Southern Military District (YUVO)
The Southern District [YuVO] is the main outpost of Russia. It is charged with the task of ensuring security in the Black Sea region and preventing the infiltration of terrorist groups in the North Caucasus, as well as supporting the Russian air force’s campaign in the Syrian Arab Republic.
The Russian army is implementing a large-scale rearmament program. The Black Sea Fleet and the military group in the Caucasus region are provided with the latest models of weapons and military equipment as a matter of priority. Meanwhile, a new naval base is preparing to open on the Black Sea coast in Novorossiysk (930 miles south of Moscow), to host six 636.6 Varshavyanka-project diesel-electric submarines with Kalibr cruise missiles to defend against potential NATO action in the region.
The Southern Military District comprises several dozen formations of ground forces, airborne troops, naval infantry and coastal defense. Dvornikov will be also in charge of the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla, the Fourth Air Force and Air Defense Army as well as Russia's three "foreign" military bases – in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as in Armenia.
In the Southern Military District, an Army Corps and two motorized infantry divisions have already started combat training, the commander of the district Colonel-General Aleksandr Dvornikov said 10 February 2017. "At present, formed and began combat training 150th Motorized Rifle Division in the Rostov region, the 42nd motorized rifle division in the Chechen Republic, 22th Army Corps of the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, a squadron of attack helicopters Ka-52 in the Krasnodar region and a number of other military formations", he said. [The formation of the 150th had been widely publicized, the 42nd not so much, wile the "22th Army Corps" cannot be identified].
Dvornikov said that the intensity of combat training of the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla in 2016 increased 1.5 times compared to 2015. In the course of combat training of the ship's structure has successfully completed more than 800 combat exercises, including the use of high-precision cruise missiles, sea-based "Calibre". Total naval crews of the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla exceeded targets by almost a third.
Motorized Control 150th Idritsa-Berlin Order of Kutuzov II Degree Division formed in the Rostov region in December 2016. The unit received not only the number but also the name of honor, as well as combat award for its famous predecessor, whose fighters - Sergeant Mikhail Yegorov and Meliton Kantaria sergeant - first hoisted the Red Flag on the Reichstag in May 1945.
The 42nd Evpatoriskaya Red Banner Guards Motorized Rifle Division YUVO was restored in late 2016 on the basis of three mechanized infantry brigades stationed in the Chechen Republic. The division is armed with self-propelled artillery "MSTA-C" T-72B3 tanks, BTR-82A, and the latest electronic warfare.
Russia’s Defense Ministry began preparations for the Caucasus 2012 strategic command-and-staff exercise (SCSE) in late 2011. According to the ministry’s official announcement, this year’s exercise will be held on a larger scale and more in line with the current military and political situation than the one held in 2011. The maneuvers took place not only in southern Russia, but also in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Armenia. The Caucasus 2012 SCSE, scheduled for September 2012, was the most important military event of the year. The preparations for the SCSE included real combat training missions in light of threats by the United States and several other countries against Iran, as well as other potential conflicts in the Caspian and South Caucasus regions.
These exercises had been conducted for several years already, but the 2012 event was significantly different from the previous ones. First, the exercise was strategic instead of merely operational-tactical. This means that missions in the Southern Military District’s responsibility zone were practiced by all branches and services of the armed forces, including the Air Force, Navy, Strategic Rocket Forces, Military Space Defense Forces, and Airborne Troops, as well as security forces from the Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service, Federal Protective Service and the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The country’s entire military structure was involved in completing the SCSE missions. Second, one of the main objectives of the maneuvers was to drill new, network-centric combat operations involving new automated control systems. The first official announcement of these plans was made by Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov during a meeting with foreign military attachés in December 2011.
On March 16, 2014 the Republic of Crimea held a referendum on the future of the peninsula. An overwhelming majority of its people voted for reunification with Russia. On March 18, 2014, at a special ceremony held in the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the agreement on the accession of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to the Russian Federation. The Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol are now part of Russia’s eighth (Crimean) federal district, which was established on March 21, 2014 by a presidential decree. The new members of the Russian Federation now had to be integrated into the country’s defense system. The newly established federal district was made part of the Southern Military District (Southern Joint Strategic Command).
Russia voluntarily notified members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) of the snap combat readiness drills in the south of the country, head of Russia's National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, Sergei Ryzhkov, said 08 February 2016. Units of the Southern Military District, with participation of separate units of the Airborne Troops and military-transport aviation, started the snap exercises. "The Russian Federation has sent a notification to OSCE member-countries with details of the snap combat readiness drills in the Southern Military District as a gesture of goodwill," Ryzhkov said in a statement.
According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who ordered the combat readiness check, it will assess the preparedness of the Southern Military District to respond to terrorist threats, natural and man-made disasters, as well as testing their maneuvering potential on marches. Snap combat readiness inspections were commonplace in the USSR before its dissolution in 1991. The practice was renewed in 2012 after Shoigu assumed the post of defense minister.
In July 2016 Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu transferred the chief of the Syrian operation, Colonel-General Alexander Dvornikov, to the post of the commander of Russia's main outpost, the Southern Military District. Experts believe, taking into account the appreciation for Dvornikov's work (Russian President Vladimir Putin personally handed the main award of the country – the Gold Star of the Hero of Russia – to the colonel-general), this step means that the main mission of the Russian armed forces in Syria has been completed.
Russia for the past three years had formed in the Southern Military District a total of 13 divisions and brigades and 22 regiments, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said 27 July 2016 at a board meeting of the military "Starting in 2013 in the Southern Military District, more than 200 members of staff for activities aimed at improving the combat capabilities of troops ... [Russia] formed four divisions, nine brigades and 22 regiments including the establishment of two missile brigades equipped complexes." Iskander-M ", which allowed to increase the capacity to defeat a potential enemy firing", the Minister said.
Shoigu said that the number of contractors with increased almost twice. The SOther District [YuVO] received more than 4 million new and modernized weapons and military equipment, including coastal missile complexes "Bastion" and "Bal", as well as submarines and ships equipped with missile complex "Caliber." A self-contained group appeared on the Crimean Peninsula, the minister said.
According to Shoigu, this increase is caused by the aggravation of the military-political situation in the south-western strategic direction. "This is due to the build-up of NATO military presence in Eastern Europe, the situation in Ukraine and the activities of international terrorist groups, including the North Caucasus", - the minister said, adding that in such conditions, Russia is forced to "take appropriate measures".
Earlier, the head of the Defense Ministry said that the agency is forced to respond to the capacity of NATO's military capabilities in Europe, including through the formation of three new divisions in the Western and Southern military districts. According to Shoigu, in 2016 alone in the Western Military District received more than 2 million items of new and upgraded technology.
Joint exercise on war footage started 22 July 2016 in the Southern military district. As the Russian Defence Ministry reported, it involves units located in the North Caucus and the Crimean federal districts, as well as military units in Armenia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 'The Air Forces, air defence, Black Sea Navy and the Caspian Flotilla, as well as all the military units of the Southern military district have been put on the highest level of alert,' the press service stated. Special attention was paid to cooperation of military staffs and command centers.
About 10,000 military men and over a 1,000 of military equipment have been also put on the highest level of alert in Chechnya. In the North Caucasus and South Ossetia about 16,000 military men and more than 4,000 of military equipment were engaged. Marine battalions of the Caspian Flotilla including more than 10 battle ships have been alarmed in Dagestan. In Armenia more than 4,000 people and about 600 units of military equipment are involved.
Russia continues to supply weapons, ammunition and fuel to the occupied territory through the uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian state border in order to strengthen the units of its regular troops, deployed in Donbas, as well as the illegal armed formations, it backs. OSCE Special Monitoring Mission repeatedly informed about the presence in Donbas of weapons and military equipment that is adopted exclusively by the Russian army. SMM observers in Donbas spotted heavy flamethrower system “Buratino”, a radio-electronic suppression complex P-330 “Zhitel”, UAV “Orlan-10”, portable RLS “Grad-P” etc.
It is through the uncontrolled part of the Ukrainian-Russian border that Russian regular troops and mercenaries continue to arrive to Donbas from Russia. Russian mercenaries are qualified as “foreign terrorist fighters” in accordance with UNSC Resolution 2178 (2014) of 24th of September 2014. They constitute significant part of Russia-formed 1 and 2 AK army corps (command chain consisting of Russian officers and generals). The number of regular Russian troops in Donbas is between 3,6 and 4.2 thousand troops.
In April 2021 Russia built up roughly 120,000 troops along Ukraine’s eastern border, intruded into European airspace, restricted the movement of foreign ships in parts of the Black Sea, and planned to expel nearly a dozen U.S. diplomats in response to the latest round of U.S. sanctions over Moscow’s hacking and election interference campaigns.
The Minister of Defence of Ukraine Andrii Taran addressed the members of the Subcommittee of the European Parliament on Security and Defence on 14 April 2021 about the aggravation of the security situation by the Russian Federation on the line of demarcation with the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Also, he talked about increasing the Russian military presence near the state border of Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Andrii Taran described four possible goals by the Russian Federation:
- “First of all, it is a projection of Russian power to raise up pressure on our country in order to diminish progress of the reforms, positive domestic political developments and – definitely – to circumvent our Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
- Secondly, we are concerned about plausible preparations to conduct offensive military operations by regular Russia Forces from the Crimea direction in order to ensure water supply to the peninsula.
- Next, we clearly recognize the high probability of a Georgia-like provocation of Ukrainian Joint Forces in the East in order to blame Ukraine for violating the existing cease-fire regime and use it as a pretext for forceful enlargement of the occupied area in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
- And finally, Russia symmetrically deploys forces in response to the Ex DEFENDER EUROPE and in the same time gradually pre-positions additional forces to build up combat readiness for Russia-led strategic Ex ZAPAD 2021.”
The nature of military preparations by Russia and the massing of Russian troops on its borders with Ukraine and in occupied Crimea show that the Kremlin will be ready to attack Ukraine in a few weeks, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. He said this during an online press conference for foreign media on 20 April 2021.
"The buildup of Russian military forces on Ukraine's borders is now even more massive than in it was in 2014. This means that we cannot rule out any scenario. We cannot know for sure whether Moscow will decide to start a new stage of aggression against Ukraine. But it is obvious that they will be ready to do it in a few weeks," Kuleba said. He noted that Russia's military preparations were strategic and now it depends on the actions of Ukraine and all other countries that uphold the rule of law and respect for the sovereignty of states in Europe whether Russian President Vladimir Putin can be kept from further aggressive steps. He named two foreign policy reasons and one internal reason for such behavior by the Kremlin.
- The first is to increase pressure on Ukraine and end the war in Donbas on Russia's own terms, without trying to find a compromise, Kuleba said.
- The second motive, he added, is to prove the entire democratic Western world that Russia would do whatever it wants; it would ignore the international community's judgments about Alexei Navalny; it would disregard sanctions for interfering in the internal affairs of third countries, for cyberattacks, and other similar crimes.
- The third reason, according to Kuleba, is purely internal. Putin and his ruling party are losing electoral ratings due to widespread corruption and deteriorating quality of life for Russians. That is why the Kremlin seeks to unite the population around the leader and the ruling party before this year's parliamentary elections through military mobilization.
The 22nd Army Corps deployed in the area of ??the interspecific exercises of the troops of the Southern Military District and the Airborne Forces. Units of the combined arms army, air force and air defense formations, warships and ships, military units of the coastal forces of the Black Sea Fleet, part of the forces of the Caspian Flotilla of the Southern Military District, as well as units of the Airborne Forces, took part in the practical actions of troops (forces) at the Opuk training ground.
On the eve, the troops involved in the maneuvers were transferred to the concentration areas. The grouping of ships of the Black Sea Fleet and part of the forces of the Caspian Flotilla entered the area of ??the exercises. The personnel and military equipment of the Airborne Forces division were loaded onto the planes of the military transport aviation, they departed to the designated area. The loading of the Marine Corps units on large landing ships and landing boats was carried out. The forces and assets of coastal forces, air defense and anti-ship missile systems are deployed in designated areas.
The Opuk polygon is located 60 km from Feodosia and 40 km from Kerch. The capabilities of the test site allow you to practice the tasks of landing troops and overcoming the anti-amphibious defense of the "enemy", to carry out amphibious assault landing of up to two battalions of marines at the same time, to fire at coastal targets with naval artillery systems, and also to use operational-tactical and army aviation.
Russia began withdrawing its military forces from the Ukrainian border starting 23 April 2021, after the buildup had raised alarms in the West of renewed clashes. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu decided 22 April 2021 to complete verification activities in the Southern and Western Military Districts, because all the goals set have been achieved. "I believe that the objectives of the surprise check have been fully achieved. The troops have demonstrated the ability to ensure reliable defense of the country," Shoigu said on Thursday in Crimea at a meeting on the results of the actions of the Southern Military District and the Airborne Forces during surprise checks. in the Southern and Western Military Districts ".
The head of the department set the task "to the General Staff, the commanders of the military districts and the airborne troops to plan and start from April 23 to the return of troops to their permanent deployment points, conduct a detailed analysis and summarize the results of a surprise check of the troops."
Shoigu ordered until May 1 of this year to return to the places of permanent deployment of the troops that were involved in the exercises in the south of Russia. "By May 1, 2021, return the personnel of the 58th Army of the Southern Military District, the 41st Army of the Central Military District, the 7th, 76th Airborne Assault and 98th Airborne Divisions of the airborne troops to their permanent deployment points." , - ordered Shoigu on Thursday at a meeting in the Crimea.
As a result of the meeting, he instructed the commanders of the military districts "to plan in detail the return of troops to the points of permanent deployment." "At the same time, ensure compliance with the requirements of security measures and prevent accidents along the way," the minister said.
In addition, he noted that the equipment and weapons of the 41st Combined Arms Army, which are planned to be used in the Zapad-2021 strategic exercises, should be placed in field parks at the Pogonovo training ground, and their maintenance and reliable protection should be organized. It is also required "to analyze sudden inspections in all levels of management, draw up a plan to eliminate deficiencies and begin to implement them," the minister said. He ordered to encourage all servicemen who distinguished themselves during the exercises and training.
After a surprise check, three divisions of the Airborne Forces (Airborne Forces) returned from Crimea to their permanent deployment points. This was reported on Thursday at a meeting at the National Center for Defense Management (NTSUO) of the Russian Federation, the commander of the Airborne Forces, Colonel-General Andrei Serdyukov. "The personnel of the 7th, 76th and 98th divisions involved in a surprise check at the ranges of the Southern Military District in the Republic of Crimea are concentrated in the points of permanent deployment," he said. According to him, the transportation of their weapons, military and special equipment by military train trains will be completed by May 12.
In turn, the commander of the Northern Fleet, Admiral Alexander Moiseyev, reported that "the return of the Northern Fleet units that participated in the surprise check of the troops of the Western Military District has been completed, the troops have arrived at their permanent deployment points." The servicemen of the Southern Military District (YuVO), who were involved in the verification check, will return to their places of permanent deployment by May 1. "The return of the personnel of the 58th Army's formations and military units will be completed by May 1, and its armament and military equipment - in accordance with the established schedule," General of the Army Alexander Dvornikov, commander of the Southern Military District, noted.
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