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The Russian Federation
- Jul 13, 2018 -

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The Russian Federation (Российская Федерация), or simply Russia, is the largest country in the world in terms of landmass, incoporating forty percent of the land in Europe and most of northern Asia. Following the dissolution of the USSR (Soviet Union) in 1991, Russia elected its first president and embarked on a vast number of reforms including privatization, market & trade liberalization aimed to make the former Socialist state a more progressive nation. Although an attempt was made to retain control over the former Soviet Army and transform it into a unified armed force of the new Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), this idea was ultimately rejected by most of the former Soviet republics resulting in the division of assets and the formulation of a new Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (Вооружённые Силы Российской Федерации)

Unlike many of the former Soviet states, the new Russian Armed Forces (Вооружённые Силы Россий, or VSR in romanized letters) retained some symbology of the Soviet Army and continued wearing Soviet uniforms for a number of years. With regards to combat uniforms, changes had already been implemented prior to the breakup of the USSR to introduce a durable and practical camouflage uniform that would be standard issue for all military personnel. Although older Soviet era camouflage patterns and uniforms continued to be issued and worn by some Russian military personnel for years to come, by 1990 a plan was already in place to issue a completely new camouflage pattern for conventional forces. This design, the 1990 3-TsV or simply VSR pattern did not enter widespread service until 1994, but it did become the first camouflage design to be universally issued to Russian military personnel. The pattern was also adopted by a number of ex-Soviet republics, including AzerbaijanBelarusGeorgia and Kazakhstan. Within a few years, another general purpose camouflage design would be issued, the Flora pattern (introduced in 1998), which also populated the armed forces of several former Soviet republics.

Beyond the issue of general purpose camouflage, Russia has in fact been one of the most innovative nations in terms of camouflage design, producing a wide variety of unique patterns since 1991, many of which are associated with special units of the VSR or the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). Some of these camouflage designs saw only limited production and distribution, whilst others continue to be worn in one form or another into the present era. This is particularly true of spetsnaz (special operations) units of the Army and Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Russia has also copied or reproduced a number of camouflage designs created in or used by other nations, including the USA, Great Britain, Germany, and Finland.

The Russian Federation maintains a number of military and paramilitary services to provide stability and security both from external and internal threats. These include the following:

  • Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (Вооружённые Си́лы Росси́йской Федера́ции), or VSR, which includes the Ground Forces, Air Force, Naval Forces, Airborne Troops, Missile Troops and the Aerospace Defense Forces.

  • Ministry of the Interior (Министерство внутренних дел), or MVD, which includes the Interior Troops (Внутренние войска) or VV, Municipal Police, and the Federal Police (полиция), as well as various special purpose units within these divisions.

  • Federal Security Service (Федеральная служба безопасности) or FSB, which has nine divisions including the Border Guard Service (Пограничная служба России), Counter-Espionage Division, Anti-Terrorism Division, and the Economic Security Service.

  • Ministry of Emergency Situations (Министерство по чрезвычайным ситуациям) or EMERCOM.

  • Foreign Intelligence Service (Служба Внешней Разведки) or SVR.

  • Federal Protective Service (Федеральная служба охраны) or FSO, also known as the State Guards Service.

  • Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation (Федеральная служба Российской Федерации по контролю за оборотом наркотиков)

Although not all of these services have a need for the use of specialized camouflage, a majority of the services do have at least a percentage of personnel that operationally deploy with some sort of combat uniform.

  • During the transitional period, and for several years to come, a number of the camouflage patterns designed and used in the USSR continued to be worn by the new Russian Armed Forces. Of these, the oldest pattern to see widespread use was the solnechnye zaychiki (sunshine rays) KLMK uniform, which has continued to be worn by some Russian special forces, as well as reservists, Engineer & Cossack units of the Russian Army. The contemporary term for this pattern is berezhka (birch) or serebryanyi list (silver leaf).

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  • The Soviet era 1988 tritsvetnaia kamuflirovannaia odezhda (TTsKO) or three-color camouflage uniform also remained in general service with some units of the Russian Armed Forces (particularly the VDV or Airborne Forces, Naval Infantry & GRU special forces). An early term for these patterns was Бутан or butan (butane), which was reputedly adopted from the project name assigned to the camouflage development program in the mid-1980s. This pattern has continued in use with some units of the Russian Armed Forces.

Ussr13.jpg Ussr10.jpg Ussr11.jpg Ussr12.jpg Ussr9.jpg

  • First issued towards the end of the Soviet era, the two-color (or bicolor) variation of the woodland pattern above incorporates sparse darker green shapes on a lighter olive or khaki base. This pattern was issued to airborne and special operations units.


  • The pattern below, known as sliva (Слива) or "plum," appears to have been experimental, originating in the early 1990s. It is undetermined to what degree this design was utilized or worn by Soviet or Russian forces.


  • Another experimental pattern from the early 1990s is seen below.


  • Still another experimental or undocumented tricolor camouflage pattern is seen here, incorporating purple and dark olive amoeba shapes on a khaki background. Date of production appears to be circa 1994, suggesting this may have been produced for one of the Central Asian republics.