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 readers: Our digest will take a pause for a few weeks. The next issue will come out in the first half of May and cover the whole period after 28 March.


Geostrategic Activities

War in Ukraine – Four Ukrainian servicemen were killed and two were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the frontline in Donbas on 26 March 2021. Ukrainians did not suffer casualties on other days of the week of 22-28 March, although fire was opened on the frontline every day.

The Baltic Fleet’s landing ships, Ropucha II / Project 775.2 class Kaliningrad and Minsk, and Ropucha III / Project 775.3 class Korolev, escorted by Steregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvette Boikiy, passed the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea on 25 March 2021.

Corvette Boikiy

The Arctic Game – Russian Northern Fleet is conducting an Arctic expedition in the area of the Alexandra Land island, Franz Josef Land archipelago. According to the Russians, the expedition started on 20 March 2021. Among the participating vessels are three ballistic missile submarines of the Northern Fleet. Meanwhile, a pair of Russian MiG-31 fighters made a symbolic move by flying over the North Pole.

Russian instructors are training military servicemen of Tajikistan. 500 have reportedly completed the training during the winter period.


Structural Changes

Russians continue to strengthen their forces in occupied Crimea, Ukraine. The Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoyguannounced that in 2021, Moscow intends to relocate the 56th Air Assault Brigade (Kamyshin, Volgograd Oblast) of the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) to Feodosia in Crimea. The brigade will be reformed as the 56th Air Assault RegimentThe transfer will mean a significant strengthening in the offensive power of the Russian land forces stationed in Crimea which hitherto has been somewhat limited.


Rearmament and Modernization

Russian air force has begun receiving modernized Su-34NVO bombers. The first one was delivered to the Shagol air base in Chelyabinsk.

The 36th Mechanized Brigade (Borzya, Zabaykalsky Krai) of the 29th Army (HQ in Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai) received Aleut type articulated all-terrain vehicles.



Russian forces of the 4th Military Base (mechanized brigade) of the 58th Army (HQ in Vladikavkaz) held a tactical air landing exercise in occupied Tskhinvali Region, Georgia. The exercise involved Mi-8AMTSh transport and attack helicopters and Ka-52 recon and attack helicopters.

About 500 Russian troops of the Black Sea Fleet’s 22nd Army Corps held an exercise in occupied Crimea, Ukraine.

Utyos stationary coastal defense missile system, in Sevastopol, exercised together with two anti-submarine corvettes of the Black Sea Fleet.

Russians exercising in Crimea

*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.