Rondeli Russian Military Digest

Rondeli Russian Military Digest: Issue 11, 14 October-20 October 2019

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 Ukraine – Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and eight were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces during the week of 14-20 October, according to the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation Press Center. The shooting at the frontline in Donbass continued every day throughout the week.

War in Syria – Following the American withdrawal from the former parts of the US zone of influence in Syria, Russian-backed Assad regime forces took over parts of the Syrian territory around the cities of Manbij, Kobane, Ar-Raqqah, Al-Tabqah, Al-Hasakah and Al-Qamishli. In some of these areas, including Manbij and Kobane, the advancing Assad forces were accompanied by a small number of Russian troops. In parallel, the Russian air force continued to conduct air strikes across the rebel-controlled Idlib region in the north-western Syria.

Russian flags flying near Manbij, 15 October 2019. Source: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters, from The Guardian

A Russian journalist accompanying Russian and Assad troops poses at an abandoned US checkpoint in the Manbij region. Source: syria.liveuamap.com

Within the framework of military cooperation between Russia and South Africa, an air group of the Russian Aerospace Forces is going to visit the African country.


Military Strategy

Russians are altering the training and education program of their Naval Infantry officers to reflect this service’s changing function. From now on, the Russian Naval Infantry can be used not just for the coastal defense of the Russian territory or local landing operations, but also “as an expeditionary force, capable of accomplishing tasks in any part of the world.”


Rearmament and Modernization

The Russian armed forces have received another anti-aircraft missile regiment’s worth of the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

Russian 61st Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (Biysk, Altai Krai) of the 41st Army (HQ in Novosibirsk) has received a batch of the new Buk-M3 medium-range surface-to-air missile systems.

Buk-M3 systems. Source: Central Military District

The 245th Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion of the 42nd Mechanized Division (HQ in Khankala, Chechen Republic) has been rearmed with 12 Tor-M2 short-range surface-to-air missile systems.



A Russian Tundra type missile attack early warning satellite, which had been launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on 26 September, has started functioning in orbit.



Russia has conducted a strategic armed forces command exercise Grom-2019 on 15-17 October. Among the participating assets were 12,000 troops, 213 launch systems of the Strategic Missile Forces, up to 105 aircraft, 15 ships and five submarines. The exercise included ballistic missile launches by the Northern Fleet and the Pacific Fleet submarines.

Ryazan nuclear ballistic missile submarine, based in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, which failed to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile during the Grom-2019 exercise. Source: Flot.com

Russia and its Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) allies Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan conducted Vzaimodeistviye-2019 military exercise in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. The 3,000 participating troops were commanded by the head of Russia’s Western Military District.

Another CSTO exercise, Poisk-2019, took place in Belarus. Among the participating 2,000 troops from reconnaissance units of the CSTO member-states were the recon troops of the Russian 1st Tank Army (HQ in Bakovka, Moscow Oblast), probably belonging to the Army’s 96th Recon Brigade (Nizhny Novgorod)

Belarus also hosted a joint exercise in Brest Oblast, where its Special Forces drilled together with the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV). The participating Russian troops belong to the 137th Airborne Regiment (Ryazan) of the 106th Airborne Division (HQ in Tula).

About 8,000 Russian troops from the artillery and missile units of the Southern Military District conducted an exercise at about 30 locations in various administrative provinces of the southern Russia and the North Caucasus, as well as in Armenia and the occupied territories of Abkhazia, Crimea and Tskhinvali Region.

Russia also conducted other military exercises across the three regions it illegally occupies on its southern borders in Georgia and Ukraine, including Abkhazia, Crimea and Tskhinvali.

More than 3,000 troops of the 58th Army’s (Vladikavkaz, Republic of North Ossetia-Alania) 19th Mechanized Brigade (Sputnik, Republic of North Ossetia-Alania) and 136th Mechanized Brigade (Buynaksk, Republic of Dagestan) conducted a military exercise, along with the aircraft and UAVs of the 4th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Rostov-on-Don).

More than 3,000 troops of the Russian Northern Fleet’s land forces took part in an exercise in Murmansk Oblast. The troops apparently belong to the 200th Mechanized Brigade (Luostari, Pechenga and Korzunovo, Murmansk Oblast) and the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade (Sputnik, Murmansk Oblast).

5,000 troops of the 29th Army (HQ in Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai) conducted a military exercise. Troops from all main units of the 29th Army took part, including the 36th Mechanized Brigade (Borzya, Zabaykalsky Krai), the 200th Artillery Brigade (Gorny, Zabaykalsky Krai), the 3rd Missile Brigade (Drovyanaya, Zabaykalsky Krai) armed with Iskander-M missile systems and the 140th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (Domna, Zabaykalsky Krai).


Arms Exports

Russia supplied three Mi-17 helicopters to Serbia’s armed forces.


*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.

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