​russia Deploys its Kuril Islands Garrison Unit to Fight in Ukraine – Forbes

Open source illustrative photo
Open source illustrative photo

These soldiers flew 7,500 km across the entire russian federation to feed putin’s war machine in Ukraine

In an article published by Forbes the other day, columnist Sebastien Roblin revealed the origin of the 18th Machine Gun Artillery Division (MGAD) that had a fire contact with Ukrainian forces the other day in eastern Ukraine.

This was possible due to a video posted by Ukrainian journalist Yurii Butusov. The patches of russian servicemen eliminated there were identified as belonging to this 18th MGAD far-east division, intended to defend the Kuril Islands, the territories disputed over by russia and Japan.

"The redistribution of lean garrison forces in East Asia for use as assault troops in Ukraine highlights how Russia is forced to strip its defenses of politically sensitive areas (including the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad and in Armenia) to feed Putin’s voracious war," noted the author.

Kuril islands
The Kuril Islands are an archipelago to the very east of russia, whereas Ukraine is to the west. These islands were disputed over between russia and Japan since 1945 / Map credit: New Pakistan TV / Screengrab

There is also a strategical side to this issue. The 18th MGAD was prepared as a defensive battalion: back in 1970s Moscow decided to fortify the Kuril Islands by placing "dozens of outdated tanks" in fixed concrete firing positions. The vehicles were updated, but the idea remained the same: it’s a unit equipped with heavy weapons to repel a potential amphibious assault.

However, upon arriving in Ukraine, the servicemen of 18th MGAD were reported participating in assault operations – instead of defensive ones they were trained and equipped for.

Though the author points out that "while such units couldn’t assault enemy positions like an infantry unit, they could project formidable defensive firepower, as well as provide covering fire to support an attack". Therefore in practice, they were usually performing tasks where lack of mobility was no problem.

In this photo we can see a russian T-55 in a fortified position on the Kuril Islands / Photo credit: Mikhail Klimentyev, AFP via Getty Images

The 18th Machine Gun Artillery Division consists of two Machine-Gun Artillery Regiments and support units. Based on a variety of sources, the author provides the structure of each machine gun regiment:

  • 2x Machine Gun and Artillery battalions
  • 1x Motor-Rifle battalion (infantry mounted on MT-LB tracked APCs, many upgraded with 12.7mm heavy machine guns)
  • 1x artillery battalion (18x towed 2A36 and/or self-propelled 2S5 152-millimeter long-range artillery system)
  • 1x tank company or battalion (9 or 31 tanks) with T-72B or T-80BV tanks
  • anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) battery
  • 1x rocket artillery battery (6x Grad 122-millimeter systems)
  • Very short-range air defense battalion (one company with 27x Igla man-portable air defense missiles, one battery with six Strela-10 [SA-13 Gopher] mobile air-defense missiles, and one battery of six ZSU-23-4 ‘Shilka’ cannon-armed air defense vehicles)
  • Air-defense battalion (8x Tor-M2U [SA-15] vehicles)
  • One each of following support companies: Engineer & Sappers, electronic warfare, communications, logistics, repair

Full article is available here