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 south of the Syrian rebel-controlled Idlib region early in the week of 19-25 October 2020.

War in Ukraine – One Ukrainian soldier was injured by the fire opened by the Russian hybrid forces on the frontline in Donbass, in one of the ceasefire violations, on 20 October 2020.

Russian Northern Fleet’s Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov was reported escorting Iran’s oil tanker bound for Syria, during its transfer from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.

Vice-Admiral Kulakov

Groups of Russian troops established field camps in southern Armenia, near the parts of its border with Azerbaijan that have been recovered by the Azerbaijanis in the process of their ongoing war against Armenians over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russian military camp near Armenia-Azerbaijan border

Russian Defense Ministry plans to open an office in Serbia, which is supposed to “assist in resolving military and technical questions over Russian-Serbian cooperation.”

Russia in Africa – Russia has already opened its Defense Ministry’s office in the Central African Republic (CAR). The Russian officer heading the office will also serve as an advisor to the CAR’s Defense Ministry. Meanwhile, Russian ambassador to the CAR said “Moscow was considering sending more military instructors” to the country.

The Arctic Game – Russians test-launched an Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missile from a Bastion-P anti-ship missile system based on the Alexandra Land island, Franz Josef Land archipelago.

The Arctic Game – A group of the Northern Fleet ships including Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Severomorsk and Ropucha / Project 775 class landing ship Kondopoga completed its long-range Arctic expedition that had lasted since 5 August, returning to the Severomorsk naval base on 20 October.

U.S. fighters intercepted a group of Russian planes including two Tu-95MS strategic bombers, two Su-35 fighters and an A-50 airborne early warning and control (AEW) aircraft. The incident reportedly occurred on 19 October, in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone. Russian MiG-31 and Su-35 fighters intercepted two U.S. bombers over the Bering Sea on 21 October. Another U.S. plane was intercepted over the Bering Sea by a Russian MiG-31 on 22 October.


Military Strategy

Following the Russian Ministry of Finance proposal to cut military personnel by about 10 percent for the purposes of financial austerity, the Ministry of Defense rejected it as unacceptable. Vladimir Putin said there were no plans for cuts in the Russian armed forces.


Rearmament and Modernization

Improved Kilo / Project 636.3 class diesel submarine Volkhov joined the Russian navy on 24 October 2020. The submarine will serve with the Pacific Fleet.


Russian Defense Ministry intends to fully supply the 76th Air Defense Division (HQ in Samara) of the 14th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Yekateringburg) with the Nebo-M mobile air and missile defense radars. The first radar has already been supplied.

The 100th Recon Brigade (Mozdok, Republic of North Ossetia-Alania) of the 58th Army (HQ in Vladikavkaz, Republic of North Ossetia-Alania) has received Tigr-M armored all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles.



Russian Defense Ministry reported that a Soyuz-2.1b rocket carrying a GLONASS-K type navigation satellite was launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on 25 October 2020.