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 – One Ukrainian soldier was killed and another one was wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the frontline in Donbass on 6 September 2020. Two more Ukrainian soldiers died on the frontline as a result of a blast of an explosive device.

War in Libya – According to the U.S. Department of Defence, “Russia supported approximately 3,000 Wagner Group mercenaries and approximately 2,000 Syrian mercenaries in Libya” during the second quarter of 2020. Meanwhile, according to a United Nations report, Russia has stepped up its logistic support for the Wagner in Libya, “with some 338 military cargo flights from Syria in the nine months to July 31 to aid Wagner fighters” backing Khalifa Haftar.

The Arctic Game – Ropucha / Project 775 class landing ship Aleksandr Otrakovskiy and minesweeper Vladimir Gumanenko have departed from the Russian Northern Fleet’s Arctic expedition and began to sail towards their permanent bases. The remaining six ships in the expedition, including Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Severomorsk and Ropucha / Project 775 class landing ship Kondopoga, continued to sail eastward preparing to transfer from the Kara Sea to the Laptev Sea through the Vilkitsky Strait.

Vladimir Gumanenko

Russian MiG-31BM planes reportedly intercepted Norway’s military aircraft over the Barents Sea on 134 and 5 September 2020. On 3 September, also over the Barents Sea, a MiG-31 intercepted military aircraft from the U.S. and Britain. Eight Russian fighters, including four Su-27 and four Su-30 jets, attempted to intercept three U.S. bombers in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov area on 4 September. Over the Baltic Sea, three Russian Su-27 jets scrambled to intercept three U.S.  bombers on 31 August. That same day, they also intercepted reconnaissance aircraft from the U.S., GermanyDenmark and Sweden. On 1 September, a Su-27 intercepted a military plane from Germany over the Baltic Sea.

Azerbaijan became the second nation after India to refuse participating in the major Russian Kavkaz-2020 exercise, set to be held in September 2020. Baku did not specify the reasons behind the decision.


Rearmament and Modernization

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu said that all T-72 tanks in the Russian armed forces would be modernized into the T-72B3 models.



About 4,000 troops of the 49th Army (HQ in Stavropol) marched about 1,000 kilometers from their bases in the North Caucasus to Astrakhan Oblast for an exercise.

Over 6,000 artillery troops of the Central Military District launched exercises in Russia’s four administrative regions located in Ural and Siberia, as well as in Tajikistan.

The Pacific Fleet’s Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyers Admiral Tributs and Admiral Vinogradov, on a long-range voyage in the Indo-Pacific region since 1 August 2020, held a joint exercise with India’s navy in the Bay of Bengal.

Russian military forces in occupied Abkhazia, Georgia, held an exercise together with the forces of Russia’s local proxy regime. Over 1,500 Russian troops participated.

Russians on an exercise in Abkhazia, Georgia

Russian occupation forces in Crimea, Ukraine, held naval landing and air force exercises.

1,000 Russian troops took part in a joint Russian-Armenian exercise, held in Armenia.

The Pacific Fleet’s landing ships and naval infantry troops exercised in the Arctic Chukotka region.



High winds caused a floating dry dock to drift into a number of ships and submarines of the Pacific Fleet at the Vladivostok naval base. The extent of possible damage to the Russian naval vessels as a result of the accident is unknown.


*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.