|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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War in Ukraine – Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and seven were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbass frontline during the week of 20-26 July 2020. Shooting on the frontline occurred every day of the week.
War in Libya – According to the U.S. Africa Command, Russian Wagner group has expanded its presence in Libya, with more Russian military aircraft and air defense systems having been brought into the country. AFRICOM says this trend “demonstrates an intent toward sustained offensive combat action capabilities.”
AFRICOM photo showing Russian equipment in Libya
Russian Su-27 fighters conducted intercepts of U.S. military planes over the Black Sea on 23 and 24 July 2020. Also on 23 July and over the Black Sea, Romania’s fighters were scrambled to shadow two Russian Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bombers.
Rearmament and Modernization
Russian Naval Aviation has launched modernization of its Su-24M attack aircraft by fitting the jets with the SVP-24 aviation sighting and navigation system.
The U.S. accused Russia of conducting an on-orbit test of an anti-satellite weapon on 15 July 2020, saying “it exposed Moscow’s intent to deploy weapons that threaten U.S. and allied satellite.” The test was conducted by a Cosmos 2543 satellite. A British official also referred to the same incident, writing that the Russians had launched a projectile “with the characteristics of a weapon.”
Over 10,000 troops of the Russian Southern Military District conducted exercises in eight administrative regions of southern Russia and North Caucasus, as well as in occupied regions of Abkhazia, Tskhinvali (in Georgia), and Crimea (in Ukraine). Russian military says the exercises are part of the preparation for the major Kavkaz-2020 exercise, set to be held in September.
Russian artillery during an exercise in Abkhazia, Georgia
Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) conducted an exercise in Ryazan Oblast with about 6,000 troops and 40 Il-76MD strategic airlifters participating. Forces of the 98th Airborne Division (HQ in Ivanovo), 106th Airborne Division (HQ in Tula) and 31st Air Assault Brigade (Ulyanovsk) took part.
Forces of the Western Military District’s 1st Tank Army (HQ in Bakovka, Moscow Oblast) exercised in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Smolensk, Ivanovo and Yaroslavl Oblasts. 3,000 troops participated, representing the 2nd Mechanized Division (HQ in Kalininets, Moscow Oblast), 4th Tank Division (HQ in Naro-Fominsk, Moscow Oblast), 27th Mechanized Brigade (Mosrentgen, the city of Moscow), and 6th Tank Brigade (Dzerzhinsk, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast).
Armenian and Russian troops conducted a joint air defense exercise in Armenia. The drills reportedly focused on resisting enemy UAVs.
Serbia presented 56 UAZ Patriot off-road vehicles it had purchased for its armed forces from Russia. Eight more vehicles are to be delivered to Serbia in late October 2020.
UAZ Patriot vehicles purchased by the Serbian military
*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.