|Author: David Batashvili, Research Fellow at the Rondeli Foundation
Russian Military Transformation Tracker has been reporting structural changes in the Russian military since August 2018. You can see all issues of the Tracker at this page. For a comprehensive geographic view of the Russian military structure see our Interactive Map of the Russian Military Forces. For a wider spectrum of key events concerning the Russian armed forces up to 20 February 2022, and for the events of the Russo-Ukrainian War, see Rondeli Russian Military Digest.
The full-scale stage of the Russo-Ukrainian war staring on 24 February 2022 has plunged the structure of the Russian armed forces into increasing disarray. Numerous units have been created that are likely to exist only temporarily during wartime, such as the volunteer units and the ones created with persons drafted in the mobilization declared on 21 September 2022. The Wagner Group has turned into a large armed force employing diverse high-end military equipment, and commanding many thousands of troops, including those recruited from Russian prisons, besides its core mercenary personnel. It remains nevertheless outside the formal structure of the Russian armed forces. Meanwhile, many regular Russian military units sustained catastrophic losses and had to fill their ranks with the mobilization draftees.
Amid this chaos, the brief below presents the changes in the Russian military structure that this author was able to discover through open source monitoring. The changes listed here are limited to those that are likely intended to be long-term and concern official structure of the armed forces of the Russian Federation.
The Central Russia
The 3rd Army Corps with headquarters in Mulino (Nizhny Novgorod Oblast), which this Tracker reported in its last issue as being created in the Western Military District, has been established and reportedly includes:
The 6th Mechanized Division including the 54th, 55th and 57th Mechanized Regiments, and the 10th Tank Regiment; the 72nd Mechanized Brigade; the 9th Separate Special Forces Company; the 17th High-Power Artillery Brigade; the 27th Artillery Regiment; and the 52nd Separate Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion.
The 42nd Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Izhitsy, Novgorod Oblast), of the 6th Air and Air Defense Forces Army’s (HQ in Saint Petersburg) 32nd Air Defense Division (HQ in Rzhev, Tver Oblast), had rearmed with S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, instead of the S-300PM2 systems, by August 2022.
The Western Frontier
By August 2022, the 1096th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Sevastopol, occupied Crimea, Ukraine) of the Black Sea Fleet’s 22nd Army Corps may have been armed with S-350 surface-to-air missile systems.
Belarus and the Baltic Region
In addition to the Baranovichi air base in Belarus, during the full-scale phase (starting on 24 February 2022) of the Russo-Ukrainian War, the Russian armed forces established at least two more air bases in that country: Luninets air base (in Luninets, Brest Region) and Pribytki air base (in Zyabrovka, Gomel Region)
The 78th Mechanized Regiment was established in Chechnya within the 42nd Mechanized Division (HQ in Khankala, Chechnya) of the 58th Army (HQ in Vladikavkaz) by early September 2022. The regiment reportedly includes three mechanized battalions.
In June–July 2022, four Special Forces battalions were established within the structure of the Russian army but under the patronage of the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. The battalions in question are called North-Akhmat, West-Akhmat, South-Akhmat and East-Akhmat. According to Kadyrov, the battalions include only Chechens.
On 8 July 2022, Project 09852 class special purpose submarine Belgorod joined the Northern Fleet of the Russian navy.
The Far East
On 5 December 2022, Russian Defense Ministry reported that the Pacific Fleet’s unit of Bastion-P mobile coastal defense missile systems had been established on the Paramushir Island, in the northern part of the Kuril Islands.
Improved Kilo / Project 636.3 class diesel submarine Ufa joined the Pacific Fleet of the Russian navy on 16 November 2022.
On 16 or 17 November 2022, Alexandrit / Project 12700 class minesweeper Pyotr Ilyichev joined the Pacific Fleet of the Russian navy. The ship serves at the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky naval base (Kamchatka Krai).
Project 955A Borei-A class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Knyaz Oleg and Project 885M Yasen-M class nuclear-powered submarine Novosibirsk, reported in our previous issue to have joined the Pacific Fleet, serve at the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky naval base (Kamchatka Krai).
By the fall of 2022, Russian armed forces reportedly withdrew their S-300 surface-to-air missile systems from Syria, intending to use them in the Russo-Ukrainian war. S-400 systems remained in Syria.