Author: David Batashvili, Research Fellow at Rondeli Foundation

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 – Shooting occurred every day on the Donbass frontline during the week of 6-12 January 2020. One Ukrainian soldier was killed and nine were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces.

War in Syria – Russian air force conducted occasional airstrikes against the rebel-held Idlib region in Syria’s north-west during the week of 6-12 January 2020. Although Russia announced a ceasefire in Idlib on 9 January, in fact, the combat activities, including air strikes, have continued.

Russia in Africa – Russian-backed Libyan rebel forces advanced on the frontlines, taking territory from Libya’s UN-backed government. The areas taken over during this advance included the city of Sirte.

Reuters published an exclusive material about a St. Petersburg clinic “run and partly owned by people with ties to President Vladimir Putin,” which has provided medical treatment to Russian mercenaries injured in military conflicts abroad, including in Syria and Libya.

Russian Black Sea Fleet’s Yury Ivanov / Project 18289 class intelligence collection ship Ivan Khurs “made an aggressive move” toward a US Arleigh Burke class destroyer Farragut, creating a risk of collision. The incident occurred on 9 January 2020, in the north Arabian Sea.

Ivan Khurs aggressively approaches Farragut. Source: US Navy, from US Naval Institute


Rearmament and Modernization

The 439th Reactive Artillery Brigade (Znamensk, Astrakhan Oblast), under the Southern Military District command, has been fully rearmed with Tornado-S multiple launch rocket systems.

Tornado-S. Source: Russian Defense Ministry, from Army Recognition Group

The 76th Air Assault Division (HQ in Pskov) is receiving a battalion’s worth of new BMD-4M infantry fighting vehicles in January 2020.



Naval warships of the Black Sea Fleet and the Northern Fleet conducted a joint exercise in the Black Sea. Over 30 ships, one submarine and more than 40 aircraft participated. The Northern Fleet was represented by Slava / Project 1164 Atlant class guided missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov, which functioned as a headquarters and hosted Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu during the exercise, and Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov. Among the participating Black Sea Fleet ships were: Admiral Grigorovich / Project 11356P/M class guided missile frigates Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral MakarovBuyan-M / Project 21631 class corvette Orekhovo-ZuyevoTarantul / Project 12411 class corvettes Ivanovets and Naberezhnye ChelnyProject 22160 class large patrol ships Dmitry Rogachev and Vasily BykovImproved Kilo / Project 636.3 class diesel submarine KolpinoRopucha-II / Project 775/III class landing ship Azov and Ropucha-I / Project 775 class landing ship Caesar Kunikov.

Troops of the recon battalion of the 4th Military Base (a mechanized brigade-sized unit based in the occupied Tskhinvali Region, Georgia) of the 58th Army (HQ in Vladikavkaz, Republic of North Ossetia-Alania) conducted an exercise.


Arms Exports

Algeria received a shipment of the Russian T-90SA tanks.


*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, the involvement of numerous units and locations, and/or involvement of other nations’ territories under the Russian occupation.