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.


Geostrategic Activities

War in Ukraine – Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbass frontline in Ukraine during the week of 25 November – 1 December. Traditionally, the shooting on the frontline took place every day.

War in Syria – Russian aircraft conducted daily air strikes against the rebel-held wider Idlib region during the week. In the north-eastern Syria, Russia continued to entrench its position by establishing a military headquarters in the town of Amuda, situated near the Turkish border, west of the Qamishli city. Meanwhile, Russian air force broadened its patrol area to include Syria’s northern and north-eastern regions.

A hospital in the town of Kansafra, Idlib Province, bombed by the Russian warplanes. Source: Twitter, from

Russia in Africa – Moscow gifted Gabon a free shipment of small arms for the government units dedicated to the fight against the poachers.

Russia provided free military aid to Mongolia, in the form of two MiG-29UB fighters, and Kyrgyzstan which got “a new consignment of military hardware, including two Mil Mi-8MT utility helicopters and two mobile P-18-2 [early-warning] radars.”

Fighter aircraft from Japan and Korea followed two Russian Tu-95MS strategic bombers flying over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.

The supposed route of the Tu-95MS bombers. From:


Structural Changes

Commander of the Baltic Fleet Admiral Alexander Nosatov announced the creation of another mechanized brigade in Kaliningrad Oblast in 2020. Presently the maneuver forces based in Kaliningrad Oblast include: 79th Mechanized Brigade; 336th Naval Infantry Brigade; 7th Mechanized Regiment; 11th Tank Regiment (established as recently as January 2019); and 561st Maritime Recon Point which in effect is a naval Special Forces battalion. Separate missile and artillery forces in Kaliningrad Oblast include: 244th Artillery Brigade; 152nd Missile Brigade, armed with Iskander-M ballistic missile systems; and 25th Coastal Missile Regiment. The recent establishment of a new tank regiment combined with the planned creation of another mechanized brigade indicate the priority given by Moscow to the strengthening of the land component of its forces in the strategic Kaliningrad exclave.

Russian armed forces have created new elite Special Forces platoon of about 30 SF officers, who had been selected from some 4 500 candidates.


Rearmament and Modernization

A new Improved Kilo / Project 636.3 class diesel submarine Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky joined the Pacific Fleet on 25 November 2019.Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky submarine. Source: Russian Ministry of Defense

Russian media reported a test firing of the Kinzhal nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) that had taken place in the Arctic in mid-November 2019. The missile was fired by a MiG-31K attack aircraft.



A Russian military satellite, launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome (Mirny, Arkhangelsk Oblast), has entered the orbit.



The Northern Fleet’s Slava / Project 1164 Atlant class guided missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov conducted a joint naval exercise with two frigates from China and South Africa. The exercise took three days and occurred near the Cape of Good Hope. It was preceded by the Marshal Ustinov’s southward voyage along the African coast of the Atlantic Ocean.


Arms Exports

The armed forces of Laos received the second batch of the Russian T-72B1 tanks. The first shipment had been delivered in mid-December 2018.

* 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.