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 – Four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and seven were wounded on the frontline in Donbass during the week of 9-15 December 2019. Ukrainians reported shooting by the Russian hybrid forces every day of the week. The Russian-Ukrainian agreement of 9 December 2019 to implement a “full and comprehensive” ceasefire by the end of 2019 has so far failed to alter the conditions prevailing on the Donbass frontline.

Arrival of Russian ‘technical advisors’ on air defenses was reported in Canaima, Bolivar State, Venezuela.

The Northern Fleet’s Project 22010 Kruys class special purpose intelligence collection ship Yantar entered the Pacific Ocean after passing through the Panama Canal.


Structural Changes

Russians have established a new air defense regiment on the Arctic coast in Tiksi, Sakha Republic. They have also supplied it with the S-300PS surface-to-air missile systems. The regiment belongs to the recently established 3rd Air Defense Division of the 45th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Safonovo, Murmansk Oblast).

The new air defense regiment’s armament in Tiksi. Source:

A new recon battalion has been established within the 177th Naval Infantry Regiment (Kaspiysk, Republic of Dagestan) of the Caspian Flotilla. The battalion includes a Special Forces company. The 177th Regiment itself was established in the late 2018 on the basis of two previously existing separate naval infantry battalions.


Rearmament and Modernization

An anti-aircraft missile regiment in Leningrad Oblast has been fully rearmed with the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. The sources have not indicated the identity of the regiment at the time of writing. There are four anti-aircraft missile regiments around Saint Petersburg in Leningrad Oblast, all of which belong to the 2nd Air Defense Division (HQ in St Petersburg) of the 6th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ also in Saint Petersburg).

Russia has begun supplying the new Ka-31R type naval airborne early warning and control helicopters to the 318th Mixed Aviation Regiment (Kacha air base in occupied Crimea). The regiment belongs to the Naval Aviation of the Black Sea Fleet.



The Russian Space Forces launched Soyuz-2.1b rocket that delivered a GLONASS-M navigation system satellite to the orbit. The launch was conducted from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.



Russia and India are holding a joint Indra-2019 military exercise between 11-21 December 2019. The exercise is being held in three of India’s states, with 700 Russian troops participating.

Another joint military exercise with Russia’s participation is taking place in LaosLaros-2019 exercise is being held on 10-19 December 2019. The Russians are represented by troops from the tank battalion of the 36th Mechanized Brigade (Borzya, Zabaykalsky Krai), 29th Army (HQ in Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai).

Soldiers from Russia and Laos during the exercise. Source: Eastern Military District

Artillery units from the Black Sea Fleet’s 22nd Army Corps in occupied Crimea, Ukraine, held a UAV exercise. Another Russian exercise in Crimea was conducted by the air force.

Russian troops in Georgia’s occupied region of Abkhazia held artillery and recon troops exercises. The occupation forces in Abkhazia constitute a mechanized brigade-sized unit named the 7th Military Base.

Recon exercise in occupied Abkhazia, Georgia. Source: Southern Military District



A serious fire occurred on Russia’s only aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov (Kuznetsov class). At least two crew members were killed and 14 others were injured, with the ship itself suffering damage as a result. Admiral Kuznetsov belongs to the Northern Fleet.


* 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.