
At the moment, the external threats in this region are almost absent in the classical form, although under certain circumstances Azerbaijan and, of course, Turkey (which, however, does not have a common border with the Russian Federation) can be opponents. The threat from Georgia for the foreseeable future has been eliminated, to parry it even with an excess of two Russian bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (see the “External shield of the Caucasus” - “NVO” of August 31, 18). Much more serious is the threat from radical Islamists, but in its reflection the role of the army is limited. Here we need the efforts of the special services, the Rosguards, as well as the bodies responsible for propaganda and ideology. We also need a real rallying of the Russian society, of all nationalities and denominations. In recent years, the situation in this regard has definitely improved, but the ideal, of course, is far (although the ideal is hardly at all possible). However, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are now very successfully fighting radical Islamists in Syria. The more success they achieve there, the less problems there will be in the Caucasus, the connection here is the most direct and immediate. I would like to hope that this military campaign, which at the moment can be considered outstanding (if we compare the forces involved, the losses incurred and the costs with the results achieved), will not become a victim of some petty politicking, internal and external. For the consequences will be extremely deplorable, and this will manifest itself in the first place in the Caucasus. Therefore, it is so important in this case to ignore the opinion of various “respected partners” abroad and hypocritical moans “would rather distribute this money to old people and children” in the country. The more confident the victory in Syria is, the better it will be for our old people and children, and the more polite and more attentive we will be to “dear partners” who understand only and exclusively force.
Since the troops stationed in the republics of the eastern part of the North Caucasus were “front-line”, the groups in the Russian regions (territories and oblasts) of the North Caucasus region and the republics of its western part were considered their nearest rear. But now everything has changed. The threat from the south, as shown above, has decreased dramatically. But it originated from the opposite side, from the north-west of the Southern Military District. Now, the "front-line" steel units stationed in the Rostov region bordering with Ukraine, and the headquarters of the Southern Military District, located in Rostov-on-Don, suddenly found themselves near the front line. Due to the current situation, the 8th Army is currently being formed with its headquarters in Novocherkassk, the Rostov Region. Its basis will be the 150th Motorized Rifle Division, which is also in the formative stage. Currently, it includes motorized rifle, artillery and anti-aircraft missile regiments, armed with about 30 T-72B3 tanks, about 120 armored combat vehicles, more than 80 artillery systems, and also about 20 Tor-M2 air defense missile systems, Strela -10 "and ZRPK" Tunguska ". After the complete formation of its technology, of course, will become much more. The 8th Army also includes an anti-aircraft missile brigade with two divisions of the newest Buk-M3 air defense system, and in the future it will probably receive a missile brigade with the Iskander OTRK.
For the time being, the basis of the ground forces grouping in the northern, western and central parts of the North Caucasus is the 49th Army with headquarters in Stavropol. It consists of eight brigades and three regiments. The 20th and 205th motorized rifles, the 34th motorized rifle mountain and 227th artillery brigades are armed with a total of more than 80 T-72B3 and T-90A tanks, about 430 armored fighting vehicles of various types, more than a hundred self-propelled and 152-mm towed guns, up to 50 mortars 2S12, more than 40 MLRS Grad, Tornado-G and Uragan, about 60 self-propelled Shturm-S anti-tank systems and anti-tank guns MT-12, up to 50 Tor-M1 / M2U anti-tank systems , Strela-10 and Tunguska. The 1st missile and 90th anti-aircraft missile brigades deployed in the Krasnodar Territory are armed with 12 Iskander launchers and the Buk-M2 air defense missile system (three divisions), respectively. Also in the army - the brigade of management and logistics, special forces regiments, engineering-sapper and RCBZ. The latter is armed with three flamethrower RSZO TOS-1A "Sunpipek".
In addition, a significant number of other parts and connections are deployed in the region. In particular, ten brigades are directly subordinated to the command of the Southern Military District, including two special forces brigades, a MLRS brigade with Tornado-S (with one battery each, that is, two MLRS each) deployed in South Ossetia and Armenia) and zenith missile brigade with two divisions S-300V4. There is also an engineering brigade, two RCBZ brigades, a radio engineering brigade, a management brigade and a communications brigade.
Two formations of the Airborne Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are stationed in the North Caucasus. The 7th Airborne Division has the status of a mountain, its personnel, respectively, passes mountain training. The division consists of the 108th parachute, 247th air assault, 1141th artillery, 3rd anti-aircraft regiment, a number of individual battalions and companies. The headquarters and most parts of the division are deployed in Novorossiysk, and the 56th Air Assault Brigade is stationed in Kamyshin, Volgograd Region. In service, these units have about 20 T-72B3 tanks, more than 440 different armored combat vehicles, at least 100 artillery systems and a dozen Strela-10 air defense missile systems.
The region also has a large group of the Russian Aerospace Forces.
The 1st mixed aviation division of the Southern Military District includes four regiments: the 559th bomber, the 3rd and 31st fighter, and the 368th assault. The division has more than 30 Su-34, about 20 Su-25SM and about 60 Su-30SM / M2 and Su-27, as well as other aircraft. In turn, as part of the 4th mixed air division of the Southern Military District, there are two regiments: the 11th air regiment (it has 12 Su-24M bombers and Su-24MR reconnaissance aircraft) and the 960th assault air regiment (approximately 20 Su-25SM / UB ).
The Southern Military District also has the 16th brigade and the 55th and 487th regiments of army aviation, which are armed with about 80 combat helicopters Mi-28N, Mi-35M and Ka-52, as well as up to 40 multipurpose Mi-8 various modifications .
The 30th Military Transport Regiment, which has two Il-20M electronic reconnaissance aircraft, 15 An-12, An-26 and An-148 military transport aircraft, as well as 8 heavy Mi-26 transport helicopters, also belongs to the Southern Military District. The headquarters of the military transport aviation is subordinate to the 708th military transport air regiment from Taganrog, which has 21 military transport IL-76s (another five are in storage).
The Krasnodar Aviation School, which includes five training air bases, is directly subordinate to the command of the Russian Aeronautical Space Command, and the 929th State Flight Test Center is located at the Akhtubinsk airfield of the Astrakhan Region. Chkalov, which includes up to 50 aircraft of various types.
The 51st Air Defense Division, subordinated to the command of the Southern Military District, includes three anti-aircraft missile regiments: the 1536th (three S-300PM divisions), the 1537th (two S-400 divisions) and the 1721st (two Buk-M1 divisions) ). The last regiment was formed specifically to ensure the safety of the 2014 Olympic Games.
SEVASTOPOL AND NOVOROSSIYSK
During the period when Crimea was part of Ukraine, there was a serious threat that the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) would have to be completely withdrawn from Sevastopol. Therefore, in the mid-2000s, construction began on the Novorossiysk naval base, which is now close to completion. Although there is no threat of losing Sevastopol now, the importance of Novorossiysk as a naval base even increased. First, it provides the defense of the Caucasian coast of Russia. Secondly, to a large extent through it is the supply of the Crimea. Thirdly, it is from Novorossiysk, from the mainland of the Russian Federation, that the “Syrian express” operates, that is, large landing ships and auxiliary vessels of the Russian Navy are being flown with cargoes for the Syrian armed forces and the Russian grouping in this country.
At present, all submarines of the Black Sea Fleet are assigned to the Novorossiysk naval base: one of the project 877 (Alrosa, under repair) and six projects 06363 (Rostov-on-Don, Novorossiysk, Stary Oskol, Krasnodar, Veliky Novgorod "and" Kolpino "). However, they are all based in Sevastopol most of the time. In Novorossiysk, there are ships that solve the tasks of the direct defense of the naval base: three small anti-submarine ships of the project 1124M (Povorino, Yeisk, Kasimov), the lead patrol ship of the project 22160 Vasily Bykov, three sea minesweepers (Zheleznyakov) of the project 12660, Valentin Pikul Project 266M and Vice-Admiral Zakharyin Project 02668), basic trawlers of Project 12650 Lieutenant Ilyin and Mineralnye Vody, raid minesweepers of projects 1258 (RT-46) and 12592 (RT-278), as well as three amphibious and seven anti-sabotage boats.
The 11th coastal defense missile brigade, stationed near Anapa, is the only one in the Russian Navy that is armed with a battery of six 130-mm self-propelled guns Bereg. We have nowhere and, apparently, no more coastal artillery. Also in the brigade - one division (4 PU) anti-ship missile system (SCRC) "Ball" and two divisions (8 PU) SCRC "Bastion".
In Astrakhan, as already mentioned, the headquarters of the Caspian flotilla is still located, and water protection forces are deployed there: three small artillery ships of project 21630 (Astrakhan, Volgodonsk, Makhachkala), four project 1204 armored carriers (AKA-201 , 209, 223, 248) and three landmine minesweepers (RT-234 of project 10750, RT-59 and RT-181 of project 697TB). In May 2018, AKA-201 and AKA-248 crossed into the Sea of Azov.
In general, the former North Caucasian Military District, which formed the basis of the current South-Eastern Military District, is now very well pumped up, radical measures are not yet needed for its further strengthening.