According to a 13 March report in Izvestia, units in Russia’s Central Military District will receive gun-trucks to counter the anticipated spread of insurgents following the close of US involvement in Afghanistan. The report states that units will be deployed to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan until the end of 2022, adding that the first vehicles have already been delivered to the 201st Military Base in Kyrgyzstan.
It explains that Ural and KamAZ trucks will be modified to essentially mirror the primary combat vehicle of insurgent forces – the ‘armed technical.’ The trucks will be fitted with heavy machine guns, automatic grenade launchers and anti-tank missiles, as well as protective armoured shields.
The vehicles represent a step between the tracked BMPs and wheeled BTRs favoured by Russian ground troops, providing greater speed and road mobility than more conventional vehicles, which is essential when addressing massed formations of ‘technicals.’
The provision of gun-trucks is the low-tech element of the solution: other equipment deployed to the Central Military District includes the Su-25SM3 and the latest TORNADO-S rocket artillery, Izvestia explains.
Russia sees the region as one of strategic importance: Afghanistan has been the location of choice for insurgents fleeing Syria. The withdrawal of US forces is unlikely to lead to a stabilised situation in Afghanistan and the risk of insurgent forces spilling over into neighbouring countries is high. Furthermore, there is a perceived likelihood that the insurgencies could attract additional recruits from former Soviet territories, exacerbating the potential problem.
However, the procurement may also indicate the historical neglect that the far eastern regions within Russia’s sphere of influence have received. Traditionally, the highest capability platforms are reserved for the military districts that face NATO and the less capable systems are sent to the East, where the threat is considered to be lower.
Miles Quartermain in London for MON