Rondeli Russian Military Digest

Rondeli Russian Military Digest: Issue 13, 28 October - 3 November 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.

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


Geostrategic Activities

War in Ukraine – Daily shooting continued on the Donbass frontline in the week of 28 October-3 November 2019. Five Ukrainian servicemen were wounded as a result of the Russian hybrid forces’ actions, according to the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation Press Center.

War in Syria – Russians conducted daily air strikes against the rebel-held wider Idlib region in the week of 28 October-3 November. Meanwhile, Russian ground patrols continued in the Al-Qamishli and Ad-Darbasiyah area in Syria’s north-east, including the joint Russian-Turkish patrols that were first launched during the week.

At least ten Russian submarines have launched military maneuvers in the North Atlantic. Two of the participating submarines named in the media are the Sierra II / Project 945A Kondor class nuclear-powered Nizhny Novgorod and Pskov. Both are normally stationed at the Northern Fleet’s Vidyayevo naval base in Murmansk Oblast. Eight of the ten submarines in question are nuclear-powered. The maneuvers, considered to be the largest Russian underwater exercise since the fall of the Soviet Union, are supposed to last for two months.

Map of the North Atlantic from 1983, with the Greenland, Iceland, United Kingdom (GIUK) Gap marked. Today the area, and the maritime gap in particular, appear to be regaining the strategic importance they had during the Cold War. Source: CIA.GOV, from The Drive


Russia in Africa – Five mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group, operating in Mozambique, were reportedly killed in an ambush on 27 October. The incident occurred in Cabo Delgado Province, in northern Mozambique where Russians are assisting the local government in its fight against an Islamist insurgency.

Russia has donated military hardware worth about 5 million US dollars to Tajikistan.


Structural Changes

Russian military command will establish a new aviation division headquarters at the Saki air base in Novofedorivka, occupied Crimea, Ukraine. Two existing regiments belonging to the Black Sea Fleet’s Naval Aviation will be included in the new division - the 43rd Maritime Attack Aviation Regiment (Saki air base) and the 318th Mixed Aviation Regiment (Kacha air base). Russian media also reported formation of the 132nd Mixed Aviation Division under the Baltic Fleet Naval Aviation, in Kaliningrad Oblast, although the existence of the 132nd Division as of 2019 had already been known and reflected on the Rondeli Foundation’s interactive map of the Russian military forces.


Rearmament and Modernization

The Eastern Military District reported it had received 800 units of new weaponry in 2019.

The first modernized Borei-A / Project 955-A class nuclear ballistic missile submarine Knyaz Vladimir is set to join the ranks of the Northern Fleet before the end of 2019.

Russian armed forces have received the first batch of modernized T-80BVM tanks. The tanks were reportedly sent to the units based in Russia’s north.

T-80BVM tanks prepared for transportation. Source: TASS

Russian air force has started the experimental use of the Orion recon and attack UAV. According to the Russians, the decision was made after the Orion drones had been initially used in Syria.

The 14th Special Forces Brigade (Khabarovsk) has been supplied with the new Tigr-M SpN armored all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles.

The 22nd Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Kaliningrad) of the Baltic Fleet’s 11th Army Corps received Tor-M2 short-range surface-to-air missile systems.



Russian navy and air force conducted an exercise in the Mediterranean Sea. Ships from the Black Sea Fleet and the Baltic Fleet participated.

Air forces of Russia and Serbia conducted a joint exercise in Astrakhan Oblast.


Arms Exports

President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić announced his country had bought Russian Pantsir-S1 medium-range surface-to-air missile systems.

Uzbekistan purchased Typhoon armored vehicles from Russia.

Typhoon armored vehicle. Source: RIA Novosti


* 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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