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

Syrian sources claim that Russia is recruiting mercenaries from among the population of southern Syria to serve in Venezuela. The task of the mercenaries is supposedly “to protect oil installations” in the South American country.

War in Syria – Russian air forces conducted strikes against Syrian rebels in the Idlib region on 27 and 29 November 2020.

War in Ukraine – One Ukrainian soldier was killed by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbass frontline on 24 November 2020.

An alleged incident between U.S. destroyer John S. McCain and the Russian Pacific Fleet’s Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Vinogradov occurred in the Sea of Japan on 24 November 2020. Russians claimed that the American destroyer violated the Russian national border south of Vladivostok and left the area after the Russian ship threatened to ram it. Americans stated that the Russian version of events was false, saying that John S. McCain operated in the international waters and was not forced out of the area by the Russian ship.

Britain’s fighters intercepted two Russian Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft over the North Sea on 28 November 2020. The Russian planes approached British airspace from the northAlso on 28 November, a Russian Su-27 fighter intercepted a U.S. military plane over the Black Sea.


Rearmament and Modernization

A new Project 22160 class large patrol ship Pavel Derzhavin joined the Black Sea Fleet on 27 November 2020. The ship will be stationed at the Novorossiysk naval base.

Pavel Derzhavin

Russia has launched rearmament of the artillery units in its Southern Military District with the Msta-SM self-propelled howitzers. The rearmament process is intended to take a couple of years.

The 2nd Air Assault Battalion of the 108th Air Assault Regiment (Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai), the 7th Air Assault (Mountain) Division (HQ in Novorossiysk) has been rearmed with 31 BMD-4M infantry fighting vehicles and eight BTR-MD Rakushka amphibious armored personnel carriers. It is the ninth battalion of the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) that has been armed with these armored vehicles since the fall of 2016.

The vehicles’ transfer ceremony at the 108th Air Assault Regiment 


Arms Exports

Russian state media has published claims, without providing original sources of the information, that Algeria has agreed to buy three Russian Steregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvettes.

Unofficial Russian sources claim that Armenia has acquired four Pantsir-S air defense systems from Russia, with deliveries to start at the end of 2020.