The Ministry of Defense will strengthen the ground defense component of the Kaliningrad region. In particular, the reorganization of the 79th separate motorized rifle brigade began. This is the most powerful combined-arms formation in the region at the moment. On its basis, a regiment is being formed, which will be deployed in Sovetsk. This unit, along with a number of others, will become part of the motorized rifle division, which will be entrusted with the defense of the exclave. According to experts, the updated group will be able to effectively cover the Kaliningrad region from different directions.
Legacy of Victory
A motorized rifle division in the Kaliningrad region will be formed this year, sources in the military department said. Its units and subdivisions will take part in the strategic exercises Zapad-2021, which will be held in September.
According to Izvestia’s sources, the division will be based on a regiment created on the basis of the 79th motorized rifle brigade. He will receive part of the old “brigade” battalions and some support units. It is possible that the 7th separate guards motorized rifle regiment, located in Kaliningrad, will become the second regiment that will become part of the division.
The 79th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Insterburg Brigade is the successor of the 18th Guards Rifle Division, one of the most famous formations of the Great Patriotic War. Initially, it was formed in 1939 at number 133. It participated in hostilities since July 1941, held the defenses on the Dnieper, in the Smolensk and Kalinin (now Tver) regions. For the heroism of the personnel, the unit was one of the first in March 1942 of the year to receive the status of a guard and serial number 18. At the final stage of the war, the division stormed Konigsberg and Pillau, fought on the Baltic Spit. At the end of 1945, it was transformed into the 30th Guards Mechanized Division, in 1957 – into the 30th Guards Motorized Rifle Division, in 1964 – into the 18th Guards Motorized Rifle Division. In 2001, it became the 79th separate guards motorized rifle brigade.
“Until the early 1990s, the 11th Army was stationed in the region, but then it was reduced,” military historian Dmitry Boltenkov told Izvestia. – In recent years, the Kaliningrad region has been covered by the 11th Army Corps, which includes a motorized rifle brigade and a regiment, as well as an artillery brigade and a tank regiment. Apparently, now they decided to reformat the grouping. Poland adjoins our exclave in the south, and Lithuania in the north – multinational NATO battalions are serving in these states on rotation. Apparently, in the end, they will make it so that part of the Russian troops will be focused on Poland, and the other on Lithuania. If necessary, they will be able to quickly respond to changes in the situation.
The decision to form a division on the territory of the exclave is long overdue, says military expert Vladislav Shurygin.
“After the experiments at the beginning of the last decade, when they tried to completely transfer the army to the brigade system, it became obvious that it would be quite difficult to fight in brigade scattering without large formations,” he told Izvestia. – Especially in the west, where the enemy has superiority and uses powerful weapons systems. The division is a powerful fist. On the one hand, it has everything that is necessary for local conflicts. On the other hand, in case of large-scale hostilities, the division has all the necessary means to defend Kaliningrad.
Strengthening the exclave
The upcoming formation of a full-fledged motorized rifle division in the Kaliningrad region was announced in December last year by the commander of the Baltic Fleet, Alexander Nosatov. It will include motorized rifle, tank and artillery regiments. According to the admiral, the new unit will become part of the 11th Army Corps protecting the exclave.
The reason for the strengthening of the ground grouping by the Russian military is the pulling of NATO multinational strike groups to the borders of the region. Among them is one armored and several battalion-tactical. The modernization and strengthening of the Russian grouping in the exclave has been going on for several years. At the beginning of 2018, Iskander-M operational-tactical missile systems were transferred to the region. According to the Ministry of Defense, they rearmed the 152nd missile brigade of the 11th Army Corps of the Baltic Fleet.
At the beginning of 2019, there were reports of the reorganization of the tank battalion located in the Kaliningrad region into the 11th separate regiment. The next year, representatives of the defense department announced the receipt of three dozen modernized T-72B3M tanks with significantly improved protection against cumulative ammunition and a new fire control system.
The artillery brigade of the 11th Army Corps last year, instead of Grad multiple rocket launchers, received 300-mm long-range Smerch MLRS. This made it possible to increase both the range of target destruction and the salvo power of the compound.
Recently, Russia has been actively strengthening the defense of the exclave. As Izvestia previously reported, this year a division of the unique supersonic Bastion complexes will be deployed there. They are capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 600 km. The Coastal Missile Force is represented by the 27th Separate Brigade. The connection is based in the village of Donskoye, Svetlogorsk urban district, 30 km from the regional center. This settlement is located at the westernmost tip of the Zemland peninsula, approximately at the same distance from the northern and southern borders of the region. This location makes it possible to keep under control almost the entire Baltic Sea area adjacent to Russian territory.
In addition, in recent years, several divisions of S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems have entered the region. The naval aviation received Su-30SM multipurpose fighters and upgraded Ka-27M helicopters. The armored units of the army corps are swapping out the outdated T-72B for their newest modification, the T-72B3M, which is better protected and with more firepower.