|Author: David Batashvili, Research Fellow at the Rondeli Foundation|
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Numerous movements of Russian forces in the westward direction continued to be spotted in many parts of the Russian Federation during the week of 17-23 January 2022. A development of crucial importance during the week was the entrance of large forces of the Russian Eastern Military District into Belarus and their deployment to various bases in that country. Besides large number of ground combat forces, at least two battalions of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems and Su-35S fighters have also been delivered to Belarus from the Eastern Military District along with Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile systems. Due to geography, the large Russian deployment to Belarus raised concerns about potential Russian attack towards Ukrainian capital Kyiv in case of a major Russian offensive against Ukraine.
A static shot from the Russo-Ukrainian War interactive map showing the situation as of 23 January 2022
War in Ukraine – Two Ukrainian military service members were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbas frontline during the week of 17-23 January 2022.
Russian troops deployed in the CSTO mission reportedly completed their withdrawal from Kazakhstan on 19 January 2022.
War in Syria – Russian air force conducted strikes in the Syrian rebel-held Idlib region on 17 and 21 January 2022.
Air forces of Russia and the Assad regime conducted their first joint air patrol over Syria. Participating Russian planes included Su-34 fighter-bombers, Su-35 fighters and A-50 airborne early warning and control (AEW) aircraft operating from the Khmeimim air base.
Russia in sub-Saharan Africa – Russian ambassador to the Central African Republic stated that the number of Russian military “instructors” in the country was 1,135.
According to Russian sources, a new separate missile battalion armed with Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile systems has been established within the Black Sea Fleet’s 22nd Army Corps based in occupied Crimea, Ukraine.
A new anti-aircraft missile brigade armed with Buk-M3 anti-aircraft missile systems was established within the 8th Army (HQ in Novocherkassk, Rostov Oblast) in late 2021.
Rearmament and Modernization
The 47th Missile Brigade (Korenovsk, Krasnodar Krai) of the 8th Army (HQ in Novocherkassk, Rostov Oblast), established in 2020 and originally armed with Tochka-U systems, has been rearmed with Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile systems.
According to Russian sources, the 1721st Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Sochi, Krasnodar Krai) of the 51st Air Defense Division (HQ in Rostov-on-Don), the 4th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Rostov-on-Don) has been armed with S-350 surface-to-air missile systems.
Russia conducted a joint naval exercise with China and Iran in the Gulf of Oman. The Russian navy was represented by 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.
*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.