Author: David Batashvili, Research Fellow at the Rondeli Foundation

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.

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Geostrategic Activities

The navies of Russia and China conducted their first joint patrol in the Western Pacific on 17-23 October 2021. The Russian-Chinese squadron sailed around Japan, passing between Japanese islands through the Tsugaru Strait and then the Osumi Strait. Two Chinese destroyers and two frigates participated while the Russian Pacific Fleet was represented by Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyers Admiral Panteleyev and Admiral TributsSteregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvettes Aldar Tsydenzhapov and Gromkiy, and Marshal Nedelin/ Project 1914 class missile tracking ship Marshal Krylov.

The route of the Russian-Chinese squadron on 17-23 October 2021

War in Ukraine – Six Ukrainian military service members were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbas frontline during the week of 18-24 October 2021.

War in Syria – Russian air force conducted strikes in the Syrian rebel-held Idlib region on 19 and 23-24 October 2021. Russian artillery reportedly conducted shelling in the Idlib region on 21 October.

On 20 October 2021, Belarus signed agreements with Moscow to prolong the Russian use of the early warning radar in Hantsavichy and the 43rd Communications Node of the Russian Navy in Vileyka, both located in Belarus.

Japan’s fighters intercepted Russian Ka-27 naval helicopters that were operating from the ships of the Russian-Chinese squadron circling around Japan on 17-23 October 2021. Chinese helicopters were intercepted by the Japanese jets as well.

Two Russian Su-30 fighters intercepted two U.S. bombers and two aerial refueling aircraft over the Black Sea on 19 October.

The Northern Fleet’s Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov, operating in the Atlantic Ocean since 23 September 2021 after entering it from the Mediterranean Sea, arrived at Equatorial Guinea’s capital Malabo on 20 October 2021.


Rearmament and Modernization

According to Russian informationreconnaissance battalions and companies of the Russian army, and Special Forces units within the Russian Airborne Forces (VDV), have been fully armed with AK-12 assault rifles.



On 20 October 2021, the Russian military lost their optical intelligence satellite Cosmos-2551, of a new Razbeg type, which had been in operation since 9 September. The satellite went out of orbit and burned in the atmosphere.

Cosmos-2551 burning in the sky of North America



Over 40 ships of the Black Sea Fleet and 4,000 troops of the Southern Military District were involved in an exercise held in occupied Crimea, Ukraine. The Southern Military District’s main forces engaged in the exercise came from the 49th Army (HQ in Stavropol).

About 5,000 troops of the 7th Air Assault (Mountain) Division (HQ in Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai) engaged in an exercise held in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai, and occupied Crimea, Ukraine.

4,000 troops from member states of the Russian-led CSTO military alliance – Russia, ArmeniaBelarusKazakhstanKyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – took part in the alliance’s joint exercise held in Tajikistan. The exercise was led by the commander of the Russian Central Military District.

Egypt hosted a joint Russian-Egyptian airborne troops’ exercise.


*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.