|Author: David Batashvili, Research Fellow at the Rondeli Foundation|
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Reports continued to emerge in various sources concerning ongoing arrivals of Russian military equipment to areas near Ukraine. Russian statements regarding removal of 10,000 troops from such areas referred to the conclusion of the Southern Military District’s latest drills and did not touch upon the bulk of the Russian military assets that continued to grow near Ukraine. In addition, Reuters reported that Russia had begun deploying additional mercenaries to the part of Donbas under the Russian occupation. One of the recruited mercenaries commented: “There is a full house. They are gathering everybody with combat experience.”
War in Ukraine – Four Ukrainian military service members were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbas frontline during the week of 20-26 December 2021.
War in Syria – Russian air force conducted strikes in the Syrian rebel-held Idlib region on 25-26 December 2021.
Russia in sub-Saharan Africa – A group of Western countries stated that Russian mercenaries had been sent to Mali. Possibly connected to this process was a flight of a Tu-154 airliner belonging to the Russian Defense Ministry’s 223rd Air Detachment (Chkalovskiy air base, Moscow Oblast) through Syria and Libya to Mali that was reported on 20 December 2021.
The reported flight from Moscow to Bamako, Mali
Commander of the Central Military District stated that a new air defense regiment armed with Pantsir-S air defense systems would be established in 2022 in the Republic of Khakassia.
Rearmament and Modernization
The 210th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Dubrovki, Moscow Oblast) of the 4th Air Defense Division (HQ in Dolgoprudny, Moscow Oblast), the 1st Air Defense and Missile Defense Army (HQ in Balashikha, Moscow Oblast) received a batch of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems to replace the ones that the regiment had recently left at the new Russian air defense base in Grodno, Belarus.
Project 885M Yasen-M class nuclear-powered submarine Novosibirsk and Project 955A Borei-A class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Knyaz Oleg joined the Russian navy, set to join the Pacific Fleet.
Two air defense battalions of the 36th Army’s (HQ in Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia) 37th Mechanized Brigade (Kyakhta, Republic of Buryatia) received 9K333 Verba man-portable air-defense systems.
The 29th Army (HQ in Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai) has been rearmed with Pecheneg machine guns. The 29th Army’s 36th Mechanized Brigade (Borzya, Zabaykalsky Krai) completed its rearmament with AK-12 assault rifles.
Russian air assault troops held an exercise in occupied Crimea, Ukraine. Another exercise involved deployment to Crimea of Russian Su-27SM3 and Su-30M2 fighters based in Krasnodar Krai (3rd Fighter Regiment, Krymsk air base).
Indonesia rejected its initial plans to acquire from Russia 11 Su-35 fighters.
Russia delivered a batch of Kornet man-portable anti-tank guided missiles to Serbia.
*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.