Three weeks ago, Russian paratroopers commanded by Colonel General Andrey Serdyukov deployed 4,000km from Moscow to Kazakhstan at the invitation of its government to help quell mass protests. They accomplished their peacekeeping mission in just 10 days and left.
Compared with the limited and lightning-fast operation in Kazakhstan, today the international community is warning that Russia appears to be preparing for a very different operation: a comprehensive invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow has repeatedly denied that it plans to invade, despite open-source intelligence showing that it continues to mass troops on the border between the countries. But should President Vladimir Putin order an attack, 62-year-old Serdyukov, the head of Russia’s VDV paratroopers — the world’s largest airborne force — is likely to play a leading role.
“The VDV is typically the tip of the spear,” said Michael Kofman, a Russian military expert at the US research organisation CNA and author of a widely cited article on Putin’s military strategy. “It has already fought extensively in Ukraine in 2014 and 2015. You would see quite a few VDV formations in any new invasion.”
Read the full story and more from The Financial Times.