Military Wiki
31st Guards Mechanised Division (1945-57)
23rd Guards Motor Rifle Division (1957-92)
Active 1945-1992
Country Soviet Union
Branch Infantry
Size Division
Engagements Operation Ring

The 23rd Guards Motor Rifle Division of the Soviet Union's Red Army was a Motor Rifle Division active during the Cold War. After 1991-92, the Division's remnants were eventually incorporated into the new Army of Azerbaijan.

In July 1945 14th and 16th Guards Cavalry Divisions were merged to form the 31st Guards Mechanised Division.[1]

Cold War

31st Guards Mechanised Division became the 23rd Guards Motor Rifle Division around 1957,[2] assigned to the 4th Army (IIIrd formation),[3] and garrisoned in Ganja in the Shahumyan region. In 1988 it also included the 131st Tank Regiment, the 366th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment (MRR) (equipped with BMPs) based at Stepanakert,[4] and the 368th and 370th Guards MRRs, equipped with BTRs. The division's regimental artillery battalions were equipped with towed D-30 artillery pieces.[5]

Elements of the division took part in Operation Ring in May 1991. During the operation the division's commander was Colonel Budeykin.[5] Immediately following this, the larger scope of combat engagements in the area of Stepanakert took place, including the use of BM-21 "Grad" artillery and Mil Mi-24 assault helicopters through to February 1992. The division, along with the other three divisions of the 4th Army, was ordered to be withdrawn amidst the fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh War in May and June. Elements of the 366th MRR appear to have been involved in the Khojaly massacre of February 1992. The regiment was under the command of Colonel Yuri Zarvigorov.[6] However, on June 21, 1992 the divisional column was prevented from departing Ganja by the civilian Azerbaijani population. The Azerbaijanis demanded that the division surrender its military equipment during Azeri declaration of independence, and the division commander, General Major Yury Pokhamov, complied to avoid civilian casualties.[7] This was largely due to a lack of direction and indecision at Headquarters Transcaucasian Military District and at the General Staff. This did not occur because for the most part the officers of the 366th Motor Rifle Regiment had begun to offer assistance to the Armenian population, while the units based in Ganja deciding to side with the Azeri population. This was largely due to about 50 of the remaining 350 personnel of the 366th Motor Rifle Regiment being Armenian, including the commander of the 2nd Battalion, Major Seyran Ohanyan.[8] Of particular use to the Armenians was the regimental tank company's ten tanks.


  1. Craig Crofoot, Axis History Forum Soviet Cavalry after 1945
  2. This should not to be confused with the NKVD's 23rd Motor Rifle Division of the Second World War. See Isayev, chapter.3, in (Russian) Dubno to Rostov, Исаев А.В. От Дубно до Ростова. — М.: АСТ; Транзиткнига, 2004
  3. ВОВ-60 - 4-я армия (4-я Отдельная армия)
  4. de Waal, Thomas. Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War. New York: New York University Press, 2003. p. 166 ISBN 0-8147-1945-7.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Beglaryan, Ashot. The Northern gates of Artsakh
  6. The Guardian (London), March 7, 1992. Suzanne Goldenberg. Russian deserters join Armenians.
  7. Isayev, chapter.2, from Dubno to Rostov, Исаев А.В. От Дубно до Ростова. — М.: АСТ; Транзиткнига, 2004
  8. de Waal. Black Garden, p. 167.


  • Murphy, David E. "'Operation Ring': The Black Berets in Azerbaijan." The Journal of Soviet Military Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1, March 1992.

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