The Russian military has used civilian mobile phones and radios for their communications, including Chinese-made civilian handheld radio, during the ongoing Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to the Defense Express magazine, the Russian military is using the BaoFeng UV-82HP radios for communication within the frontline units currently stationed in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military manages to seize Russian combat vehicles and equipment, among which were frequent Chinese radio stations and documents with call signs and radio frequencies for communication in a highly congested and dynamic operating environment.
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) noted that the BaoFeng UV-82HP radio uses V/UHF wavebands and lacks military-grade encryption. Why it was reportedly in the possession of Russian troops is unknown. However, this triggered immediate speculation on the health and performance of Russian Armed Forces radio communications.
RUSI says that evidence of Russian communications in Ukraine indicates that the modernization of the Russian Armed Forces has been troubled, causing operational and tactical challenges.
“Open-source intelligence and Ukrainian reports suggest that radio communications across the Russian forces are poor, leading to makeshift solutions including the use of unencrypted high frequency (HF) radio for long-range communications and mobile phones to communicate,” said RUSI’s report.
At the same time, Russian soldiers themselves note that the Ukrainian army uses the latest tactical radios manufactured by Harris, Motorola and Aselsan.