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 Syria – Middle Eastern media outlets reported the first joint military exercise of the Russian, Iranian and Assad regime troops in the area west of Deir az-Zour in Syria. The development appears to indicate a growing cooperation within the Russia-Iran-Assad coalition operating in the regime-controlled territory.

War in Ukraine – Shooting on the Donbass frontline in Ukraine continued unabated during the week of 30 September-6 October. Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and seven were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces during the week, according to the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation Press Center.

According to the Russian president Vladimir Putin, Russia is helping China build a missile attack warning system. Putin stressed that “this is a serious thing that will drastically increase the defense capabilities of the People’s Republic of China.”

Foreign minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei stated that “there is neither political, nor practical, nor military sense” in establishing a Russian air base in his country. Makei also said: “If Belarus were to place some additional military installations on its territory, I don’t think that would help improving the stability and security in our region.” As was reported in Issue 8 of this digest, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had recently called the refusal of Belarus to host a Russian base “an unpleasant episode.”

Meduza online media outlet reported that between 10 and 35 Russian mercenaries have died in the Libyan War, were they were helping eastern Libyan leader Khalifa Haftar in his battle against Libya’s UN-recognized government in Tripoli.

The Arctic Game – Deliveries of goods to Russia’s remote military bases in the Arctic region have gone up almost 200 percent this year, rising from 11,000 tons in 2018 to about 30,000 tons in 2019.

The Belgian Air Force published a photo of a Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber in the crosshairs of a Belgian F-16 fighter that had intercepted the Russian jet in the Baltic region on 3 October.

Source: Belgian Air Force


Structural Changes

The Russian armed forces have finalized the formation of the new 254th Mechanized Regiment (Klintsy, Bryansk Oblast) and 59th Tank Regiment (Yelnya, Smolensk Oblast). Both recently created regiments belong to the 144th Mechanized Division (HQ in Yelnya) of the 20th Army (HQ in Voronezh). The 144th Division is one of the three divisions established near the border with Ukraine after 2015.

The badge of the 254th Mechanized Regiment, recently established on a base 45 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. Source:


Military Strategy

The head of the US Naval Forces Europe, Admiral James Foggo said his regional command needed more ships. According to the admiral, he was “seeing more Russian ships, submarines and aircraft in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans and the Baltic, Black and Mediterranean seas, as well as words and actions from Russians that can ratchet up tensions in the region.”


Rearmament and Modernization

According to the commander of the Russian Ground Forces, Army General Oleg Salyukov, his service is going to receive more than 2,500 weapons systems in 2019, which will increase its proportion of modern hardware to 60 percent.

Russian Western Military District reported that the 6th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Saint Petersburg) had been equipped with the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. It is unclear which specific unit or units of the 6th Army were referred to in this report.



A high-level officer in the Russian Space Forces said that of the 150 Russian satellites in the orbit, two thirds, or more than 90, have military purposes and “function in the interests of the Ministry of Defense of Russia.”



Series of joint Russian-Armenian military exercises continued in Armenia. The latest one involved about 1,500 troops and was set to go on until 13 October.

Russian troops of the 7th Military Base (a mechanized brigade-sized unit) in occupied Abkhazia, Georgia drilled in the mountainous and seaside areas of the occupied region.

Special Forces troops of Russia and Pakistan conducted a joint exercise in Molkino, Krasnodar Krai. Russian media reported that the Special Forces troops taking part in the exercise from the Russian side belonged to the 49th Army.

Pakistanis in Russia. Source: Southern Military District press service


Arms Exports

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev praised “military-technical cooperation” with Russia, saying that “the signed contracts between us within the framework of purchasing Russian equipment comprise five billion US dollars,” and adding that contracts for three billion dollars have already been fulfilled.


* 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.