Russia November 2021-

Written by  //  December 4, 2021  //  Russia  //  No comments

Fiona Hill: The Kremlin’s Strange Victory
How Putin Exploits American Dysfunction and Fuels American Decline
(Foreign Affairs November/December) Putin sits at the apex of a personalized and semi-privatized kleptocratic system that straddles the Russian state and its institutions and population. He has embedded loyalists in every important Russian institution, enterprise, and industry. If Putin wants to retain the presidency until 2036—by which time he will be 84 years old and will have become the longest-serving modern Russian ruler—he will have to maintain this level of control or even increase it, since any slippage might be perceived as weakness. To do so, Putin has to deter or defeat any opponents, foreign or domestic, who have the capacity to undermine his regime. His hope is that leaders in the United States will get so bogged down with problems at home that they will cease criticizing his personalization of power and will eschew any efforts to transform Russia similar to those the U.S. government carried out in the 1990s.

3 December
Large scale Russian offensive possible in January, Ukraine says
By Natalia Zinets
(Reuters) – Russia has massed more than 94,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders and may be gearing up for a large-scale military offensive at the end of January, Ukraine’s defence minister told parliament on Friday, citing intelligence reports.
Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine would not do anything to provoke the situation but was ready to fight back if Russia launched an attack. He said Ukraine was pressing ahead with the construction of two naval bases on its south coast.

Heather Cox Richardson December 2, 2021
The news that Congress is willing to protect our finances reinforces the most effective weapon we have in the ongoing struggle to force Russia back from its threat to invade Ukraine. …
Ukraine, which became independent from the old U.S.S.R. in 1991—December 2 is the anniversary of Poland and Canada becoming the first to recognize its independence, actually—is not part of NATO. …
Now, Russia is amassing troops at the Ukraine border. While no one knows the end game, at the very least the Russian military presence is a threat aimed at keeping Ukraine from joining NATO. It is also likely aimed at elevating Putin’s visibility by getting a personal meeting with Biden.

24 November
The Coming Deluge: Russia’s Looming Lost Decade of Unpaid Bills and Economic Stagnation
Andrei Kolesnikov, Denis Volkov
The respondents agreed unanimously that the authorities will not try to change Russia’s development vector within the country’s existing political and economic models. Unless something drastically changes, stagnation in the broadest sense of the word—from economic depression to social apathy—is the only possible medium- and long-term scenario for Russia.
(Carnegie Moscow) With all the problems facing the Russian economy, many are wondering how the government will respond. As Moscow finally wakes up to the reality of climate change, the prevailing attitude among members of the ruling class appears to be that there is enough oil and gas to keep the state coffers full, buy voters’ loyalty, and control civil society and the media for as long as the country’s current leaders are in power (until 2036, when President Vladimir Putin may at last have to step down). What comes after that does not concern them: “After us, the deluge.”
To project Russia’s likely development trajectory over the next ten to fifteen years, the authors asked twenty-three economists and business leaders to identify the biggest challenges for Russia, when they will materialize, what the consequences may be, and whether they can be overcome under the current political system.
Many of the challenges and potential crises these experts discussed are intertwined, including Russia’s human capital crisis, the numerous structural economic challenges it faces on energy and technology policy, and the apparent absence of a sense of urgency among the ruling elites.
Most of the key challenges facing the Russian political system are related to the lack of economic growth. One of the factors inhibiting that growth is the state’s excessive interference in the economy and indeed all other aspects of life, creating an overcentralized and ineffective administrative state.

20 November
Russia will act if Nato countries cross Ukraine ‘red lines’, Putin says
Deployment of weapons or troops in Ukraine by Nato would trigger strong response, Russian president says
(The Guardian) Nato countries have warned Putin against further aggression against Ukraine as foreign ministers gathered in Latvia to discuss the military alliance’s contingencies for a potential Russian invasion.
Tensions have soared following a buildup of nearly 100,000 Russian troops, as well as tanks, artillery, and even short-range ballistic missiles, within striking distance of Ukraine’s borders.
While a similar crisis played out over a Russian troop buildup in April, officials from the US and Ukraine have warned that the threat of a Russian offensive this winter remains very real because of a failing ceasefire agreement and a worsening political climate.

19-23 November
U.S., Russian Military Chiefs Speak On The Phone Amid Heightened Tensions Over Ukraine
(RadioFreeEurope) The United States’ and Russia’s top military officers spoke over the phone on November 23, amid heightened Western concerns over Russian military moves near the Ukrainian border.
Will Putin miscalculate?
Editor’s Note: Europe currently faces several crises exploited or instigated by Russia. Speculation runs rampant regarding what Vladimir Putin hopes to achieve. Steven Pifer argues that he should take care not to overplay his hand. This article was originally published with the Center for International Security and Cooperation.
(Brookings) One crisis came to a head over the past two months as the cost of natural gas in Europe skyrocketed. While down from peaks in October, the price now hovers at about
four times what it was at the beginning of the year. Russia did not cause this crisis — its roots lie in factors such as abnormally high energy demand and reduced gas production in Europe — but Moscow certainly has exploited the situation.
Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko manufactured the second crisis, playing out along the border with Poland. Belarus has attempted to force migrants and economic refugees from the Middle East into Poland. This despicable weaponization of migrants is likely Lukashenko’s brainchild. Moscow has nevertheless aligned itself with Minsk. When Poland reinforced its border police with regular army soldiers, the Russian air force flew nuclear-capable bombers over Belarus in response.
On Putin’s Strategic Chessboard, a Series of Destabilizing Moves
In the stretch of Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, where Moscow and the West have competed for influence for decades, the threat of a new military conflict is growing.
(NYT) An ominous buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine. A migration crisis in Belarus that Western leaders call a “hybrid war” by a Kremlin client state. Escalating fears over natural gas that have Europe dreading a cold winter.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has, increasingly, put his cards on the table: He is willing to take ever-greater risks to force the West to listen to Russian demands. And America and its allies are sensing an unusually volatile moment, one in which Mr. Putin is playing a role in multiple destabilizing crises at once.

16 November
Russia holds on to its influence in post-Soviet Central Asia – Lack of strategy accelerates its decline
(FIIA) Central Asia remains a region where Russia has great influence. The country views the region as its sphere of interest and attempts to keep the five post-Soviet countries, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, in its geopolitical orbit. Although Russia is a powerful player in Central Asia, its influence is decreasing.
In the latest FIIA Briefing Paper, Research Fellow Kristiina Silvan from the Institute’s EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia Research Programme analyses the relationship between Russia and Central Asia 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to the author, Russian influence in the region is greatest in the security sphere. In the future, however, Moscow’s lack of a forward-looking strategy, its current great-power posturing, and the further rise of China threaten the country’s dominance in the region.

15 November
US Global Ransomware Summit: More Needs to be Done
ON 8 NOVEMBER, the US Justice Department announced the arrest of several members of the Russian-speaking REvil ransomware group, in a large-scale operation involving US allies in Europe and around the globe. The REvil group, who have since been charged, have been deploying ransomware attacks against American targets including the software provider Kaseya in July 2021. Furthermore, the State Department added REvil to a bounty programme that offers up to US$10 million for information on the REvil leaders.
These efforts followed the two-day virtual international summit on ransomware hosted by the Biden administration on 13-14 October. This summit included 30 countries and was a decisive step towards building a coalition against ransomware attacks. It was acknowledged by all countries that ransomware posed a global and national security threat. Russia ─ as well as China, Iran, and North Korea ─ was not invited
‘Irresponsible act’: U.S. raps Russia after missile strike on its own satellite
(Politico) The United States on Monday confirmed that a Russian anti-satellite missile test was responsible for causing a debris field in space that forced astronauts aboard the International Space Station to temporarily seek shelter.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that Russia had “recklessly conducted a destructive satellite test of a direct ascent anti-satellite missile against one of its own satellites.”

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