RUSSIA: New Regiment Likely to Ensure Encirclement of Ukraine in a Conflict

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Summary: A new Russian air assault regiment is forming in Crimea, probably to provide Moscow with a new angle to attack Ukraine in the event of military conflict.

Development: On 17 November, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced a new air assault regiment that will finish forming in Crimea by 1 December. This announcement came five days after two Russian paratroopers died in Belarus during sudden “snap drills,” revealing the presence of Russian air assault forces. The new regiment will serve as the fourth Russian unit currently stationed in Crimea. Recently, the troops and analysts at the Ukrainian border have observed an influx of Russian weapons, especially tanks. These tanks went to Voronezh, a Russian city with two rail lines directly into Ukraine. Additionally, tanks from the Russian 41st Army remained near the Ukrainian border after the Zapad-2021 military exercises. Moscow has also increased naval activity in the Black Sea. 

Analysis: The placement of the new regiment suggests Moscow probably intends to encircle Ukrainian forces if a conflict arises between the two nations. Russian forces in Belarus and Crimea likely possess the capabilities to strike from the north and south of Ukraine, respectively. This would probably make an invasion easier for Moscow because Ukrainian forces would have reduced supply with fighting happening on multiple sides.  The positioning of Russian air assault forces could likely cause Kyiv to split its air defenses, making it easier for Moscow to secure air superiority or deploy airborne forces behind Ukrainian defenses. An attack from multiple directions would probably overwhelm Ukraine faster than an offensive purely from the Russian border.

[Edward Micklos]

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