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 – 18 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbass frontline during the week of 4-10 May 2020. Shooting on the frontline occurred every day of the week.

War in Syria – According to Russian sources, on 8 May 2020, U.S. forces once again blocked the movement of a Russian military convoy in the north-eastern Syria.

Russia in Africa – A United Nations report says that the Russian Wagner group has between 800 and 1,200 members “deployed in Libya, strengthening the forces of eastern-based military leader Khalifa Haftar.” According to the report, Wagner “deployed forces in specialized military tasks, including sniper teams.”

Russia in Africa – According to Jim Jeffrey, U.S. special envoy for Syria, “the Russians are working with Assad to transfer militia fighters, possibly third country, possibly Syrian, to Libya, as well as equipment.” As we reported in Issue 35 of this digest, reports had emerged that Russia recruited a group of former Syrian rebels to take part in the war in Libya.

As Reuters reported, according to the Venezuelan media, “Russian soldiers are operating drones over Venezuela as part of a search operation for members of a paramilitary force that led a botched invasion…” According to these reports, “at least eight Russian Special Forces members will be ‘operating drones to run search and patrol operations’ near La Guaira, the coastal state just north of Caracas.” Venezuelan military denied the involvement of Russians.

The Baltic Fleet’s Neustrashimyy / Project 11540 Yastreb class frigate Yaroslav Mudry has returned to its home base in Baltiysk, Kaliningrad Oblast, after a long-term deployment in the Indian Ocean (where it participated in the trilateral China-Russia-Iran naval exercise among other tasks), and a return trip around Africa. Gazprom’s pipe layer ship Akademik Cherskiy, capable of completing construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, has also arrived to the Baltic Sea, after a voyage from the Russian Far East and choosing to go around Africa, instead of the Suez Canal. As we reported in Issue 31 of this digest, Yaroslav Mudry was escorting Akademik Cherskiy on this voyage.

Yaroslav Mudry back at Baltiysk naval base. Source: Russian Defense Ministry

The Pacific Fleet’s Improved Yug / Project 862.2 class intelligence collection ship Marshal Gelovani was operating near Papua-New Guinea in early May 2020, after visiting Antarctica and the port of Townswille in eastern Australia.


Structural Changes

Russians reportedly plan to establish another anti-aircraft missile regiment within the 3rd Air Defense Division (HQ in Rogachevo, Novaya Zemlya, Arkhangelsk Oblast) of the 45th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Safonovo, Murmansk Oblast), in the Arctic town of Dikson, on the Taymyr Peninsula in Krasnoyarsk Krai.



In parallel to a group of the U.S. and U.K. naval ships operating in the Barents Sea, Russia’s Northern Fleet conducted its own exercises in the area. Participating Russian ships included Slava / Project 1164 Atlant class guided missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov, as well as Grisha III/ Project 1124M class anti-submarine corvettes Brest, Snezhnogorsk and Yunga, along with a group of minesweepers and Il-38 maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.


Arms Exports

Belarus received a batch of five modernized T-72B3 tanks from Russia.

The SIRPI think tank developed, and the BBC republished, a graph showing the percentage of the Russian arms exports in the period of 2014-2019, by part of the world (Egypt is included in the Middle East):




* 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.