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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Numerous sources indicated that Russia continued deployment of its armed forces near the border of Ukraine on the Russian territory, in Belarus, and in occupied Crimea during the week of 31 January-6 February 2022. According to U.S. officials’ information from 5 February, Russia had assembled about 70 percent of the military force needed for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. They also revealed that the number of Russian battalion tactical groups near Ukraine had increased from 60 to 83 in the last two weeks, and that 14 more were in transit. This increase of Russian forces included addition of about 10,000 troops in occupied Crimea. The total number of Russian troops massed near Ukraine reportedly was about 130,000. The Russian units already deployed to Belarus reportedly were joined during the week by forces of the 106th Airborne Division’s (HQ in Tula) 137th Airborne Regiment (Ryazan), and by a battalion from the 31st Air Assault Brigade (Ulyanovsk).
War in Ukraine – Two Ukrainian military service members were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces on the Donbas frontline during the week of 31 January-6 February 2022.
The group of six Russian landing ships that had arrived in the Mediterranean Sea, entered the Russian naval base in Tartus, Syria on 3 February. Later, the group that includes the Baltic Fleet’s Ropucha / Project 775 class landing ships Kaliningrad, Korolev and Minsk, as well as the Northern Fleet’s Ropucha / Project 775 class Georgiy Pobedonosets and Olenegorskiy Gornyak with the Ivan Gren / Project 11711 class landing ship Pyotr Morgunov, were reported to have the Black Sea as their next destination. The Black Sea Fleet’s Improved Kilo / Project 636.3 class diesel submarine Rostov-na-Donu, operating in the Mediterranean, was also reported to be returning to the Black Sea.
The Northern Fleet’s Slava / Project 1164 Atlant class guided missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov and Admiral Gorshkov / Project 22350 class frigate Admiral Kasatonov were operating in the northeast Atlantic as of 3 February 2022. On 6 February, Marshal Ustinov reportedly entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar. Another Slava / Project 1164 Atlant class guided missile cruiser, the Pacific Fleet’s Varyag also began to operate in the Mediterranean during the week after passing through the Suez Canal.
The Baltic Fleet’s Steregushchiy / Project 20380 class corvettes Soobrazitelnyy and Stoikiy reportedly entered the Atlantic Ocean through the English Channel by 1 February.
The route of the two Baltic Fleet corvettes
Fighters from Britain intercepted two Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers and two Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft over the northeast Atlantic on 2 February 2022. Fighters from Norway also intercepted the Russian planes. Another intercept of Russian military planes by Norwegian fighters over the Barents Sea took place on 3 February.
U.S. fighters operating out of Estonia intercepted Russian Tu-154 transport aircraft and its escorting pairs of Su-35S and MiG-31 fighters over the Baltic Sea on 3 February.
Two Russian Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bombers conducted a patrol in the air space of Belarus on 5 February 2022.
On 31 January 2022, Estonia’s foreign ministry expressed protest regarding violation of the Estonian air space by a Russian plane that had occurred on 29 January.
War in Syria – Russian air force conducted strikes in the Syrian rebel-held Idlib region on 3 and 6 February 2022.
Russia in sub-Saharan Africa – A CSIS report provided some details of the Russian Wagner group’s deployment to Mali. According to the report, Wagner operatives launched construction of their camp in the international airport of Mali’s capital Bamako in December 2021. Wagner operatives then also moved into the central Mali, engaging in combat against jihadist rebels there since early January 2022. Wagner group has also established bases in the cities of Ségou and Timbuktu.
According to new information regarding the structure of the 8th Army’s 20th Mechanized Division (HQ in Volgograd), besides the 255th Mechanized Regiment (Volgograd), the division also includes the 33rd Mechanized Regiment in Kamyshin, Volgograd Oblast, as well as a self-propelled artillery regiment and a separate tank battalion.
Rearmament and Modernization
12 Msta-SM2 self-propelled howitzers were delivered to the forces of the Western Military District.
Soyuz-2.1a rocket, launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome (Mirny, Arkhangelsk Oblast) on 5 February 2022, delivered to orbit a Russian military satellite, labeled Cosmos-2553.
Russian military forces held an exercise in the breakaway region of Transnistria, Moldova.
*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.