Author: David Batashvili

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.

For a comprehensive geographic view of the Russian military structure see our Interactive Map of the Russian Military Forces.

A note to readers: We are going to skip our publication next week. The digest will come back with Issue 15 in the middle of the week of 25 November-1 December. Issue 15 will cover two weeks.


Geostrategic Activities

War in Ukraine – Daily shooting on the Donbass frontline in eastern Ukraine continued unabated during the week of 4-10 November 2019. Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 13 were wounded by the Russian hybrid forcesaccording to the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation Press Center.

War in Syria – Russian air force continued intense daily bombing of the rebel-held wider Idlib region in north-western Syria in the week of 4-10 November 2019. Meanwhile, in the north-east of the country, Russia “has deployed military helicopters to patrol an area near Syria’s border with Turkey in order to help protect Russia military police working on the ground.”

Russia in Africa – The New York Times reported on the Russian military activities in the ongoing Libyan War. As the article points out, Russia “has introduced advanced Sukhoi jets, coordinated missile strikes, and precision-guided artillery, as well as the snipers” and other Wagner Group mercenaries, in order to shape the war’s outcome in favor of the rebel leader Khalifa Haftar and against the UN-recognized government in Tripoli. According to the Tripoli officials, “Russia is now bringing in more mercenaries by the week.”

Two groups of the Russian navy ships are on long-range voyages. The Pacific Fleet’s Slava / Project 1164 Atlant class guided missile cruiser Varyag and Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Panteleyev, both from the Fokino naval base east of Vladivostok, are operating in the South China Sea, accompanied by a tanker. Meanwhile, the Northern Fleet’s Slava / Project 1164 Atlant class guided missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov, with two support ships, is in the Atlantic Ocean moving southward along the African coast, having visited Equatorial Guinea in the week of 4-10 November.

Source: War vs Peace


Structural Changes

Russian media reported last week that a UAV detachment had been established within the 689th Fighter Regiment of the 132nd Mixed Aviation Division (Kaliningrad Oblast) in the summer of 2019. The detachment is armed with the Forpost model UAVs.

group of the Mi-8AMTSh-VA transport and attack helicopters from the 18th Army Aviation Brigade (Bolshoy air base, Khabarovsk) of the 11th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Khabarovsk) has been sent to be permanently based at the Ugolny air base in Anadyr, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug.


Rearmament and Modernization

Special Forces and recon units in the Central Military District have received 50 special armored cars, including Tigr-M SpN armored all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles, in 2019.

The Aircraft Demonstration Centre (whose aerobatic demonstration team is nicknamed “Russkiye Vityazi” / “Russian Knights”) at the Kubinka air base in Moscow Oblast has been armed with four Su-35S fighters. Previously the team’s primary aircraft were Su-30SM fighters.

One of the Su-35S fighters delivered to Kubinka. Source: Svetlana Balaeva, from



Joint Russia-Egypt aviation and air defense forces drills were completed on 7 November 2019.

Russian Crimea-based aircraft from the 27th Mixed Aviation Division (HQ in Belbek, occupied Crimea) conducted an exercise above the waters of the Black Sea.


Arms Exports

According to the head of Turkey’s Defense Industry Directorate, “delivery of a second batch of Russian S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey may be delayed beyond a planned 2020 timeline by talks on technology sharing and joint production.”


* 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.