Sunday, February 28, 2016

Just Who is 1st Guards Tank Army Aimed at, Anyway?

Russia is setting up a new army ostensibly aimed at the West. Is it really set up with China in mind?

This appears to be aimed at NATO:

The Russian Ground Forces has completed the reactivation of the 1st Guards Tank Army in Russia's Western Military District (WMD) and is to form two new armoured divisions, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced.

That's certainly what I assumed in early stories.

But it is the quick reaction force, the article says. Which implies a broader portfolio than just blitzing the Baltic states.

And it is pretty spread out, with tank divisions planned for Voronezh and Chelyabinsk. The former is the Western Military District east of Ukraine (and west of Khazakstan); but the latter is just north of Khazakstan.

So while Strategypage says the reformed division is based in "western" Russia, consider how many time zones Russia spans. The "western" half of Russia starts at about Mongolia.

I'm thinking that this high priority army is more likely to be earmarked for Central Asia just in case China's trade initiatives pull along the flag in their wake.

Which makes sense from Moscow's point of view, since talking harshly about the West seems designed to conceal Russia's effective appeasement of China--for now.