Ocean Shield 2020 - After action report
Between August 03 and August 12, the Russian Baltic Fleet held its annual Ocean Shield exercise in the Baltic Sea. While smaller compared to last years exercise with only 30 warships participating, this years exercise was more imported because it was build on an offensive scenario, rather then a defensive one during 2019. While the opposing forces of the 2019 exercise were identified as NATO forces, the opposing force of the 2020 was less easy to identify. The offensive nature and swift sea control gained by the Russian Navy could suggest an surprise attack against NATO when few NATO forces are present, or the attack against a neutral country with significant maritime forces, most likely Sweden.
Just like last year, the exercise could be monitored through the use of open source material but unlike 2019 there was less available. Especially the Russian open sources such as state media and main newspapers were less vocal about the progress of Ocean Shield 2020. The third part of the exercise between August 9 and 12, was difficult to monitor as few sources were available, most of them lacking specific details. Nevertheless, a sufficiently detailed after action report could be distilled from OSINT sources in order to see how Ocean Shield 2020 progressed. The after action report will first comprise of the daily information, followed by a summary that looks at the overall scenario.
The Ocean Shield 2020 kicked off with the departure of the participating warships from their bases while minesweepers provided an escort. The specific mission of these minesweepers was not reported by Russian Media though minesweepers usually serve a dual purpose in these exercises. Their first task is to ensure that the routes taken by the warships are free of mines and unexploded ordnance. Their second task is to use their sonar systems to detect and track underwater drones. Given the high amount of sea mines and explosives left over from both World Wars and the Cold War, the first task was most likely the main reason for the deployment of the minesweepers as an escort. 
Russian sources did not provide a detailed overview of which ships were deployed for the Ocean Shield 2020 exercise. Most pictures that were made available on this day showed a fleet formation sailing in line. It later turned out that this was the line up of the Navy Day Parade in Saint Petersburg. This was confirmed as the Udaloy class destroyer RFS Vice-Admiral Kulakov was shown in these pictures. On august 3, this destroyer was passing through the English Channel on her way to a deployment in the Mediterranean. 
The first major exercise of Ocean Shield 2020 involved an amphibious landing of the 336th Naval Infantry Brigade on the coastline of the Khmelevka training ground in the Kaliningrad Region. Over 20 surface warships and 18 aircraft and helicopters and aircraft took part in this exercise.
The amphibious group itself was made up of the three Ropucha class landing ships, the RFS Korolev, RFS Minsk and RFS Kaliningrad. The Zubr class hovercraft RFS Evgeny Kocheshkov and the Dyugong landing craft RFS Lieutenant Rimsky-Korsakov were also present. In total, this amphibious group landed 25 BTR-82As Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs)
The amphibious landing itself followed the standard procedures which were observed during previous exercises. Ka-27PS helicopters landed detachment of engineers on the coastline who were tasked to create safe passages through the minefields on the beach. Air support for the engineers was provided by at least four Mi-24 helicopters, at least one Mi-8 helicopter and at least two Su-34SM fighter aircraft.
|Intership exercise of Kaliningrad - copyright @Bottema37|
During the evening, three Ropucha class landing ships passed the Oresund`around 2015 Zulu. The vessels were heading north towards the Kattegat and the North Sea. These vessels were identified as the RFS Kaliningrad, the RFS Korolev and the RFS Minsk. Several minutes later, a German replenishment vessel of the Elbe class passed by, shadowing the Russian warships.