Special Operations: Securing an Impossibly Long Border


July 2, 2023: Russia is now sending special operations (Spetsnaz) troops to the border between Belgorod province and Ukraine to deal with continuing raids by anti-Putin Russian militias based in Ukraine. These raids have been going on for several months and embarrass Russia by demonstrating its lack of border security. This is common because Russia has over 22,000 kilometers of land borders, mostly with little or no border security. This includes nearly 2,000 kilometers of border with Ukraine and 540 kilometers of that is in the Belgorod area. Russia has also sent special operations troops to upgrade defenses on the rest of the border with Ukraine in Kursk and Bryansk provinces.

The raids on the Belgorod are meant to embarrass Putin, not kill Russian soldiers and civilians. Some of the Russian responses to the raids did that too, notably because the forces involved acted like Russian troops everywhere, such as bombing and using artillery in civilian areas, looting (of Russian instead of Ukrainian civilians), etc.. Most of the responses against the Ukrainian-backed Russian militias were ineffectual, which is typical of the Russian Army Putin has created to fight in Ukraine. The Belgorod border is north of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Initially these raids faced no armed opposition. When Russian security forces showed during more recent raids, the Russian troops either retreated or surrendered when confronted by the raiders. This was not unexpected because Russian troops in Ukraine have performed poorly from the beginning. Worse, the raiders were all Russians who, unlike most Russian army personnel in Ukraine, were competent and effective fighters whose motivation was to discredit Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine. In response to this the best Russia could do was send about a hundred special operations troops to Belgorod in an effort to increase the effectiveness of the additional border forces already at the border. These Spetsnaz, however, were only more of the same poorly trained and led conscripts who offered no effective resistance to the raiders and behaved badly towards Russian civilians.

Unguarded Russian border areas have become popular with young Russians seeking to leave the country to avoid being “mobilized” to fight in Ukraine. The thousand kilometer-long Russian border with Finland is a popular area for Russian men to cross and ask for asylum. To control this, Finland is building a fence along its Russian border. This will take over a year to complete and the Finns believe the troubles (war in Ukraine and the impact of economic sanctions) will keep the Russians trying to cross the Finnish border for more than a year, if not longer.


Article Archive

Special Operations: Current 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contribute. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   contribute   Close