Category Archives: Military Leadership

Who’s Fighting in the Donbass?

Various media sources late this week reported that Kyiv’s SBU sent the United States a 30-page report detailing Russia’s role in fighting in the Donbass.

The report indicates that militia fighters in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic are led by Russian Army general-majors Oleg Tsekov, Sergey Kuzovlev, and Roman Shadrin.  In the Donetsk People’s Republic, general-majors Valeriy Solodchuk and Aleksey Zavizon reportedly lead the ethnic Russian militiamen. Russian Colonel Anatoliy Barankevich is in charge of combat training.

Sergey Kuzovlev

Sergey Kuzovlev

Roman Shadrin

Roman Shadrin

The Ukrainian report claims 15 Russian battalion tactical groups — about 9,000 men — are fighting in eastern Ukraine.  Unnamed Washington sources say this confirms what U.S. intelligence agencies believed.  But, as recently as his 26 June conversation with President Obama, President Putin insisted there are no Russian troops in Luhansk or Donetsk.

Who are the Russian officers identified by name?

  • Oleg Tsekov commands the Northern Fleet’s 200th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade — it’s a long way from eastern Ukraine, but his troops wouldn’t be easily missed like forces in the Southern MD. He once served under Southern MD Commander, General-Colonel Aleksandr Galkin.
  • Sergey Kuzovlev was, at last report, chief of staff of the Southern MD’s 58th CAA. He’s known by the call sign Tambov. He fought in both Chechen campaigns, and he commanded the 18th IMRB in Khankala before his current staff assignment.
  • Roman Shadrin is another Chechen vet, Hero of Russia, and Ural Cossack activist turned United Russia politician.  He did time with the MVD VV and served with Russian “peacekeeping” forces in South Ossetia.
  • Valeriy Solodchuk commands the VDV’s 7th Air-Assault Division in Novorossiysk.  He was previously chief of staff for the 98th Airborne Division and commanded its 217th Parachute Regiment.
  • Aleksey Zavizon is deputy commander of the 41st CAA in the Central MD.  Prior to that, he commanded the 136th IMRB in Dagestan and the 201st MB in Tajikistan.  He was also chief of staff, deputy commander for the 4th (Kantemir) Tank Division.
  • Anatoliy Barankevich served widely in the Soviet Army and fought in both Chechen wars before retiring in 2004.  He went to South Ossetia, became its defense minister, and directed the defense of Tskhinvali during the August 2008 five-day war with Georgia.  He fell out with South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity and presumably resumed his free-agent status.
Valeriy Solodchuk

Valeriy Solodchuk

Aleksey Zavizon

Aleksey Zavizon

Anatoliy Barankevich

Anatoliy Barankevich

It would be an understatement to say these six Russian military men have a good deal of experience — command experience, combat experience, Caucasus experience.  They represent a particular subset of Russian commanders who’ve long served on the country’s borders and in its hinterlands.  They seem like men with little compunction when it comes to pushing Russia’s sway outward over non-Russians.

Day of Russia Promotion List

On the eve of the Russia Day holiday, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree promoting 29 senior MOD officers:  2 to three-star general-colonel, 5 to two-star general-lieutenant and vice-admiral, and the balance to one-star general-major.

The three-star promotions included Andrey Kartapolov, Chief of the General Staff’s Main Operations Directorate and Andrey Serdyukov, Deputy Commander, Southern MD.  Both were quick promotes with only three and two years respectively at their former rank.

The two-star promotions included GOMU First Deputy Chief Yevgeniy Burdinskiy, Deputy Commander of the Eastern MD for Material-Technical Support Anatoliy Lbov, Deputy CINC of the Navy for Armaments Viktor Bursuk, Northern Fleet Commander of Submarine Forces Aleksandr Moiseyev, and Baltic Fleet Chief of Staff Sergey Popov.

Other promotees included:

  • two RVSN missile division commanders (both have the RS-24 / Yars ICBM in their formations);
  • a new commander of Troops and Forces in the North-East;
  • one motorized rifle brigade commander;
  • deputy commanders for material-technical support in several services and branches;
  • chiefs, deputy chiefs, or department heads for several military-educational institutions;
  • the strategic nuclear forces directorate chief in the NTsUO.

You’ll find the updated promotion list here.

Defender’s Day Promotions

On 21 February, President Vladimir Putin issued an ukaz listing 23 general and flag officer promotions for Defender’s Day 2015.

The list included:

  • Three-star general-colonel rank for GRU Chief Igor Sergun and Ground Troops Main Staff Chief Sergey Istrakov.
  • Two-star ranks for the head of the General Staff’s military-scientific committee and a deputy commander of the Pacific Fleet.
  • One-star general-major for the commanders of the 98th Airborne Division, the 22nd Spetsnaz Brigade, the 6th Tank Brigade, the 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade, and the chief of VVS radar troops.
  • Other notables — one-star for the deputy chief of staff of the Southern MD, chief of the Plesetsk cosmodrome, and head of the RVSN’s missile armaments directorate.

As always, there were newly-minted generals whose current posts could not be identified.

The updated promotion list, now with about 230 names, is available here.

Looking Landward

The newest deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet is former deputy chief of the MOD’s Main Combat Training Directorate (GUBP), General-Lieutenant Yuriy Petrovich Petrov.

The media quoted Petrov several times in that post, addressing either last year’s tank biathlon or Rheinmetall’s pullout from the Mulino training center contract.

Moscow apparently isn’t neglecting the landward defense of Crimea. Petrov’s arrival might presage a beefing up of ground units on Russia’s most recently acquired territory.  

General-Lieutenant Yuriy Petrov (photo: Mil.ru)

General-Lieutenant Yuriy Petrov (photo: Mil.ru)

According to Mil.ru and KZ, the 50-year-old Petrov was born in the Dnepropetrovsk oblast (former Ukrainian SSR), and graduated from the Kiev Higher Combined Arms Command School in 1985.

He got a platoon in the old Turkestan MD and, rather immediately, another graduation present — two years in Afghanistan (1986-1988).

On his return from that tour, he commanded a reconnaissance company and served as chief of reconnaissance for a regiment in the Far East MD.

He completed the mid-career Frunze Military Academy in 1994, commanded a battalion, and then served as chief of staff for a division in the Moscow MD.

In 2005, Petrov finished the General Staff Academy and took command of one of the Far East MD’s machine gun-artillery divisions.

Petrov proceeded to head the Siberian MD’s combat training directorate. He was acting chief of the combat training directorate of the Ground Troops, then deputy chief of GUBP.

He wears several combat decorations.

Petrov likely will serve as Chief of Coastal Troops, Deputy Commander of the Black Sea Fleet for Coastal Troops.  If this is the case, he’ll replace General-Major Aleksandr Ostrikov.  Russia’s other fleets have Ground Troops generals in similar positions.

The Most Recently Promoted

New Russian general and flag officer promotees have been added to the list. They show 12/13/2014 for a date of rank.  KZ ran a copy Putin’s ukaz.

Some notes:

  • The Pacific Fleet commander put on his third star.
  • Newly-minted General-Colonels Lentsov and Dvornikov look like possible candidates to command military districts / unified strategic commands in the future.
  • Four army commanders — Gurulev, Kaloyev, Kuralenko, and Teplinskiy — put on their second stars.
  • Chiefs of some specialized branches (comms, coastal defense, missile troops and artillery, air defense) got promoted.
  • RVSN, Airborne, VKO, Spetsnaz, and motorized rifle formation commanders got their first stars.
  • Friend-of-Putin and head of Russia’s military police Sidorkevich also got a star.

More on the 55 OMSBr (G)

Krasnaya zvezda wrote last week about Tuva and its connections to Russia’s military.

The paper indicated that the “organizational nucleus” of a new Tuva-based motorized rifle brigade (mountain) under Colonel Andrey Shelukhin is now working in the republic which borders Mongolia.  Shelukhin and his staff came from the 201st Military Base in Tajikistan.

It notes that the brigade’s infrastructure is under construction, and recruiting has begun.

A year ago, Shelukhin was a lieutenant colonel, and chief of staff of the 201st, according to KZ.

LTC Shelukhin (photo: Krasnaya zvezda)

LTC Shelukhin (photo: Krasnaya zvezda)

Before that, he was a battalion commander in the former Siberian MD.

Shuffling Generals

The deck of generals has been shuffled somewhat.  But fairly little notice was given to the mid-June reassignments of General-Colonel Vladimir Zarudnitskiy, General-Colonel Nikolay Bogdanovskiy, and General-Lieutenant Andrey Kartapolov.

General-Colonel Zarudnitskiy departs the General Staff’s Main Operations Directorate (GOU) to take over the Central MD, replacing General-Colonel Bogdanovskiy.

Zarudnitskiy (left) Receives Central MD Standard from Deputy Defense Minister Pankov (photo: Mil.ru)

Zarudnitskiy (left) Receives Central MD Standard from Deputy Defense Minister Pankov (photo: Mil.ru)

Zarudnitskiy’s background is pretty well summarized here.  He is 56.

Bogdanovskiy leaves the Central MD to become First Deputy Chief of the General Staff — a post recreated after former Defense Minister Serdyukov cut it.

General-Colonel Nikolay Bogdanovskiy (Wearing Two Stars)

General-Colonel Nikolay Bogdanovskiy (Wearing Two Stars)

Bogdanovskiy’s had an interesting career path.  He commanded an army in the Far East before becoming a deputy commander of the old Far East MD.  He served as First Deputy CINC, Chief of the Main Staff of Ground Troops.  He commanded the old Leningrad MD.  He was again a deputy CINC of Ground Troops and Chief of the Main Combat Training Directorate from early 2011 until his late 2012 assignment to the Central MD.  Bogdanovskiy was early rumored to be a candidate to replace General-Colonel Chirkin as Ground Troops CINC.  He is 57.

Find coverage on Zarudnitskiy and Bogdanovskiy at Mil.ru.

General-Lieutenant Andrey Kartapolov is a fresher face.  He’s 50.

General-Lieutenant Andrey Kartapolov (photo: B-port.com)

General-Lieutenant Andrey Kartapolov (photo: B-port.com)

The most cursory review of Kartapolov’s career shows he was an O-6 commanding a machine gun-artillery division in the Far East in the early 2000s.  In 2007, he served as a deputy commander of the Novosibirsk-based 41st CAA.  He then became First Deputy Commander, Chief of Staff for the 22nd CAA in Nizhegorod.  In 2010, he commanded the 58th CAA, and in early 2013 became a deputy commander of the Southern MD.  After a very brief stint as First Deputy Commander, Chief of Staff of the Western MD, he will head the GOU.

Kartapolov’s wiki bio says he served as chief of an unidentified GOU directorate in 2009-2010.

But GOU chiefs of late still seem more “from the troops” than “born and bred” General Staff officers.