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 Syria – The Russia-Iran-Assad coalition forces continued their successful offensive against the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels in the wider Idlib region, taking over additional territory. Russian air force participated in the offensive extensively during the week of 10-16 February 2020, through its intense bombing of the rebel-controlled areas.

War in Ukraine – Russian hybrid forces in Donbass region of Ukraine opened fire every day during the week of 10-16 February 2020. One Ukrainian soldier was wounded during the week.

The Pentagon “released a map showing areas of increased Russian and Chinese naval activities, as well as the locations of major undersea cables, around the world.”

Source: Defense Budget Overview, February 2020

Russia in Africa – First Russian armed forces officer reportedly died during the Libyan War. The information, if confirmed, would indicate that Russian activities against the UN-recognized Tripoli government in Libya involve not only the Wagner mercenaries, but also commissioned Russian armed forces troops.

Belgium’s F-16s intercepted Tu-134UBL training aircraft of the Russian Long Range Aviation Command over the Baltic Sea. The Belgian aircraft flew from a base in Šiauliai, Lithuania.


Structural Changes

Russian media reported that Russian armed forces had created mobile anti-UAV units in January 2020. The new units guard military bases in the Southern Military District and Eastern Military District. In the future, such units will be established in the rest of the Russian military districts as well.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Russia is planning to station air defense forces in Kyrgyzstan.



General John Raymond, the head of the United States Space Force, confirmed that a pair of Russian spacecraft have come very close to a US spy satellite. “Last November the Russian government launched a satellite that subsequently released a second satellite. These satellites have been actively maneuvering near a US government satellite,” said General Raymond. According to him, such maneuvers could “create a dangerous situation in space.”



Over 20 ships of the Baltic Fleet, including corvettes and landing vessels, conducted a naval combat exercise, which included a naval infantry landing drill.

Midshipman Lermontov landing craft during the amphibious landing exercise. Source: Western Military District

2,500 recon troops from various units of the 58th Army (HQ in Vladikavkaz, Republic of North Ossetia-Alania) launched drills taking place on various Russian firing grounds. Russian Defense Ministry’s information indicates that the participating recon troops probably belong to: 42nd Mechanized Division (HQ in Khankala, Chechen Republic), 4th Military Base (occupied Tskhinvali and Java, Georgia), 136th Mechanized Brigade (Buynaksk, Republic of Dagestan), 19th Mechanized Brigade (Sputnik, Republic of North Ossetia-Alania) and 100th Recon Brigade (Mozdok, Republic of North Ossetia-Alania).

Recon troops of the Russian occupation forces in Abkhazia, Georgia (belong to the 7th Military Base of the 49th Army) conducted special mountain warfare drills in the Russian Federation region of North Ossetia-Alania. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, “special attention during the drills is given to conducting long marches along unfamiliar trails 1.5 to 3 kilometers over the sea level.” The drills’ legend involves operating in the rear of the enemy.


* 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.