Author: David Batashvili

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.


Geostrategic Activities

War in Ukraine – The week of 16-22 September followed the pattern of the everyday shooting on the frontline in Ukraine’s Donbass region. One Ukrainian military serviceman was killed and nine were wounded as a result of the Russian hybrid forces’ actions during the week, as reported by the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation Press Center.

The Arctic Game – Russians, reportedly, are going to build a new military radar at the northernmost point of the Taymyr Peninsula (and continental Russia). Cape Chelyuskin – the point in question – is one of the Arctic region’s strategically important locations since it oversees the shipping along the Northern Sea Route. The radar installation is reportedly planned to be built in 33 months.

The location of Cape Chelyuskin – the site of a planned military radar.

The Arctic Game – After setting a civilian ship boarding precedent reported in Issue 6 of this digest, the forces of Russia’s Northern Fleet took an opportunity to conduct another boarding, this time of a sailing boat under Brazilian flag, in the northern Barents Sea.

Russia’s and China’s defense ministers Sergey Shoygu and Wei Fenghe announced an agreement regarding the plan for the two powers’ military cooperation for 2020-2021.

Vladimir Putin decreed the provision of Moscow’s financing for the modernization of Russia’s local proxy regime’s military forces in the Russian-occupied region of Abkhazia, Georgia.


Structural Changes

Russian media reports that the 31st Air Assault Brigade (Ulyanovsk) has been transformed into an air mobile brigade, the primary difference being that the brigade now has its own helicopter squadrons, under the Airborne Troops command, which allows for the brigade’s greater mobility.


Rearmament and Modernization

Russian troops practiced the use of their new Palantin electronic warfare system during a military exercise in Voronezh Oblast, near the border with Ukraine. According to the Russians, the system was used to “suppress enemy radio communication and electronic intelligence systems in a 1,000 km wide swathe.”

Palantin electronic warfare system. Source: Western Military District press service, from:

The 40th Naval Infantry Brigade (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Kamchatka Krai) has received 30 BTR-82A armored personnel carriers.



This year’s main Russian military exercise Center-2019 was conducted on 16-21 September. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, 128,000 troops participated, along with 600 aircraft. The drills were taking place in Russia’s Orenburg, Chelyabinsk, Kemerovo, Astrakhan and Kurgan Oblasts, Altai Krai and Republic of Dagestan, as well as in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and in the waters of the Caspian Sea. Besides the Russians, the participating troops including those from ChinaIndiaPakistanUzbekistanKazakhstanKyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. According to another report, the Center-2019 exercise included a landing operation of a whole Russian airborne regiment of about 2,000 troops, involving 71 Il-76 transport aircraft.

Chinese officers during the Center-2019 exercise. Source: Chinese military, from

Aside from the Center-2019 drills, about 4,000 Russian troops of the Southern Military District exercised in Rostov and Volgograd Oblasts.

In the Russian-occupied Crimea, Ukraine, 3,000 locally based Russian troops from the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Sevastopol) and the 126th Coastal Defense Brigade (Perevalnoye/Perevalne) conducted an exercise, with the Black Sea Fleet’s ships and aircraft also taking part.

Over 1,000 troops of the 7th Military Base (a mechanized brigade-sized unit) drilled in the Russian-occupied Abkhazia, Georgia.

A group of the Russian Northern Fleet’s ships, on an Arctic expedition reported in the several previous issues of this digest, exercised in the area of the Franz Josef Land archipelago.

Russian Ministry of Defense website made a point of publishing numerous news stories during the week of 16-22 September about small-scale drills conducted by the Russian troops permanently based in Moldova’s separatist region of Transnistria. As was reported in the digest’s previous issue, Moldova’s foreign minister had made a new demand for the Russian troops to withdraw from his country.

Russian troops drilling in Transnistria. Source: Western Military District’s press service

*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.