Rondeli Russian Military Digest

Rondeli Russian Military Digest: Issue 15, 11 November -24 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.

A note to readers: While normally this is a weekly publication, the present issue covers two weeks.


Geostrategic Activities

War in Ukraine – Shooting at the Donbass frontline in Ukraine traditionally occurred every single day in the past two weeks. Two Ukrainian servicemen were killed and four were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces in the week of 11-17 November, and another 12 were wounded in the week of 18-24 November.

War in Syria – Russian air force continued its daily bombardment of the rebel-held wider Idlib region during the weeks of 11-17 and 18-24 November. Meanwhile, Russians announced their control of the Sarin air base, south of Kobani, saying their helicopters stationed there would support Russian ground patrols in the northern and north-eastern Syria. Russia also deployed military helicopters from its main Syrian base in Khmeimim to the Al-Qamishli airport in Syria’s north-east – also a formerly US-influenced area. According to the Russians, they have also deployed Pantsir medium-range surface-to-air missile systems to Al-Qamishli.

Russian forces in the former American zone, near Tishrin Dam on Euphrates. Source: syria.liveuamap.com

The Arctic Game – Russia has deployed a Resonance-N type radar station on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic. The radar is functioning in the test regime and will soon be transferred to the 45th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Safonovo, Murmansk Oblast), under the Northern Fleet command.

Russia and Serbia intend to turn their joint air defense exercises into a yearly event. In 2019 such exercises were held in September-October, in both Serbia and Russia’s Astrakhan Oblast.


Structural Changes

A statement by the commander of the Russian Northern Fleet, Vice Admiral Aleksandr Moiseyev revealed the existence of the Bastion-P mobile coastal defense missile systems on the Franz Josef Land archipelago in the Russian Arctic. The archipelago also hosts an air base and a battalion of Pantsir-S1 medium-range surface-to-air missile systems. Previously the existence of the Bastion-P systems had been known on the New Siberian Islands (specifically, on the Kotelny Island), which were also mentioned in the admiral’s statement.


Rearmament and Modernization

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Western Military District has received 780 armored vehicles in 2019.

The 108th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Voronezh) of the 32nd Air Defense Division (HQ in Rzhev, Tver Oblast), 6th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ in Saint Petersburg) has been rearmed with the newer S-300PM-2 surface-to-air missile systems, instead of the S-300PM systems the regiment was armed with previously.

The 61st Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (Biysk, Altai Krai) of the 41st Army (HQ in Novosibirsk) is being rearmed with the new Buk-M3 medium-range surface-to-air missile systems.

Buk-M3 systems on a march. Source: Russian Ministry of Defense, from bmpd.livejournal.com

The tank battalion of the Northern Fleet’s 200th Mechanized Brigade (Luostari, Pechenga and Korzunovo, Murmansk Oblast) has been armed with the T-80BVM tanks



Russian Admiral Grigorovich / Project 11356P/M class guided missile frigate Admiral Makarov and Project 22160 class large patrol ship Vasily Bykov conducted a joint exercise with Algeria’s navy in the western Mediterranean Sea.

A joint Russia-Uzbekistan Special Forces exercise took place in Russia’s Samara Oblast.

A SF soldier from Uzbekistan in Samara Oblast. Source: Central Military District

Russian Mi-8AMTSh-VA transport and attack helicopters that had recently been placed at the Ugolny air base in Anadyr, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, took part in an exercise along with the Russian radar station located on the Wrangel Island in the north-east of the Russian Arctic.


Arms Exports

India has made a USD 800 million advance payment for the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. The contract is set to be completed in 2025.

Russia has delivered four Su-30SM fighters to Belarus. The whole contract involves the delivery of 12 Su-30SMs.

Russia has completed the first stage of the delivery of T-90S tanks to Iraq.


* 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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