Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 21 February 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Russia Moves Troops From Far North To Ukraine
The Norwegian and Estonian intelligence agencies recently presented their open threat and risk assessments in 2023. Both emphasized that Russia poses the greatest threat to European security. Interestingly, Russia has relocated large ground forces from the High North to Ukraine, according to both reports.
The Norwegian Intelligence Service, the Police’s security service and the National Security Authority as well Estonia’s intelligence agency (Välisluureame) presented their risk assessments in two separate papers, saying there is a minimal chance of Russian aggression in the region. That is because Russia redeployed most of its troops from the Far North and the Baltic to Ukraine. The land forces on Kola are reduced to a fifth of their original numbers before the invasion of Ukraine as 80 percent of them were deployed to Ukraine. Additional to the 200th Brigade in Pechenga, the land forces on the Kola Peninsula consist of the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade in Sputnik and the 80th Arctic Motor Rifle Brigade in Alakurtti. The men with the 200th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade suffered the biggest losses in Ukraine. Soldiers from the 200th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade were deployed to Kharkiv during the first stage of the Russian invasion. By last fall, it lost two battalion tactical groups, or 1,500 soldiers. About half of the troops from Murmansk region were lost. The Northern Fleet has in addition lost up to 100 tanks and armored vehicles. The Norwegian Intelligence Service writes that the Northern Fleet’s naval forces are essentially intact. Russia also moved its strategic bombers from Engels air base to an air base south of Murmansk when it became clear they might be targeted by Ukrainian drones. Russia’s land forces in the Western Military District––normally in charge of an operational area in Estonia––also saw a severe depletion. “A military attack against Estonia is unlikely in 2023” due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but “in the mid-to-long term, Russia’s belligerence and foreign policy ambitions have significantly increased the security risks for Estonia,” the Estonian service said in its annual report. Ukraine’s assault brigade also successfully took on the Pskov-based 6th Army and 76th Guards Air Assault Division, leaving many dead. Last fall, mobilization hit hardest Russia’s Pskov and Leningrad provinces, where thousands of men were drafted.
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