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Russian Armed Forces (VSR) Camouflage Patterns
- Jul 13, 2018 -

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  • Although developed in the late 1980s (following an eight-year test period during which the early designs were known as barvikha), the camouflage designs most commonly known simply as VSR (for Vooruzhennyye sily Rossii or Russian Armed Forces) or dubok (little oak) did not enter service until 1991, and then only initially by specialized units such as the Airborne Forces (VDV). By 1994, the pattern was being distributed universally to most ground units of the Russian Armed Forces, as well as many units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). The VSR 3-TsV is a three-color pattern consisting of vertically aligned irregular shapes in two darker colors over a lighter colored field. As with the Soviet TTsKO three-color "woodland" patterns, the number of color variations of the VSR 3-TsV is quite high. Initial production runs released a green and a brown dominant version, but over time quite a number of variants have been documented. Summer and winter weight uniforms, aviation uniforms, and several accessories have been produced in these patterns. The VSR pattern has declined in usage with the Russian Armed Forces since the introduction of Flora pattern in 1998. Illustrated below are several examples we have collected, although more are known to exist.

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  • Introduced circa 1998, the Flora series of patterns (Arbuz or watermelon in Russian) at first appear to be a modification of the earlier 3-TsV pattern, in which the drawings have been enlarged and horizontally aligned. However, closer inspection reveals that the drawings are not precisely copied and therefore the Flora design should only be considered as "derivative" of the dubok. As with the earlier pattern, a number of color combinations have been produced, and the design became the standard general issue camouflage pattern for both conventional units of the Russian Armed Forces and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) until the introduction of the pixelated pattern. Illustrated below are several examples we have collected or documented.

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  • Since 2000 a reinterpretation of the old Soviet "sunray" camouflage pattern has seen limited use by Armed Forces personnel, mostly in reconnaissance or special operations roles. The pattern is now called Берёзка (Berezhka) (birch tree) and is certainly based on the original design. Numerous color differences have been produced from a variety of companies, mostly marketed by commercial suppliers.

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  • Introduced around 2004, the SS-leto (SS Summer) pattern is heavily influenced by WW2 German SS oakleaf pattern camouflage. The style of uniform is called Partizan. The summer version of the pattern features loam, dark brown & sandy yellow shapes on a moss green background, and reverses to a subdued version. An autumn version incorporates black, loam, dark brown, ochre & moss green shapes on a sandy background, and also reverses to a subdued version of the pattern. Both patterns are popular with Russian special operations troops in the VSR and MVD, as well as the Spetsgruppa Al'fa of the FSB, who were the initial users. A reversible variation of this uniform, the Partizan-M incorporates a spring coloration (approximating the shades of the original WW2 German pattern), with autumn colorations having more subsued tones.

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  • A copy of the German-designed flecktarn pattern has been observed in use by some Airborne (VDV) units, as well as by some units of the Federal Security Service (Федеральная служба безопасности, or FSB) since 2005-2006. Known locally as Flectar, the pattern has black, dark green, greyish-olive, and russet spots on a yellowish-tan background. Presumably locally-produced, the pattern is remarkably similar to some versions that are commercially available, as well as the German original.

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  • The pattern seen here, known as Излом or izlom (meaning "fracture" or "fissure"), was reputedly developed as early as 1997 but only brought into production around 2004. It is documented in use by by some reconnaissance units of the Armed Forces, as well as MVD special forces units.

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  • The commercial pattern here is known as skol and has also seen use among reconnaissance units of the Armed Forces.

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  • In 2008, Russia introduced a pixelated camouflage design intended to replace the VSR and Flora patterns. Officially called единая маскировочная расцветка (Edinaya maskirovochnaya rascvetka) or EMR, translating roughly as Unified Camouflage Coloration (in this sense the word "unified" refers to the fact that it is common to all the armed forces of Russia). The pattern is often referred to as Tsifra, Tetris or "digital flora." Several variations of this pattern have been produced, the most common of which is the leto (summer) variant incorporating tiny pixels of black, reddish-brown and foliage green on a pale green background. Other versions include sever (northern regions), zima (winter), and gorod (urban). Full-scale adoption began in 2011.

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  • Another pixelated pattern with a light brown/tan colorway has also been in use with the Коллективные силы оперативного реагирования (KSOR, or Collective Rapid Reaction Force) since around 2013. The pattern is intended strictly for use in desert/arid environments. It is interesting to note that uniforms have appeared with the pattern oriented vertically, although these seem to have been used strictly for parade formations and not for combat deployments. Some special operations personnel not attached to the KSOR have also been documented wearing uniforms in a similar pattern.

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  • Another variation of the EMR or Tetris pattern has been issued to some units serving in circumpolar regions of Russia, and is intended for use in conditions of light or heavy snow. According to Russian sources, the pattern has primarily seen service with the 200th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade and the 80th Independent Brigade, both considered to be "arctic" units falling under the administration of the Coastal Defense Forces. The pattern is also likely to be worn by the 61th Independent Marine Brigade.

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  • Two additional variations of the EMR pattern are seen here, both having a considerably lighter coloration on either a yellow-tan or pink background. Both patterns are in use with units of the Russian Armed Forces serving internally and deployed outside the country. These patterns are most commonly encountered on double-sided (reversible) two-piece suits reminiscent of the early KLMK uniforms.

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  • A reversible arid version of the EMR pattern has camouflage on one side, with a solid khaki color on the opposite side.

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  • Recently, a pixelated version of the flecktarn design has also been worn by some Russian Airborne (VDV) units.

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  • This fractal camouflage design has appeared on some prototype uniforms and equipment being tested by Russian in 2014. Whether or not the design will be adopted has yet to be determined.

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  • Originally issued to members of the Center for Reconciliation (Центр по примирению) - created in 2016 to support Russian military operations in Syria - this unique arid camouflage design incorporating khaki, tan, pinkish sand, reddish brown and medium brown colors has been in service with Russian units since 2017.

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