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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A note to readersWhile normally this is a weekly publication, the present issue covers two weeks.


Geostrategic Activities

War in Syria – Russian air force conducted strikes against Syrian rebel forces in the Idlib region on 28 December 2020 and 9 January 2021. In eastern Syria, Russian military forces patrolled the area around Deir ez-Zor city.

War in Ukraine – One Ukrainian serviceman was wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbass frontline on 28 December 2020.

NATO reported that the Alliance members’ air forces in Europe scrambled about 350 times to intercept Russian military aircraft in 2020. The number constitutes a “moderate increase” from 2019.

The Baltic Fleet’s Steregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvette Stoikiy, on a long-range expedition in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea since 16 December 2020, temporarily stopped at the Russian naval base in Tartus, Syria, on 9 January 2021.

The Pacific Fleet’s flagship, Slava / Project 1164 Atlant class guided missile cruiser Varyag and Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Panteleyev, which had been on a long-range expedition in the Indo-Pacific region since 1 November 2020, returned to Vladivostok on 29 December.


Structural Changes

Vladimir Putin’s decree making the status of the Northern Fleet command equal to that of a Russian military district went into force on 1 January 2021. It includes Arkhangelsk and Murmansk Oblasts, Komi Republic, and Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Previously these territories belonged to the Western Military District. The command is the primary instrument of the Russian armed forces in the Arctic region.


Rearmament and Modernization

Gremyashchiy / Project 20385 class corvette Gremyashchiy joined the Russian navy on 29 December 2020. It will serve in the Pacific Fleet.


The 150th Mechanized Division (HQ in Kadamovskiy, Rostov Oblast) of the 8th Army (HQ in Novocherkassk, Rostov Oblast) received 18 Msta-SM self-propelled howitzers.

The reconnaissance battalion of the 35th Mechanized Brigade (Aleysk, Altai Krai), the 41st Army (HQ in Novosibirsk) received Tachyon reconnaissance UAVs.



About 200 mechanized troops of the Russian occupying forces in Tskhinvali Region, Georgia, conducted an exercise.


Arms Exports

Russia has delivered a batch of Su-30SM fighters to Belarus.


*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.