What I want to share with you today is a promo movie by Zvezda TV, the semi-official TV channel of the Russian Ministry of Defense, at the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the Russian Airborne Forces. So don’t expect a hard-hitting documentary asking the tough questions and making critical comments. However, this is nonetheless a very interesting video and when I saw it, I begged Alena Scarecrow and Tatzhit to translate and subtitle it, which they very kindly did. Before letting you watch the video, I would like to share with you a few thoughts about the Russian Airborne Forces (called ‘VDV’ in Russian) and about their military, social, political and even spiritual role in modern Russia.
The Russian Airborne Forces
The Russian VDV are truly an absolutely unique phenomenon and they should not be confused with any other airborne force.
For one thing, the VDV are fully mechanized. So while they are ‘paratroopers’, these paratroopers are not just light infantry (like, say, the US 82nd AB), but a very mobile force, fully mechanized and with a *lot* of firepower. In the movie you are about to watch, you will see some of their armored vehicles and artillery pieces which, uniquely, can also be delivered by parachute. What the movie does not show is the artillery of the VDV which includes such systems as the 2S9 Nona, the D-30 howitzer or the 2S25 self-propelled tank destroyer.
Second, the VDV are a numerically huge force which currently totals 50’000 men and includes 5 Airborne Divisions and 6 Airborne Brigades (including the 45th Special Forces of the VDV Brigade). All of them air-deployable and on a top-level or readiness.
Thirdly, the VDV truly are the embodiment of military valor and tactical skills and they have played an absolutely crucial role in many Soviet and Russian battles, but probably never more so than during the worst tragedy in their long history: the battle for Ulus-Kert in which the entire 6th Airborne company perished. I don’t have the space and time to recount in detail what happened on that day of early 2000 but to those interested by this amazing event I would recommend the article “ULUS-KERT: An Airborne Company’s Last Stand” by Sergeant Michael D. Wilmoth, US Army Reserve, and Lieutenant Colonel Peter G. Tsouras, US Army Reserve, Retired, in the Military Review of July-August 1991, pp 91-96 (click here for this article reposted on this blog). Keep in mind that this article was not written by the promotions department of Zvezda TV, but by two US military experts who are very critical of many aspects of what took place that day (and rightly so).
What is absolutely crucial for the understanding of the importance of this battle for Hill 776 is Ulus-Kert is that the year 2000 marked the absolute rock-bottom of the “democratic experiment” (aka the Zio-American colonization) of Russia. Yes, Putin has just come to power, but the country was absolutely devastated by a decade of Soviet stagnation followed by another decade of “democratic reforms” and Putin was just making his very first steps as a new head of state. What the 6th company achieved on Hill 776 was an immense wake-up call to the entire Russian nation saying “enough is enough” and “not one single step back”. The article by Wilmoth and Tsouras accurately describes all the failures in command and execution which resulted in the tragedy of the 6th company, but it is precisely these failures which made the sacrifice of these men so amazing: the country had essentially abandoned its own military, but the young men of the VDV did not hesitate to die, all of them, to resist the face of evil (and, in those days, nothing embodied absolute evil as much as the Chechen Wahabis and their reign of terror and medieval atrocities). It is hard to over-estimate the contribution which the Russian Airborne Forces have made to the rebirth of Russia. But this goes even further.
I strongly believe that it is not a coincidence that the Russian Airborne Forces have even produced an Orthodox martyr and saint: Evgenii Aleksandrovich Rodionov. You can read a short summary of the life and death of Rodionov in the Wikipedia article under his name.
What is so important about the case of Rodionov is that died as a martyr because he refused to abandon his Orthodox faith and that his podvig (spiritual feat) happened away from everybody at a time when, as the sad expression went, “every boy wanted to become a criminal thug and every girl a prostitute” as people used to say in 1996, in the midst of the “democratic hell” Russia had become. Though I cannot prove it, I am personally deeply convinced that the fact that Rodionov was a solider of the Airborne Forces is not a coincidence. I have met enough Airborne officers and soldiers myself and I know that their level of patriotism and spiritual awareness is exceptionally high because they live by an honor code, an ideal, which has it roots in the most ancient Russian military traditions which have always been immersed in spiritual and moral values far beyond just winning a battle.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that all the soldiers of the VDV are some kind of invincible saints or anything like that. Far from it. It is enough to see the footage of the kind of silly drunken nonsense these guys display each August 2nd (the day of the Holy Prophet Elijah, Patron of the Russian Airborne Forces) to lose any such illusions:
But on the same day, this also takes place:
And one reality should not overshadow the other one: they are both equally Russian and equally typical of the VDV.
What I am trying to illustrate by all of the above is that the Russian Airborne Forces are an absolutely unique, and uniquely Russian, phenomenon and that they are a truly formidable force by any measure. Now for a more US-style promo movie, with lot’s of high-tech hardware and “cool” shots, please see the following video. It will also show you that the Russian VDV are also very modern and forward looking military forces with over 85 years of development behind their back. And, having watched that video, ask yourself this simple question: how impressed to you think these guys are with the new multi-national NATO “spearhead” and “rapid reaction” forces?
(please click on ‘cc’ to see the English captions)
“ask yourself this simple question: how impressed to you think these guys are with the new multi-national NATO “spearhead” and “rapid reaction” forces?”
Precisely. Thing is, the entities ruling those NATO forces give every appearance of having lost what little logic they ever had.
The way these guys are training, it’s very intense. Am I wrong to get the impression they appear to be “going for real?” That they are training for an event they are close to 100% certain is going to happen. Given Obama’s speech to Congress in which he outlined the plans of some powerful opposition he has that is determined to wage war on Iran, it’s a bit worrying for the rest of us.
Having seen the superb preparations Russia is making though, it looks as though it could stop any invasion force dead, in short order.
thanks for bringing this to our notice Saker. Excellent work.
Coming soon to an Odessa Oblast near you, Mikheil Saakashvili.
come on , every american knew that nothing can stop the american air power and american ground combat elements… russian airborne ? what is that ? it will be destroyed in less than 1 week by the mighty USAF.. /sarc
Seriously , the constant propaganda in western media and ‘documentary’ already conditioned most american into a sense of heightened arrogance and overconfidence , thinking their military can roll everyone else in the world as easy as the iraqi (they conveniently forgot the defeat in vietnam and korea)..
Once a nation like america ( who worshipped military prowess and wallow in it’s delusional myth of military superiority ) think it can EASILY defeat the big powers like china or russia or even iran , it will then steer it’s nation’s course toward confrontation assured it can win..
The result will be the same as Crassus’s legions who arrogantly invaded persia , only to be slaughtered by the outnumbered persians , with crassus caught and forced to drink a cup of molten gold to signify his greed..
Decades of fighting insignificant enemies , wallowing in victories over third rate dictators and underarmed insurgent , flying CAS unmolested because the enemy have no air defence , these all will create bad habits that will result in total suprise and heavy losses in their real war against peer enemies..
See the comment of US Commander incharge of Ukraine Training :
“Our soldiers are doing the training with the Ukrainians and we’ve learned a lot from the Ukrainians,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges. “A third of the [Ukrainian] soldiers have served in the … combat zone, and no Americans have been under Russian artillery or rocket fire, or significant Russian electronic warfare, jamming or collecting — and these Ukrainians have. It’s interesting to hear what they have learned.
Hodges acknowledged that US troops are learning from Ukrainians about Russia’s jamming capability, its ranges, types and the ways it has been employed. He has previously described the quality and sophistication of Russian electronic warfare as “eye-watering.
Russia maintains an ability to destroy command-and-control networks by jamming radio communications, radars and GPS signals, according to Laurie Buckhout, former chief of the US Army’s electronic warfare division, now CEO of the Corvus Group. In contrast with the US, Russia has large units dedicated to electronic warfare, known as EW, which it dedicates to ground electronic attack, jamming communications, radar and command-and-control nets.”
Read here : http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/warfare/2015/08/02/us-army-ukraine-russia-electronic-warfare/30913397/
Nato, be afraid. Be very afraid…..
Should the VDV fight in the US, they would loose …
But if they tasked with defending Russia from US invaders, they would win.
It DOES matter what you fight for.
Should the VDV fight in the US, they would loose …
The VDV’s main problem would probably be getting into the USA, since a mass flight of Russian aircraft attempting to enter pindo air space would probably trigger some sort of alarm (since they would be unlikely be able to have the sort of pre-arranged “stand-down” orders of the American air defence forces, like the 9/11 hijackers somehow managed). But once inside (by other means), any well trained special forces units should have an easy time taking out the key American targets sought (both military and civilian infrastructure). To understand why, just look how easy it has been for “disgruntled” individuals recently to enter US bases and take out significant numbers of soldiers before they themselves were killed or captured. Imagine professionals doing this, as units, not individuals. Slaughter.
It’s also important to understand that military forces, such as the VDV, are not used like regular army or as occupation forces. Any VDV operation in the USA would not be like that. They would be tasked to neutralise selected important targets, then vacate, and let the regulars consolidate, if desired. But a Russian invasion of the USA is a pretty absurd scenario, the Russians have no reason to reinforce pindo propaganda about the “dreaded Sovi…um, Russian menace” invading the USA, any more than dragonflies have reason to attack deer.
looks like they could swim in.
Or they could pretend to be Israeli “art students”. ;D
NU VOT ! YA NAILED IT !
Why would they fight in the US? No point. If there is a conflict the US economy would collapse and armed Americans would probably kill each other given that there are an estimated 300m guns of types in the US.
I strongly disagree, the American army couldn’t hold a match to the Russian VDV I say this having family and friends in the American military and a daughter in law who is a sniper in the Russian VDV army, she is an amazing young lady that I am very proud of. I mean no disrespect in my reply as I am a peaceful person but knowing what the VDV is capable of, no the American army wouldn’t stand a chance.
We always fight in DEFENSE . Hence we win . !
Fun video and thanks for the article explaining it. Actually, airbourne troops is nothing new to Russia. In the 1930s, the Soviets were by far the most advanced in paratroop ops and tech. Even then the Soviets experimented with the deployment of armoured vehicles by air. At least 10 years in advance of the so-called western “advanced nations”. When the Soviets declared war on Japan in 1945, their assault of Japanese occupied Manchuria and Korea was planned with the inclusion of both paratroop ops and logistical supply by air in poorly accessible regions in order to keep the advance smooth and fast.
Yes,in fact the more famous (in the West) German Fallschirmjäger (paratroops),were directly modeled on the Soviet VDV.While the British and US paratroops were then modeled on the German ones.
The VDV is also famous inside Russia for their telling motto’s “No one except us” and “If not us,who”. One of the most honored “fathers” of the VDV was Hero of the Soviet Union Vasily Margelov who basically structured the modern VDV ,they were known jokingly,with a play on its initials as, “Войска дяди Васи”, “Uncle Vasya’s Troops”.
The VDV was made up of men from throughout the USSR and was a proud Union wide force.Ukraine provided many troops for that force.And some of the best units were stationed there.After the breakup, that force still ,was a “fraternity of brothers” throughout the region.The uniforms,traditions,heroes,were all the common property of those peoples.In Ukraine the ex-paratroopers (and many current) VK accounts are/were scattered with pictures of their common Brotherhood.With many photo’s of Russian units,and events they all shared together.One of the worst of the human tragedies of the coup on a personal level is the junta’s attempts to destroy those bonds.They have cut ties with the Russian VDV.Want to change the uniforms to more “NATO” or even fascist models.And the men have been split,with many keeping their oath to the “government” even if it is illegal.And many siding with the Donbass,and joining the NAF.And also many refusing to fight period,and resigning their service.The NAF is trying to continue the proud tradition of the VDV among their forces.Here is a video of an NAF unit:
I think I remember the admiral (?) of this video from the Crimea The Way Home documentary…that was such a great film.
Not off topic….please watch short video (from Blue originally)
for those of us who are militarily illiterate, could you produce an analysis of what is a company, brigade, battalion etc and how these are equipped and folded within russian military environment and maybe even the current districts where they are deployed .
The US military….
I read http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article42590.htm from Ron Paul
US Intelligence Confirms US Support for ISIS
which linked to
Mehdi Hasan goes Head to Head with Michael T Flynn
… Flynn was the former head of the US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and a commander of J-SOC…
(But the earlier part from time 0 is worth watching)
Interesting with the subject of US support for ISIS, but as much so for watching the general: this guy has been out in the sun too long! The inconsistencies, fuzziness, and forays into his strange ideology and beliefs show not only the dangers from the US but also it’s great weaknesses. I wonder if this guy could get from the entrance of Walmart to the clothing section in a straight line without detouring through electronics, tools, sports, toys, and the beer aisle — with a stop at the deli to have a sandwich.
Blue, I don’t agree with you about the brave man whistleblowing…I saw a different video and he’s doing this for his grand-daughter…I liked him….
These dedicated heroes really deserves a day for celebration, worshipping and to drink themselves silly, they too are also humans, after all.
“It is enough to see the footage of the kind of silly drunken nonsense these guys display
each August 2nd”
Yes, i confirm, it is quiet pitiful to see such noisy shows…
I prefer watch something like this :
“Никто, кроме нас”…
Great video with Eng. Subtitles.
Thanks for the link, Fedor.
During my two tours in Europe in the early 1980s during I participated in many NATO drills. The problems of command and control between units of differing nationality were enormous, particularly at the tactical level. The combat performance of relatively high quality US troops was significantly degraded by integration with low-quality (low morale and poorly trained) NATO troops. No way could this combined force conduct offensive operations against a highly integrated well equipped and high morale opponent like the Russians.
Hi Vietnam Vet, thanks for this info…
@ Vietnam Vet,
Q; The combat performance of relatively high quality US troops …
R; You mean the troops that haven’t been victorious in combat since WWII?
Interesting, though the bigger question is probably more along the lines of “How will Russia fight its fifth column and ISIS?” Those are probably more relevant enemies. After all, military power is Russia’s strong suit, while the weaknesses are more in industrial production or finance or access to specialized items that are only available in the West.
I agree, Paul II. I suppose it must be Russia’s 5th col that prevents her from nationalizing the ruble and Central Bank of Russia. Currently only 25% of circulating currency is in rubles. She can print more only in response to export earnings, under IMF/Fed rules.
This state of affairs– obedience to the IMF/Fed system– by the central banks of the world is an irreplaceable part of what empowers the neoliberal economic order (the NWO). And impoverishes nations so that they fall into the debt-slavery trap.
If Russia can gain economic sovereignty only by quelling her 5th column, then she must do it & soon. The Russian economy is in great trouble.
I am not sure I see a massive difference between Russian air mobile forces and their NATO equivalents. I do agree the Russians have done a better job with air mobile mechanized vehicles. It is not that NATO countries do not see the value in this, they have tried but almost every time these vehicles end up getting larger and heavier do to design/mission creep. The end result is vehicles that are technically air mobile but need several hours of assemble before being operational.
Russians seem to be better at designs that stay true to their original mission
An interesting video of VDV active and veteran troopers in St. Petersburg, doing a social service of a kind, trying to stop people to obey the law and stop drinking and smoking in public.
Another video titled “kamikaze gay”, a young man in St. Petersburg that tried to protes Russia’s law on the public demonstration or propaganda of Homosexual symbolism, on VDV Day Celebration.
The troopers become indignant and label him a provacateur.
The most interesting part is that the raucus that ensues forces the OMON , Russian riot police, to intervene and cool down or pacify the scandal. The OMON goes against the paratroopers hand to hand, no batons, no weapons, Contrasted with US riot police or any other kind of police force from the West.
That is the way it “used” to be done by police in the West too.You handled “unruly” drunk guys with talking and manhandling them.You didn’t start out beating or with weapons like they do today.I noticed a couple of other things in the video too,1.Some of the paratroopers were helping the police to bring order to their fellows.2.When some of them evaded getting pushed and pulled into custody,the police let them go.It was more a “if you are causing trouble right now,we arrest you.But if you just go away,that’s OK”.3.The paratroopers weren’t “gay bashing” the protester.They were manhandling him a little.But they weren’t beating or hurting him.Gay bashing in the US means you get beaten up.When he fell down once a paratrooper even helped him get up.Also,I’ve heard that 5th column elements set these situations up deliberately to “Russia bash” in the media.They get a protester to protest near paratroopers on August 2nd.Knowing that it could cause trouble.Then they record it and broadcast in,to show Russians “mistreating” gays.
During the 1950’s when I was much younger and much dumber the u.s. army had me running around with a bayonet yelling “kill Ivan”. Now that I’m much older and much wiser I’m rooting for Ivan. The most glorious episode in u.s military history was when young u.s. soldiers killed their leaders in Viet Nam. To paraphrase a certain movie line “you’ve got to love the smell of fragging in the morning”. Who knows how many millions of lives were saved by their actions. Recently some multi-starred american a/hole said we need to kill lots of Russians. The pity of Viet Nam fragging is that it didn’t extend to the multi-starred a/holes. Every war the u.s. started was all about money, and that includes the american revolution. That war which was supported by only 1/3 of the population at most (including many terrorized into fighting it) was all about the pursuit of property. Property in the form of Black bodies and Indian real estate. And as usual the u.s. government refused to abide by the terms of the peace treaty. And of course after the war there was plenty of taxation with no representation. Go Ivan.
If I’d see a Chief of my Airborne Troops with bloodshot eyes, like the first one to pop up in this vid, I’d resign on the spot [or get shot for subordination, whichever comes first].
I don’t trust people who’re oozing booze out of every pore of their body, to lead me anywhere.
These clips may give and indication [of something], but they never include the real deal, aka combat, death, destruction and mayhem.
Those images are sanitized [whatever the reason].
Very interesting and entertaining documentary. I wonder in what these airborne forces differ from Spetsnatz.
I also wonder if, in addition to placing anyone at any point of the world, they can also remove it with the same delicacy that characterizes them……I mean to extract an untrained civilian….
I wonder in what these airborne forces differ from Spetsnatz.
Very different missions. The Spetsnaz work with the Airborne forces, but they are very different, primarily because the Spetsnaz deal mostly with intelligence, reconnaissance, sabotage and the destruction of specific objects. The Airborne forces typically seize an objective in the operational depth of the enemy or even closer and they do that in support of a larger operation. The Airborne forces now have their own Spetsnaz regiment (45th) which now operates in support of their operations. Of course, they often train together and there is horizontal movement between the two forces. They also share the same (famous) school in the city of Ryazan. Finally, their uniforms are similar. But fundamentally, they are different creatures.
Thanks a lot, Saker.
Since Victory Day Parade I was wondering what was the difference between similar uniforms and different colour berets. As I can see now, blue beret is for Airborne forces and red beret is for Spetsnaz. But steel there is a green beret that I do not know which body of the Russian army belongs to. Well, so far I was not very interested in military affairs, but since I am in this blog my interest grows as well as the questions….Total ignorance about it.:D.
Hugs. Take care.
I’m not sure but I think the Green is the border troops.And that Black Berets are Naval Marine troops.
Thanks, Uncle Bob 1. :D
I wonder if it happens only to me but whenever I see Shamanov´s laughter I can only laugh.
He looks so funny……
I think it, is also interesting to note, that VDV are strategic reserve of Commander-in-chief..
see russian wikipedia where this stated in first paragraph – interesting :-)
not only chain of command is apparently different, but there is also kind of historic legacy and conotation…
MOSCOW, August 13. /TASS/. Russia’s Defense Ministry is reinforcing the 20th combined army in the Western Military District. As a source at the General Staff told TASS, the army being reformatted will be complemented with more units and troops from other military districts.
“The General Staff and the Western Military District’s command have been working tightly on determining and specifying the personnel and hardware of the 20th combined army,” the source said. “In particular, questions are being decided of complementing the army with units from other military districts and forming more mechanized infantry, armour, artillery, missile, reconnaissance and other brigades,” he said.
“The amount of work to be accomplished is vast, indeed,” he said, adding that the 20th army should be recreated anew by December 1. “The army’s command center is based on the premises of the former 1st command of the Air Force and Air Defense (the current 6th Air Force and Air Defense Army) before it was moved to St. Petersburg.
Russia’s maritime doctrine keeps focus on strengthening Russian positions among sea powers
Analysts: US forces Russia to take military, technical steps to forestall aggression
US plans of deploying heavy weapons close to Russian borders will push Moscow for response
US claims Russia tests missile threatening Europe, Northeast Asia
Earlier, a source at the General Staff told TASS that the current 20th army would in fact be formed anew, because most of its units were being transferred to a newly-created 1st tank army. As at the end of July the 20th army incorporated the 9th tank brigade from Nizhny Novgorod.
In the Western Military District (created in 2010 on the basis of the Moscow and Leningrad military districts and the Northern and Baltic Fleets with headquarters in St. Petersburg) there has been created the 6th Leningrad Air Force and Air Defense Army. Its area of responsibility includes 2 million square kilometers of airspace and 3,000 kilometers of the state border. It is armed with Sukhoi Su-34, Su-35S and Su-30MS jets, Kamov Ka-52, Mil Mi-28N, Mi-35, and Mi-MTV5 helicopters, and S-300, S-400 and Pantsir-S air defense systems.
Also, the Western Military District has formed the 14th Air Force and Air Defense Army, with its area of responsibility consisting of 29 territories of Russia and more than 3,000 kilometers of the state border. It is armed with MiG-31BM interceptor fighters, Sukhoi Su-24M frontline bombers, Mil Mi-8AMTSH, Mi-24 and Mi-26 helicopters and S-300 PS air defense systems. As assistant to the district’s commander, Yaroslav Roshchupkin, told TASS earlier, “the army includes units of the 2nd Air Force and Air Defence Command stationed in the Volga River area, the Urals and Siberia.
© Yuri Smityuk/TASS
Tank army to be formed near Moscow by wintertime — source
In the Western Military District the Defense Ministry plans to create a new tank army by December 1. The 1st Tank Army will incorporate the Tamanskaya Mechanized Infantry Division and the Kantemirovskaya Tank Division, as well as the 27th Sevastopolskaya Mechanized Infantry Brigade and the 6th Tank Brigade.
Another tank army will be formed near Moscow by December.
Earlier, Airborne Troops Commander Vladimir Shamanov said that on the basis of Russia’s paratroops a rapid reaction force was to be created. The force would have a dual capability of operating on its own or in combination with ground troops. A source at the General Staff told TASS the strength of airborne troops would grow from 45,000 officers and men to 60,000.
As testimony to the elite nature of airborne-trained units, the Stavka held the 9th Guards Army out of defensive actions, using it only for exploitation during offensives. From 1944 the airborne divisions were reconstituted as Guards Rifle Divisions.
Looks like many here focus on details of this documentary and miss the important part; Specifically the commander of the Russian airborne troops Vladimir Shamanov; the guy is literally a military beast; he is apparently regarded throughout Russia as the most ruthless and effective top general; it was nicknamed ” the butcher” during the Chechen wars; the guy does not take any prisoners and will get the job done at any cost ( including that of his own soldiers); pretty much like Gen. Zhukov during the WWII; I read at some point he was “retired” due to his heavy handed approach to all things military but then reactivated sometime after the Georgian war debacle. Putin was quoted as saying that Russia would never abandon such a general. Now having this guy in charge of Russia’s most combat ready troops, should give most sane politicians and generals alike some reason for pause and think twice before making any stupid move.
PS He is apparently leading the troops always from the battle field, not from the office. May have to do his very humble origins.
Thanks Saker! I really learned a lot. Don’t mess with the Russians!!
We are not impressed by the VDV and its history. It is a history of defeat and stupidness.
We have absolutely nothing against Russia or the Russian people.
But, if you choose to fight NATO, you will lose and die.
Like I said, in the future, we need to be friends. We need to learn to respect for each other, leave war to on-line gamers and cooperate to solve the problems of the world: disease, pollution, poverty. Russia is more famous for its scientists than its generals and can play a leading role.
Just wondering, what planet do you live on???
I agree with the last half of your post. But the first half is really not a good way to think about this whole situation. RF does not want to have a war , but seems to be countering Natos military moves tit4tat. But you would have to think that RF would overrun the baltic states immediately with troops and that it would take Nato a month to reinforce the area with troops and hardware. It would be to late by then for those states.
Your statement that if RF “chooses” to fight they would lose. First off, RF would not choose to fight at all and would only fight if attacked. So it would not be their choice but Natos choice to start the war. I like the Russians and do not want war. Hopefully Trump wins the presidency and we will not have to worry about WWW3 with Russia.
Sorry, impossible to see the video with English subtitles but: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7nyaSOyvZ8&feature=youtu.be
I think paratroopers could take out our military airfields, wiping out our air supremacy, and flying in Russian forces on top. And furthermore possibly take many army bases before alarm and thus successfully invade Britain.