Russia’s Ministry of Defense mentioned the existence of a “Sever” (meaning north in Russian) operational strategic group for the first time in its daily updates on April 14.

“In the Belgorod sector, units of the Sever group of forces, with the support of aviation and artillery, hit the manpower and equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) in the areas of the Ternova and Hatishche settlements in the Kharkiv region and Radyanskoye in the Sumy region,” the official update alleged.

Russia currently has five confirmed operational strategic groups in Ukraine, namely the “Tsentr” (Center), “Yug” (South), “Zapad” (West), “Vostok” (East) and “Dnepr” (named after the Dnipro River in Ukraine) groups.

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Kyiv Post is unable to independently verify the existence of the new “Sever” operational strategic group.

Ukrainian outlet Information Resistance said the group was formed based on the former border protection group consisting of military units from the Bryansk, Kursk and Belgorod regions bordering Ukraine, and that two military units have been transferred to the new group, namely the 11th Army Corps (AK), without the 7th Separate Motorized Rifle Regiment, and the 138th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade from the 6th Combined Arms Army.

The outlet also reported the new group’s capabilities as follows:

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  • Up to 48,000 personnel
  • Between 350-360 tanks
  • Up to 860 armored fighting vehicles
  • Between 940-950 artillery systems, including 100mm howitzers and 120mm mortars
  • Between 110-120 units of multiple rocket launchers
  • Up to 4-6 launchers of the operational-tactical missile complex

The outlet said the new group is under the command of Col.-Gen. Aleksandr Lapin, chief of staff of the Russian Ground Forces since January 2023.

As the then-commander of Central Military District, a military-administrative unit encompassing military installations in the Siberian, Ural and Volga federal districts, Lapin also awarded his own son, a tank driver, who led the failed offensive on Ukraine’s Sumy and Chernihiv regions in 2022 for bravery.

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