October 13, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6645

Preparation For A Military Clash - Russia's Drills And Army Update - September-October 2016

October 13, 2016
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 6645

The following is a list of Russia's military drills in the months of September and October:


2017 Strategic Command Staff Exercise And Kavkaz 2016 Drills

Name: Kavkaz 2016 (Caucasus 2016)

Date: September 5-10

Location: Southern Military District

Number of Troops: 12, 500

Military equipment: 15 warships, 400 pieces of major military equipment, which included more than 100 aircraft and helicopters) and 15 warships were used.

Previous exercises: Zapad-2013 (West-2013), Vostok-2014 (East-2014), Centr-2015 (Center-2015)

The chief of the Russian armed forces' General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, said that the next strategic command staff exercise will be held in western Russia in 2017. Gerasimov stated: "Strategic command staff exercises are held annually. The next, codenamed Zapad-2017 (West-2017) will take place in the west of the country."

Gerasimov also commented on the preliminary results of the strategic command-and-staff exercise Kavkaz-2016, which was conducted in the Southern Military District (SMD), including Crimea and on the Black and Caspian Seas, on September 5-10.[1]   

The Russian Defense Ministry reported that the drill was intended to verify the readiness level of the military command bodies to control subordinate force groups.  

Kavkaz -2016 was notable for: the organization of troop control at all levels, tactical encounters with a simulated enemy on the other side of the barricade, testing new military equipment under field conditions, organization of mobilization and territorial defense, extensive employment of aviation and maritime forces of the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian flotilla. As part of the strategic command-and-staff exercise, formations and units of the Land Forces, the Aerospace Forces, the Navy and the Airborne Troops practiced tactical encounters at the Southern MD ranges.[2]  

The Russian Defense Ministry's press-service said: "The Kavkaz-2016 exercise is the final phase of a package of command staff and special practices and drills for military command bodies and snap checks of troops' combat readiness due in 2016..."[3] It is worth noting that more than 120,000 troops, members of federal ministries and agencies and also specialists of the Central Bank of Russia were involved consecutively, at different periods in the Southern, Central and Western military districts. However, as Gerasimov previously stated, in the territory of the Southern Military District no more than 12,500 troops were involved in the exercise at any one time.[4]  

Assessing the Black Sea fleet drills results during Kavkaz 2016, Gerasimov stressed that the Black Sea fleet is capable of exterminating any enemy even before the enemy leaves his permanent location bases in the Black Sea. Gerasimov said: "The Black Sea fleet possesses every possible means for that purpose - surveillance systems, which track the targets from 500 kilometers, fire assets. Take the Bastions system for example - it has a 350 kilometers (range). It reaches everything including the Bosporus". He added that until recently the fleet's capabilities were lower than the Turkish fleet's capabilities in the Black Sea. "Several years ago the Russian fleet's combat capabilities were in stark contrast to that of the Turkish Navy. Some even said that Turkey was in full command of the Black Sea. Now it's different," Gerasimov said.[5]  

He also stated that the Black Sea Fleet was reinforced by submarines carrying the Kalibr missile system. Gerasimov also said that Russia's Black Sea Fleet is capable of destroying a potential enemy's amphibious force in the ports of embarkation. "The Black Sea Fleet should be able - and it has already demonstrated this capability - to destroy a potential enemy's amphibious force on the way, starting from the ports of embarkation," Gerasimov said. An enemy landing force should not be allowed to reach Crimea's coast, "wherever it may come from," Gerasimov added.[6]

Regarding the operational scenario in the Black Sea and Crimea the observer may get to the conclusion that Russia gets ready to repel attack on Crimea. The operational scenario was described as follows: "The Western [countries] begin the offensive against the Northern Federation", reach naval and air superiority for three days and attempt to seize ground positions of the defending army in order to place the 'Southwestern republics' under Western control.[7]

However, Gerasimov stressed that the drills were not targeted at Ukraine. Nevertheless, in planning and holding the military exercise, the Russian Defense Ministry took the US and Georgian joint drills, which conducted their own games alongside Kavkaz-2016, into account. Gerasimov said: "True, we took into account the US-Georgian exercise, bearing in mind that fifteen hundred troops were participating in them. We made allowances for their actions." It was also reported that Gerasimov stressed that Kavkaz-2016 attracted attention from foreign intelligence services, including those of NATO members.[8]

Gerasimov added: "The southwestern strategic direction is a priority. First, the North Caucasus Military District, and later the Southern Military District - have been and remain a priority. They are the first to get advanced weapons and gear."

An Iskander-M missile that was fired during the Kavkaz-2016 drills in southern Russia. (Source:

The Western MD motorized rifle regiment located in the Moscow Region has eliminated a simulated enemy on the other side of the Don River during Kavkaz 2016. The servicemen overcame 500 meters of water and captured the other bank of the river. Helicopters of the army aviation covered the troops from the air. Having reached the other side of the river, the motorized rifle units engaged the simulated enemy capturing the bridgehead to ensure the crossing of the Don by the main forces. (Source:, September 7, 2016) 

Kaliningrad Region

The Western Command District (WCD) started military drills in the Kaliningrad region. Shore-based forces of the Baltic fleet prepared to destroy with missiles and rockets the command and control centers, infantry, and heavy equipment of the simulated enemy. Shore-based forces will use Tochka-U short-range tactical missile systems during the drills. The exercise involved more than 100 soldiers.[9]

In another set of drills in the WCD, armored forces launched drills to overcome water obstacles using tanks. More than 100 crews have been trained to cross rivers with maximum depth of 5 meters.[10]

These drills may provide an insight into Russian military plans as crossing rivers does not generally dovetail with a purely defensive orientation.

It is worth noting that Russia deployed Iskander -M tactical missile systems in Kaliningrad region. The move sparked tension in the Baltic States. On October 8, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Konashenkov said: "By the way, nobody made a big secret out of the transportation of the system onboard the freighter Ambal. I'll tell more - one Iskander system was deliberately exposed prior to the shipment to an American intelligence satellite, which was on its trajectory above (the region) - that was made in order to clarify (check out) certain parameters of this satellite." He also added that the Russian side did not have long to wait since the US partners in their "exposure impulse" have confirmed everything (that the Russians needed).
He also stated: "The Iskander ballistic missile system is mobile, as during the training process missile force units improve their skills year-round [which involves] covering major distances across Russian territory by various means: by air, by sea and by their own movement." (, October 8)

The Arctic

Russia's Northern and Pacific Fleet warships took part in tactical naval drills in the Arctic region, near the New Siberian Islands. Сapt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said: "In line with a training plan, a joint tactical exercise of warships from the Northern and Pacific Fleets has been held in the area of the New Siberian Islands. After an arrival of a group of Northern Fleet's warships... a scenario involving the escort of ships by the Pacific Fleet's Ivan Susanin icebreaker was trained."[11]

The Northern Fleet has conducted a series of drills involving anti-ship missile systems accompanied by the live firing of cruise missiles, Tu-95 strategic bombers and anti-submarine aircraft. According to the operational scenario, the navy landed and took under control of unspecified island territory and this involved raids and repelling potential enemy forces.[12]


The Baltic Fleet

The Baltic Fleet has conducted very similar drills. The fleet's press service wrote: "More than 20 crews of Su-27 and Su-24 warplanes, Mi-24 and Mi-8 military transport helicopters, as well as ship borne Ka-27 helicopters and An-26 military transport aircraft are taking part in the exercise. The crews of the naval aviation will drill interception and destruction of real air targets and the search for simulated enemy submarines."[13]

The White Sea

Date: September 27

Location: White Sea

The Russian Defense Ministry said: "Today, on September 27, the Yuri Dolgoruky strategic nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine conducted experimental launches of two Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles from the White Sea to the Kura firing range on the Kamchatka Peninsula... Both missiles were fired from the submarine's silos in a routine regime. The first missile's warhead completed the entire cycle of the flight program and successfully hit the designated targets at the firing range. The second missile self-liquidated after the first stage of the flight program."[14]


South Ossetia

Date: September 20-24

Location: South Ossetia

Troops and equipment: Around 4,000 servicemen and 1,000 pieces of equipment

The drill's scenario is an air attack of a simulated enemy, "pass through contaminated areas on the ground in conditions of the use of weapons of mass destruction and electronic countermeasures by the enemy."[15]

Central Military District

Date: September

Location: Buryatia

Troops and Equipment: 300 personnel and about 80 pieces of military equipment

An air defense regiment of the Central Military District, armed with the S-400 Triumph hit high-speed targets in its first exercise in Buryatia. an aide to the Central Military District's commander, Yaroslav Roshchupkin, said:  "Six missiles were launched to destroy hard-to-hit high-speed missile targets Kaban travelling along a flat path at a speed of 1,200 meters per second at an altitude of 45 kilometers."[16]

West And Central Russia

Date: Main stages took place on October 5-7. The drills concluded on October 10.

Location: Pskov, Ivanovo, Kostroma and Yaroslavl Regions

Troops and equipment: 5,000 paratroopers. Units of the 76th air assault division (Pskov) and 98th airborne division (Ivanovo). In total, over 5,000 servicemen and around 900 units of military and special equipment.

The Russian Defense Ministry said: "These are routine military exercise."[17]

Jewish Autonomous Oblast

Date: October

Military equipment: Iskander-M tactical missile

A missile regiment of the Eastern Military District stationed in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast was put on high combat readiness for snap checks.[18]

Ural Region

Russia is to establish one more armored division in the Ural region by the end of the year. The Ural region is part of Central Command. The new division is already at 70% strength in terms of personnel and heavy equipment. It will operate mainly diverse versions of the T-72 tank and will include a light infantry regiment, an artillery regiment, an air-defense regiment, and a couple of armored regiments and supporting units.[19]

Topol Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile

Date: September 9

Location: Plesetsky District

On September 9, a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile was test-fired from Russia's Plesetsk launch site.[20]

Topol, Topol-M, Yars Missile Launchers

Date:September 22

Location: Tver Region to the Irkutsk Region Equipment: Around 1,700 units of equipment 

Over 60 standalone Topol, Topol-M and Yars missile launchers made intensive maneuvers on combat patrol routes from the Tver Region to the Irkutsk Region.[21]

Iskander Missile Brigade

Date: October

Location: Western Military District

Troops and equipment: 500 servicemen, involving 50 units of weaponry and military equipment. 

The Western Military District's missile brigade, equipped with Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile systems, has been placed on the highest combat alert level as part of the 2016 comprehensive military drill that was reviewed by the Ministry of Defense and the Chief-of-Staff. The Iskander-M units will deliver "a simulated preemptive strike against the missile systems and other remote critical targets of a simulated enemy."[22]

Russian Arms' Orders From African Countries

Russian arms exporter Rosoboron export announced that it has reached tentative orders of 21 billion USD from African countries. The major clients are Angola, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Uganda, while Mali. Namibia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mozambique, Tanzania are labeled "firm potential partners".  The potential customers have expressed their interest in BTR-82A APC, Yak-130 light attack and training aircraft, Mi-28NE and Mi-35 M attack helicopters and Varshavaynka class cruise-missile equipped submarines.[23]

Russia-Egypt Drills

Name: Defenders of Friendship - 2016

Date: October

Location: Egypt

Troops:Airborne Troops of the Russian Armed Forces and of the Airborne Troops of Egypt - 10 units of military equipment and over 500 servicemen from the two countries.

Military equipment: Aerodromes and 15 helicopters

Russian Airborne Troops will hold joint drills together with Egyptian forces for the first time. They will practice destroying illegal armed groups in the desert. Representatives of 30 countries will observe the maneuvers. The defense ministry said that Russian and Egyptian servicemen "will develop common approaches to issues of cooperation when performing joint actions to localize and destroy illegal armed groups in the desert."[24]

Russia-Pakistan Drills

Name:Druzhba-2016 (Friendship-2016)

Date: September 24-October 10

Location:Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan

Troops and equipment:Around 200 service members

The Russian Foreign Ministry wrote in anticipation Russian-Pakistani tactical military exercise Druzhba-2016 (Friendship 2016) that was staged September 24-October 10 at the Herat training ground in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan. Around 200 service members from both sides were to take part in fine-tuning their cooperation during mountainous anti-terror operations. Commenting on the drills, Professor Sergey Lunev of the Oriental Studies Department of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations said: "The exercise is not an index of friendly relations, but these are the first drills ever to be held with Pakistan. Before that, Russia abstained from military political contacts with this country [i.e. Pakistan], mainly because of very friendly relations with India in military political sphere and uncompromising opposition between India and Pakistan." Lunev stressed that India is Russia's largest partner in terms of military technical cooperation, since it accounts for about 40% of the Russian weapons exports. Lunev added: "Russia demonstrates discontent at the drastic reinforcement of the U.S.-India relations in the military political field as well in this project with Pakistan. Russia is an utterly important partner of India, we won't break relations, they are important for us."

(, September 30, 2016)

Russia-India Drills

Name: INDRA-2016

Date: September 22-October 2

Location: Sergeyevsky range (Primorsky Krai)

Troops and equipment: Over 500 servicemen, 50 units of equipment, a group of UAVs, and assault and ground-support aviation.

Indian Contingent: 250 soldiers of the Kumaon Regiment.

The Russian Armed Forces: 250 soldiers from the 59th Motorized Infantry Brigade.

India-Russia joint drills INDRA-2016 took place in the Ussiriysk District in Vladivostok (at the Sergeyevsky range, Primorsky Krai),in Russia. The drills were held on September 22-October 2.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported that the drills were aimed at detecting, blocking, and eliminating simulated terrorist groupings and illegal armed formations with the use of aviation and artillery,[25] in semi-mountainous and jungle terrain under United Nations mandate.[26] Russia and India have been holding INDRA drills since 2003.[27]


Russia-China Drills

Name: Joint Sea 2016

Date: September 12-19

Location: South China Sea

Russia and China held Joint Sea 2016 drills September 12-19 in the South China Sea. The participants performed drills covering joint air defense, anti-submarine operations, landing, island-seizing, search and rescue, and weapons use. Russian commentator Aleksandr Hrolenko wrote in an article published by the RIA news agency that the drills were aimed at examining the probability and capability of mutual combat readiness for repelling U.S. fleet actions in the Southern China Sea, as the U.S. is the only country that could challenge China in those waters.

The author added that acting by itself the Russian Pacific fleet regiment cannot change the military-political equation in the South China Sea, but via its presence and its cooperation with Chinese naval forces it helps reinforce Chinese defense capabilities and state sovereignty against American intervention. This is a mutually beneficial approach to both countries: China uses these drills as an additional argument in the territorial dispute over the South China Sea islands, while Russia projects power in distant parts of the ocean.

(, September 12;, September 12, 2016)

Russia-Serbia Drills

Name: BARS (Brotherhood of Aviators of Russia and Serbia)-2016

Date: October

Location: Serbia

Troops and Equipment: Crews of MiG-29 and Mi-8 aircraft from  both countries. In total, up to 10 aircraft of the Serbian Air Force and Air Defense troops will be involved in the drill.

In a statement describing the start in Serbia of the Joint Russian-Serbian BARS-2016 tactical flight exercises, the Russian Defense Ministry said: "During the day, participants in the drills will undergo classroom training at the Batajnica airbase, will study flight areas, conduct tactical training with the use of aircraft and drill teamwork skills with the flight control group."[28]

The Russian Defense Ministry added that Mi-8 crews will practice landing and search-and-rescue operations, whereas MiG-29 crews will strike a simulated enemy and intercept aerial targets.[29]

'Frontier-2016' CSTO Drills

Name: Rubezh-2016 (Frontier-2016), counter-terrorist operation at the drill of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)

Date: October 4-7

Location: Active phase in Kyrgyzstan

Participating countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia

Observers: US, China and India

Troops and equipment: 1,000 servicemen from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. More than 200 items of hardware: T-72 tanks, BTR-80 armored fighting vehicles, Tigr armored cars, Grad multiple launch rocket systems and more than 20 helicopters and aircraft, including Tu-22M3 and Tu-95MS long-range aircraft of the Russian Federation Air Force.[30]

In October 2017, the CSTO plans to hold the Combat Brotherhood drills on the territory of Armenia, Kazakhstan and Russia.[31]

Frontier-2016 drills. (Source:




[1], September 14, 2016.

[2], September 5, 2016.

[3], September 8, 2016.

[4], September 9, 2016.

[5], September 13, 2016.

[6], September 14, 2016.

[7], September 8, 2016.

[8], September 14, 2016.

[9], September 13, 2016.

[10], September 13, 2016.

[11], September 21, 2016.

[12], September 17, 2016.

[13], September 21, 2016.

[14], September 28, 2016.

[15], September 20, 2016.

[16], September 27, 2016.

[17], October 3, 2016.

[18], October 4, 2016.

[19], September 11, 2016.

[20], September 9, 2016.

[21], September 22, 2016.

[22], October 4, 2016.

[23], September 13, 2016.

[24], October 3, 2016.




[28], October 10, 2016.

[29], October 10, 2016.

[30], October 4, 2016.

[31] , October 7, 2016.

Share this Report: