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 a number of strikes in the Syrian rebel-controlled Idlib region during the week of 7-13 September 2020.

War in Libya – The U.S. military reported that the military aircraft Russia had sent to Libya earlier this year were conducting air strikes against forces of the Libyan government. The planes are reportedly flown by crews from the Wagner group. During these operations, two of the Russian MiG-29s crashed, one on 28 June and another on 7 September 2020.

Serbia became the third nation to withdraw from a joint military exercise with the Russian armed forces in the recent weeks. Serbian troops were supposed to take part in the Slavic Brotherhood 2020 drills together with forces from Russia and Belarus. According to Belgrade, its decision resulted from pressure by the EU. The exercise is held in Belarus on 14-25 September. Previously India and Azerbaijan withdrew from the Kavkaz-2020 exercise.

An image from the Russian Defense Ministry news about the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) participating in the Slavic Brotherhood 2020 exercise. The billboard says: “Russia’s border does not end anywhere.”

According to the Russians, MiG-29 and MiG-31 planes intercepted aircraft from Britain and Norway three times over the Barents Sea on 7 September 2020. Norwegian planes were also twice intercepted by the Russian fighters over the Barents Sea on 8 September, as well as on 910 and 11 September. Russian Su-27 fighters reportedly intercepted U.S. planes over the Black Sea on 9 and 11 September. Italy’s fighters currently deployed in Šiauliai, Lithuania, intercepted a Russian Il-20M reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea on 11 September.

The Arctic Game – A group of the Northern Fleet ships conducting an Arctic expedition that started on 5 August, including Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Severomorsk and Ropucha / Project 775 class landing ship Kondopoga, arrived to the port of Tiksi in Russia’s Sakha Republic.

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, arrived in Brunei on 11 September.



On 11 September 2020, Russia and a number of other nations held an exercise of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) joint air defense system. About 10,000 troops reportedly took part, including those from Russia, ArmeniaBelarusKazakhstanKyrgyzstanTajikistan and Uzbekistan. Russia’s WesternSouthern and Central Military Districts were involved in the drill, with 14 Russian air regiments taking part.

The 90th Tank Division (HQ in Chebarkul, Chelyabinsk Oblast) of the 41st Army (HQ in Novosibirsk) held a major exercise, with over 8,000 troops participating.

Forces of the 90th Tank Division on an exercise

Over 1,500 Russian and Armenian troops, along with military aircraft and UAVs, took part in a joint exercise held in Armenia.

Russians held various types of exercises in occupied Crimea, Ukraine. The drills included air exercises involving aircraft relocating to alternate airfields and aerial bombardment, as well as S-400 and Pantsir surface-to-air missile systems, and Bastion-P and Bal mobile coastal defense missile systems.

In Georgia’s occupied Tskhinvali Region, one mechanized and one tank battalions of the 4th Military Base (a mechanized brigade-sized unit in Tskhinvali and Java, Georgia) of the 58th Army (HQ in Vladikavkaz, Republic of North Ossetia-Alania) exercised together with the armed units of Russia’s Tskhinvali proxy regime. Over 1,500 troops participated. The exercise involved an anti-UAV practice.

Russian forces in occupied Abkhazia, Georgia, continued their series of exercises involving about 1,500 Russian troops, including anti-UAV drills among others.

The Northern Fleet forces on the Arctic expedition conducted a naval infantry landing exercise near Tiksi, Sakha Republic.


*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.