In a meeting of the Russian National Security Council moments ago, Defense Minister Shoigu made several announcements concerning the replenishment of the military and Russia’s future relationship with Finland and Sweden who are expected to be come NATO members early 2023.
He said: “”Given NATO’s desire to build up military potential near Russian borders, as well as to expand the North Atlantic Alliance at the expense of Finland and Sweden , retaliatory measures are required to create an appropriate grouping of troops in northwestern Russia,” Shoigu said.
Currently the Russian Ground Forces maintain a light force in the High North with only a handful of motorized rifle brigades; the 200th, 58th, and 80th. As well as the 211th Separate Security Battalion of the Marine Infantry. All of these units, specifically the 200th which is now severely degraded, have been deployed to Ukraine. This announcement coincides with earlier plans to establish 12 new military bases on the Finnish border.
He also said: “It is necessary to additionally form two airborne assault divisions in the Airborne Forces,” the minister instructed.
In addition to these two specific instructions he also said that the number of contract soldiers must be set to around 510,000 (up from 400,000 in 2019) with the total force to reach 1.5 million through the use of conscripts. With regards to conscripts he commented that 150,000 have been deployed to Ukraine.
Interestingly the Defense Minister also announced the establishment of military districts for Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and Moscow. He said “ We must create two interspecific strategic territorial associations of the Armed Forces – the Moscow and Leningrad military districts.” These districts represent the first officially announced defense reforms that were alluded to in early October. These reforms seek to implement lessons learned from the ongoing war in Ukraine.
President Putin was also in attendance and made several announcements concerning the expansion of the Defense Ministry. He told Shoigu that there “are no obstacles to the financing of the Defense Ministry”, and that he expects these initiatives to be complete.
Defense Minister Shoigu then made several announcements concerning military equipment. These included:
- The acceptance of the Borei-class submarine Generallisimus Shoygu into the Russian Navy.
- Increase in delivery of Zircon and Kinzhal hypersonic missiles in 2023.
- The digital transformation of conscription and recruitment efforts. This includes the use of AI/ML for identifying and delivering conscription notices.
- The further integrating of drones in all areas of the armed forces.
- The frigate Admiral Gorshkov entering combat service with the Zircon hypersonic missile in January.
These announcements were bolstered by several corresponding announcements by President Putin regarding the Russian nuclear triad. He said that the combat readiness of its nuclear triad must be increased as it represents the “balance of the world.” In order to achieve this, the duo announced the integration of the Ty-160M bomber into the nuclear triad. Although the Tu-160M already is capable of carrying nuclear missiles, the Russian leadership is probably looking to modernize its capabilities.
This meeting is still ongoing and we will update if any significant announcements are made.