A slow, yet steady influx of new armored units has been observed into the Kaliningrad region, the exclave of the Russian Federation bordering Poland and Lithuania. Russia’s Minister of Defence Sergey Shoigu announced the formation of the 18th Motorized Rifle Division. The division will consist of 3 motorized regiments and one armored regiment. The new division is a part of the 11th Army Corps of the Baltic Fleet.
Back in January, we covered the hypothetical scenario of a possible preemptive strike by the Polish Armed Forces on the forces amassed in Kaliningrad in the event of the outbreak of a full-scale conflict. The article was met with commented on by some lot of Russian media. In our article we examined the known force make up of Russian forces in Kaliningrad.
Although Kaliningrad remains isolated from mainland Russia, its strategic location raises concern over the safety of the Baltic States. In the event of a conflict the nuclear-capable Iskander-M missile batteries, the S-400 air-defense batteries, and considerable accumulation of heavy equipment and personnel, “Fortress Kaliningrad” would be a tough nut to crack for NATO.
The formation of a new division in the Kaliningrad District gives the 11th Army Corps significantly more offensive capability. The 79th Motorized Rifle Brigade was recomposed with the addition of modernized 275th and 280th Mechanized Regiments and 11th Armored Regiment, equipped with T-72B3M tanks. This makes the 18th Motorized Rifle Division and its combat support units a capable formation, capable of offensive operations into Poland in the event of a conflict.
With the Zapad 21 exercises scheduled for September this year, the Russian military readiness in the region will gradually rise. There were recent concerns around similar exercises that saw the movement of significant Russian forces closer to the border with Ukraine. Zapad 21 will be an opportunity for Russian forces in the area to demonstrate its enhanced capabilities.