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 Ukraine – Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five were wounded on the Donbass frontline during the week of 1-7 February 2021. Russian hybrid forces opened fire every day of the week.

War in Syria – Russian air force conducted strikes in the Syrian rebel-held Idlib region on 2 and 3 February 2021.

Russians are reportedly extending one of the runways at their Khmeimim air base in Syria, in order to prepare it for accommodating larger aircraft.

War in Libya – Reports have emerged that Russian forces of the Wagner group have established a base at the town of Brak, in southwestern Libya.

Estonia’s military said a Russian Il-76MD strategic airlifter had crossed into its airspace on 3 February.

A Russian Su-24 attack aircraft conducted a low pass near a U.S. destroyer Donald Cook in the Black Sea. The incident occurred on 31 January.

The Baltic Fleet’s Steregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvette Stoikiy, on a long-range expedition since 16 December 2020, passed from the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden on 6 February 2021.


Structural Changes

Russian armed forces have launched the formation of a coastal defense division in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Its first coastal defense regiment was established in late 2020. The regiment’s exact location is undisclosed. The division is to be prepared to defeat a hostile landing operation and protect the eastern part of the Northern Sea Route.

According to new Russian information, the Baltic Fleet’s new mechanized regiment (reported on in the previous issue of this digest) that will be stationed in Sovetsk (former Tilsit), on the Lithuanian border, will be based on the 79th Mechanized Brigade that is currently located in Gusev – in the east of Kaliningrad Oblast. It will be a part of a new mechanized division that began to be established in Kaliningrad Oblast in December 2020.

A new mobile air defense regiment was established in Leningrad Oblast, under the 6th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Saint Petersburg), in late 2020. Its purpose is the protection against cruise missiles and UAVs. The regiment is armed with Pantsir-S air defense systems.


Rearmament and Modernization

A Russian unit in Krasnodar Krai received 9K333 Verba man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). While Russian sources have not named the unit in question, it is possible that it is the 90th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (Afipsky, Krasnodar Krai) of the 49th Army (HQ in Stavropol).


A unit of the 4th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Rostov-on-Don) located in Rostov Oblast received seven Ka-52 recon and attack helicopters.

The 5th Tank Brigade (Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia) of the 36th Army (HQ in Ulan-Ude) received Aleut type articulated all-terrain vehicles.



A Soyuz-2.1b rocket delivered a Russian military satellite to the orbit after launching from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on 2 February 2021.



About 13,000 troops from the artillery and missile units of the Southern Military District left their bases for various locations where they will hold series of tactical exercises. The exercises will be conducted across southern Russia, in Armenia, and in the occupied regions of Crimea (Ukraine), Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (Georgia).

500 Russian troops conducted an exercise involving use of UAVs in occupied Tskhinvali Region, Georgia. Similar number of Russian occupation troops in Georgia’s Abkhazia region held an anti-UAV exercise.

The Black Sea Fleet’s Pantsir-S1 air defense systems based in occupied Crimea, Ukraine, conducted an anti-UAV exercise.


Arms Exports

Kazakhstan has acquired Russian Buk-M2E air defense missile systems. The first battalion’s worth batch of the systems has already been delivered.

The systems delivered to Kazakhstan by Russia


*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.