In Crimea, A View of Russia’s Military Vanguard, Refitted.
With David Herszenhorn (@herszenhorn), a rundown of field indicators that Russia’s much publicized military overhaul has reversed the Bear’s long period of military decay. On the NYT.
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A Russian soldier on duty in Crimea, outfitted with several elements of the Russian Army’s new “Ratnik” kit. By the author. Last month.
Arms-Trade Data Sharing, Ukraine III
Here are a pair of images from my colleague Andrew Kramer, of the Moscow bureau, of a shotgun shell he found on Independence Square after the clashes late last month between antigovernment demonstrators and the authorities. Scores of people died on the square and the streets nearby.
The pics show a 12-gauge Remington shotgun slug, which was an apparent dud. (Please notice the firing-pin indentation on the primer in the bottom image. Do you see the small circular dent? It seems someone tried to fire this slug, and it didn’t work.)
It’s not common to see Remington products — an apparent deer slug, no less — out there at the scene of large-scale violence on foreign soil. So this one is especially interesting.
When Andrew shared the images with me, he said the people he interviewed near the shell said it had been used by the police.
That may be so. As I do not have access to the ammunition procurement lists for the various forces in Kiev at the time, I won’t venture to say what they were armed with, absent much more data. Moreover, there is talk in Kiev that police units involved in the clashes ran low of ammunition and hastily resupplied themselves via local purchases in sporting-arms shops. (In other words, even if official procurement lists were public, and did not show purchases of Remington slugs, the presence of sporting ammunition at the scene would not automatically mean that such ammunition was not in government service, as sporting ammunition may have been in official use in late February on the Maidan via expedient means.)
But it may also be that this slug was used by armed demonstrators, some of whom had firearms in the last days of the clashes, and who would also be expected to have access to ammunition of this class.
We have left Ukraine to get back to another assignment. So I am sharing this here for other researchers to work on, should they wish. It is a tantalizing find.
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By Andrew Kramer/The New York Times.
Arms-Trade Data Sharing, Ukraine II.
This Russian soldier is wearing a piece of kit we had not seen before in travels that put us in proximity to Russian troops on both sides of the Caucasus. (Or if we had seen it, we hadn’t noticed, which is possible on fast-moving days.)
Zoom in on the small green plastic box clipped to this soldier’s left shoulder. Like the previous image, of the 2S6 Tunguska, this image has raised questions that we have not yet managed to answer with satisfaction. Some of our fellow researchers said it is a comm switch. Other suggest it might be a tracker for a battlefield management system. We were moving quickly and had no time yet to run this ID down.
Context: We saw only two of them, affixed to soldiers indistinguishable from their peers. (The absence of rank insignia on the soldiers made it impossible to determine, in a brief interaction, whether these were NCOs or young officers, though I suspect that they might have been.)
We share it here for fellow researchers who might wish to ferret out this device’s nomenclature, use and specs.
Like other images we have posted either here or on Instagram, this one also indicated that the supposed “self-defense forces” are Russian soldiers on duty with modern Russian military equipment.
UPDATE: That didn’t take long, thanks to @Spearpoint84 and Lochlain, who both immediately ID’s this as an encrypted push-to-talk military radio system: Radiostantsiya R-168-0.5U(M)E. Here: http://radiozavod.ru/продукция/48-радиостанция-р-168-0,5у-м-е
Self-defense forces with encrypted radio at the squad or platoon level? Those are some self-defense forces.
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By Tyler Hicks/The New York Times. Perevalnoye, Crime. Ukraine.
Arms-Trade Data Sharing, Ukraine.
Tyler Hicks and I have left Ukraine, and now will return to other projects in works. (This assumes that there is no invasion by Russia into Ukraine’s east, which would pull us back.) As we shift attention elsewhere, however, there remain a few notes and images to share for others on arms-trade or military beats.
Above is the first of them. It shows the view of the aft end, port side of a 2S6 Tunguska, a tracked anti-aircraft system that neither us had encountered in the field before. The Tunguska is a formidable piece of kit. It is mobile, has its own radar and can attack aircraft with either paired 30-mm cannon or a contingent of surface to air missiles. It was a significant advance on the older ZSU-23-4 Shilka that we typically see wherever old Soviet war machinery rolls out for a fight or gets looted as a brittle former Kremlin arms client falls.
This particular vehicle was parked near the entrance to the Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, on the Crimean peninsula. We spotted it late last week. It was tucked behind the wall near the main gate, which was under Russian military guard but was still staffed by surrounded Ukrainian troops within.
Its presence, and details of its condition and paint job, have touched off a rather spirited debate among several arms-trade and military analysts to whom we have shown it. Some say it is Russian. Others say it is (or was) Ukrainian. Both sides of the contest for Crimea do possess these systems, so either answer is potentially right. The final answer, if it can be reliably determined, might matter, as it would tell whether Russia brought these to Crimea as part of the peninsula’s annexation. And that might say something of who was involved, and what they expected (or have prepared) to face.
We have no time at the moment to ferret out the answer, so we share this image and context here now for others who care to pick up the scent.
ABOUT THE IMAGE.
By Tyler Hicks, The New York Times.
Naval Vessel Steaming Today Near Crimea’s Western Coast.
Seen from the shore at Chornomorskoye, this afternoon, not far from the Ukrainian naval base seized in an overnight raid by Russian forces.
Expended Sellier & Bellot shotgun shell that Ukrainian opposition claims was fired by government forces during crackdown attempt on the Maidan last month. This shell appears to correspond to Sellier & Bellot product number VO75212, a 12-gauge shell that holds a single 17.5mm rubber ball that can be fired at an initial muzzle velocity of 270m/s. Sellier & Bellot JSC is a Czech firm. Will post a side view of shell on Instagram soon. #kyiv #kiev #armstrade #ukrainerevolution #euromaidan #iphone (at Київ / Kyiv)