|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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A note to readers: While normally this is a weekly publication, the present issue covers three weeks.
War in Ukraine – One Ukrainian soldier was killed and six were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbass frontline during the week of 22-28 June 2020. Ukrainian losses were two killed, 14 wounded in the week of 15-21 June, and one killed, 11 wounded in the week of 8-14 June. The shooting on the Donbass frontline occurred every day during the three weeks.
Results of a Russian mortar attack in the Ukrainian-held city of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast
War in Syria – Russian air force occasionally bombed the rebel-held areas in the Idlib region, although no sustained large-scale bombing campaign took place during the three weeks covered in the present issue of the digest. Several new incidents between the U.S. and Russian forces occurred in the north-eastern Syria, with Americans seeking to block movements of the Russian columns in the area.
War in Libya – While there has been relative calm on the main Libyan frontlines, Russia’s Wagner mercenaries entered the Sharara oilfield on 25 June 2020, as well as few other locations in the south-western Libya.
War in Libya – On 18 June 2020, the U.S. Africa Command issued an update on the presence of the Russian aircraft in Libya, stating they “are being actively flown” in the country, and “are being used to support private military companies (PMCs) sponsored by the Russian government.” The AFRICOM also identified an early warning radar installed at the Jufra air base that is used by the Russian aircraft.
A number of air intercepts occurred between the U.S. and Russian air forces. U.S. jets intercepted Russian planes near the Alaska air space on 10, 16, 24 and 27 June 2020. Russian planes involved in these incidents included Tu-95 strategic bombers, Tu-142 and IL-38 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, Su-35 fighters, and A-50 airborne early warning and control (AEW) aircraft. Russians intercepted American aircraft over the Baltic Sea on 15 June, over the Sea of Okhotsk on 18 (other versions say 19) June, and over the Black Sea on 26 June. Russian planes involved in the intercepts included Su-35, Su-30 and Su-27 fighters, as well as MiG-31 interceptors.
A Russian Tu-95 intercepted by the U.S. jets on 10 June 2020
Several Russian naval ships have returned from the long-range voyages. The Pacific Fleet’s Improved Yug / Project 862.2 class intelligence collection ship Marshal Gelovani returned to the Vladivostok naval base after missions in the Pacific Ocean and the Antarctic region. The same fleet’s Steregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvettes Gromkiy and Sovershennyy came back, also to Vladivostok, after operating in the East Asian waters and the Pacific Ocean. The Black Sea Fleet’s Admiral Grigorovich / Project 11356P/M class guided missile frigate Admiral Grigorovich was back in the Mediterranean and headed to Sevastopol, after having operated in the Indian Ocean.
Russia is ending its use of the Dnepr type missile attack early warning radar installation in Gulshat, Republic of Kazakhstan. Its functions have been substituted by the newer Voronezh-M radar near Orsk, in Orenburg Oblast.
Rearmament and Modernization
The 234th Air Assault Regiment (Pskov) of the 76th Air Assault Division (HQ in Pskov) received its second battalion’s worth batch of the BMD-4M infantry fighting vehicles and BTR-MDM armored personnel carriers. The first battalion’s worth batch had been delivered to the 234th Regiment in January 2020.
Concurrently with NATO’s BALTOPS 2020 exercise, Russians conducted an air force exercise of their own, in the Baltic Sea area. Over 10 aircraft of the Baltic Fleet’s naval aviation were involved.
The Black Sea Fleet conducted an exercise of its Bastion-P and Bal mobile anti-ship missile systems, including those based in occupied Crimea, Ukraine.
Russian snipers in occupied Tskhinvali Region, Georgia, exercised in shooting down UAVs.
Russia and Turkey reportedly agreed “on the delivery of the second batch of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems.”
Russia reportedly began deliveries of anti-UAV systems to unspecified state(s) in “Central Asia”.
Four Mi-35M attack helicopters were delivered by Russia to Kazakhstan.
*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.