Tag Archives: Vladimir Zarudnitskiy

The Dust Has Settled

General-Colonel Sergey Surovikin

General-Colonel Sergey Surovikin

On November 29, Krasnaya zvezda summarized the high command changes in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s November 22 decree. As anticipated, Ground Troops General-Colonel Sergey Surovikin is the new CINC of the Aerospace Forces (VKS). General-Colonel Aleksandr Zhuravlev has taken Surovikin’s place as Commander of the Eastern MD. And General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Lapin replaced General-Colonel Zarudnitskiy in the Central MD.

General-Colonel Aleksandr Zhuravlev

General-Colonel Aleksandr Zhuravlev

Izvestiya called it the largest rotation of top military leaders in the last decade. It continued the Kremlin policy of advancing generals who’ve gotten real experience in command and control of combat actions in Syria.

While Commander of the Eastern MD, General-Colonel Sergey Vladimirovich Surovikin  served temporary duty as Commander of the Russian Group of Troops in Syria from May 2017 to present. KZ reported that Russian forces achieved “maximum success” in Syria under his command.

The 51-year-old VKS CINC was born in Novosibirsk. He is a combined arms officer who commanded the 42nd MRD in Chechnya and 20th CAA.  served as Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff. He served as chief of staff and first deputy commander of the former Volga-Ural (now Central MD) and then of the Eastern MD beginning in late 2012. A year later he was appointed Commander of the Eastern MD.

No one would accuse Surovikin of being an uncontroversial figure. His biography features a number of incidents but nothing seems to stick to him.

As described on these pages in 2011 when he was reportedly considered to head the MOD’s new military police:

Kommersant gave details on Surovikin’s background.  As a captain in August 1991, he was acting commander of the Taman division motorized rifle battalion responsible for the death of three Yeltsin supporters.  He was arrested and investigated for seven months before charges against him were lifted.

As noted on these pages, he commanded the 34th MRD when one his colonels blew his brains out in front of the entire staff after an upbraiding from the commander.  And Surovikin had a very short tenure as Chief of the GOU.

He seems an odd choice to be responsible for the army’s new enforcers of law and order.  To be in charge of those charged with preventing dedovshchina and other barracks violence.

Not noted above is the fact that, as a major in 1995, he almost went to jail for the illegal possession and sale of a hand gun. This earned him one year of probation, and it later disqualified him from heading the MOD’s new military police force.

He always seemed like a strange choice for the head of MPs; it was almost as if someone was trying to sidetrack his career.

General-Colonel Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Zhuravlev moved from his post as a deputy chief of the General Staff to take over the Eastern MD from Surovikin. The tank troops officer was born in Tyumen Oblast in 1965. He commanded Russian forces in Syria in 2016.

General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Lapin

General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Lapin

General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Pavlovich Lapin became Commander of the Central MD after serving as chief of staff and first deputy commander to Surovikin in Syria. Also a tank officer, he was born in Kazan in 1964.

Former Central MD Commander, General-Colonel Zarudnitskiy has taken over the Military Academy of the General Staff, a sinecure for senior officers nearing retirement.

KZ reported two new deputy chiefs of the General Staff have been named: Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Alekseyevich Moiseyev previously served as chief of staff and first deputy commander of the Northern Fleet, and General-Major Gennadiy Valeryevich Zhidko commanded the 2nd CAA and served as chief of staff and first deputy commander in Syria.

According to Izvestiya, the Navy also got a new deputy commander for ground and coastal troops General-Lieutenant Oleg Makarevich. The paper claims he’s second only to Surovikin in his “experience and charisma.” The position was made necessary because the land-based components of the navy have grown with army corps added to the fleets. The Navy is looking to Makarevich to smooth out their force structure and combat training, particularly in Kaliningrad and Crimea.

Russia may be drawing down in Syria, but General-Colonel Surovikin was still in charge when President Putin visited the Russian command center a few days ago. So the question is when will Surovikin take up his VKS duties, and who will relieve him in Syria.

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Aerospace Forces

At some point, probably next summer, the Air Forces (VVS) will cease being one of Russia’s three armed services.  The Aerospace Forces (VKS or ВКС) will take their place.  The Aerospace Defense Troops (VVKO) will likewise disappear as a branch and get rolled into the new VKS.  Russia will be left with three services and two branches (not three of each).

RF and Air Forces Flags (photo: Mil.ru)

RF and Air Forces Flags (photo: Mil.ru)

The Aerospace Forces will be responsible for all Russian air forces and air defense (and more).

This news comes on the heels of six months of studious MOD denials that such a move was even contemplated.

It began quietly on 1 December  with Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s remarks to a regular military leadership videoconference.

According to Krasnaya zvezda, Shoygu discussed changing the organizational structure of the Air Forces in connection with turning VVKO aerospace defense brigades back into air defense (PVO) divisions.  He said the decision was made in mid-2013 after an analysis of mission fulfillment by the Air Forces.  He explained that:

“The goal of the changes being made is to increase the effectiveness of VVS [Air Forces] command and control, to improve the quality of the organization of everyday activity and planning for the combat employment of the troops.”

It echoed an earlier decision to reverse course on Anatoliy Serdyukov’s large composite air bases and groups and put aircraft back into more dispersed divisions and regiments.

By 10 December, Interfaks-AVN reported that the decision to replace the VVS with the VKS awaited only an official announcement.  

The news agency’s MOD source said:

“Formation of the new service [VKS] will proceed gradually, and, as expected, take several years.  In the course of this period, the forces and means entering the VKS must develop in the direction of unification and standardization of command and control, information and strike systems.”

The source also claimed the first CINC of the new service would be a general officer with experience commanding large inter-service [unified or joint] troop groupings, including aviation and PVO.  The most likely candidate — according to the source — Central MD Commander General-Colonel Vladimir Zarudnitskiy.

Then Defense Minister Shoygu made it official on 18 December when he said creating Aerospace Forces would be a priority task for 2015.

TASS reported the VKS CINC will have deputies for aviation, air defense, missile defense (PRO), and space.  It also indicated that VKS will control all current VVS aviation, including frontal and army aviation.  But its sway over the latter two — with the exception of fighter aircraft — will be “purely nominal,” and they will be employed in “coordination” with MD commanders.  Troop PVO will apparently continue to protect army formations.

Military commentator Igor Korotchenko captured the essence of VKS as a reaction to the possibility of a devastating U.S. aerospace attack on Russia:

“The main function [of VKS] is to guarantee realization of the Russian Federation’s concept of aerospace defense, proceeding from the need to counter existing plans, particularly of the United States of America, to implement the prompt global strike concept.  The Americans are planning in the conceivable future to use precision weapons, including hypersonic ones, to destroy [launch] positions and silos of intercontinental ballistic missiles, command centers, communications centers.  The fact here is that this concept will potentially be a great threat for Russia.  These new structures, the new service of the Russian armed forces will be occupied with its deterrence and neutralization.”

Such a potentially disarming threat might mobilize the military and public against America, but Korotchenko and the VKS will have to wait a very long time for it to materialize.  And if it doesn’t appear, then the deterrent worked, right?  A no-lose proposition from Moscow’s perspective.

VKS will be something of an effort to resurrect or reconstruct Soviet PVO Strany — national air defense — that was dismantled beginning in the late 1970s. Serdyukov’s reorganization of the VVS and creation of VVKO are criticized now as focused solely on saving money.  The current thinking is that all aerospace defense systems should be concentrated in a single service and single CINC with authority and responsibility for protecting the country’s aerospace borders.

The new VKS will be anything but compact, as President Putin often calls on the army to be.  They will be a sprawling enterprise that may be challenging to link and inter-connect for operations as a unified command.  If Serdyukov’s changes were too economy-minded, this one errs on the side of Soviet-style giantism. And now isn’t an auspicious time for expensive undertakings.

There are practical issues too.  How will the VKS CINC manage competing requirements for modern fighter aircraft from frontal aviation and air defense?Their number is limited and insufficient for both needs.  So creation of VKS won’t change the fact that they will be spread thinly over a gigantic landmass.

Moral of the story:  Reform, reorganization, and reshuffling never really end no matter the boss — Serdyukov, Shoygu, etc.  VKS may be the answer for a time, but they’re very unlikely to be the last word. 

P.S.  Various reports on VKS provided some indication of deployments in 2015. What is currently the VKO brigade (or will become a PVO division) in Novosibirsk may receive the S-400 this summer.  Shoygu said the MOD will put an air and air defense army (AVVSiPVO or АВВСиПВО) in the Arctic.  More recently, TASS reported an S-400 regiment will be deployed on Novaya Zemlya.

Shuffling Generals

The deck of generals has been shuffled somewhat.  But fairly little notice was given to the mid-June reassignments of General-Colonel Vladimir Zarudnitskiy, General-Colonel Nikolay Bogdanovskiy, and General-Lieutenant Andrey Kartapolov.

General-Colonel Zarudnitskiy departs the General Staff’s Main Operations Directorate (GOU) to take over the Central MD, replacing General-Colonel Bogdanovskiy.

Zarudnitskiy (left) Receives Central MD Standard from Deputy Defense Minister Pankov (photo: Mil.ru)

Zarudnitskiy (left) Receives Central MD Standard from Deputy Defense Minister Pankov (photo: Mil.ru)

Zarudnitskiy’s background is pretty well summarized here.  He is 56.

Bogdanovskiy leaves the Central MD to become First Deputy Chief of the General Staff — a post recreated after former Defense Minister Serdyukov cut it.

General-Colonel Nikolay Bogdanovskiy (Wearing Two Stars)

General-Colonel Nikolay Bogdanovskiy (Wearing Two Stars)

Bogdanovskiy’s had an interesting career path.  He commanded an army in the Far East before becoming a deputy commander of the old Far East MD.  He served as First Deputy CINC, Chief of the Main Staff of Ground Troops.  He commanded the old Leningrad MD.  He was again a deputy CINC of Ground Troops and Chief of the Main Combat Training Directorate from early 2011 until his late 2012 assignment to the Central MD.  Bogdanovskiy was early rumored to be a candidate to replace General-Colonel Chirkin as Ground Troops CINC.  He is 57.

Find coverage on Zarudnitskiy and Bogdanovskiy at Mil.ru.

General-Lieutenant Andrey Kartapolov is a fresher face.  He’s 50.

General-Lieutenant Andrey Kartapolov (photo: B-port.com)

General-Lieutenant Andrey Kartapolov (photo: B-port.com)

The most cursory review of Kartapolov’s career shows he was an O-6 commanding a machine gun-artillery division in the Far East in the early 2000s.  In 2007, he served as a deputy commander of the Novosibirsk-based 41st CAA.  He then became First Deputy Commander, Chief of Staff for the 22nd CAA in Nizhegorod.  In 2010, he commanded the 58th CAA, and in early 2013 became a deputy commander of the Southern MD.  After a very brief stint as First Deputy Commander, Chief of Staff of the Western MD, he will head the GOU.

Kartapolov’s wiki bio says he served as chief of an unidentified GOU directorate in 2009-2010.

But GOU chiefs of late still seem more “from the troops” than “born and bred” General Staff officers.

New GOU Chief

General-Lieutenant Zarudnitskiy

President Medvedev’s decree today formally dismissed General-Lieutenant Andrey Tretyak, Chief of the Main Operations Directorate (GOU) and Deputy Chief of the General Staff, from military service. 

Recall 52-year-old two-star Tretyak was one of the “general troyka” whose early departure from the army was debated in the media this summer.

Taking Tretyak’s place at the GOU is General-Lieutenant Vladimir Borisovich Zarudnitskiy.  Here are some of his particulars courtesy of RIA Novosti.

The 53-year-old general-lieutenant was born on February 6, 1958 in the Abinsk, Krasnodar Kray. 

  • In 1979, he graduated the Ordzhonikidze Higher Combined Arms Command School in Vladikavkaz. 
  • He commanded a platoon and a recce company in the GSFG until 1985. 
  • In 1985-1987, he was recce chief in a GSFG regiment.
  • He attended and completed the mid-career Frunze Military Academy in 1988-1989.
  • In 1991-1994, he picked up his career in the Far East MD as chief of staff, then commander of a regiment.
  • In 1997-1999, he was chief of staff, then commander of an independent motorized rifle brigade in the North Caucasus MD. 
  • He graduated from the General Staff Academy in 2003, and commanded the 27th Guards Motorized Rifle Division in the Volga-Ural MD until early 2005.
  • Until early 2007, Zarudnitskiy was chief of staff, first deputy commander of an army in the Siberian MD, and then commanded the Siberian MD’s 36th Army based at Ulan-Ude until April 2009.
  • From 2009-2011, he was chief of staff, first deputy commander of the Moscow MD.  

When the six existing MDs were reformed into four, and the Moscow MD disappeared, Zarudnitskiy was assigned as deputy commander of the Southern MD until his appointment as GOU Chief today.

Zarudnitskiy’s a troop general, not a staff officer.  Like several other generals who’re moved upward, he served some time directly under General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov in the Siberian MD.

Once larger in size and stature, the GOU must be a tough assignment these days.  Zarudnitskiy is the organization’s fourth chief in four years.