Tag Archives: Chernyakhovsk

Iskander-M in Kaliningrad

It’s always been clear Moscow would deploy new Iskander-M SRBMs in its Baltic exclave Kaliningrad. Now it has.

Iskander-M comes to Kaliningrad

Iskander-M comes to Kaliningrad

The folks at CAST posted the news to their blog on Saturday. They were impressively attentive to the military press while yours truly remained in a slothful tryptophan-induced post-Thanksgiving stupor.

Let’s look at what CAST saw.

On November 23, KZ wrote that the next “brigade set” of Iskander-M missiles has just been handed over to a missile formation from the Western MD. The MOD paper noted that Colonel Anatoliy Gorodetskiy commands the brigade in question. That is the 152nd Missile Brigade based at Chernyakhovsk in Kaliningrad. For now, the formation is still practicing with its new equipment on the range at Kapustin Yar.

As CAST noted, this is the eleventh “brigade set” delivered to Russian ground forces.

Iskander-M SRBMs in Kaliningrad can reach targets throughout Poland, the Baltic states, even southern Sweden

Iskander-M SRBMs in Kaliningrad can reach targets throughout Poland, the Baltic states, even southern Sweden

With reported 500-km range from Kaliningrad, the Iskander-M can cover targets throughout Poland, the Baltic states, and southern Sweden. If armed with cruise missiles (SSC-8 or Russian designator 9M729), their reach is much greater. Their 2,000-km or greater range allows them to strike targets close to Paris.

Why Now? Why Not?

Iskander-M in Kaliningrad was always just a question of timing.

Since at least 2014, the Russian Army has temporarily deployed Iskander-M launchers to Kaliningrad from the “mainland” for exercises.

As CAST reported, Jane’s Defence Weekly published photographs of characteristic “tent-mobile shelters” under construction for the new SRBMs at the Chernyakhovsk base in February.

But why now? Because the missiles and associated equipment have been produced and Moscow loses nothing at this point.

The Kremlin always said it could deploy the new SRBMs to its Baltic exclave to counter Aegis BMD (Aegis Ashore) in Poland slated for completion in 2018.

There are enhanced U.S. and NATO ground deployments to Poland to assure the easternmost allies in the wake of Russia’s occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Perhaps relevant here is the possibility the U.S. Congress will authorize DOD development of a new U.S. intermediate-range missile to answer Russia’s material breach of the 1987 INF Treaty.

And U.S.-Russian relations are the worst since the end of the Cold War.

Next Stop Kursk

CAST adds only the 448th Missile Brigade in Kursk remains armed with the late 1980s vintage Tochka-U (SS-21 / Scarab-B) SRBM. Kursk-based Iskander-M SRBMs deployed to launch positions in southwestern Russia will easily reach Kyiv, and central and eastern Ukraine.

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Sick in the Urals, and Elsewhere

The Defense Ministry’s suddenly got its hands full of sick conscripts in the Urals, Kaliningrad, and possibly Novosibirsk.  It’s also just a little defensive about the situation.

The situation sounds like it’s close to getting out of control.  First, it points up the poor health of many Russian conscripts coming into the army.  It  undermines Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov’s talk of “humanizing” conscript service.  And it returns us to the issue of the cuts in military medicine that several commentators have decried.  The issue of swine flu in the Urals is of more general concern. 

This round of problems with sick conscripts surfaced on 16 January when Konstantin Tsybuk died of pneumonia.  He served in v / ch 86727, the 255th Combined Arms Training Range in Chebarkul.  His duty officer, a Lieutenant Igor Gurov, didn’t report finding him ill, or seek medical assistance.  Investigators are now looking at negligence charges against Gurov.  The 20-year-old Tsybuk left a wife and infant daughter behind.  ITAR-TASS has reported there are 63 other pneumonia cases in Chebarkul’s military hospital.

As early as 19 January, RIA Novosti reported 25 soldiers from various garrisons were in Chernyakhovsk’s hospital with pneumonia.  A Baltic Fleet prosecutor was also on scene checking sanitary, heating, and clothing conditions in their units.

Svpressa.ru gave a full run-down on other reported pneumonia outbreaks in the army, including 100 cases in Novosibirsk, and 26 in Saransk.

On Friday, a conscript named Yevgeniy Lantsov apparently died from swine flu (A/H1N1 – California / Mexico) in the Chelyabinsk Oblast Clinical Hospital.  Lantsov was drafted from Kemerovo on 20 December, and served briefly in v / ch 69806, the first-rank air base at Chelyabinsk / Shagol.  He was the leading edge of a swine flu outbreak in Chelyabinsk.  Four locals have died since, and RIA Novosti reports 50 cases in the city.

On Monday, conscript Sergey Vasilyev serving in v / ch 55059, a training regiment at the former PUrVO junior specialist training center in Yelan, died of pneumonia in the 354th District Military Hospital in Yekaterinburg.  The Main Military Investigative Directorate is currently investigating his death for evidence of negligence.

The Defense Ministry’s mounted something of a PR campaign to counter bad publicity about sick conscripts.  Krasnaya zvezda advised citizens not to be alarmed about the “sanitary-epidemiological situation” in the Armed Forces.  It claimed the military’s sickness rate is down 21 percent on average compared with last year, specifically down 24 percent in the Western MD, 15 percent in the Central and Eastern MDs, and 11 percent in the Southern MD.  It says pneumonia cases are down 15 percent, and most are mild. 

Of course, we aren’t told what the absolute numbers were last year (or over many years), only about a relative improvement.  And none of these districts even existed last year, so there is lots of room for fudging the numbers. 

Vesti.ru covered Serdyukov’s visit to Tyumen and Tomsk last weekend where he outlined Defense Ministry efforts to prevent further outbreaks:

“A decision’s been made:  where the temperature drops below minus 20 degrees (-4° F), guard duty will be cut from two to one hour.  And outside drills will be moved indoors.”

“The entire central Defense Ministry apparatus is strictly following these issues.  Each of my deputies is observing a distinct region, how the situation is taking shape there.”

“I submit that we’ll handle the situation.”

Serdyukov was in Tyumen looking at establishing a presidential cadet school, ironically, on the grounds of a former military-medical institute where army medics were once trained.

Vesti.ru reported that sick conscripts said their barracks were practically unheated, and they had to sleep in their uniforms. 

Serdyukov ordered the Chief of the Main Military-Medical Directorate, General-Major Aleksandr Belevitin and a team of specialists to the area to investigate and check on measures to prevent further spread of viral and acute respiratory infections.