Author: David Batashvili, Research Fellow at the 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 eight were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the frontline in Donbassduring the week of 11-17 May 2020. The shooting on the frontline occurred every day of the week.

Russia is considering giving Kyrgyzstan two air defense battalions’ worth of Buk-M1 medium-range surface-to-air missile systems, and a number of the Mi-8 helicopters, as military aid.

The Pacific Fleet’s Steregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvettes Gromkiy and Sovershennyy, which had departed Vladivostok for a long-range voyage on 1 April 2020, and later entered the East China Sea, were operating in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of May.


Military Strategy

The U.S. Department of State official Michael J. Murphy spoke about the growing Russian military presence in the Arctic on 15 May 2020, stating that Russia’s “military buildup goes beyond territorial defense. It’s designed in part to project power into the North Atlantic in order to prevent the United States and Canada from responding and reinforcing in the event of a crisis… by putting the Greenland/Iceland/UK gap at threat.”


Rearmament and Modernization

The first nuclear ballistic missile submarine of the modernized Project 955A Borei-A class, Knyaz Vladimir, was conducting undersea trials in the White Sea. The submarine is set to join the Russian navy, specifically its Northern Fleet, in the near future.

Knyaz Vladimir. Source: RIA Novosti, from Izvestia

According to the Russians, they have recently tested a new hypersonic aircraft missile from a Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bomber. The missile is being developed for the future Russian Tu-22M3M bomber.


Arms Exports

Russian sources claim that Russia has started producing the Su-35 fighters under the export contract with Egypt signed in March 2018. According to the unofficial information reported by the Russian media, Egypt plans to buy 24 or 26 Su-35s, with the contract being supposed to be fully completed in 2023.



On 17 May 2020, the Russian Defense Ministry reported existence of about 3,300 COVID-19 cases in the Russian armed forces and military schools.