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 – Four Ukrainian military service members and one civilian were wounded by Russian hybrid forces on the Donbas frontline during the week of 19-25 July 2021. One previously wounded Ukrainian soldier died in hospital.

War in Syria – Russian air force conducted strikes in the Syrian rebel-held Idlib region on 20, 22 and 23 July 2021.

A Russian air strike in Syria on 22 July 2021

Russia has started sending troops and military equipment to Belarus, in preparation for the Zapad-2021 exercise which is to take place on 10-16 September 2021.

The Arctic Game – Russian sources reported plans to deploy A-50U airborne early warning and control (AEW) aircraft to the Arctic region. Possible bases where the deployment may take place include the Nagurskoye air base (Alexandra Land Island, Franz Josef Land archipelago) and the Temp air base (Kotelny Island, New Siberian Islands).

A-50U aircraft

Norway’s fighters intercepted two Russian Tu-160 heavy strategic bombers escorted by Russian MiG-31BM interceptors over the Barents and Norwegian Seas on 21 July 2021.

A Russian Su-27 fighter intercepted a military plane from Germany over the Baltic Sea on 22 July.


Rearmament and Modernization

Russians publicized the footage of test firing of the S-500 surface-to-air missile system, and reportedly intend to deliver first S-500 systems to the 1st Air Defense and Missile Defense Army (HQ in Balashikha, Moscow Oblast) at some point in the future.


Russian armed forces sent 17 BMP-2M infantry fighting vehicles to the mechanized units of the 201st Military Base (a mechanized division with HQ in Dushanbe, Tajikistan).



Su-30M2 and Su-27SM fighters from the Belbek air base (occupied Crimea, Ukraine) conducted an exercise. Another Russian exercise on the occupied peninsula was held by the engineer troops.


Arms Exports

The head of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said on 21 July that Moscow was cooperating closely with the ruling regime in Myanmar “to supply it with military hardware including aircraft.”


*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.