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

Since early January 2022, videos and other information from numerous sources emerged indicating massive transportation of equipment from the Russian units based in the Eastern Military District, including Vladivostok, in the western direction. On 14 January 2022, the Russian Ministry of Defense made an effort to provide cover for this movement by announcing a battle readiness check in the units of the District. Meanwhile, according to the US intelligence, Russia prepared a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine to fabricate a pretext for large-scale military invasion, and prepositioned a group of special operatives for this purpose.

War in Ukraine – Three Ukrainian military service members were killed and two were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbas frontline during the week of 10-16 January 2022.

Su-30SM fighters of Russia and Belarus conducted a joint patrol of Belarusian borders on 11 January 2022.

Moscow began withdrawal of its troops deployed to Kazakhstan back to the Russian territory.

The U.S. Navy spotted a Russian intelligence collection ship operating in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.

War in Syria – Russian air force conducted strikes in the Syrian rebel-held Idlib region on 16 January 2022.

Russia in sub-Saharan Africa – Russian troops have deployed to a base in Timbuktu, Mali. The base was vacated by the French troops in December 2021. Officially, the Russians’ mission is to train Malian forces.

The Pacific Fleet’s flagship Slava / Project 1164 Atlant class guided missile cruiser Varyag and Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Tributs, on a long-range voyage since 29 December 2021entered the port of Kochi in southern India on 13 January 2022. The two ships reportedly left Kochi on 14 January. The warships transited the Strait of Malacca into the Indian Ocean on 11 January.


Structural Changes

Commander of the Russian Southern Military District announced plans to establish a new missile battalion within the Black Sea Fleet’s 22nd Army Corps in occupied Crimea, Ukraine, in 2022.

Russian Defense Ministry reported that a tank battalion armed with over 30 T-80BV tanks has been established within the Pacific Fleet’s 155th Naval Infantry Brigade (Vladivostok).


Rearmament and Modernization

The anti-aircraft missile regiment of the newly established 20th Mechanized Division (HQ in Volgograd) received Tor-M2 short-range surface-to-air missile systems.


The 18th Machine Gun Artillery Division (HQ in Goryachiye Klyuchi, Iturup/Etorofu island, Sakhalin Oblast) of the 68th Army Corps (HQ in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk), based on the disputed Kuril Islands, has received a batch of modernized T-80BV tanks.



Troops of the Southern Military District, the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla launched simultaneous exercises in various administrative regions of southern Russia and North Caucasus, as well as in occupied Crimea, Ukraine.

Battalions of Bastion-P and Bal anti-ship missiles of the Black Sea Fleet’s 11th Coastal Missile Brigade (Utash, Krasnodar Krai) conducted an exercise in occupied Crimea, Ukraine.

*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.