An introduction to the so-called “wild,” or national battalions of the Russian Federation currently engaged in Ukraine


War in the Donbas

Against the backdrop of the war in the East of Ukraine, in which Russia is directly involved, there are many media reports referring to the involvement of the “Wild Divisions” or “Kadyrov’s Brigades”. These descriptions are not completely accurate and I wish to make some clarifications.

The new structure of the Russian ground forces is based on brigades which are two or three times smaller than the old divisions. Brigades total approximately 3,500 personnel which are fully manned in accordance with wartime requirements. Brigades have the ability to act quickly and flexibly both as separate combat units and through the so-called BTGs (Battalion Tactical Groups) which are reinforced by various support units.

There are about 10 infantry brigades deployed to the Northern Caucasus (Southern Military District of the Russian Federation), most of them are deployed to Chechnya, Dagestan, North Ossetia and partially to Ingushetia. The so-called “national battalions” (or companies in some places) were formed as part of those motorized rifle brigades in these unstable regions of the Russian Northern Caucasus. These battalions consist of 350 personnel on average (approximately 100 personnel for companies). While the national battalions and companies are structurally included into those brigades, they unofficially have a status of Special Forces aimed at diversionary and reconnaissance activity. They report to the Head of District Intelligence, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU GSh)…

By Irakli Komakhidze
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