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 Syria – Russian air force conducted strikes in the Syrian rebel-held Idlib region on 18 August 2020. In eastern Syria, a Russian general, Vyacheslav Gladkih, was killed in a roadside explosion south-east of the Deir ez-Zor city. Gladkih used to be the deputy commander of the Russian 36th Army (HQ in Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia).

Syria’s Assad regime has agreed “to give Russia additional land and coastal waters in order to expand its military air base” at Khmeimim.

The Arctic Game –Russians reportedly are lengthening the runway at the Nagurskoye air base (Alexandra Land island, Franz Josef Land archipelago). The runway expansion reportedly would make the air base “capable of supporting any aircraft in the Russian military’s inventory with ease.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu said that Russia has been forming a “common defense space” with Abkhazia – a region of Georgia that the Russian military forces occupy.

Russia has sent its troops for military competition events held in Brest, western Belarus. The events opened on 23 August 2020. Russian participants included troops of the 45th Special Forces Brigade (Kubinka, Moscow Oblast) that belongs to the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV).

Britain’s navy shadowed nine Russian naval ships in the waters close to the UK. In the process, the British ships were assisted by the navies of CanadaDenmark, GermanyNorway and Portugal.

Russian fighters intercepted NATO aircraft over the Black Sea on 171920 and 21 August, as well as over the Baltic Sea on 17 and 19 August. U.S.Britain’s and France’s planes were involved in the incidents over the Black Sea along with Russia’s Su-27 and Su-30SM fighters, and U.S. planes – in the ones over the Baltic Sea along with Russia’s Su-27SM fighters. Japan’s air force planes intercepted two Russian Tu-95MS strategic bombers over the Sea of Japan on 19 August.


Structural Changes

Russians intend to restore a Soviet-era base for amphibious aircraft in Safonovo, Murmansk Oblast, under the Northern Fleet command. The plans involve stationing Be-200 type amphibious aircraft at the base. The Be-200s are to come in the anti-submarine and search-and-rescue modifications.



About 8,000 troops mostly belonging to the 90th Tank Division (HQ in Chebarkul, Chelyabinsk Oblast) of the 41st Army (HQ in Novosibirsk) took part in an exercise held in Chelyabinsk Oblast.

Armed forces of Russia and the Russian-led CSTO military alliance member states conducted material and technical support units’ exercises in numerous locations of southern Russia, North Caucasus, Armenia, as well as occupied regions of Crimea, Ukraine, and Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, Georgia. 6,000 Russian troops of the Southern Military District participated, along with troops from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The Northern Fleet forces taking part in the Arctic expedition (see the previous two issues of this digest) conducted an exercise in the area of the port of Dudinka, on the Taymyr Peninsula.

The exercise near Dudinka

1,500 troops of the Russian occupation forces in Abkhazia, Georgia, held an exercise, practicing defense against a hostile naval landing.

Russia’s and Syria’s armed forces held a joint exercise at the port of Tartus, which hosts a Russian naval base.


Arms Exports

According to the Russians, they have signed a contract with Turkey for the delivery of the second regiment-sized batch of the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.


*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.