The Russian Army VSR Camouflage Types and Delevelopment
The VSR camouflage patterns were used by almost every department of the Russian Armed Forces. They have undergone various adaptations and modifications since they first were developed. However, their usage decreased with the introduction of new designs.
The camouflage patterns, ordinarily known as VSR for "Vooruzhennyye sily Rossii" - "Russian Armed Forces", had numerous design variations throughout their production run. Although some designs were unintended, they were still unique.
Historical development of VSR camouflage patterns
During the early to mid-1980s, the Soviet Union was developing and highly experimenting with uniforms and tactical gear. The developments were under a project known as Butan. Multiple camouflage patterns originated from this period. They were supposed to update and modernize the armed forces' paraphernalia to promote uniformity and professionalism. Early designs, known as barvikha, were developed in the late 1980s with an eight-year test period.
The Russian VSR camouflage pattern was supposed to be the standard pattern for most equipment and uniforms worn in the parade and the field. Their production started with the Soviet Union then later adopted by the Russian Federation. After showcases of the VSR uniform in various publications, there were concerns about producing them since the manufacturing equipment was old. They also claimed that the new fabrics, dyes, and accessories were expensive after the Ministry of Defense reduced its expenditure. The project, due to insufficient funds, was suspended.
After the Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991 into 15 separate countries, the Russian Federation saw the need to rebrand its armed forces into a modern and professional one. They had a bad reputation from the Soviet Union regime, and coupled with them sharing the same uniform, equipment, and camouflage, the Russian Armed Forces needed new gear. They began service in 1991, but only the select special units such as the Airborne Brigade used them. Its adoption widely started in March 1993. Universal distribution to ground units of the Russian Armed Forces was done by the year 1994. Usage of the VSR pattern declined after the introduction of the Flora pattern in 1998.
Multiple VSR versions were later adopted by other security departments and government forces. Each was unique and optimized to provide camouflage in specific environments. Many color variations have emerged, like a recent bright design for Special Operations Forces. It is based on the Berezhka pattern with a mesh-like design to provide camouflage in snowy environments.
Variations of VSR camouflage patterns
The Russian camouflage pattern originated from the Recon VSR, which evolved to VSR-93. They had resembling designs but differed in the number of colors. Recon VSR also had a fluid pattern that looked like a painting. VSR has an uneven pattern with a vertical abstraction and three color schemes. Two of the colors have darker tones, and they are over a lighter colored area. There are multiple color variations of these patterns in the VSR. The original ones had two color variations. A green-based or woodland version and a brown-based or arid mountainous version combination of colors. More color variations, however, entered production over time. They integrated these patterns into tactical gear, summer and winter uniforms, tanker paintings, and various accessories.
The various types of Russian camouflage patterns that followed VSR patterns include:
It was introduced around 1998 and had a horizontal alignment. It's derived from the dubok (little oak), and the patterns seem to be larger than those of VSR-93. There were many color combinations produced, and their design became the standard-issue camouflage pattern for both the Russian Armed Forces and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
It was the derivation of the former Soviet camouflage pattern known as "sunray" in 2000. It was only limited to a few troops in the Armed Forces like those in special operations or intelligence missions. Multiple color variations went into production, and commercial sellers majorly marketed them.
It was introduced in 2004 and had a camouflage design highly influenced by Germany's World War Two SS oakleaf camouflage pattern. It has two variations for summer and autumn. The summer design highlights a green background with a loam, dark brown, and sandy patterns on top of it. The autumn version features a sandy background with black, dark brown, loam, and green patterns on top of it. Special operations personnel use them.
It is copied from the German flecktarn pattern and has been in use from around 2006 by some Airborne Brigades and Federal Security Services. The pattern contains black, dark green, greyish and russet bits on a yellowish background. They are very similar to commercially available versions and the original version from Germany.
Pixelated camouflage design
Introduced in 2008, they were to replace the VSR and Flora patterns. It is officially known as the Edinaya maskirovochnaya rascvetka (EMR). The pattern normally goes by the name "digital flora," Tsifra, or Tetris. It is common in all the departments of the Russian Armed Forces. They are pixelated versions of previous camouflage patterns, and there are quite a lot of EMR pattern adaptations in production. Some of the versions include; leto (summer), zima (winter), and gorod (urban). They underwent complete adoption in 2011. In 2013, there was the introduction of a light brown version meant for use in desert and arid areas.
Numerous Russian camouflage designs are based on the VSR, and other designs have evolved from the pattern. Some designs have vibrant colors and patterns to easily distinguish a friend from an enemy troop in smoky or foggy conditions. There are designs specially made for certain operations and personnel to optimize their performance in the field. Some are used only for parades and official businesses.
Reasons for the development of different patterns
There are some theories on the reasons for the variations in patterns of VSRs. The most obvious is that they intentionally made them different to serve different Russian Armed Forces units. They also had variations to be used effectively in different environments and terrains.
Another theory is that due to nonuniformity in the production standards, varying designs and colors resulted from the manufacturers. Factories have different methods of printing and design configuration by using different textiles, dyes, and fabrics. The shift to post-Soviet equipment and raw materials may have resulted in pattern differences and design variations.
The third theory is those official variants produced after 1993 were not up to standard as the factories had poor quality control methods. It resulted in accidental variations that did not resemble the commissioned designs.
Reasons they were used and stopped being used
The Soviet Union sometimes used the army to neutralize internal conflicts with its people. They also had a heavy presence in most cities in the Soviet nations. It portrayed them negatively, and they were associated with terror. When the union dissolved, the Russian Federation had to reassure its citizens of their welfare and safety. They decided to rebrand the Russian Armed Forces using the VSR camouflage patterns for uniforms and tactical gear.
The use of VSR camouflage gradually declined after the introduction of the Flora pattern. There were variations of VSR produced afterward, but the official Russian Armed Forces uniform in its entirety changed. Currently, they are on the market through commercial suppliers and are used only by special operations troops of the Russian Armed Forces.
We also wrote something about russian camo in our other blog post:
The Development of the modern Russian Army Camouflage Pattern
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