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 – Shots were fired on the Donbass frontline during six days of the week of 3-9 August 2020, with 6 August being the only day without reported ceasefire violations. Ukrainian forces did not sustain casualties during the week.

War in Syria – Russian air force conducted several air strikes in the Syrian rebel-held Idlib region on 3 August.

Russian air strike in Binnish, Idlib region

The Arctic Game – On 5 August, a group of the Northern Fleet ships left the Severomorsk naval base for a long-range expedition along the Northern Sea Route in the Arctic. The group consists of eight ships, including Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer SeveromorskRopucha / Project 775 class landing ships Aleksandr Otrakovskiy and Kondopoga, as well as a minesweeper, an icebreaker and three support ships. Both landing ships have naval infantry units onboard. By 8 August the ships had entered the Kara Sea and were heading toward Dikson, on the Taymyr Peninsula.

Russian Su-27 fighters flew to intercept U.S. reconnaissance planes over the Black Sea on 57 and 9 August. On 7 August, three Russian Su-35S fighters intercepted a U.S. heavy bomber over the Sea of Okhotsk. A Russian MiG-31 plane intercepted Norway’s reconnaissance aircraft over the Barents Sea on 4 August.

On 3 August, Britain’s Royal Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft shadowed Project 22160 class large patrol ship Vasily Bykov that was sailing in the North Sea.

Poseidon looking at Vasily Bykov from above


Rearmament and Modernization

The 1529th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Khabarovsk) of the 25th Air Defense Division (HQ in Komsomolsk, Khabarovsk Krai), 11th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Khabarovsk) has been rearmed with the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. The regiment’s previous armament consisted of the S-300PS systems.

The Northern Fleet’s Akula II / Project 971U class nuclear-powered submarine Vepr has been armed with the Kalibr cruise missiles.

The 7th Air Assault (Mountain) Division (HQ in Novorossiysk) is receiving T-72B3 tanks.

The 4th Tank Division (HQ in Naro-Fominsk, Moscow Oblast) of the 1st Tank Army (HQ in Bakovka, Moscow Oblast) is in the process of being rearmed with the T-80BMV tanks.

One of the T-80BMV tanks recently received by the 4th Tank Division



Over 3,000 troops of the 20th Army (HQ in Voronezh) conducted exercises in the areas of western Russia close to the border with Belarus and Ukraine.

Russian navy conducted Ocean Shield 2020 exercise in the Baltic Sea. Over 30 ships took part, along with the Baltic Fleet’s land units, air defense forces and naval aviation. According to the Russian reporting, some of the participating ships apparently belong to the Northern FleetBlack Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla.

Russian occupation forces in Abkhazia, Georgia conducted a series of exercises. The drills involved mechanized and artillery units, as well as helicopter landings and shooting down UAVs.

Over 1,000 Russian troops conducted an exercise in the occupied Tskhinvali Region, Georgia.

Russian troops in occupied Crimea, Ukraine conducted a tank exercise.

*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.