Russell netted from two yards out after Grant Holt headed Adam Drury’s corner back across goal.
The point was no more than the visitors deserved after being reduced to 10 men in the first half after keeper Fraser Forster was harshly adjudged to have felled Curtis Weston.
The visitors had started the stronger, bossing the midfield without being able to pick the killer pass. Luke Daley fired just wide and Wes Hoolahan had an angled drive palmed away by Simon Royce as Norwich knocked at the door.
But the game turned just after the half-hour with Simeon Jackson firing home from the spot after Forster’s dismissal. After the interval Dennis Oli and Josh Gowling saw headers go narrowly wide for the hosts, who made the most of their numerical advantage.
Striker Jackson had three great opportunities to extend the Gills’ lead before Russell rescued a point.