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.

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Geostrategic Activities

War in Ukraine – Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 11 were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces in Donbass, Ukraine, during the week of 30 March-5 April 2020. Shooting on the frontline occurred every day of the week.

War in Syria – A Russian convoy in north-eastern Syria, en route to an oil field, was blocked by the US troops on 30 MarchReportedly, “A Russian military convoy attempted to go round an American checkpoint and got stuck in the mud on the field. Russian Tigr armored vehicles and BTR-82A armored personnel carrier attempted to bypass the checkpoint but got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled out with a Typhoon-K wheeled armored vehicle (factory index KAMAZ-53949).”

The Russian convoy’s failed attempt to bypass Americans blocking the road. Source: Defence Blog

According to the reporting by Italian La Stampa and British The Telegraph newspapers, Russian military personnel sent to Italy to help with the fight against COVID-19 includes intelligence operatives exploiting the epidemic crisis in Italy as a unique opportunity to freely operate there.

The Pacific Fleet’s Steregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvettes Gromkiy and Sovershennyy left Vladivostok for a long-range voyage.

An air force training center, built by the Russian military, was opened in Laos.


Structural Changes

Russian sources revealed that the name of a new air defense regiment, established in 2019 in Tiksi, Sakha Republic, under the 3rd Air Defense Division (also established in 2019) of the 45th Air and Air Defense Forces Army, is the 414th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment. The new regiment is armed with the S-300PS surface-to-air missile systems.

Russians plan to build a new military base in Dikson, on the Taymyr Peninsula in Krasnoyarsk Krai. The purpose of the base is reported to be the repair service for the submarines. Currently Russians are building habitation infrastructure for the military servicemen, and a helipad.

The port of Dikson. Source: Flotprom


Rearmament and Modernization

Russia has supplied automated fire control systems to the artillery units of its occupation forces in Abkhazia, Georgia (7th Military Base of the 49th Army).

Russians reportedly have started delivering the T-90M tanks and Terminator armored fighting vehicles to the Western Military District.

howitzer battalion of the 103rd Mechanized Regiment (Kadamovskiy and Kuzminka, Rostov Oblast), which belongs to the 150th Mechanized Division (HQ in Kadamovskiy, Rostov Oblast) of the 8th Army (HQ in Novocherkassk, Rostov Oblast), has been armed with the Msta-B towed howitzers.



Russian occupation forces in Abkhazia, Georgia, held an exercise together with the armed groups of the Sukhumi proxy regime. Ka-52 recon and attack helicopters of the 4th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Rostov-on-Don) took part in another exercise held in Abkhazia.

Russian air units in the Southern Military District, including the Black Sea Fleet Naval Aviation, held an exercise together with the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems based in occupied Crimea, Ukraine.



Russian sources have identified the second submarine of the Northern Fleet quarantined in March 2020 because of the crew’s suspected exposure to COVID-19. It is Oscar II / Project 949A Antey class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine Smolensk. In the previous issue of this digest, we reported that submarine Orel, of the same class, had been quarantined, while the identity of the second quarantined submarine was unknown at that time. According to the Russians, the quarantine has since been lifted. Both Orel and Smolensk are stationed at the Northern Fleet’s Murmansk-150 (Zaozersk) naval base.

Moscow is, reportedly, studying options of postponing the 9 May victory parade due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the preparations for 9 May continued, with thousands (allegedly about 15,000) of troops packed together on the Red Square.

Spring draft was launched on Russia on 1 April. Due to the pandemic, the draftees will not be sent to military units before 20 May, however. They are supposed to pass a COVID-19 test, while some of them will be quarantined for two weeks.

*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.