Russia Standardizing Munitions Used on First-Person View UAVs

Russian Soldier with FPV UAV

“Previously, we had to independently manufacture, adapt, and “collectively develop” munitions. All this is unsafe. Now having a standard munition will make everyone’s job easier and safer…It’s no secret that some crews were blown up by their own munitions”

The accompanying excerpted article from the Russian military enthusiast website, Armeyskiy Standart, describes the role and importance of small first-person view (FPV) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are being used extensively in Ukraine. Many of these commercially produced UAVs have been repurposed from reconnaissance duties and modified to carry various munitions that can be effectively dropped on enemy personnel and/or equipment.[i] The second accompanying excerpted article from the Russian newspaper, Izvestia, discusses Russian efforts to further the FPV concept by developing standardized munitions for FPV UAVs. As the article explains, improvised explosives for use with small FPV UAVs are unstable and have resulted in crews being “blown up” by their own munitions. The impacts of the adoption of standardized munitions for FPV UAVs will likely extend long after Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine concludes. The en masse use of FPV UAVs is likely seen by the Russian military, and many others,[ii] as necessary for tactical success on the modern battlefield, especially in the conduct of close-range reconnaissance and fires. The adoption of standardized munitions will facilitate interoperability in the burgeoning Russian UAV industry and significantly lower already relatively low manufacturing costs. Standardization is a necessary step if Russia intends to place FPV UAVs into its table of organization and equipment structure, given their effectiveness and cost for delivering close-range reconnaissance and fires.


Rustem Klupov, “FPV— дроны завоевывают поле боя: В ходе СВО впервые широко применены новые средства поражения (FPV— UAVs are conquering the battlefield: The new weapons were widely used in the SMO for the first time),” Armeyskiy Standart (Russian military enthusiast website), 7 December 2023.

In reports of special military operations [SMO], there are more and more reports of the use of so-called FPV (First-Person View) UAVs on the line of combat contact in the tactical depth at close-range. FPVs are quadcopters, or multi-rotor UAVs, equipped with a camera that transmits video to the operator-pilot’s control device. The pilot controls the UAV using this video feed, giving him the feeling of actually being in the UAV’s cockpit…

We can say that FPV UAVs are the “know-how” of SVO. They have wide ranging capabilities to destroy a variety of enemy targets. Having a small mass, they can lift a load several times their own weight and carry it at a speed of 120–140 km/h over a distance of 15–16 km… At the same time, the cost of one UAV is on average from 30 thousand to 60 thousand rubles [$330-660].

The versatility of FPV UAVs also lies in the fact that they can carry out additional reconnaissance of an object, deliver high-precision strikes and can carry munitions for various purposes — high-explosive, shaped-charge, fragmentation, thermobaric, incendiary, and kinetic…

The ability to use FPV UAVs in the tactical depth at close-range, which is most saturated with troops, allows these UAVs to always find their target, and having the capability to employ specialized munitions to ensure the reliable destruction of a variety of objects.The comparative effectiveness of FPV UAVs with other traditional means of destruction distinguishes this type as cheaper and more pragmatic in terms of accuracy and range of use.

Roman Kretsul, Alexey Ramm, and Dmitry Astrakhan, “С легким — на подъем: для FPV-дронов начали выпускать штатные боеприпасы (Easy goings — standardized munitions have begun to be produced for FPV UAVs),” Izvestiya (major Russian daily newspaper), 1 December 2023.

…Several enterprises of the Russian defense industry have established serial production of ammunition for FPV UAVs, regular deliveries to the troops began this fall, two sources in the military department told Izvestia and confirmed by an interlocutor in the military-industrial complex.

The new ammunition is equipped with universal mounts that allow it to be suspended under almost all types of FPV UAVs used in the special military operation zone. Now the troops are receiving fragmentation, high-explosive fragmentation and cumulative warheads. In the future, their line is planned to be expanded.

Externally, a munition for an FPV UAV looks like a tube. New munitions are delivered to the troops in special protective plastic cases. As the publication’s interlocutors noted, the main advantage of the new products is their compactness combined with high power. This is achieved through the use of special explosives. Therefore, serial produced munitions are much superior improvised munitions…

“Previously, we had to independently manufacture, adapt, and “collectively develop” munitions. All this is unsafe. Now having a standard munition will make everyone’s job easier and safer…It’s no secret that some crews were blown up by their own munitions…” said Dmitry Uskov, a volunteer and contributor to the “13 Tactical” Telegram channel, told Izvestia…[i] FPV UAVs are one of the most dynamically developing areas of unmanned aviation. The operator controls such a device while wearing virtual reality glasses, like a pilot. With the proper skill, this allows you to deliver a UAV with a warhead precisely to the target, for example, to the door of a dugout or a vulnerable projection of an armored vehicle. For most other weapon systems, such precision is unimaginable…

[i] 13 Tactical is a pro-Russia site on the Telegram platform, as found at:


[i] For other Russian uses of drones on the battlefield, see: Charles Bartles, “Russia Plans To Add Remote Mining UAV Platoons To Engineer Units,” OE Watch, 09-2023.

[ii] For a recent examination of Taiwan’s position regarding drones on the battlefield, see: John Lubianetsky, “Taiwan Addressing Drone Technology Gap With China,” OE Watch, 10-2023.

Image Information:

Image: Russian Soldier with FPV UAV
Attribution: Russian Ministry of Defense, CC BY-SA 4.0

Russian Military Working To Respond to U.S. “Multi-Domain Operations”

“The main difficulty in conducting defense in the context of the enemy’s implementation of the “multi-domain battle” concept is that units, occupying strong points, positions and areas, are not able to quickly and effectively respond to enemy actions, especially when changing the direction of action and carrying out flanking maneuvers.”

Russia is working to understand the U.S. Army’s “multi-domain operations” (MDO) concept,[i] Which can roughly be described as the coordinated employment of the domains of war (land, air, sea, space, cyber, etc.) to achieve an operational-level objective.  The accompanying excerpted article from the monthly Russian military periodical, Armeisky Sbornik, discusses the Russian Armed Forces’ understanding of the U.S. MDO concept, the potential effects of MDO if employed against the Russian Ground Forces, and what course of action a Russian Battalion Tactical Group (BTG) should execute to best overcome it.[ii] The authors believe that a successful first strike on a Russian BTG by a U.S. Army MDO Brigade could be decisive due to the attrition of the BTG’s command and control and combat capabilities. The authors posit that the best defense for a BTG against an attacking MDO Brigade is the use of positional defense (as opposed to maneuver defense), and a preemptive attack. To achieve this, up to one-third of the combined arms subunits in the BTG should act as flanking or raiding detachments and conduct preemptive actions to hinder the enemy. These actions might include defeating artillery, air defense systems, and command posts, and disrupting command and control and logistics, thereby disrupting the MDO Brigade’s ability to conduct a decisive counter-attack. It is important to note that the authors, and many other Russian commentators, see the so-called “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine as not only a testing ground for new Russian military technologies and tactics, but also as a testing ground for new U.S./NATO technologies and tactics by way of Ukrainian proxies. As such, this article will likely be the first of many analyses discussing the best ways for the Russian Armed Forces to counter  U.S. military technology and tactics based on the lessons from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


R. Shaykhutdinov, I. Starodubtsev, “Оборона батальонной тактической группы в условиях «многосферного сражения» (The conduct of a defense by a battalion tactical group under conditions of «multi-domain battle»),” Armeisky Sbornik (monthly Russian military periodical), October 2023.

Against the background of strengthening the military power of Russia and China, the United States began to develop new approaches that would ensure the superiority of its troops in military conflicts with an enemy of comparable combat capabilities. The basic principles and procedures for conducting combat operations as part of interservice and coalition groupings of troops in various operational environments at the strategic, operational and tactical levels were formulated…

Military experts F.I. Ladygin, S.V. Afanasyev and A.V. Khomutov argue that such a model provides for the creation in the US ground forces of “a new type of formations deployed in advance in forward areas – “ multi-domain brigade tactical groups”, which will be able to operate in all environments, in isolation from the main grouping of troops, in conditions of constant contact with the enemy to identify his vulnerabilities and ensure the involvement of the main forces in them”…

The main difficulty in conducting defense in the context of the enemy’s implementation of the “multi-domain battle” concept is that units, occupying strong points, positions and areas, are not able to quickly and effectively respond to enemy actions, especially when changing the direction of action and carrying out flanking maneuvers. Also significant is the inevitable disunity of battalion defensive strong points during defense — when on a wide front these strong points cannot provide mutual fire support to one another, which can allow the enemy to employ flanking and raid actions to infiltrate the battalion’s combat formation….

The analysis of the views of the US and NATO command on the offensive and the experience of conducting a special military operation in Ukraine raises the need to search for new ways of conducting combat actions at the tactical level. The enemy’s use of modern weapons supplied by the united West, especially during shelling of Donetsk, Lugansk and other liberated areas, requires improved methods of action of combined arms formations when defeating the enemy.

The extreme saturation of modern armies with guided anti-tank weapons, air defense and missile defense systems has sharply increased the importance of the positional defense. The combat formation of a battalion tactical group in positional defense is built primarily in one echelon and includes: the first echelon, combined arms reserve, artillery units, air defense units, anti-tank reserve, as well as regular and attached units and fire assets that remain directly subordinate to the commander of the battalion tactical group…

An analysis of the possible distribution of forces and means of a battalion tactical group shows that with a “typical distribution” of forces and means of a battalion, taking into account the fact that before an attack the enemy will inevitably lay indirect and direct fires, shows that most of the fire will fall on strong points of the first echelon companies (on 50–60% of the battalion’s forces). Losses of the battalion tactical group can reach up to 70%.  Consequently, the existing methods of conducting the defense of a battalion tactical group raise questions regarding the capabilities of successfully completing a combat mission.  To increase the effectiveness of the defense of a battalion tactical group, it must conduct “preemptive actions”.

The method is based on active use of offensive actions when conducting defense, going beyond the front line. At the same time, up to 1/3 of combined arms subunits, acting as flanking and raiding detachments, carry out preemptive actions against the enemy, such as defeating artillery, air defense systems, command posts, and disrupting command and control and logistics.The essence of preemptive attack is to defeat enemy targets by flanking and raid groups of combat vehicles operating forward of the front line of defense in order to prevent further enemy offensive actions…


[i] “The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028 concept proposes a series of solutions to solve the problem of layered standoff. The central idea in solving this problem is the rapid and continuous integration of all domains of warfare to deter and prevail as we compete short of armed conflict. If deterrence fails, Army formations, operating as part of the Joint Force, penetrate and dis-integrate enemy anti-access and area denial systems; exploit the resulting freedom of maneuver to defeat enemy systems, formations and objectives and to achieve our own strategic objectives; and consolidate gains to force a return to competition on terms more favorable to the U.S., our allies and partners.” TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations – 2028 (Fort Eustis, VA: TRADOC, 2018), iii.

[ii] For an in-depth analysis of the Russian Battalion Tactical Group (BTG), see: Lester W. Grau and Charles K. Bartles, “Getting to Know the Russian Battalion Tactical Group,” Royal United Service Institute, 14 April 2022.

Russia Plans To Add Remote Mining UAV Platoons to Engineer Units

A Soviet/Russian made POM-2 [R1] fragmentation anti-personnel mine on display.

“The use of UAVs for the remote laying of anti-personnel mines will ensure the element of surprise when used in both the defense and offense…”

The war in Ukraine continues to drive changes in military units and doctrine. Innovative use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been a common theme for both Russia and Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Both countries have modified UAVs to lay mines. The accompanying excerpted article from the Russian monthly Военная мысль (Military Thought) discusses Russian plans to formalize this capability by creating a “special mining platoon” within certain engineer units. Although this is one of the first mentions of how adaptations from the so-called “special military operation”[i] are being implemented into Russia’s version of a Modification Table of Organization and Equipment (MTO&E), it is unlikely to be the last. Other novel uses of UAVs, including as “suicide drones,” will likely be integrated into Russian MTO&E structures soon.


D.F. Evmenenko and S.I. Melnik, “Дистанционное минирование местности при помощи

Малых беспилотных летательных аппаратов (The use of small unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct remote mining),” Военная мысль [Military Thought] (monthly Russian military periodical), September 2023.

Combat actions in the special military operation do not have the characteristics of high intensity [warfare] and rapid battlefield changes due to widescale usage of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The most widespread among them are multi-rotor helicopter-type devices (multicopters). Simple, cheap and reliable, they are easy to control and very maneuverable at low speeds and low altitudes. These systems can easily change targets in the field. In addition, such systems are easy to transport, scalable in size and load capacity…

The Second World War, military conflicts of recent decades, especially in the Persian Gulf region (Operation Desert Storm), and the US Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan show that their effectiveness increases several times when used suddenly and unexpectedly…

Although remote mining by aviation and artillery troops can be carried throughout the entire operational depth of an enemy formation, the remote mining capabilities of engineer troops are substantially more limited… The UMZ [R1]  and GMZ-K [R2]  universal minelayers only have a range of up to 200 m…

The need arose to develop a system that would allow the creation of minefields under any combat conditions in compliance with the requirements for safe the use of remote mining means for our troops.  As part of solving this problem, specialists from the Tyumen Higher Military Engineering Command School (TVVIKU) developed a device for discharging antipersonnel POM-2R mines…

The use of UAVs for the remote laying of anti-personnel mines will ensure the element of surprise when used in both the defense and offense…It is proposed to use UAV crews with mine containers in a special mining platoon (SMP) with 6 UAVs…The platoon consists of two squads, each with 6 personnel, 3 UAVs, and an all-terrain vehicle such as a UAZ ‘Wolverine’.

Characteristics of a Mine-Laying Multicopter-Type UAV (exact model unspecified in source)


[i] Moscow insists on using the term spetsial’naya voyennaya operatsiya (“special military operation”) or spetsoperatsiya (“special operation”) to describe its campaign in Ukraine.

Image Information:

Image: A Soviet/Russian made POM-2 [R1] fragmentation anti-personnel mine on display.
Attribution: CC BY-SA 3.0

Former Commander Comments on Future of Russian Airborne Troops

Colonel-General (Ret.) Vladimir Shamanov

“In our opinion, one should not experiment with one of the most combat-ready branches of the Armed Forces, destroying what at one time was saved with great difficulty.”

Almost since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,[i] there has been much speculation in Russia about the future of its mechanized Airborne Troops (VDV). By most accounts, the VDV has performed the best of all of Russia’s Armed Forces, although the VDV has taken heavy casualties.[ii] In Ukraine the VDV has filled a more conventional role than intended and rarely conducted the missions it was designed for, namely, attacks and raids behind enemy lines. The VDV is now being equipped with heavy weaponry that has traditionally not been provided to it, such as T-90 tanks and heavy thermobaric rocket launchers to facilitate this shift in mission. This has created a debate about the future force structure of the VDV. Some commentators proffer that the VDV should become permanently “heavier,” while others suggest an even lighter structure so the VDV can function as true sabotage and reconnaissance groups or assault groups.  The excerpted article from the quarterly Russian military periodical Defense and Security provides a third suggestion: stay the current course. The article’s primary author is Colonel-General (Ret.) Vladimir Shamanov, former Commander of the VDV, and current Head of the State Duma Defense Committee. Shamanov states that the VDV should be maintained in its current state as a unique light mechanized combined arms force capable of air-mobile operations. Although Shamanov does not delve into deeper reasoning, this opinion could be based on his belief that although the VDV is not currently fighting as designed, this may not always be the case, and at some point the VDV might again start executing attacks and raids behind enemy lines.


Vladimir Shamanov, Vladimir Kulakov and Olga Kashirina, “Операция Промежуточный Этап (The Operational Intermittent Phase),”  Defense and Security (Quarterly Russian Military Periodical), No. 2,(105), 2023, 15.

The experience of the SMO [special military operation] shows that lightly armed mobile groups are acquiring great importance. They are able to move quickly, provide cover, move to the rear, and act on the flanks. At the same time, light armored vehicles with modular weapons (machine gun, ATGM, automatic gun) will become their basis. They can become the basis of airmobile forces and form sabotage and reconnaissance and groups. Their tasks are reconnaissance and defeat of the enemy, assisting advancing troops, conducting surprise attacks on important targets, and executing organized withdrawals to [attack] in another direction.

On territory controlled by friendly forces, the use of airborne units as airmobile forces will ensure the strengthening of the strike force on the main axis of attack. This makes it possible to quickly concentrate troops as needed along the front line…

The ‘winged infantry’ is quite capable of acting not only as a combined armed force, but also form the basis of airmobile units and form sabotage and reconnaissance groups. Airmobile units, can inflict sudden blows, that will force the enemy to react, concentrate troops and expose them to attack. If successful, airmobile units can carry out raids throughout the entire tactical depth of the enemy’s defenses.

In addition, the Airborne Troops are able to significantly strengthen the Ground Forces on specified axis — in the event of enemy counterattacks, repels the attack and creates conditions for an attack of the main force.

There is an opinion that the priority way for the development of the Airborne Troops may be their transformation into just sabotage and reconnaissance groups, a “swarm”, capable of striking in several places at the same time, with subsequent evasion of a retaliatory strikes and withdrawal…In our opinion, one should not experiment with one of the most combat-ready branches of the Armed Forces, destroying what at one time was saved with great difficulty.  Only in the Airborne Troops after the well-known “reforms”, was the divisional structure of the troops preserved. On its basis, it is possible to quickly create various airmobile formations…


[i] Moscow insists on using the term spetsial’naya voyennaya operatsiya (“special military operation”) or spetsoperatsiya (“special operation”) to describe its campaign in Ukraine.

[ii] The lightly armored Airborne Combat Vehicle (BMD) series of combat vehicles has not fared well against Western antitank guided missiles and heavier mechanized Ukrainian forces. 

Image Information:

Image: Colonel-General (Ret.) Vladimir Shamanov
Attribution: CC BY-SA 3.0

The Splitting of the Russian Western Military District

Sukhoi Su-25 [RG1] of the Russian Air Force landing at Vladivostok

“A new air and air defense army will be deployed against NATO…”

Russia announced plans for a large expansion of the Russian Armed Forces at an extended session of the collegium of the Russian Ministry of Defense held in December 2022.1Part of this plan involved the creation of two military districts and a new air and air defense army. The accompanying excerpted article from the pro-Kremlin daily newspaper Izvestiya discusses how Russian plans to create these two military districts and suggests how the new air and air defense army will be created. The Western Military District, which was created during the ‘New Look’ reforms, will be split into two new military districts that restore the previously abolished Moscow and Leningrad military districts.[i] The 6th Air and Air Defense Army in St. Petersburg will likely remain at its present location, and the new air and air defense army will likely be assigned to the Moscow Military District. The preponderance of the new air and air defense army’s combat power will be drawn from units currently in the 6th Air and Air Defense Army.


Roman Kretsul Alexey Ramm, “Полетный рубеж: новая армия ВВС и ПВО прикроет западные границы России Ее развернут в Московском или Ленинградском военном округе (Flight milestone: the new army of the Air Force and Air Defense will cover the western borders of Russia It will be deployed in the Moscow or Leningrad military district),” Izvestiya (Pro-Kremlin daily newspaper), 6 June 2023.

A new air and air defense army will be deployed against NATO, sources in the Russian Defense Ministry told Izvestia. It will be formed in the Western strategic direction as part of the Moscow or Leningrad military district. It will consist of several fighter regiments, a bomber regiment, an army aviation brigade, as well as air defense units and radiotechnical troops. According to experts, the strengthening of the western borders by the Aerospace Forces is especially important against the backdrop of the entry into NATO of Finland and, in the near future, Sweden…

In early June, the head of the Main Organizational and Mobilization Directorate (GOMU) of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces, Yevgeny Burdinsky, confirmed that two military districts would be created this year. He also announced plans to create two armies – combined arms and air and air defense. The direction where they will be formed, Burdinsky did not specify…

Currently, the Western Military District includes the 6th Air and Air Defense Army. It consists of one composite aviation division, several helicopter regiments, and an army aviation brigade. Also, this formation has two air defense divisions equipped with S-300 [RG1] and S-400 [RG2] anti-aircraft systems. The zone of responsibility of the 6th Army is one of the biggest. It covers the territory of Russia from Karelia to Voronezh…This is not the first time in recent memory that the Ministry of Defense has strengthened the aviation component in the western strategic direction. As Izvestia earlier reported, this year ground attack aviation units, equipped with the famous ‘Rooks’, of the Su-25 attack family, should appear here. Until recently, there was not a single strike aviation regiment in the Western Military District. The task of the “Rooks” will be the direct support of the Ground Forces on the battlefield. The attack aircraft will also coordinate with army aviation helicopters…


[i] The ‘New Look’ reforms were a series of major Russian military reforms that occurred from 2009-2012.

Image Information:

Image: Sukhoi Su-25 [RG1] of the Russian Air Force landing at Vladivostok
Attribution: CC BY-SA 2.0

2023-06-08 An Assessment of the Initial Period of War: Russia-Ukraine 2022 Part 2 (Roger N McDermott & Lieutenant Colonel Charles K Bartles)

An Assessment of the Initial Period of War: Russia-Ukraine 2022 Part 2 (Roger N McDermott & Lieutenant Colonel Charles K Bartles). Click image to download.

(Click image to download brief.)

This study describes how Russian military theorists think about the initial period of war (IPW) concept and its relation to strategic operations, and posits that due to the nature of the special military operation, the IPW concept was likely in no way a part of the operational planning process. While there were likely political motivations for the use of the term “special military operation” instead of “war,” the term “war” was not used for the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, because it was not envisioned to meet the criteria for “war” as understood by Russian military theorists

An Assessment of the Initial Period of War: Russia-Ukraine 2022 Part 1 (Roger N McDermott & Lieutenant Colonel Charles K Bartles)

An Assessment of the Initial Period of War: Russia-Ukraine 2022 Part 1 (Roger N McDermott & Lieutenant Colonel Charles K Bartles). Click image to download.

(Click image to download brief.)

This study describes the historical evolution of the Russian concept of the initial period of war (IPW). The concept has evolved substantially since its inception, which can be traced back to at least the early 1900s, but it generally pertains to the decisive strategic operations that occur during the first few days of war, that set conditions for strategic success, and the activities that occur before the war (period of imminent threat or preparation period in Russian military parlance) that make these strategic operations possible;

The Composition and Tactics of Wagner Assault Detachments

The Conduct of Wagner Assault Units Against Positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The Conduct of Wagner Assault Units Against Positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

“The main task of the assault detachment for the day is to capture a platoon strongpoint.”

In February 2023, a pro-Russian Telegram channel called Institute of the SMO / People’s Translation, which translates Ukrainian-language documents into, posted a document purported to be a translation of a Ukrainian General Staff analysis regarding private military company Wagner assault detachments. The accompanying excerpts from the document describe the composition and tactics of Wagner detachments.  The document also included the accompanying graphic depicting two dismounted Wagner assault platoons, supported by one tank and two bronnegruppa—infantry fighting vehicles, minus dismounts, providing supporting fires—attacking and penetrating a layered Ukrainian defense. There is an artillery platoon of two 82mm or 120mm mortars and one D-30 [GRLCUT(1] towed 122mm howitzer. The graphic depicts many planned artillery concentrations, annotated as three-digit numbers, and shows how fires will shift in relation to the advance of the Wagner assault platoons. The artillery platoon fires on the 100-level positions first, then and shifts fire to the 200 level, and then subsequent firing positions as the assault platoons advance. This scheme of fire suggests that the Wagner forces are expecting the Ukrainians to be well dug-in and dispersed. The relatively large number of artillery concentrations given such few artillery assets also suggests that there are additional artillery assets (not indicated on the graphic) that are supporting the attack, since the artillery platoon has insufficient assets and range (mortars) to fire the missions as depicted. There is likely an evacuation group that will advance behind the attack to repair or evacuate damaged vehicles. The adoption of these formations by Wagner illustrates how Russia is adapting trench warfare conditions more reminiscent of the First World War, as opposed to the high-speed maneuver warfare that was practiced during and after the Cold War.  If these formations are deemed successful by Russia, it is likely the Russian Armed Forces will adopt similar ad-hoc structures for fighting in these conditions.


“Тактика ВСУ По Противодействию ЧВК «Вагнер» (Tactics of the Ukrainian Armed Forces against PMC ‘Wagner’),” Institute of the SMO / People’s Translation, a pro-Russian Telegram channel that translates Ukrainian language documents into Russian for the benefit of those fighting against Ukraine, 2 February 2023.

This text is a direct translation from the Ukrainian language, compiled for scientific, educational, and reference purposes, has not been edited, should not be used for learning without understanding and interpretation, taking into account the circumstances of its origin. It does not reflect the position of translators and other participants in the “People’s Translation” project…

In the areas of concentration of the main efforts by the enemy, the units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine are increasingly faced with active opposition from the units of the Wagner PMC [private military company]. The enemy is trying to exert constant pressure on the chosen directions, so the attacks actually have the character of constant battle of small groups of light infantry. The first attack involves location of our fires assets for the enemy’s aerial reconnaissance platforms, and additional reconnaissance. As a result, the shelling of our positions after a repulsed attack is carried out in a way that is more massed than preparatory artillery strikes. And then a new attack is readied. This makes it possible to concentrate forces where Ukrainian troops have weaker reconnaissance, have fewer means of destruction, and have less resilience.

The enemy continues to apply new methods of warfare, testing them with the more trained units of the PMC “Wagner”, further spreading the experience gained in the infantry units. Based on the generalized data, it has been established that in order to carry out counteroffensive (assault) operations in the Liman direction, the enemy uses assault detachments (groups) (hereinafter referred to as assault units) and “fixing” units. If earlier assault detachments were mainly involved in conducting assault operations in the city, now the enemy uses assault units to carry out an offensive in all sectors of the line of contact and various types of terrain (urbanized terrain, forest, swamps, steppe zone, etc.).

Assault detachments are formed on the basis of a motorized rifle company, which is reinforced with tanks, flamethrower [thermobaric rocket launcher] and mortar crews, and ATGM crews. The team may also include:

• an engineer squad;

• a group from the GRU Spetsnaz brigade (reconnaissance unit);

• a UAV crew;

• an evacuation group.

The assault detachment is divided into 5-8 assault groups.

The assault group includes: a motorized rifle squad, reinforced with a grenade launcher and flamethrower crew.

The main task of the assault detachment for the day is to capture a platoon strongpoint. After completing the task, the detachment is withdrawn for 1-2 days to recover and rest. In place of the assault unit, “fixing” units are brought in. After reconstitution, the assault units can again be involved in combat.A “fixing” unit is a reinforced motorized rifle company or (motorized rifle platoon), from among the combined arms units (military units), as well as BARS [reserve] units and/or territorial troops…

Image Information:

Image: The Conduct of Wagner Assault Units Against Positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Source: Foreign Military Studies Office, U.S. Army,
Attribution: Public Domain

Russia May Extend Conscription Period to Two Years

Conscripts being inducted for military service.

Conscripts being inducted for military service.

Military document issued to new conscripts.

Military document issued to new conscripts.

“Against the backdrop of a special military operation (SMO), State Duma deputies have raised the issue of increasing military service to two years.”

The accompanying excerpted article from the pro-Kremlin daily newspaper, Izvestiya, discusses the possibility of Russia extending the mandatory military conscription period from one to two years.[i] This change, in conjunction with the Russian military’s absorption of the separatist forces from Luhansk and Donetsk, will likely result in the Russian military adding more than 300,000 personnel to its ranks. In addition, a two-year conscription period will also likely lead to an overall qualitative improvement in Russian military capabilities because, according to Russian commanders, a one-year term of service for conscripts is too short for them to become fully combat capable. For this reason, Russia employs conscript-manned battalions and contract-manned battalions that have abbreviated training schedules for the conscript units.[ii] A change to a two-year conscription model will likely allow conscript units to be trained on the same schedule as their contract brethren.  


Maria Shaipova, “Два против одного: в России обсуждают увеличение срока службы в армии (Two Against One: In Russia They Are Discussing an Increase to The Length of Military Service),” Izvestiya (Pro-Kremlin daily newspaper), 3 November 2022.

Against the backdrop of a special military operation (SMO), State Duma deputies have raised the issue of increasing military service to two years. The Kremlin says that these issues should be resolved in the Ministry of Defense. What will be the term of service in the army in 2023, as well as how the conditions for recruits have changed?

Yury Shvytkin, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Defense, announced on November 3 that he would return to two-year service against the backdrop of the SMO. According to him, this is due to the need to securely consolidate the knowledge the conscripts gain during military training. The idea was supported by State Duma deputy from Crimea, Mikhail Sheremet. He did not rule out that the corresponding initiative could be submitted for consideration by the deputies of the State Duma.

However, the Federation Council questioned the need to return to the two-year system. According to Andrey Klishas, ​​the head of the Federation Council committee on constitutional legislation and state building, the number of contract servicemen affects the combat capability of the army. And an increase in conscription service is unlikely to significantly affect the quality of the troops.  Both the senators and the press secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov said that the opinion of the head of the Ministry of Defense will be decisive in regard to the term of service in 2023…

Currently, the term of service in the army is 12 months for all branches of service. The call is held twice a year: from April 1 to July 15 and from October 1 to December 31…As emphasized by the Ministry of Defense, the recruits of the autumn draft-2022 will not be sent to the SMO zone or serve in the newly annexed territories…The term of service in the Russian army was reduced from two to one year in 2008, in parallel with this, the troops were reoriented to the contract method of manning. A transitional period was established, and some of the conscripts served 18 months from 2007 to 2008…During the period of military reform in the country, the total size of the army was reduced to 1 million people, while the proportion of conscripts decreased, and the number of contract soldiers increased. 

The transition to a voluntary (contract) principle of manning the Russian army has been discussed since the early 1990s. In 1992, it was supported by the Supreme Council and the President of the Russian Federation, but the Ministry of Defense insisted on maintaining the conscription service. As a result, in 2003, it was decided to equip individual units and branches of the Armed Forces, as well as Border Troops, also with contract troops. For the Internal Troops (MVD-VV), it was decided to maintain conscription, but to reduce the term of service.


[i] Russian military conscription dates to Peter the Great (1672-1725), when the selected individuals served for life.  From 1874, the entire male population of the country over the age of 21 was subject to conscription with a term of 15 years, six on active duty and nine years in the reserve. By the beginning of the 1900s, the term of service in the Ground Forces was reduced to three or four years, while in the Navy, it was five years. During World War Two (Great Patriotic War), the entire Russian population was considered “mobilized.” In 1967, conscripts began to serve two years in the Ground Forces and three years in the Navy. In 1993, the term of service was reduced to one-and-half years but raised to two years in 1996 amid the first Chechen War. Since 2008, Russia has practiced a one-year conscription period.

[ii] By regulation, most Russian Ground Forces maneuver (motorized rifle or tank) units (regiments or brigades) are required to maintain two battalion tactical groups that are fully manned with contract soldiers. Since motorized rifle units have three motorized rifle battalions and one tank battalion, the third motorized rifle battalion is manned with conscript soldiers and is sometimes colloquially referred to as a “reserve” battalion.