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 – Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 14 were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbass frontline during the week on 13-19 July 2020. Shooting on the frontline occurred every day of the week.

War in Syria – Three Russian soldiers were wounded when a Russian-Turkish patrol was attacked with a bombing in the Idlib region on 14 July. Russian air force conducted strikes in the region in the aftermath of the incident. Two Russians reportedly were wounded when a Turkish UAV conducted a strike in the Kurdish-held town Ad-Darbasiyah on 16 July. The incident was followed by air strikes against the city of Al-Bab, located in the Turkish zone of influence. In the north-eastern Syria, Russians set up a new base on the Syrian-Turkish border. New incidents occurred between Russian and U.S. forces on the roads in the area.

War in Libya – The U.S. accused Russia’s Wagner group of indiscriminately placing “booby-traps and minefields” in and around city of Tripoli, and of causing “needless suffering and the deaths of innocent civilians.”

U.S. Africa Command: Verified image of a booby-trapped anti-personnel mine placed by the Wagner group in a residential area of Tripoli

Russian fighters intercepted U.S. planes over the Black Sea, and Norway’s plane over the Barents Sea. Both incidents occurred on 14 July.


Rearmament and Modernization

Russian navy commissioned its new Admiral Gorshkov / Project 22350 class frigate Admiral Kasatonov. It will serve in the Northern Fleet.

Admiral Kasatonov

Russian navy received its first Be-200 type amphibious aircraft. Two more are expected in 2020.



Russian Ministry of Defense staged a test of its so called inspector satellite during which it conducted a reconnaissance of another Russian satellite. Russian “inspector satellites” allegedly have the capability to maneuver in space to get close to other objects for reconnaissance or other military purposes.



On 17 July, Vladimir Putin ordered large-scale snap exercises in the Russian armed forces. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the exercises involve 149,755 troops, 414 aircraft and 106 ships, from the Western Military DistrictSouthern Military DistrictRussian Airborne Troops (VDV)Northern FleetPacific FleetBlack Sea FleetBaltic FleetCaspian Flotilla, and Military Transport Aviation Command, as well as some units under the central Russian command. Over 3,000 Russian troops based in occupied Abkhazia, Georgia also participated in the snap exercises.

Shortly before the large snap exercises, 800 artillery troops of the Russian occupation forces in Tskhinvali Region, Georgia conducted an exercise of their own, together with the forces of the local proxy regime.


*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.