Author: David Batashvili

Rondeli Russian Military Digest is a weekly brief that reports key activities by and developments within the armed forces of the Russian Federation. Researchers, civil servants and everyone else interested in what is going on in the military of one of the most dangerous nations on the planet – tune in and enjoy.


Geostrategic Activities

War in Syria – Russian air force resumed occasional bombings of the rebel-held Idlib province during the week of 7-13 October 2019. A key turning point in the Syrian War that took place last week was a Russian-brokered deal between the Assad regime and the Kurds on 13 October that amounted to the Kurdish surrender to the regime in exchange for their protection from Turkey’s offensive. Russian-backed Assad forces began their expansion into the Kurdish-controlled area immediately after the deal had been finalized. This development will result in the consolidation of the Russian and Iranian dominance in Syria, including the fulfillment of these two powers’ long-time ambition to expand into the areas of the country east of the Euphrates river, as well as in the general growth of Russia’s geopolitical clout in the Middle East.

War in Syria – An investigation by The New York Times found that Russian air force bombed four hospitals in Syria during a 12-hour interval on 5-6 May 2019. As the NYT notes, “Russia has long been accused of carrying out systematic attacks against hospitals and clinics in rebel-held areas as part of a strategy to help Mr. Assad secure victory in the eight-year-old war.”

A Russian aircraft bombing Idlib province in September 2018. Source: Anas Al-Dyab/Agence France-Presse, from The New York Times

War in Ukraine – Everyday shooting continued on the Donbass frontline in Ukraine during the past week. According to the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation Press Center, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and three were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces.

Commander of U.S. Southern Command Admiral Craig S. Faller spoke about Russia’s geostrategic activities in the Americas, including military and security assistance to the Maduro regime in Venezuela, warship and aircraft deployments to the region, and running a training center in Nicaragua that “has dubious dual purposes.”

A group of Russian warships is present in East Asian waters, having conducted drills in the East China Sea. The ships belong to the Pacific Fleet and include Slava / Project 1164 Atlant class guided missile cruiser Varyag and Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Panteleyev.

Nigeria’s ambassador to Russia said his president Muhammadu Buhari hoped to sign a military cooperation deal with Russia in the near future.


Rearmament and Modernization

According to the Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoygu, 1.5 trillion rubles has been directed for the rearmament of the Russian army and navy in 2019.

A new Project 22800 Karakurt class corvette, Sovetsk, has officially joined the Baltic Fleet at Baltiysk naval base in Kaliningrad Oblast. Sovetsk is the second Karakurt class corvette to join the Russian navy. The first, Mytishchi, joined the Baltic Fleet in December 2018.

Sovetsk. Source: Western Military District press service

The 126th Coastal Defense Brigade and the 8th Artillery Regiment of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s 22nd Army Corps in the occupied Crimea, Ukraine are receiving Tornado-G multiple rocket launchers instead of the older Grad systems.

Russian Central Military District reported it had received over 100 units of modern military equipment in September 2019, and about 400 total since the beginning of 2019.



Troops from ArmeniaBelarusKazakhstanKyrgyzstan and Tajikistan took part, along with the Russians, in the Echelon-2019 logistics exercise in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. The exercise was conducted within the framework of a Russian-led military alliance – the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

Russian troops stationed in the occupied region of Abkhazia, Georgia, continued a series of exercises. About 2,000 Russian troops participated in the past week.


Arms Exports

Nigeria’s air force has received six Mi-35M attack helicopters from Russia. The contract between the two countries envisions the future delivery of six more Mi-35Ms.

* The weekly number of exercises in the Russian armed forces is very large. Therefore, all cannot be included in this digest. The exercises that are included are selected by the author for their strategic significance, particularly large scale, involvement of numerous units and locations, and/or involvement of other nations’ territories under the Russian occupation.