190725 frolov 0It's no secret that the ‘hybrid’ aggressive war being waged by Russia in Ukraine is exploited by the military clique in Moscow for purposes of performance and capability validation of their new military technologies and for updating and improving the tactics for their use in battle. The results are then incorporated into personnel training programs of Russia’s military and security forces, and also used in events for improving market potential of the weapons products that Russia offers for export markets. This policy by Russia will, sooner or later, eventually bring members of the country’s military and political establishment on trial at the International Criminal Court. Meanwhile, the Kremlin is building up evidence against itself thus nearing the day when Russia's senior most officials will be brought to justice.


Hybrid’ Forces and Equipment


Russia has deployed enormous amounts of weaponry, including armored vehicles, artillery guns, air defense systems, ELINT/SIGINT systems, EW/ECM assets, UAV drones, small arms and sniper rifles, and other Soviet legacy and Russian military capabilities to Russia occupied areas in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The weaponry is operated by the operational group of Russian forces deployed in areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts illegally occupied by Russia. The operational group is largely manned with personnel of the 1st and 2nd Army Corpses, the 8th Army, Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces.


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 Russian mercenaries in the Donbass are posing with a 12.7-millimeter sniper complex 6C8 (ASV "Kord" / KSVK) and VSS 9 mm


According to estimates by Ukrainian intelligence sources and analysts, Russia has illegally deployed in Ukraine 475 battle tanks, some 1,000 armored fighting vehicles, over 600 heavy artillery guns and more than 200 multiple launch rocket systems.


While major Russian weapons deployed in Ukraine are mostly Soviet legacy technologies, a substantial portion of war waging assets that enable dominance on the battlefield – communication facilities, ISTAR and EW/ECM assets etc – are all cutting-edge technologies developed and produced by Russian companies.


In the Donbas conflict area, Soviet legacy weapons are primarily deployed forward, while the post 1990s generation Russian armaments are deployed in rear areas and brought into action in critical situations only.


There are two reasons for this. One is that locals that have to join the ranks of the 1st and 2nd Army Corpses of the Russian Armed Forces enjoy little confidence from their commanding Russian officers. The other is that commanders of the intervention force and senior members of Russia’s military and political establishment well understand that any registered presence of Russian weaponry in the Donbas areas uncontrolled by Ukrainian authorities, especially by OBSE observers, would add up to the evidence of Russian military presence, in contradiction to Russia’s official statements regarding the situation in eastern Ukraine. For that reason Russian forces keep these weapons meticulously camouflaged and limit their use to exceptional circumstances.          


That being said, the most recent military technologies the Kremlin deployed in those Ukrainian areas are exploited for testing and evaluating their capabilities in real-world combat scenarios as well as for reasons of intimidation and military strength display. Thus, four instances of Russia-sponsored forces launching 152-mm guided rockets Krasnopol from 2A65 ‘Msta’ howitzers have been reported over the period since 30 April 2018.  


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Debris of a 152-mm artillery round ‘Krasnopol’ found at Ukrainian positions attacked by Russian artillery on April 5, 2019


On several occurrences, the rockets were launched against targets that are not intended to be defeated with this type of ‘smart’ munitions, which are designed specifically for engagement of important targets, which not always was the case. On one occasion, one such rocket was fired at a residential building. On 14 February 2019, a Krasnopol rocket was reported by Ukrainian soldiers to hit property owned by Viktor Frolov, on the outskirts of the village of Novoluhanske.


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70-year-old Viktor Frolov, whose property in the village of Novoluhanske was hit by a stray Russian rocket (laser-guided artillery round ‘Krasnopol’) on February 14, 2019 


The smart round KM-8 ‘Gran’ has also been reported to have been used for testing and evaluation purposes by the Russian forces.


New Weapons of ‘Hybrid’ War


The Russian army gives high priority to equipping its intervention forces with capabilities that enable dominance on the battlefield, like communications and battle command systems, ISTAR and ECM equipment, and UAV drones among other things. And these are all the most recent technologies developed and produced by Russia.


In particular, military command and control centers Russia deployed in its occupied areas in Ukraine are all equipped with cutting-edge communications capabilities and fully integrated into the C4I network of the Russian Armed Forces.



Russia’s orbital communication jamming system Tirada-2 being tested in the Donbas conflict area. The presence of this modern electronic warfare capability in eastern Ukraine was documented in a report released by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) on 16 March 2019. As an interesting note, the Triada-2 had not yet been officially adopted in Russia's armament at the time of this report. Image credit: OSCE


More specifically, the 1st and 2nd Army Corpses use the Russian-produced telecommunications capabilities as listed below:


  • Command-and-staff vehicles R-149BMR ‘Kushetka-B’ built on the chassis of the BTR-80 armored personnel carrier and the R-142N based on the GAZ-66 chassis;
  • Wide-band radio communication systems R-161A2M ‘Equator-3M’ based on the ZiL-131 chassis; brand new satellite phone system 'Auriga'; KX-band radio communication systems R-129, R-130, and R-131 (based on wheeled and armored tracked chassis), R-143 (man-portable);
  • Brand new, jam-resistant secure VHF radio systems R-187P1 ‘Azart’ and R-392ARK ‘Arakhis’;
  • Legacy VHF radio systems R-123/173 on armored vehicle chassis, R-159 (man portable), and China-produced Bao-Feng.


On Russia-occupied territories, there are also deployed radio-radar capabilities for various purposes:


  • Engagement radar in the ZRK-9K33 ‘Osa’ air defense missile system;
  • Counter-battery radar 1L219M ‘Zoopark-1’;
  • Gunfire spotting/damage assessment radar 1L271 ‘Aistenok’;
  • Man-portable, ground surveillance radar systems 1RL133 ‘Monitor-M’ (PSNR-5) and 1RL120 ‘Credo-MG’ (PSNR-8);
  • Man-portable, short-range ground surveillance radar systems 1RL-136 ‘Fara’ (SBR-3) and 1L11 ‘Fara-G’ (SBR-5).


The 1st Artmy Corps has recently fielded the radar system 1L22


‘Soboliatnik’ which is intended to be used for search and detection of mobile and static targets on land and at sea in zero-visibility conditions, as well as aerial targets flying at low altitudes, and it can be used also for gunfire spotting roles. Officially accepted into the Russian Armed Forces inventory in 2014, the Soboliatnik already has a history of deployment in the Donbas conflict area.


Radio-radar capabilities of various kinds and purpose also have seen an extensive use by Russian forces in the Donbas conflict area, two such being the air defense radar systems 51U6/35N6 ‘Kasta-2-G’ and P-151RL13 ‘Tropa’.


 A special mention should be made about the various electronic warfare capabilities Russia deployed in its occupied areas in eastern Ukraine. Reports from Ukrainian military sources indicate that electronic warfare (EW) operations are the responsibility of the Company-size EW subunits within the 1st and 2nd Army Corpses, equipped with legacy Soviet and Russian-produced EW capabilities. As well as those EW subunits, there are deployed mobile EW teams from independent EW battalions 8A, Southern Military District and 20A, Western Military District of the Russian Armed Forces. These teams are fielded with brand new EW/ECM capabilities such as the SPR-2M ‘Rtut-BM’, 1L269 ‘Krasukha-2’, RB-109A ‘Bylina’, and ‘Repellent’.


UAV drones of various sizes and purpose have also been deployed and extensively used by the intervention force, primarily for purposes of aerial surveillance of the battlespace and for other roles that include Theater and battlefield surveillance, gunfire adjustment, and impact analysis when firing from mortars, artillery guns, and multiple-launch rocket launchers. Major types of UAV drone capabilities fielded with the adversary force are the Theater surveillance UAVs ‘Orlan-10’ and ‘Forpost’, and battlespace surveillance UAV systems ‘Granat’, ‘Tachyon’, ‘Zastava’, and ‘Zala-421-08’.




Evidences of Imprescriptible Crimes of War


There has been gathered a compelling evidence base for the International Criminal Court. Hundreds of Russian-produced military technologies have been reported illegally deployed in eastern Ukraine. Russia continues deploying its newly developed weaponry and equipment to its occupied areas in Ukraine’s Donbas region, which are then used to verify and validate their performance and capabilities in real-world combat operations and for user training purposes.


According to Ukrainian military sources, the following capabilities have been deployed to Ukraine and fielded with the 1st and 2nd Army Corpses, Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, in the period since September 2014:


  • Main battle tanks T-72B/BA/B3/C1;
  • Armored fighting vehicles BTR-82A, BTR-80 equipped with TKN-4GA sighting devices; BDM-2 GIL; armored vehicles ‘Rys’, ‘Tiger’, GAZ 3937 ‘Vodnik’; KamAZ-43269 ‘Vystrel’, ‘Mustang’;
  • Artillery gun systems: 2B16 ‘Nona-K’, 2S7 ‘Pion’, 2S1 ‘Gvozdika’, 2S3 ‘Acacia’, 2A36 ‘Giatsint-B’, 2A65 ‘Msta-B’; laser-guided artillery rounds 2K25 ‘Krasnopol’;
  • Multiple launch rocket systems: ‘Grad’, ‘Smerch’, ‘Tornado’; surface-to-air missile systems ‘Buk-M1’, ‘Pantsir-SG’, ‘Strela-10’; radar systems ‘Kasta-2E2’, launch control kits ‘Barnaul-T’ used in short range air defense systems; MANPAD systems ‘Verba’;  


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Beyond that, substantial amounts of Russian-produced weapons and equipment have been deployed for use by specialist subunits of the intervention force, which include:


  • Anti-tank warfare subunits: anti-tank guided missile systems 9M133 ‘Kornet’;
  • Electronic warfare subunits: EW systems R-330 ‘Zhitel’, SPR-2M ‘Rtut-BM’, RB 34IB ‘Leer’, R-378B ‘Borisoglebsk-2’, 1L269 ‘Krasukha-2’, RB-109A Bylina’, ‘Repellent’;
  • ELINT/SIGINT subunits: ELINT systems 1RL243 ‘Rubicon’ and ‘Orion’; SIGINT systems ‘Thorn-MDM’ and RB-636AM2 ‘Svet-KU’, electronic jamming system ‘Repellent-G’;
  • Aerial surveillance subunits: UAV drone systems ‘Orlan-10’, ‘Granat’, ‘Tachyon’, ‘Aileron’, ‘Zastava’. Aerial surveillance missions are also performed with UAV drones ‘Forpost’ launched from the Russian territory;
  • Communications subunits: R-166-0,5 radio communication systems based on the K1Sh1 chassis; radio systems R-441-OV ‘Liven’, radio systems R-161A2M ‘Equator-3M’, jam-resistant secure VHF radio systems R-187P1 ‘Azart’ and R-392ARK ‘Arakhis’;
  • Operational/combat support subunits: anti-personnel mines PMN-2 (proximity-activated explosive mines NVP-P ‘Okhota’, MON-50/100).


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Russian-produced “Aileron” drone. One such was downed in the Svitlodar Bulge area by members of the Ukrainian National Guard’s Azov Regiment on March 1, 2019.




Contrary to the Kremlin’s official statements that Russian military personnel and new weaponry technologies are not present in the Donbas conflict area, there has been gathered a sufficient amount of evidence of Russia waging an aggressive ‘hybrid’ war against Ukraine, which amounts to a crime that falls under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, The Hague.


At official marketing events for promoting Russia’s new weaponry products for export to the International market as part of work with its traditional customers, the fact that the products saw combat in real-world scenarios in Donbas and Syria is often advertized by Russian officials as a competitive advantage. It’s important to note that executives of Russian arms trade entities and their customers both should be prepared to face trial at the ICC, The Hague – at least, as being eye-witnesses to the crimes committed by a multinational criminal group, which the Russian military and political establishment actually is, with a high probability of being later transformed from eye-witnesses to accomplices in crime.


Analysts team,

Defense Express



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