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 – Ukrainian forces continued suffering casualties on the Donbass frontline in the week of 20-26 January 2020. Four Ukrainian servicemen were killed by the Russian hybrid forces – same as the previous week. Six were wounded. Shooting on the frontline occurred every day of the week.

War in Syria – Russian air force conducted daily and intense strikes against the targets in the rebel-held wider Idlib region during the week of 20-26 January 2020. Civilian casualties as a result of the Russian air strikes have been reported. In the south-east of the Idlib region, Assad forces backed by Russia and Iran succeeded in breaking through the rebel defenses and taking over significant territory. Maarrat al-Numan city has been placed under a direct threat of capture by the Assad regime. In north-eastern Syria, the US forces continued the practice, reportedly started the previous week, of blocking the movements of certain Russian patrols in the area. Such incidents were reported on 21, 22 and 25 January. Russian helicopters and the US warplanes were flying in the area following the incident on 25 January.

US forces block the movement of Russian troops on 25 January 2020. Source:

The Arctic Game – The Russian General Staff decided to double the future number of Resonance-N type radar stations in the Arctic, bringing it to ten. The last such station so far had been commissioned in November 2019, on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.

The military instructors from the Russian 201st Military Base (a Russian mechanized division-sized unit based in Dushanbe and Bokhtar, Tajikistan) are to train one thousand junior military specialists for Tajikistan’s armed forces in 2020.

Russia provided military aid to Laos, delivering T-72 tanks and BRDM-2M armored reconnaissance vehicles. Russians also handed over to Laotians a local airdrome they had modernized.

Russians in Laos. Source:



Russian and Assad forces conducted a joint military exercise in the port of Tartus in Syria. According to the Russians, about 2,000 troops and seven military vessels participated. Tartus is a site of a Russian naval base.

Russian pilots of the Su-30SM fighters and Su-24M attack aircraft conducted an exercise in occupied Crimea, Ukraine.


Arms Exports

Russian media reported that along with the S-400 systems, Russia had also delivered to Turkey more than 120 missiles for this air defense system.

According to the Russian media, Serbia’s purchase of the Russian Pantsir-S1 medium-range surface-to-air missile systems involves one battery consisting of six systems. President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić had announced the purchase of Pantsir-S1 in October 2019. The systems are to be delivered in 2020, with deliveries starting in late February.

* 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.