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 – One Ukrainian soldier was killed and 12 were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces in Donbass during the week of 27 April – 3 May 2020. Shooting on the frontline occurred every day of the week.

War in Syria – Another stand-off between U.S. and Russian troops occurred in the north-eastern Syria on 2 May 2020.

The Arctic Game – According to the Russian military, Russia’s northernmost Nagurskoye air base, on the Alexandra Land island, Franz Josef Land archipelago, is now operational all-year.

Two Russian Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft were intercepted by Britain’s Typhoon fighters north-east of Scotland on 29 April 2020. Norway’s F-16 and F-35 fighters also shadowed the pair of Tu-142 planes on their route towards and back from Britain. According to The Barents Observer, “over the last two months, Tu-142s have several times been flying all south to the North Sea area, a new pattern for the Northern Fleet’s anti-submarine aircraft that normally fly over the Barents Sea region.”

On 27 April 2020, Belgium’s air force stated that its F-16 fighters had intercepted a Russian An-26 transport aircraft that day, and an A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft on 25 April, off the coast of Estonia. On 30 April, the Belgian air force handed over the lead of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission to the Spanish one, reporting that during the eight months of the Belgians’ lead their F-16 fighters “were scrambled 38 times and intercepted 64 aircraft.”

The Russian A-50 aircraft intercepted by the Belgians near Estonia. Source: Belgian Air Force


Rearmament and Modernization

Russians denied the information according to which they had stopped development of the Project 22350M class of frigates. As we reported in Issue 36 of this digest, the news was that Russia had stopped development of the Project 23560 Lider class of destroyers and the Project 22350M class of frigates.

The 108th Air Assault Regiment (Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai) of the 7th Air Assault (Mountain) Division (HQ in Novorossiysk) has received new BMD-4M infantry fighting vehicles.



The Baltic Fleet conducted a large-scale exercise in Kaliningrad Oblast. Participating forces included units of: the 11th Army Corps (HQ in Kaliningrad), the 336th Naval Infantry Brigade (Baltiysk, Kaliningrad Oblast), and the 132nd Mixed Aviation Division of the Baltic Fleet Naval Aviation. S-400 systems based in Kaliningrad Oblast also were engaged. Among the warships taking part in the exercise were: Project 22800 Karakurt class corvettes Mytishchi and SovetskSteregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvettes SoobrazitelnyySteregushchiy and StoikiyNanuchka III / Project 12341 Ovod-1 class corvettes Livien’ and PassatTarantul / Project 12411 class corvettes Morshansk and R-257; anti-submarine corvettes (the Baltic Fleet has six, although it is unclear how many of them participated); minesweepers, including  the newest one – Aleksandrit / Project 12700 class vessel Aleksandr ObukhovRopucha / Project 775/III landing ships Kaliningrad and Korolev; and Pomornik / Project 1232.2 Zubr class air-cushioned landing craft Evgeniy Kocheshkov. Assets added to the Baltic Fleet’s forces for the exercise included an A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft and two Tu-160 heavy strategic bombers.



Some of Russian arms factories, reportedly, “are slowing their production amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

On 3 May 2020, Russian Defense Ministry officially reported over 3,000 COVID-19 cases in the Russian armed forces and military schools.


* 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.