Rondeli Russian Military Digest

Rondeli Russian Military Digest: Issue 68, 21 December - 27 December 2020

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.

You can see all issues of Rondeli Russian Military Digest at this page. For your convenience, we have added the Digest Content Search that helps users find the digest’s issues containing information they need using key words and phrases.

For a comprehensive geographic view of the Russian military structure see our Interactive Map of the Russian Military Forces.

A note to readers: Since most of us are probably going to take a New Year break from the grim matters to which this digest is dedicated, we are going to skip our publication next week. We shall come back with Issue 69 in the middle of the week of 11-17 January 2021. Issue 69 will cover two weeks.


Geostrategic Activities

War in Ukraine – Five Ukrainian servicemen were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbass frontline during the week of 21-27 December 2020.

War in Syria – Russians sent additional forces to their outpost in the area of the town of Ayn Issa, in northern Syria, under the cover of their helicopters. Previously, pro-Turkish rebel groups attempted to advance in this area, resulting in heavy fighting against the Kurdish forces. In the Idlib region, Russian air force conducted strikes against the Syrian rebel forces on 24 December 2020.

Russia in Africa – Following Russia’s deployment of hundreds of fighters to help the government of the Central African Republic in its fight against rebels, on 25 December 2020, Russia also sent to the CAR two Mi-8AMTSh transport and attack helicopters.

The delivery of the two Russian helicopters to the CAR

On 22 December, two Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers conducted a joint patrol with four of China’s bombers over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. That same day, South Korea said it had scrambled fighters in response to an intrusion into its air defense identification zone by 15 Russian and four Chinese military aircraft. Japan also scrambled its fighters.


Structural Changes

A new coastal missile brigade was established on Sakhalin. It will be armed with Bastion-P and Bal mobile coastal defense missile systems.


Rearmament and Modernization

Steregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvette Aldar Tsydenzhapov joined the Pacific Fleet on 25 December 2020, while Alexandrit / Project 12700 class minesweeper Yakov Balyaev did so on 26 December.

Aldar Tsydenzhapov

Russian air force received its first Su-57 fighter, transferred to the 929th State Flight Test Centre (Akhtubinsk air base, Astrakhan Oblast).

The 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (Marshala Zhukova, Kursk Oblast) of the 20th Army (HQ in Voronezh) has been armed with Buk-M3 medium-range surface-to-air missile systems. The 61st Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (Biysk, Altai Krai) of the 41st Army (HQ in Novosibirsk) has also completed its rearmament with the Buk-M3 systems.

The air defense battalion of the 21st (Heavy) Mechanized Brigade (Totskoye, Orenburg Oblast) of the 2nd Army (HQ in Samara) has been armed with 9K333 Verba man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS).

The tank battalion of the 228th Mechanized Regiment (Yekaterinburg), 90th Tank Division (HQ in Chebarkul, Chelyabinsk Oblast), 41st Army (HQ in Novosibirsk) has been fully rearmed with over 30 T-72B3M tanks.



Syria’s armed forces conducted a joint exercise with the Russian forces based in the country.


Arms Exports

Russia delivered four Su-30SM fighters to Kazakhstan.


*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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