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 casualty number on the Donbass frontline climbed up in the week of 2-8 March 2020, with three killed and 27 wounded by the Russian hybrid forces. Shooting on the frontline occurred every day of the week.

War in Syria – Russian air forces conducted air strikes against the rebel-held Idlib region, in support of the Assad regime forces. Russia also sent reinforcements to Syria. On 5 March 2020, Russia and Turkey signed a ceasefire agreement for the Idlib region, the conditions of which appear to increase the territorial area of influence of the Russian military in the north-western Syria.

War in Syria – According to a UN investigation, Russia has committed war crimes in Syria, in the form of indiscriminate bombing of civilians. According to the investigation, in at least two incidents of targeting civilians from air, “the Russian Air Force did not direct the attacks at a specific military objective, amounting to the war crime of launching indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas.”

A compound for displaced civilians bombed by Russians. Source: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images, from The Guardian

Russia in Africa – Russian sources claim that Moscow has withdrawn Wagner mercenaries from Libya. It is unclear, at this point, whether the information is correct.

A group of Russian military aircraft consisting of one Tu-142MR and one Tu-142MK maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft, as well as one MiG-31 fighter, was intercepted by Norwegian F-35 stealth fighters over the sea west of Norway. Meanwhile, six UK Royal Air Force Typhoon fighters intercepted a group of Russian aircraft off the north-west coast of Scotland.

A British Typhoon on top of a Russian Tu-142. Source: RAF/PA, from The Guardian

Russian Tu-142 and MiG-31. Source: Royal Norwegian Air Force, from Defence Blog

The Pacific Fleet’s Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Vinogradov is on a voyage in the Indian Ocean.

Improved Yug / Project 862.2 class intelligence collection ship Marshal Gelovani left its Pacific Fleet naval base in Vladivostok for a voyage to Antarctica. As reported in Issue 24 of this digest, in January 2020, Antarctica was visited by Northern Fleet’s Project 22010 Kruys class special purpose intelligence collection ship Yantar.


Rearmament and Modernization

According to the Russian sources, Su-57 fighter, set to be supplied to the Russian air force in the future, will be able to locate American F-22 and F-35 stealth aircraft “only approximately”.

Russian MoD reports that in February 2020, the Western Military District received 200 new items of armament, including various types of cars and 12 BTR-82A armored personnel carriers for the 27th Mechanized Brigade (Moscow and Mosrentgen, Moscow Oblast).  



The Central Military District and Russian federal executive agencies conducted a joint exercise spanning 29 administrative regions of Russia in Ural, Siberia and Volga Region. Using “human and transport resources” of Russia’s administrative regions for military purposes was practiced during the exercise.

About 1,000 troops of the Russian occupation forces (7th Military Base, Gudauta, Georgia) drilled in Abkhazia, Georgia.

About 1,000 Russian troops of the 102nd Military Base (Gyumri, Republic of Armenia) conducted joint drills with Armenia’s armed forces.


* 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.