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 12 were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces in Donbass during the week of 13-19 January 2020. The shooting took place on the frontline every day of the week.

War in Syria – Russian air force resumed massive strikes against the Syrian rebels in the Idlib region. The aims of the Russian air bombardment during the week of 13-19 January 2020 apparently included supporting the Assad regime forces’ ground attacks against the rebels in the south-east of the rebel-controlled territory, although Russians also intensely bombed the territory west of Aleppo city. In the north-eastern Syria, Russian media reported an incident between American and Russian troops. According to the reports, on 18 January, the US troops blocked the Russian troops’ movement toward an oil field in the area.

Russian mercenaries in the north-western Syria. Source: Twitter, from


Rearmament and Modernization

According to the information made public last week, the delivery of the new T-14 Armata tanks and T-15 infantry fighting vehicles to the Russian armed forces has been delayed. The first batch of these armored vehicles was supposed to be delivered in “late 2019-early 2020.”

Russian website summarized deliveries of the new aircraft to the Russian armed forces in 2019. According to the report, last year Russian air force received: eight Su-34 fighter-bomber/strike aircraft; ten Su-35S fighters; two experimental MiG-35 fighters; and three Il-76MD-90A strategic airlifters.

Experimental MiG-35UB fighter delivered to the Russian armed forces in 2019. Source: Vyacheslav Grushnikov/, from

40th Naval Infantry Brigade (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Kamchatka Krai) has received BMP-2M infantry fighting vehicles.

The first S-350 surface-to-air missile system, the delivery of which to the Russian armed forces was reported in Issue 20 of this digest, is set to be received by one of the Russian air defense units based in Leningrad Oblast.

Russian 20th Army, established after 2015 with units along the Ukrainian border, is completing its re-equipment with the Ratnik combat gear set.



Troops of the 2nd Mechanized Division (HQ in Kalininets, Moscow Oblast) of the 1st Tank Army (HQ in Bakovka, Moscow Oblast) launched a snap exercise on 13 January 2020. Reportedly, over 4,500 troops participated.

Air mobile groups of the 7th Military Base (a Russian mechanized brigade-sized unit in the occupied region of Abkhazia, Georgia), conducted tactical airborne landing drills.

Over 500 Russian troops from the Black Sea Fleet’s 22nd Army Corps (HQ in Simferopol, occupied Crimea, Ukraine) conducted a snap exercise.


Arms Exports

Russian state-owned Rostec corporation has supplied “a large batch” of night vision monoculars to an unnamed country in Africa.


* 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.