Russian military operational-strategic exercises, 2009-2010


  • Markus Ekström

Publish date: 2010-11-04

Report number: FOI-R--3022--SE

Pages: 85

Written in: Swedish


  • Russia
  • Belarus
  • Caucasus
  • China
  • military-strategic
  • military exercise
  • military manoeuvre
  • operative-strategic
  • strategic
  • Armed Forces
  • nterior ministry troops
  • Security policy
  • military reform
  • military doctrine
  • defence industry
  • military industry
  • power ministries
  • Zapad
  • Ladoga
  • Kavkaz
  • Vostok
  • military district


In 2009-2010 Russia conducted four large-scale operative-strategic military exercises. This study describes and analyzes the four Russian large-scale exercises against the backdrop of the ongoing reforms in the Russian Armed Forces. In 2009 the Russian Armed Forces staged Zapad, Ladoga and Kavkaz in the western and southern strategic directions. In the Russian Far East, the exercise Vostok 2010 was the main event in the summer of 2010. At the time, Zapad 2009 was the largest military exercise since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 2010, Vostok instead became the largest exercise to be held in post-Soviet times. The purpose of Zapad was to exercise joint air defence against a "technologically superior" adversary in the West. Ladoga was conducted in parallel to Zapad against the same adversary, but included naval tactical manoeuvres and joint operations with troops belonging to other ministries and agencies than the Ministry of Defence. Kavkaz was probably intended at least in part as a warning to Tbilisi, but was officially declared to be an exercise in combating "bandit formations". Vostok exercised combat against similar opponents, but the conducted tactical manoeuvres revealed a different adversary: China. In all the exercises, Russia wanted to test and evaluate the new command and control structures and the new brigade formations. The officially announced purpose of the exercises did not always correspond to the conducted manoeuvres. There was, in other words, a discrepancy between the official purposes of the exercises and the conducted manoeuvres. The analysis of Russia's military exercises in 2009-2010 yields important insights into which adversaries Moscow considers it necessary to train against and which capabilities it wants to enhance. It also gives clues as to which are the main challenges and successes in the reform process that Russia's Armed Forces are currently undergoing.