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

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky stated on 2 June 2021 that “that Moscow had withdrawn only a fraction of the forces it concentrated near Ukraine in April,” still maintaining a massive military presence on Ukrainian borders. As we reported in our previous issue, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made a similar statement on 25 May.

Russian Ka-52 recon and attack helicopters and Mi-8AMTSh transport and attack helicopters were spotted at the Al-Tabqah air base in northern Syria.

Russia in Africa – One of modifications (VPK-233136) of the Russian-produced Tigr armored all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles was noted in Benghazi, Libya in possession of the rebel leader Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

Tigr VPK-233136 armored cars

Russia in Africa – The Central African Republic (CAR) troops together with the Russian Wagner group mercenaries reportedly attacked Chad’s Sourou border post, with six Chadian soldiers killed and five wounded in the attack.

Russia in Africa – President of France Emmanuel Macron called President Touadéra of the Central African Republic (CAR) a “hostage of the Wagner group.” President Macron added that Wagner “seizes the mines, and thereby the political system” in the CAR.

Russia in Africa – Following Sudan’s messages regarding the need to review conditions of the Russian-Sudanese agreement on a Russian naval station at Port Sudan, the future of Russian naval presence there remains unclear.

A Russian MiG-31 fighter intercepted a U.S. military plane over the Barents Sea on 4 June 2021. A Su-27 fighter intercepted a U.S. bomber over the Baltic Sea on 31 May.

The Pacific Fleet’s Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Tributs operated in the Strait of Malacca on 3-4 June 2021 where it escorted a Russian submarine that had been borrowed to India and was returning to Russia. On 5 June, Admiral Tributs arrived in Singapore.

Admiral Tributs and the submarine in the Strait of Malacca


Military Strategy

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu stated on 31 May 2021 that Moscow intended to establish 20 new units in the Western Military District before the end of 2021. The purpose of this announced expansion according to Shoygu is to “adequately oppose NATO.”


Rearmament and Modernization

Russian Defense Ministry reportedly plans to arm tank units of the newly established 19th Mechanized Division and 20th Mechanized Division in the Southern Military District with T-90M tanks.

A new Project 02510 BK-16 class high-speed landing craft D-321 joined the Northern Fleet on 1 June 2021.


Russian armed forces received a batch of 2S19M2 Msta-S self-propelled howitzers.

The 138th Mechanized Brigade (Kamenka, Leningrad Oblast) of the 6th Army (HQ in Agalatovo, Leningrad Oblast) received 600 AK-12 assault rifles. The 38th Mechanized Brigade (Belogorsk, Amur Oblast) of the 35th Army (HQ in Belogorsk) also received a batch of AK-12s.


Arms Exports

Indonesia’s navy has acquired two Russian A-220M naval guns for its fast-attack craft.