Oleksandr Turchynov: The rain damped the combat capability of the Russian army
Starting from September 17, 2017, the second stage of the strategic command and staff exercise of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus "Zapad-2017" has been ongoing.
The active phase of this exercise is carried out simultaneously at six military proving grounds of the Russian Federation and five proving grounds of the Republic of Belarus, which allows hiding the real scope of involvement of troops (forces) that significantly exceeds the officially announced one.
As of September 19, 2017, the actual number of participants in all activities carried out during the "Zapad-2017" is estimated at 120 thousand people, over 10 thousand units of military equipment, about 100 aircraft, and about 40 ships/submarines of different classes.
The most large-scale military maneuvers are scheduled for September 18-20, 2017:
on the territory of the Russian Federation - at the 33rd combined military proving ground of the Western military district "Luga" in Leningrad region, the proving ground of the 336th marine corps of the coastal forces of the Baltic Fleet "Khmelevka" and the "Pavenkovo" combined proving ground of the Baltic Fleet in Kaliningrad region, and at the 714th proving ground of airborne troops "Strugi Krasnye" in Pskov region;
on the territory of the Republic of Belarus - at the 227th combined military proving ground "Borisovsky" (Minsk region) and "Brestsky" proving ground of the 38th air assault brigade of the Special Operations Forces.
It was supposed that during the final part of the exercise, presidents of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus would jointly visit one of the proving grounds in Russia. However, as a result of the growing protest sentiments in Belarus related to the conduct of the "Zapad-2017" exercise and the audacious treatment by Russian servicemen of the citizens of Belarus, President Oleksandr Lukashenko canceled his trip to Russia and decided to observe the exercise at the proving ground in Belarus only.
Therefore, on September 18, 2017, at the 33rd combined military proving ground of the Western military district "Luga" in Leningrad region, a showcase tactical episode of maneuverable defense and a launch of offensive were demonstrated to the supreme military-political leadership of the Russian Federation (President Volodymyr Putin, Minister of Defense Serhiy Shoigu, Head of the General Staff army general Valeriy Gerasimov). The units of the 25th separate motorized rifle brigade (Vladimirsky Camp, Pskov region), the 138th separate motorized rifle brigade (Kamenka, Leningrad region) from the 6th Combined Arms Army (St. Petersburg) and the 2nd motor rifle division (Kalininets) from the 1st Tank Army (Odintsovo, Moscow region), units of missile troops and artillery, air defense, airborne troops, operative-tactical and army aircraft of the Western military district were involved in the episode.
Three Tu-22MZ bombers from the 52nd heavy bomber aviation regiment (Shaykovka) and the 22nd heavy bomber aviation division (Engels) provided airborne support of the operation.
According to foreign observers, the effectiveness of the land and air components of the troops involved in the exercise was significantly reduced and "spoiled" due to heavy rain in the training area.
The landing of the assault force in the Kryuchkovo area (Tver region) located at a 600 km distance from the "Luga" proving ground and scheduled for September 18, 2017, was also disrupted.
Russian media also sang loud praises to the use of new T-90 M and T-80 BVM tanks, which carried out solely passive advertising function. Moreover, Russian media tried to conceal the missile salvo fire of the combat helicopter on the spectators watching the exercise.
Instead, in order to maintain combat readiness and counteract possible provocations by the Russian military, the strategic command and staff exercise of the Armed Forces of Ukraine "Steadfast Firmness-2017" is carried out according to the plan; other Ukrainian military formations are also involved in the exercise.
The capacity of the military authorities to manage the troops (forces) during the regrouping, the conduct of defensive, stabilization and combat actions are being enhanced. In the course of practical actions, Ukrainian military servicemen demonstrate high-level field training and combat capabilities.