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 – One Ukrainian soldier was killed and five were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces during the week of 2-8 December 2019. The shooting on the frontline in Donbass occurred every day of the week.

War in Syria – Russian air force bombed the rebel-held wider Idlib region every day during the week of 2-8 December. In the northern and north-eastern Syria, Russian ground and air forces conducted patrols, which included them entering the city of Raqqa for the first time. Three Russian servicemen were wounded on 2 December, south-east from the city of Kobani, when their armored car was hit by an explosive device.

Russian column entering Qamishli International Airport. Source: Twitter, from

The location of the Russian patrol when it was hit by an explosive device. Source: Kommersant.

Russia in Africa – According to the US Africa Command, “an unarmed American drone reported lost near Libya’s capital last month was in fact shot down by Russian air defenses.” The US assessment is that “either Russian private military contractors or Haftar’s so-called Libyan National Army were operating the air defenses at the time the drone was reported lost on Nov. 21.”

The Arctic Game – A group of the Northern Fleet ships left its naval base in Severomorsk for another long-distance voyage. The ships will cross the Barents Sea to enter the Atlantic Ocean. The group includes Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov and Ropucha / Project 775 class landing ship Kondopoga.

According to a senior Iranian naval official, “Russia, Iran, and China will hold joint naval war games on Dec. 27.” Previously it had been reported that the three powers intended to hold a joint exercise in the Indian Ocean.


Structural Changes

Russian media reports there are plans to establish a mechanized division headquarters in Kaliningrad Oblast next year. The division could become a part of the 11th Army Corps that currently commands most of the Russian land forces in the oblast. As we reported in Issue 16 of this digest, commander of the Baltic Fleet had recently announced creation of another mechanized brigade in Kaliningrad Oblast in 2020.

The Northern Fleet naval aviation unit called the 7050th Air Base, stationed at the Severomorsk-1 air base near the city of Murmansk, has been divided into the new 403rd Separate Mixed Aviation Regiment and the 830th Separate Shipborne Anti-Submarine Helicopter Regiment. Both newly formed regiments will remain at the Severomorsk-1 base. A separate helicopter squadron has also been formed on the basis of the former 7050th Air Base.

Il-38 maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft from the 403rd Separate Mixed Aviation Regiment. Source:, from


Rearmament and Modernization

The 1724th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Birobidzhan, Jewish Autonomous Oblast) of the 25th Air Defense Division (HQ in Komsomolsk, Khabarovsk Krai), the 11th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Khabarovsk), received the S-300V4 surface-to-air missile systems.

Russian Defense Ministry has received the first military transport helicopter of the Mi-38T type. The second one is set to be delivered before the end of 2019.



Russian troops from the Central Military District’s 3rd Special Forces Brigade took part in a joint exercise with their local SF colleagues in Uzbekistan.


Arms Exports

Russia delivered four Mi-35M attack helicopters 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.