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

Russia continues to retain the large concentration of its troops near the border of Ukraine. According to the head of the Ukrainian military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, Moscow could be preparing to launch a major military operation against Ukraine around the end of January or early February 2022. U.S. intelligence agencies have also noted “a buildup of Russian troops and artillery to prepare for a rapid, large-scale push into Ukraine from multiple locations if President Vladimir Putin decided to invade.” The possible timing of attack according to the U.S. intelligence is also early 2022, with Belarusian territory also used for this purpose by the Russian troops. American officials stress that they do not yet know whether Russia will actually decide to go through with the offensive against Ukraine.

From the Military Times: “The Ukraine military’s assessment of a how a potential attack by Russia would play out shows the country ringed by Russian battalion tactical groups, or BTGs. (Courtesy of Ukraine military)”

War in Ukraine – One Ukrainian military service member was killed and six were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbas frontline during the week of 15-21 November 2021.

War in Syria – Russian air force conducted strikes in the Syrian rebel-held Idlib region on 15 and 17 November 2021. In eastern Syria, Russian forces have reportedly widened the geographic area of their patrols conducted near the U.S. forces based in that part of the country.

According to the Russian media, the Russian air force is training the Assad regime’s MiG-29 fighter pilots for air-to-air combat in Syria.

South Korea scrambled jets in response to the entrance of seven Russian and two Chinese military aircraft in its air defense identification zone off Korea’s eastern coast, on 19 November 2021. Two of the Russian planes were Tu-95MS strategic bombers, and the two Chinese aircraft were strategic bombers as well. The incident was part of a joint Russian-Chinese air patrol conducted over the waters of the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.

The Northern Fleet’s Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov, in the Atlantic Ocean since 23 September 2021, passed through the English Channel and reached the North Sea on 19 November, after operating near the coast of Western Africa.

Kulakov and its support ships


Rearmament and Modernization

Russian Defense Ministry received a first batch of new 9M333 missiles for Strela-10M3 short-range surface-to-air missile systems.



Russia conducted test firing of the Nudol anti-satellite missile system, destroying a defunct Russian satellite in orbit on 15 November 2021. The missile was fired from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Arkhangelsk Oblast.



A joint CSTO Special Forces exercise was held in Tajikistan. Special Forces and recon troops from the Russian Central Military District took part along with those from ArmeniaBelarusKazakhstanKyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The navies of Russia and Algeria held a joint exercise in the southwestern Mediterranean Sea. The Black Sea Fleet’s Admiral Grigorovich / Project 11356P/M class guided missile frigate Admiral Grigorovich and Project 22160 class large patrol ship Dmitry Rogachev represented the Russian navy.


Arms Exports

Russia has reportedly delivered to Vietnam a batch of six Yak-130 trainer and light combat aircraft.


*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.