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 – One Ukrainian military service member was killed and two were wounded by Russian hybrid forces on the Donbas frontline during the week of 21-27 June 2021.

War in Syria – Russian official representatives have been claiming that Syrian rebels in Idlib region are preparing to stage a chemical attack in order to blame it on the Assad regime. Russians have been lately repeating the claim on an almost weekly basis. The last such statement at the time of writing had been made on 23 June 2021 by a high Russian military official in Syria, Admiral Vadim Kulit. Previously the Assad regime forces committed chemical attacks against the rebels and civilian population in Syria on a number of occasions.

A high-ranking officer in the Russian General Staff, Major General Yaroslav Moskalik, said that the U.S. was seeking to establish “a Kurdish quasi-state” in the north-eastern Syria.

Britain’s Daring / Type 45 class guided missile destroyer Defender passed through the Ukrainian territorial waters near Russian-occupied Crimea on 23 June 2021. Russians said they had fired warning shots during the passage, and claimed that their Su-24M attack aircraft had dropped bombs to force the British destroyer change its course. The Defender completed its passage near Crimea, while the British side denied air bombs had been dropped on its route and said no warning shots had been directed at the ship.

The route of the HMS Defender off Crimea, 23 June 2021

Japan’s fighter intercepted a Russian Su-25SM attack/close air support aircraft between the Japanese island of Hokkaido and the Russian island of Sakhalin on 25 June 2021.

A Russian Su-30SM fighter intercepted a U.S. military plane over the Sea of Okhotsk on 23 June 2021.

The Pacific Fleet’s Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Tributs that had operated in the Strait of Malacca in May and early June 2021returned from its long-range voyage to Vladivostok on 21 June 2021.


Rearmament and Modernization

The 4th Military Base (a mechanized brigade in Tskhinvali and Java, occupied Tskhinvali Region, Georgiareceived Tachyon reconnaissance UAVs.

Tachyon UAV



Soyuz-2.1b rocket delivered to orbit a military satellite Comsos-2550 after launching from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome (Mirny, Arkhangelsk Oblast) on 25 June 2021.



Russian navy and air force held an exercise in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Five surface ships of the Black Sea Fleet including Slava / Project 1164 Atlant class guided missile cruiser Moskva and Admiral Grigorovich / Project 11356P/M class guided missile frigates Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov, and two submarines – Improved Kilo / Project 636.3 class Rostov-na-Donu and Stary Oskol – participated along with at least three Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bombers, two MiG-31K attack aircraft, Tu-142MK and Il-38 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft and Su-35 fighters.

Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bombers at the Khmeimim base in Syria, June 2021

Over 10,000 troops of the 68th Army Corps (HQ in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalin Oblast) and the Pacific Fleet participated in an exercise taking place on the Sakhalin Island, the islands of Iturup/Etorofu and Kunashir/Kunashiri (of the disputed Kuril Islands) and in the Sea of Japan. 32 aircraft as well as 12 naval vessels also took part.

The 18th Mechanized Division (HQ in Kaliningrad), newly established in Kaliningrad Oblast, held its first large exercise. 2,000 troops participated.

Russian air force and the 102nd Special Purpose Detachment of the Sevastopol naval base held exercises in occupied Crimea, Ukraine.

Russian forces in occupied Abkhazia, Georgia held an anti-UAV exercise.


*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.