Rondeli Russian Military Digest

Rondeli Russian Military Digest: Issue 83, 24 May - 30 May 2021

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

Following Russia’s concentration of military forces near the border of and within Ukraine in the spring of 2021, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in this regard on 25 May: “While Russia has pulled back some troops, tens of thousands remain in and around Ukraine, as well as significant amounts of weapons.”

War in Ukraine – One Ukrainian serviceman was killed and another one was wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbas frontline during the week of 24-30 May 2021.

On 25 May 2021, Russia deployed three Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bombers from the 52nd Heavy Bomber Regiment (Shaykovka air base, Kaluga Oblast) of the Russian Long Range Aviation Command’s 22nd Heavy Bomber Division (HQ in Engels, Saratov Oblast) to the Khmeimim air base in Syria. The bombers conducted flights over the eastern Mediterranean escorted by Russian Su-35 fighters. According to some reporting, the bombers returned to Russia on 28 May.

A satellite image of three Tu-22M3s, an A-50U airborne early warning and control (AEW) aircraft and two Il-76MD strategic airlifters, Khmeimim, 27 May 2021

The route back to Russia of the Tu-22M3s on 28 May 2021

War in Syria – Commander of the Assad regime army’s elite formation, the Tiger Forces, Brigadier General Suheil al-Hassan, was spotted with the Russian Special Operations Forces (SSO) troops functioning as his bodyguards.

Norway’s military planes were intercepted by Russian MiG-31 fighters over the Barents Sea on 26 and 27 May 2021.

The Pacific Fleet’s Vishnya / Meridian / Project 864 class intelligence collection ship Kareliya operated near the island of Kauai (U.S. Hawaii Islands) for several days.


Steregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvettes Gromkiy and Sovershennyy, on a long-range expedition in the Indo-Pacific region since 1 May 2021, where operating in the Philippine Sea as of the end of May 2021.


Rearmament and Modernization

The 205th Mechanized Brigade (Budyonnovsk, Stavropol Krai) of the 49th Army (HQ in Stavropol) received 50 Fagot anti-tank missile systems.



About 100 aircraft of the Southern Military District’s 4th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Rostov-on-Don) took part in an exercise that involved moving from permanent bases to field airstrips. Air defense units of the military district’s ground forces and of the Black Sea Fleet also participated in the exercise.

Utyos stationary coastal defense missile system and Bal mobile coastal defense missile systems of the Black Sea Fleet’s 15th Coastal Missile Artillery Brigade (Sevastopol, occupied Crimea, Ukraine) held an exercise together with Admiral Grigorovich / Project 11356P/M class guided missile frigate Admiral Grigorovich. Other exercises in Crimea in the week of 24-30 May 2021 where held by the planes of the 43rd Maritime Attack Aviation Regiment (Saki air base) of the Black Sea Fleet’s Naval Aviation, and the tank battalion of the 126th Coastal Defense Brigade (Perevalnoye/Perevalne) of the Fleet’s 22nd Army Corps.

Russian Defense Ministry’s image from an exercise in occupied Crimea, Ukraine

About 1,000 troops of the 7th Military Base (a mechanized brigade in Gudauta, occupied Abkhazia, Georgia) held an exercise along with Mi-8AMTSh transport and attack helicopters of the 4th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Rostov-on-Don).


*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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