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 near Jisr al-Shughur city in the Idlib region, on 14 October 2020.

Russia and Kazakhstan signed a bilateral treaty on military cooperation.

Russia in Africa – Russia gifted 20 BRDM-2 armored reconnaissance vehicles to the Central African Republic (CAR), with ten vehicles already delivered and ten more expected shortly.

Russian BRDM-2s in the CAR

The Arctic Game – The Northern Fleet has reported that during the summer and fall of 2020, its Improved Yug / Project 862.2 class intelligence collection ships Gorizont and Vizir conducted 40-day missions each in the Barents Sea.

In 2020, Russians have trained 600 of their naval infantry servicemen to serve abroad Russian naval ships during long-range voyages. The trained marines belong to all the four fleets and one flotilla of the Russian navy.

Two Russian Tu-160 heavy strategic bombers conducted a flight over the BarentsNorwegian and North Seas. Russians reported that at certain stages of the flight their bombers were “followed” by the aircraft belonging to Britain’s and Norway’s air forces.


Rearmament and Modernization

Russians intend to have one battalion in each of their naval infantry brigades equipped with the BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles.

Russian air force is introducing dogfight training for the pilots of the Su-34 fighter-bombers. Previously, Su-34s were employed as strike aircraft.

Russia has completed re-equipping its military forces based in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with Mi-8MTV5-1 multipurpose helicopters, instead of the older Mi-8MTV model.

The 90th Tank Division (HQ in Chebarkul, Chelyabinsk Oblast) of the 41st Army (HQ in Novosibirsk) has received batches of the T-72B3M tanks in September and October 2020.

T-72B3M tank



The Caspian Flotilla conducted a naval exercise in the central part of the Caspian Sea, north of Azerbaijan’s Absheron Peninsula. Two frigates and two corvettes participated, along with seven military planes.

140 troops of Russia’s Central Military District took part in an exercise conducted in north-eastern Belarus. The exercise was held under the Russian-led CSTO military alliance framework.

1,500 troops of the Southern Military District held an exercise in occupied Abkhazia, Georgia. Forces of Moscow’s local proxy regime also took part in the exercise. In Georgia’s occupied Tskhinvali Region, Russian forces engaged in sniper drills.

Russian Utyos stationary coastal defense missile systems in Sevastopol, occupied Crimea, Ukraine, conducted an exercise together with an Admiral Grigorovich / Project 11356P/M class guided missile frigate Admiral Grigorovich.


Arms Exports

Russia reportedly continues deliveries of Su-30SM fighters to Kazakhstan.

A Su-30SM fighter recently delivered to Kazakhstan

*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.