Rondeli Russian Military Digest

Rondeli Russian Military Digest: Issue 30, 9 March - 15 March 2020

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 – Shooting on the Donbass frontline occurred every day in the week of 9-15 March 2020. Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 17 were wounded by the Russian hybrid forces during the week.

War in Ukraine – OSCE monitoring established presence of the Russian electronic warfare systems in the southern outskirts of Luhansk, Donbass.

War in Syria – A US patrol blocked the movement of a Russian military convoy in the north-eastern Syria on 9 March. No serious combat activity took place in the Idlib region in the week of 9-15 March 2020, due to the ceasefire agreement between Russia and Turkey.

Russian warships reportedly are escorting Gazprom’s pipe layer ship Akademik Cherskiy, capable of completing construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and moving from the Indo-Pacific region to the European waters. Apparently, the Pacific Fleet’s Udaloy I / Project 1155 Fregat class anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Vinogradov escorted Akademik Cherskiy from the Russian Far East port of Nakhodka to Sri Lanka, where the mission was taken over by the Baltic Fleet’s Neustrashimyy / Project 11540 Yastreb class frigate Yaroslav Mudry.

NATO fighters intercepted Russian planes on 11 and 12 March. On both occasions, Russians flew west of Norway, north of the UK, west of Ireland and into the Bay of Biskay before turning back. On 11 March, the Russian aircraft included two Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft, as well as one MiG-31 fighter and one Il-78 aerial refueling tanker. They were intercepted and shadowed by Norway’s F-16s, the UK Typhoons, France’s Dassault Rafales, and Spain’s Boeing F/A-18 Hornets. On 12 March, it was two Tu-160 heavy strategic bombers and one Il-78 aerial refueling tanker, intercepted by the Norwegian, British and French fighters.

The route of Russian aircraft on 11 March 2020. Source: Barents Observer

On 9 March 2020, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) reported that US F-22 and Canada’s CF-18 fighters intercepted two Russian Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft (and their escorts) north of Alaska.

The Pacific Fleet’s Balzam / Project 1826 class intelligence collection ship Pribaltika was spotted by the US Coast Guard near the Pearl Harbor naval base.

Pribaltika. Source: US Coast Guard


Rearmament and Modernization

Russian Ministry of Defense received another regiment-worth batch of the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems



The Main Centre for Reconnaissance of Situation in Space of the Russian Space Forces exercised in discovering orbit maneuvers of foreign satellites.

8,000 artillery and missile troops of the Central Military District participate in exercises taking place in Chelyabinsk, Kemerovo and Orenburg Oblasts.

Russian occupation forces staged exercises in both of Georgia’s occupied regions. 1,000 troops drilled in Abkhazia, and another 500 – in Tskhinvali Region.


Arms Exports

Russia has completed its planned deliveries of the Pantsir-S1 medium-range surface-to-air missile systems to Serbia. It had been previously reported that Serbia’s purchase of the Pantsir-S1 involved one battery consisting of six systems.


*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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