Russia drills airborne and amphibious landings in Crimea

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Russian armed forces have conducted a major military exercise in the Crimean peninsula, that Russia annexed in 2014. Over 2500 paratroopers from the Russian airborne forces trained with the ships and troops of the Black Sea Fleet. As a uniquely Russian feature the airborne forces or VDV are a separate military branch along Army, Navy and Air Force.

In the training operation VDV troops used both transport aircraft and ships to land a mechanized 650 men battle group to an unprepared shore. Battle group had at least 9 BMD-2KU infantry fighting vehicles that parachuted from the IL-76 transport aircraft, while several BTR-80 wheeled armored personnel carriers waded to shore from the landing ships.

While this kind of operations are useful in the Black Sea theater of operations, they would also be very effective if a conflict would erupt in the Baltic Sea region. Several experts have voiced concerns about the vulnerability of Gotland and Åland-islands. Gotland that belongs to Sweden has recently being reinforced with a small mechanized unit form the Swedish army, but Åland remains demilitarized.

Russia has managed to move, load and deploy a battle group within 24 h from an alert. By using the VDV troops in an amphibious landing Russia has show that it can project significantly more fire power and troops to coastal areas than what was previously believed to possible. This revelation will pose a serious problem to the defense planners in several nations.

Petri Mäkelä

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