Is the Eastern District ready to die. It is clearly not possible to cover a huge territory.
About the author: Alexander Anatolyevich Khramchikhin - Deputy Director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis.
The Eastern Military District (headquartered in Khabarovsk) occupies almost half of the territory of Russia (7 out of 17 million square kilometers). But fewer people live in this territory than in Moscow.
A relatively inhabited part of Transbaikalia and the Far East is a narrow strip along the border with China. The main transport communications also pass here: the Trans-Siberian Railway, the parallel highway and the Baikal-Amur Mainline. To the north of the BAM line, there are only a few cities and towns that are even more dependent on the same Trans-Siberian.
Almost all of this territory is a permafrost zone, mountains and tundra. Taking the Far East as an example, it is especially clear how illusory our first place in the world in terms of territory is. On two thirds of this territory, normal life and economic activity are impossible or severely hampered. And to fight here too, to put it mildly, is not easy.
The problem of supplying the Far Eastern islands and peninsulas is critically difficult ("The Far and Defenseless East", "NVO" from 30.11.18). With Primorye ("Defective Defense of Primorye", "NVO" from 10/11/19) and Priamurye ("Rusty castle of the Chinese border", "NVO" from 24/07/2020) in this sense it is easier only in peacetime. Only Transbaikalia ("The Eastern Military District needs modern technology", "NVO" dated 09.10.20) has a more or less stable connection with the western half of Russia.
Currently, the Air Defense Forces (including the Pacific Fleet) in the ground forces have one motorized rifle and one machine-gun and artillery divisions. One tank, seven motorized rifle, one cover, two airborne assault, one special forces, two marines, four missile, four artillery, one MLRS, five anti-aircraft missile, one communications, two radio-technical OSNAZ, one electronic warfare, five directorates, one engineering , one RCBZ, four MTO brigades. Four RChBZ, two engineer-sapper, one radio-technical OSNAZ regiment.
This group is armed with 48 Iskander OTRK launchers, up to 600 tanks (roughly equal to T-72 and T-80BVM), 1.1 thousand BMP-1/2, about 500 BTR-80 / 82A, more than 400 MTLB, about 500 self-propelled guns, up to 250 towed guns and large-caliber mortars, about 300 MLRS, up to 200 self-propelled anti-tank systems and about 100 MT-12 anti-tank systems, 14 battalions of Buk-M air defense systems of various modifications, up to 300 short-range air defense systems, air defense systems and air defense systems.
In addition, up to 250 tanks, about 400 infantry fighting vehicles, about 300 self-propelled guns, at least 100 towed guns, more than 120 mortars, about 200 MLRS, about 250 self-propelled anti-tank systems, up to 200 air defense systems are in storage at 11 storage and repair bases for weapons and equipment. ZSU and anti-aircraft guns.
The troops have a very large share of obsolete equipment (BMP-1, ATGM "Konkurs", ZSU "Shilka"). The number of modern equipment (MLRS "Tornado-G", SAM "Tor-M2U") is extremely insignificant.
The Aerospace Forces grouping (including the Pacific Fleet's naval aviation) has one air base, four air regiments, a brigade and two army aviation regiments. In service there are up to 80 bombers and attack aircraft, at least 120 interceptors, fighters and fighter-bombers, up to 20 anti-submarine aircraft, at least 30 transport aircraft, about 120 attack and anti-submarine helicopters, up to 70 multi-purpose Mi-8 helicopters, 7 Mi transport helicopters -26.
The four air defense divisions have seven anti-aircraft missile regiments and three radio technical regiments.
The Pacific Fleet has (including ships under repair) four RPK SN (two pr. 667BDR, two pr. 955), five SSGN pr. 949A, four multipurpose nuclear submarines pr. 971, seven submarines pr. 877 and one pr. 6363, one Project 1164 missile cruiser, three Project 956 destroyers, four Project 1155 BODs, three Project 20380 corvettes, one Project 1124 MPK and seven Project 1124M, four Project 12341 MRKs, one Project 1241T missile boat and ten project 12411, two sea minesweepers of project 266M, six base minesweepers of project 1265, one road minesweeper of project 1258, four large landing craft (one project 1171, three project 775), one landing boat of project 21820, one project . 11770 and three pr. 1176.
The two coastal missile brigades have two battalions of the Ball SCRC and three battalions of the Bastion SCRC.
Given the logistical problems described above and a very high proportion of outdated equipment, the forces of this group are completely insufficient to defend a gigantic territory - even regardless of who is a potential adversary. The opponents are more than serious.
Under the rising sun
Before the events of 2014 in Crimea, Japan was the only country in the world that openly presented territorial claims to Russia (Estonia's claims to two districts of the Pskov region can be neglected). This automatically makes Japan a direct potential enemy of Russia, and there is no need to look for any special reasons for a war between the two countries.
The Japanese Armed Forces have significant superiority in all components over the Russian grouping on Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka. The situation for the Russian side is significantly aggravated by the geographical isolation of these territories from the rest of Russia.
Ground communications with the mainland are absent, and sea communications can be cut by the Japanese Navy. Although the 18th machine-gun and artillery division, deployed on Kunashir and Iturup, received a certain amount of new equipment in recent years and was supplemented by two coastal SCRC divisions and an S-300V4 air defense missile system division, it will not be able to withstand a full-scale Japanese invasion for a long time, given the impossibility of receiving reinforcements ... Moreover, the Japanese are capable of invading Sakhalin, which is protected by a single motorized rifle brigade (or two brigades, if they can be deployed into such a storage base).
Only one marine brigade and ten MiG-31 interceptors defend Kamchatka. True, they are complemented by a coastal missile brigade, four MRK pr. 1234 and, most importantly, several nuclear submarines of the Pacific Fleet. Moreover, Kamchatka is located quite far from Japan, which will sharply limit the capabilities of the Japanese Air Force in this area. On the other hand, Russia will be able to transfer additional combat aircraft, as well as an airborne contingent to the Yelizovo airfield. Therefore, the prospects for a successful landing on Kamchatka for the Japanese are already very vague.
Landing on the mainland is a completely hopeless affair, especially given the extremely limited amphibious capabilities of the Japanese Navy and Air Force. Even the grouping of the RF Armed Forces deployed in the Vladivostok area would have been enough to make the enemy hopelessly bogged down in it. Moreover, there is the possibility of transferring forces by rail and road from the Khabarovsk region, and then from the more western regions of Russia.
Thus, the Japanese can quite easily seize the Russian island territories, but have no chance on the mainland. Russia has rather illusory chances of recapturing Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands by air and sea landings. Japan will have dominance at sea, so the amphibious assault is unrealistic, and the Airborne Forces ("When the Supreme Reserve comes into play", "NVO" dated 09.21.18) do not have enough heavy equipment to successfully fight the line units of the Japanese army.
On the other hand, Russia has the ability to strike at the facilities of the military-industrial complex and civilian industry (metallurgy, electronics, etc.), on infrastructure, government bodies, and military facilities in Japan. For this there is Long-Range Aviation ("Air Strategists", "NVO" from 07.12.18) and submarine forces ("There are problems in the defense of Russia's sea borders", "NVO" from 05.10.18), including nuclear submarines of the Northern Fleet, which can transfer to the Far East relatively quickly.
At the same time, Japan is unable to retaliate against similar Russian targets. Even the aircraft and shipbuilding factories in Komsomolsk-on-Amur will be extremely problematic for the Japanese to destroy due to the rather large distance from Japanese territory and the strong air defense of these facilities. Any Russian facilities further west are completely inaccessible to the Japanese Armed Forces.
Thus, Russia obviously wins the war of attrition. For the sake of the islands that are not too necessary for Japan (the possession of them is primarily a matter of national prestige for Tokyo), the country may lose its armed forces and industry. After which, obviously, the islands will have to be returned.
The situation will change radically if the United States takes the side of Japan. Washington shares Tokyo's political position on the ownership of the South Kuril Islands, but, of course, is not going to fight for them. However, if the Japanese seize the islands on their own, and Russia responds with strikes on Japanese territory, the United States may recall its allied obligations.
The US Air Force and Navy are capable of at least significantly strengthening the air defense and anti-aircraft defense of the Japanese islands. In this case, Russia's victory in the war of attrition will no longer be obvious. Moreover, the Americans are capable of successfully conducting landings in Chukotka and Kamchatka, as well as delivering air strikes against targets in the Primorsky and Khabarovsk Territories. In this case, Russia will have virtually no opportunity to win the war with conventional forces. It will be necessary either to admit defeat and loss of territories, or to move on to the use of nuclear weapons.
However, all these are "flowers" in comparison with the main war, for which the Air Defense Forces should prepare.
Yom Kippur War
Moscow and Beijing are strategic partners, relations between them are unprecedentedly good. This is the official position of both sides.
True, this position is expressed aloud much more often in Moscow than in Beijing. And any thinking person is well aware that this rhetoric is intended for an external consumer. It is convenient for Moscow and Beijing that their union is feared in Washington, Brussels and Tokyo.
Moreover, in reality, no union exists. Beijing does not support it on any of the most important geopolitical issues for Moscow. He maintains political neutrality while extracting the maximum economic benefits from Russia's confrontation with the West. However, this is not even half the trouble, but a tenth of it.
Moscow endlessly convinces itself that the territorial issue between the Russian Federation and the PRC was finally closed in 2004. Beijing does not openly argue with this. But the official Chinese position has not gone anywhere: the current Russian-Chinese border was established as a result of the "unjust and unequal treaties" of 1858-1860.
This, in essence, means latent claims for at least 1.5 million sq. km of Russian territory. All place names of this territory on Chinese maps and in Chinese literature must be denoted by Chinese names without fail. If Moscow and St. Petersburg for the Chinese are Moscow and St. Petersburg, then Vladivostok is Haishenwei, Khabarovsk is Pain, Sakhalin is Kuedao. This is despite the fact that Vladivostok and Khabarovsk were founded by the Russians, only they have always lived in these cities. And even purely formally, China has never owned Sakhalin.
The main thing is that, due to the peculiarities of its socio-economic development, China urgently needs resources (for the economy) and territory (for the population). In reality, all this can be found only in Russia, as well as in Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
Of course, it is easier for China to expand peacefully - economically and demographically. This has been done for a long time, but it does not guarantee complete success. In addition, such socio-economic processes may begin within China itself that the best way out of them is war.
The configuration of the Russian-Chinese border is such that in the event of a war, due to geography, the attacker (whoever he is) gains a very large strategic superiority over the defender. And everyone understands perfectly well that if the war happens, China will be the attacker.
The Russian group in the Vladivostok region is in the most hopeless position. The forces of the Northern Command of the PLA alone have an overwhelming superiority over the 5th Army - moreover, regrettably, not only quantitative, but now also qualitative.
In addition, the possibilities of the parties to strengthen their groupings in this theater of operations are completely incomparable. China has well-developed, numerous and completely safe, and rather short, communications from the interior of the country. We only have the Trans-Siberian, which will be cut in many places on the very first day of the war, so it is easier for the soldiers of the 5th Army to forget about it right away. And they will have nowhere to retreat - only to the ocean. Or, at best, to the almost impassable mountains of Sikhote-Alin.
For the grouping of Russian troops on the Amur, the situation is not much more favorable than in Primorye. Here, formally, there is much to retreat - but only to the mountains and permafrost regions, with almost no settlements and communications. The enemy will also have an overwhelming quantitative and qualitative advantage over the Russian forces. Opportunities for strengthening the groupings in the theater of operations are incomparable in this case. The numerous and well-developed Chinese land communications have an incomparably greater carrying capacity and a much shorter length than the BAM and Transsib. In addition, the Chinese will cut the Transsib very quickly, and this will happen to the west of Blagoveshchensk and Belogorsk.
In Transbaikalia, Russian troops have much more room to maneuver and receive reinforcements than on the Amur and Primorye. At the same time, the giant Lake Baikal in the summer-autumn period may turn out to be an obstacle both for the Chinese and for ourselves. In winter and early spring, almost any ground-based equipment can pass on the many-meter Baikal ice, that is, the lake is no longer an obstacle. Again for both sides.
Precisely because the Trans-Baikal grouping is not under threat of destruction in the very first days of the war, it must have a truly serious defensive and offensive potential. Its task is in no case to allow the PLA to reach the Baikal line and, if possible, to limit the size of the territory captured by the enemy in Transbaikalia itself and in the Amur region. To do this, it will be necessary to conduct active maneuvering actions, requiring a large number of modern armored vehicles, artillery and aviation (both manned and unmanned) and reliable ground air defense cover. The current potential of the grouping does not even meet the specified requirements by a quarter.
However, the Chinese can bypass Baikal through Mongolia, whose armed forces, of course, will not become an obstacle - only huge distances will be such. But having overcome them, the ground forces of the PLA will be able to immediately reach Irkutsk, finally devaluing the Trans-Siberian Railway for the Air Defense Forces. To do this, however, you will have to overcome the mountain ranges of Khamar-Daban and Eastern Sayan. This task is not the easiest, but most likely solvable.
In addition, the PLA air force from Mongolian airfields will be able to strike at Russian territory - at least up to the Yenisei. Nothing prevents the Chinese from going even further west through Altai and, most importantly, through Kazakhstan. Moreover, the capture of this country in such a situation will be a side task for Beijing. The main thing for him will be to involve groups from the Central Military District, the Western Military District and the Southern Military District into battles in Kazakhstan. In this case, the Air Defense Forces finally loses its reinforcements, and the capture of the mainland of the Far East and Transbaikalia becomes a matter of technology for the PLA.
Whether the PLA Navy will be able to ensure the capture of island territories is a difficult question. It is possible that Japan and the United States will be ahead of them. Japan will take Sakhalin and the Kuriles for itself, and on the mainland the United States will create independent Yakutsk, Chukotka and Kamchatka republics under its full control. For Russia, the question will be: will it be possible to hold on to the Yenisei line or will it have to retreat to the Urals?