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

Reports have emerged that Tajikistan is going to establish a joint air defense system with Russia.

Russians scrambled two Su-27 fighters to intercept two U.S. bombers over the Black Sea on 23 September 2020. Another Su-27 fighter intercepted U.S. bombers over the Baltic Sea on 25 September. Two MiG-31 fighters intercepted Britain’s airplane over the Barents Sea on 21 September. Canada reported that two of its fighters deployed in Romania intercepted a Russian Su-27 fighter near Romanian airspace over the Black Sea on September 23.

The Arctic Game – A group of the Northern Fleet ships on an Arctic expedition since 5 August, including Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Severomorsk and Ropucha / Project 775 class landing ship Kondopogacrossed into the Bering Sea on 20 September and operated along the eastern and south-eastern coasts of the Chukchi Peninsula, before crossing back into the Chukchi Sea and heading west on 26 September.


Rearmament and Modernization

Russian Defense Ministry has received a regiment’s worth batch of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems. It is the third such batch delivered in 2020.



Russia held its major Kavkaz-2020 exercise on 21-26 September 2020. Russians reported 80,000 troops taking part, with 250 tanks, 450 armored vehicles and 200 artillery pieces, along with ships of the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla. Among the participating forces were 3,500 of the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV). Kavkaz-2020 was held in Russia’s Southern Military District, in the waters of the Black and Caspian Seas, in Armenia and in Georgia’s occupied regions Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. Foreign troops also participated, reportedly including those from China, Iran, Pakistan, Belarus, Armenia, Myanmar and Mongolia. Iranian navy exercised together with the Russian naval ships in the Caspian Sea, including support to the Russian naval infantry during a landing exercise in Dagestan.

Russian Defense Ministry photo showing a joint Russian-Iranian exercise in the Caspian Sea, during Kavkaz-2020.

Russian troops in Georgia’s occupied Tskhinvali region during Kavkaz-2020

Six Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bombers practiced strikes in Belarus during the joint Russian-Belarusian Slavic Brotherhood 2020 exercise, on 23 September 2020. On 22 and 24 September, two Tu-160 heavy strategic bombers flew along the borders of Belarus with Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania.

Russian forces on the Arctic expedition conducted a naval infantry landing exercise on the coast of the Bering Sea on the Chukchi Peninsula.

Troops of the Operational Group of Russian Forces stationed in Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region conducted a tactical exercise.



The Baltic Fleet’s Parchim / Project 1331M class anti-submarine corvette Kazanets was damaged as a result of a collision with a Danish container ship near the coast of Denmark on 23 September 2020. The corvette was then stationed for initial repairs at the Baltiysk naval base, with plans to undergo further repairs at its home base in Kronshtadt.


*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.