EDF delegation inspects Pskov-based elite Russian airborne division

The Kremlin at Pskov, Russia (in Estonian: Pihkva).
The Kremlin at Pskov, Russia (in Estonian: Pihkva). Source: Pixabay.

An Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) delegation inspected an elite Russian army unit in the Pskov district last week, part of a wider visit under an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) framework which promotes an annual exchange of military information between European forces.

The four-member delegation inspected units in Russia's Western Military District as part within the framework of the OSCE's Vienna Document, with its inspection of the 76th Guards Air Assault Division, based in Pskov, around 30km from the border with Estonia, starting last Tuesday, ERR reports.

The division is part of the elite Russian, formerly Soviet, airborne forces, the Vozdushno-desantnye voyska (VDV).

The delegation was also shown equipment and armaments making up the25th Motor Rifle Brigade  and the 15th Special Aerospace Forces Army, the EDF's General Staff said on Monday.

In the opposite direction, two separate delegations of Russian inspectors have visited Estonia twice this year, including during the annual Spring Storm (Kevadtorm) exercise, in early June.

The 76th Guards Air Assault Division traces its lineage back to a World War Two-era rifles division, with the same numerical designation. It was re-designated an airborne division after the war, becoming an air assault division in 2006. It has been involved in the first and second Chechen wars, and the 2008 war in Georgia.

76th Guards Air Assault Division personnel in a 2018 parade in Minsk, Belarus. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Mil.ru

Lying so close to the Estonian border that it even has an Estonian name – Pihkva, Pskov, more specifically its airport, has been the subject of media speculation in recent weeks over the potential opening up of a second migrant route, alongside that linking Iraq and other middle-eastern states with Minsk, Belarus.

The OSCE is a major security-oriented intergovernmental organization with responsibilities including arms control, the promotion of human rights, free media and free and fair elections. Its secretariat is in Vienna, Austria.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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