Russia November 2021- August 2022

Written by  //  August 25, 2022  //  Russia  //  1 Comment

Moscow Times
Russia on Wednesday Night
Statement on the Closing of the Carnegie Moscow Center

25 August
Russia’s long-time chips failure coming home to roost
Russia will never be a first-rate power without a capable, innovative and commercially-oriented semiconductor industry
by Stephen Bryen
(Asia Times) One of the reasons Russian equipment destroyed in the Ukraine war is chock full of microchips made in the US, Europe and Asia is the plain fact that Russia cannot make them on its own. The export controls of the 1980s set the stage for Russia’s great microelectronics failure, which continues to afflict Zelenograd even today.
Russia’s two important semiconductor companies, Mikron and Angstrem, are located in Zelenograd. Angstrem was last reported in bankruptcy and there are also legal claims against former directors of its Angstrem-T division concerning “missing” equipment.
Mikron, the last great semiconductor hope for Russia, is working to develop technology that is already more than 2o years old, perhaps as out of date as 30 years.

23 August
Why the Russian economy keeps beating expectations
Few thought it would be holding up six months into the war
(The Economist) Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the Central Bank of Russia (cbr), and Rosstat, the official statistics agency, have stopped publishing data on everything from trade to investment; many question the reliability of those numbers that are still emerging. Investment banks, no longer advising clients on Russian companies, have pared back their research efforts. Multilateral organisations have pulled economists out of the country.
In the blizzard, a furious debate has erupted about how the Russian economy is performing. A recent paper by five researchers at Yale University, which has garnered widespread attention, says that a retreat of Western firms and sanctions are “crippling” it. … “The economy is not collapsing,” wrote Chris Weafer, a respected Russia-watcher, in a recent paper. Where does the truth lie?
‘Floundering, not drowning’: Russia’s economy is withstanding sanctions onslaught — for now
Although many economists are focusing on the long-term structural threats to the Russian economy – which the government and central bank are scrambling to counter – the more immediate collapse predicted by some has not come to fruition. (16 August)

21-23 August
Russia accuses Ukraine of killing nationalist’s daughter, Putin gives her award
Russian security service accuses Ukraine of attack
Ukraine calls accusation propaganda
Putin says murder of Dugina was evil, awards a posthumous honour
Darya Dugina: Daughter of Putin ally killed in Moscow blast

17 August
Why Kyiv’s ‘thousand bee sting’ strategy is costing Russia dearly
(WaPo) The war began on Feb. 24, when the Russians mounted an armored and air assault on Kyiv. Remember the 40-mile Russian column headed for the Ukrainian capital? Rather than counterattack with their own tanks, the Ukrainians used hand-held missiles such as the Javelin to carry out pinprick strikes, targeting trucks carrying supplies in particular. Before long the column ran out of fuel and food, and the Russians were forced to pull back. Kyiv was saved. This was the indirect approach par excellence.
On Aug. 9, a Russian air base in occupied Crimea was rocked by at least six explosions that destroyed or heavily damaged at least eight warplanes. Then on Tuesday another blast hit a large Russian ammunition depot in Crimea. Ukrainian officials did not comment in public but privately told reporters that both blasts were the work of their special forces.
Now, the Ukrainians are using the indirect approach to squeeze the Russian garrison in Kherson, the largest Ukrainian city under enemy occupation. Rather than mounting a direct assault, which would result in heavy casualties, the Ukrainians have been using the HIMARS and other systems to target the bridges across the Dnieper River that deliver supplies to the Russian forces in Kherson.
Playing With Fire in Ukraine
The Underappreciated Risks of Catastrophic Escalation
By John J. Mearsheimer
(Foreign Affairs) To understand the dynamics of escalation in Ukraine, start with each side’s goals. Since the war began, both Moscow and Washington have raised their ambitions significantly, and both are now deeply committed to winning the war and achieving formidable political aims. As a result, each side has powerful incentives to find ways to prevail and, more important, to avoid losing. In practice, this means that the United States might join the fighting either if it is desperate to win or to prevent Ukraine from losing, while Russia might use nuclear weapons if it is desperate to win or faces imminent defeat, which would be likely if U.S. forces were drawn into the fighting.
Russian shakes up Black Sea fleet command after series of blows in Crimea – state agency
The Black Sea Fleet, which has a revered history in Russia, has suffered several highly public humiliations in the course of the war that President Vladimir Putin launched on Feb. 24.

19 August
Russia, Ukraine spar over fighting near nuclear facility
(AP) The fire late Thursday struck the munitions storage building near the village of Timonovo in Russia’s Belgorod region on Ukraine’s northeastern border.
The fire came days after another ammunition depot exploded on the Crimean Peninsula, a Russian-occupied territory on the Black Sea that was annexed by Moscow in 2014.

15 August
Ukraine Chips Away at Russian-Held Region, but Task Is Daunting
Ukrainian forces badly want to to retake the southern region of Kherson from Russian invaders, but Moscow retains a potentially overwhelming advantage.
(NYT) In their summer campaign to drive Russian troops from the southern region of Kherson, Ukraine’s forces have decimated Russian command centers and ammunition depots, severed supply lines with precision strikes on key bridges, and sown terror among collaborationist officials with a spate of car bombings, shootings and, Ukrainian officials said, at least one poisoning.
But out in the sunbaked fields along the Kherson Region’s western border, the Ukrainian fighters who would be called on to deliver the knockout blow in any successful effort to retake territory remain pinned down in their trenches. Cuts to Russian supply lines have not yet eroded the overwhelming advantage of Moscow’s forces in artillery, ammunition and heavy weaponry, making it difficult if not impossible for Ukrainian forces to press forward without suffering enormous casualties.

12 August
‘Accidents can happen at European nuclear plants too,’ Russian ex-president says
(Reuters) Russian ex-president Dmitry Medvedev issued a veiled threat on Friday to Ukraine’s Western allies who have accused Russia of creating the risk of a nuclear catastrophe by stationing forces around the Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia power station.

11 August
Heavy Losses Leave Russia Short of Its Goal, U.S. Officials Say
The estimated deaths and injuries are stalling Russia’s progress in eastern Ukraine, military experts say, as fighting intensifies in the south.
(NYT) The staggeringly high rate of Russian casualties in Ukraine means that President Vladimir V. Putin may not be able to achieve one of his key war objectives: seizing the entire eastern region of the country this year, officials in the Biden administration and military experts say.
With 500 Russian troops killed or wounded every day, according to the latest estimate by American intelligence and military officials, Russia’s war effort has decelerated to a grinding slog, the officials said.

10 August
Ukraine claims to have destroyed nine Russian planes following Crimea airport explosions
Without claiming explicit responsibility for an attack on a Russian airfield in Crimea on Tuesday, Ukraine’s general staff of the armed forces said on Wednesday that it had destroyed nine Russian planes within the last 24 hours. It did not specify the locations. The claim follows widely reported explosions at Russia’s Saki air base.

8 August
As Russian missiles struck Ukraine, Western tech still flowed
Despite what the West has described as an unprecedented series of strict sanctions against Russia, many commodity electronic components still aren’t subject to export controls. And even if they are, there’s a global galaxy of suppliers and traders in East Asia and other countries that are willing to ship them and are often beyond the control of Western manufacturers.
(Reuters) After Russia invaded Ukraine, the West announced tough new sanctions and tech companies said they had halted all exports to Russia. Yet supplies of Western computer parts continued, a joint investigation finds.
While some of the more sophisticated Western chips in the Russian weapons have been subject to special export licensing requirements for years, the investigation found that many of the armaments also contain run-of-the-mill computer chips and other components found in consumer products. These are easily obtainable and in many cases aren’t subject to export restrictions.
After the invasion, the United States and other countries banned high-tech exports to Russia to try to cripple its defense industry and tech companies announced that they had halted all exports to Russia. Yet the reporting team found that the flow of Western brand-name computer parts to Russia hasn’t stopped, with thousands of shipments since the invasion of Ukraine. The shippers were mainly unauthorized suppliers, but they also included some manufacturers.
Large explosions rock Russian military air base in Crimea
(AP) — Powerful explosions rocked a Russian air base in Crimea and sent towering clouds of smoke over the landscape Tuesday in what may mark an escalation of the war in Ukraine. At least one person was killed and several others were wounded, authorities said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry denied the Saki base on the Black Sea had been shelled and said instead that munitions had blown up there. But Ukrainian social networks were abuzz with speculation that it was hit by Ukrainian-fired long-range missiles.
Ukraine suggests partisans behind blasts at Russian airbase in Crimea
Ukraine denies responsibility for airbase explosions
Russia says explosions not the result of an attack
Moscow asks nuclear watchdog to brief U.N. on plant shelling
(Reuters) – A senior Ukrainian official suggested a series of explosions at a Russian air base in Crimea could have been the work of partisan saboteurs, as Kyiv denied any responsibility for the incident deep inside Russian-occupied territory.
Moscow said the explosions, at least 12 according to witnesses, were detonations of stored ammunition, not the result of any attack
Ukraine, Russia trade blame for nuclear plant shelling amid global alarm
(Reuters) – Kyiv and Moscow traded blame on Monday for the weekend shelling of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex amid international alarm that their battle for control of the plant could trigger catastrophe.
Kyiv warns of Chornobyl-style disaster unless area secured
Both sides say in favour of visit by nuclear inspectors
UN’s Guterres says any attack on a nuclear plant is ‘suicidal’
UK scientist says risk of major nuclear incident is small
(The World) Russia and Ukraine traded accusations Monday that each side is shelling Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. Russia claimed that Ukrainian shelling caused a power surge and fire and forced staff to lower output from two reactors, while Ukraine has blamed Russian troops for storing weapons there.

7 August
Russia’s private military contractor Wagner comes out of the shadows in Ukraine war
Mercenary group does not officially exist but is playing a more public role and openly recruiting in Russia
Wagner was established in 2014 to support pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The US and others say it is funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a powerful businessman closely linked to Vladimir Putin who is under western sanctions. Prigozhin denies any links to the group.
The group has since played a prominent role fighting alongside the Russian army in support of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and has been spotted in several African nations – places in which Russia holds strategic and economic interests. It has been repeatedly accused of war crimes and human rights abuses.
On paper, it doesn’t exist, with no company registration, tax returns or organisational chart to be found. Russia’s senior leadership, including Vladimir Putin, has repeatedly denied any connections between Wagner and the state.

5 August
Putin and Erdoğan meet in Sochi
(The World) Russian President Vladimir Putin met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi today [August 5]. It comes after a Russian proposal, leaked by Ukrainian intelligence, suggests the Kremlin is seeking help from Turkey to evade Western sanctions.
Russia turns to Turkey, other trading partners to blunt sanctions’ impact
(NYT) Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed to boost bilateral trade and take steps to work more closely in the transportation, agriculture, industry and finance sectors, according to a joint statement the leaders released after four hours of talks in Sochi, the Russian resort city on the Black Sea. It was the second time the two men had met in just over two weeks.
(The World) In a meeting in Sochi, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan agree for their nations to work more closely but release few specifics
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday. It’s their second meeting in just over two weeks. The move has raised concerns that Moscow could be trying to strengthen economic ties with a NATO country. Ankara has been playing a mediating role between Ukraine and Russia, and has not joined in on imposing sanctions against the Kremlin. The meeting also comes as talks are set to begin over a potential prisoner swap for American basketball star Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in jail in Russia on drug charges.

31 July
US envoy: Russia intends to dissolve Ukraine from world map
(AP) — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Friday there should no longer be any doubt that Russia intends to dismantle Ukraine “and dissolve it from the world map entirely.”
Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the U.N. Security Council that the United States is seeing growing signs that Russia is laying the groundwork to attempt to annex all of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, including by installing “illegitimate proxy officials in Russian-held areas, with the goal of holding sham referenda or decree to join Russia.”
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “has even stated that this is Russia’s war aim,” she said.
Lavrov told an Arab summit in Cairo on Sunday that Moscow’s overarching goal in Ukraine is to free its people from its “unacceptable regime.”
How the Kremlin Is Forcing Ukrainians to Adopt Russian Life
In Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine, local leaders are forcing civilians to accept Russian rule. Next come sham elections that would formalize Vladimir V. Putin’s claim that they are Russian territories.
(NYT) They have handed out Russian passports, cellphone numbers and set-top boxes for watching Russian television. They have replaced Ukrainian currency with the ruble, rerouted the internet through Russian servers and arrested hundreds who have resisted assimilation.
Russia-appointed administrators in towns, villages and cities like Kherson in Ukraine’s south are setting the stage for a vote as early as September that the Kremlin will present as a popular desire in the region to become part of Russia.
Any referendum would be totally illegitimate, Ukrainian and Western officials say, but it would carry ominous consequences. Analysts both in Moscow and Ukraine expect that it would serve as a prelude to Mr. Putin’s officially declaring the conquered area to be Russian territory, protected by Russian nuclear weapons — making future attempts by Kyiv to drive out Russian forces potentially much more costly.

30 July
Zelenskyy calls POW bombing ‘deliberate Russian war crime’
International calls grow for investigation into shelling in town of Olenivka.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of a “war crime” for bombing a jail containing Ukrainian prisoners of war in the eastern Donetsk region.
More than 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war died in the shelling in the town of Olenivka, in territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists since 2014, according to authorities in the Donetsk People’s Republic.

28 July
Russia strikes areas in northern Ukraine while Ukraine counterattacks in the south
(NPR) Russian troops withdrew from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions months ago after failing to capture either. The renewed strikes on the areas come a day after the leader of pro-Kremlin separatists in the east, Denis Pushilin, publicly called on the Russian forces to “liberate Russian cities founded by the Russian people — Kyiv, Chernihiv, Poltava, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Lutsk.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military continued to counterattack in the occupied southern region of Kherson, striking a key bridge over the Dnieper River on Wednesday.
Ukrainian media on Thursday quoted Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Oleksiy Arestovich, as saying that the operation to liberate Kherson “has already begun.” Arestovich said Kyiv’s forces were planning to isolate Russian troops there and leave them with three options — to “retreat, if possible, surrender or be destroyed.”

27 July
Can either Russia or Ukraine reasonably claim to be ‘winning’ the war in Ukraine?
Alexander Hill, Professor of Military History, University of Calgary
(The Conversation) Both Putin and Zelenskyy are outwardly optimistic about their prospects for victory, but both face increasing challenges if the war drags on for months or years.
In terms of stated aims, some sort of Russian victory — albeit a costly one — is certainly far closer than the sort of victory upon which Zelenskyy has pinned his hopes.
One thing’s for certain: Thousands more will be killed or wounded in what has become yet another bloody war on former Soviet territory since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Russia cuts gas flows further as Europe urges energy saving
Reuters) – Russia delivered less gas to Europe on Wednesday in a further escalation of an energy stand-off between Moscow and the European Union that will make it harder, and costlier, for the bloc to fill up storage ahead of the winter heating season.
The cut in supplies, flagged by Gazprom (GAZP.MM) earlier this week, has reduced the capacity of Nord Stream 1 pipeline – the major delivery route to Europe for Russian gas – to a mere fifth of its total capacity.
Russia says its strike on July 24 destroyed 100 HIMARS missiles
Russia has previously said it has destroyed several HIMARS systems supplied to Ukraine by the West, claims denied by Kyiv

24 July
Russia says strike on Ukrainian port hit military targets
(AP) — Russian defense officials insisted Sunday that an airstrike on the Ukrainian port of Odesa hit only military targets, but the attack tested an agreement on resuming grain shipments that the two countries signed less than a day before the assault.
Long-range missiles destroyed a docked Ukrainian warship and a warehouse holding Harpoon anti-ship missiles supplied by the U.S., Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a daily briefing.
Speaking late Saturday in his nightly televised address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the attack on Odesa “destroyed the very possibility” of dialogue with Russia.
Russia hits Ukraine’s Black Sea port despite grain deal
(AP) — Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa just hours after Moscow and Kyiv signed deals to allow grain exports to resume from there. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry denounced Saturday’s airstrikes as a “spit in the face” to Turkey and the United Nations, which brokered the agreements.

20 July
Russia declares expanded war goals beyond Ukraine’s Donbas
By Mark Trevelyan
Foreign minister says geographical reality has changed
Russia may push deeper as West supplies long-range arms
Ukraine says comments show Russia aims to grab more land
(Reuters) In an interview with state media nearly five months after Russia’s invasion, the foreign minister also said peace talks made no sense at the moment because Western governments were leaning on Ukraine to fight rather than negotiate.
CIA director estimates 15,000 Russians killed in Ukraine war

19 July
What If the War in Ukraine Spins Out of Control?
How to Prepare for Unintended Escalation
By Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage
(Foreign Affairs) The war in Ukraine will soon enter its sixth month. For all the talk of Russia crossing the West’s redlines with its conduct in the war and of the West crossing Russia’s redlines with its military assistance to Ukraine, the true redlines have not yet been breached. At the outset of the war, both sides hashed out a set of invisible rules—unspoken but nonetheless real. They include Russia’s acceptance of allied heavy-weapons deliveries and intelligence support for Ukraine, but not the use of Western troops. And they include Western states’ grudging acceptance of Russian conventional warfare within Ukraine’s borders (eager as these countries are to see Moscow defeated), as long as the conflict does not lead to the use of weapons of mass destruction. So far, these invisible rules have continued to function, proof that neither U.S. President Joe Biden nor Russian President Vladimir Putin wants a wider war. …
The less apocalyptic the perspective of Washington and its allies, the better. The United States and Russia are not on the verge of World War III. Not every move is existential. The Russian military suffers under countless and increasing constraints, whereas the war in Ukraine will constantly turn up new, uncertain, disturbing, and frightening contingencies. The world will have to learn to live with it. The Cuban missile crisis lasted for 13 days. The crisis generated by the war in Ukraine will last for a long time to come

15 July
Shlomo Ben-Ami: Talking Peace in Ukraine
The West’s Ukraine policy has so far achieved a deadlock on the battlefield – which over time will skew in Russia’s favor, with catastrophic consequences for Ukraine and beyond – and an escalating global food and energy crisis. How long can this approach realistically be sustained?
Through a combination of barbarism and sheer numbers – “Quantity has a quality all its own,” said Stalin – Russia has generally managed to turn the tide. And, indeed, in Ukraine today, what has become a brutal war of attrition is producing slow but consistent Russian advances. A similar shift in Russia’s favor may well be playing out geopolitically. The West’s resolve to uphold its robust values-based response is waning. Though NATO members projected unity at their recent summit in Madrid, Europe seems to be increasingly divided on Ukraine. Eastern European countries, together with Finland and Sweden, view Russia as an immediate, even existential, threat. But for countries like Italy, Spain, and even France, more immediate security concerns lie in North Africa and the Sahel, as well as in the possibility of a new migrant crisis. And amid skyrocketing inflation and slowing economic growth, the political sustainability of economic sanctions is far from certain.

13 July
Russia’s War Against Ukraine Has Turned Into Terrorism
The Russian military isn’t just bombing civilians. It’s also targeting the laws and values that protect human rights.
By Anne Applebaum
(The Atlantic) Random attacks on random places, far from the front lines and with no military significance whatsoever, are now a daily occurrence in Ukraine. According to Oleksander Chechytko, a prosecutor who was collecting evidence in Serhiivka when I visited, three Kh-22 bombs hit the town on the night of July 1. The Kh-22 is an anti-ship missile produced in the 1960s. It was designed to hit warships, but there are no warships in Serhiivka. There are no military objects in Serhiivka at all, Chechytko told me. The nearest military installation, he said, is at least five kilometers away.
…the war in Ukraine now has a different nature than most of the wars we have seen this century. In the eastern part of the country, soldiers on both sides fight for territory on either side of a discernible front line. But elsewhere in Ukraine, something else is happening, something that looks less like war and more like multiple acts of terrorism.
Ukraine’s new rockets are wreaking havoc on Russia’s army
The American-supplied HIMARS is wiping out arms dumps and command posts
(The Economist) “Russian forward ammunition dumps are quite possibly the most unsafe places in any war zone,” explained an American army handbook published in 2016. Munitions were not stored safely, it noted, and many dated from the Soviet era, close to their expiry dates, creating “a tinderbox ready to explode”. “Priority targeting of these areas will cause a serious logistics strain on the Russian system,” it concluded. Ukrainian generals are now putting that theory to the test.
On July 11th a Russian ammunition depot in Nova Kakhovka in southern Ukraine (see map) exploded in spectacular fashion. Satellite images showed that the entire facility vanished overnight. It is thought to be the latest victim of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (himars), which America began sending to Ukraine in late June.

7 July
Ukraine is losing this war – the west needs to massively step up its military aid
By Frank Ledwidge
30,000 soldiers killed and one-third of Russia’s tank force turned into scrap are meaningless to Vladimir Putin
Ukrainian forces entering Crimea would send the message, ‘This is what strategic defeat looks like’
As matters stand, Ukraine lacks the combat power to be certain of success

(CapX) There were the great victories at Kyiv, Chernihiv and Kharkhiv. But with setbacks in Donetsk and Luhansk, the appalling realisation is sinking in that this is likely to be a very bloody war, lasting years. The country’s coastline is in the invaders’ hands and its ports are blockaded. A serious economic crisis is looming both in Ukraine and more widely. While Ukraine is not winning, it is losing.
Last week’s Nato summit stated that it would assist member states “adequately” in providing support to Ukraine, while recognising each member’s “specific situation” – presumably the specific situation of some countries being unwilling to contribute usefully to the defence of Ukraine.
For Ukraine, as for Russia, the key strategic front is in the south. Retaking Kherson – the ancient city on the Black Sea coast that Russia seems to be planning to annex as part of its scheme to “return Russian land” – would be a real blow to the Kremlin. Ukrainian forces entering Crimea, a short tank ride from Kherson, would send the message: “This is what strategic defeat looks like.”
So to attempt this would make sense both militarily and politically. But Ukraine’s problem, as matters stand, is that it lacks the combat power to be certain of success. The trend of weapons supply is nowhere near what will be required to ensure the recovery of Ukrainian lands and a consequent end to this war – by negotiation, or decision of arms.
Putin warns Russia is just getting started in Ukraine
Vladimir Putin has said “everyone should know that” Russia was just getting started in Ukraine and has not “started anything yet in earnest”.
Any prospects for peace negotiations will grow dimmer the longer the conflict dragged on, the Russian leader said in a hawkish speech to parliamentary leaders.
He said if the west wanted to defeat Russia on the battlefield, it was welcome to try.Putin says Russia just getting started in Ukraine and calls on west to meet on battlefield
“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. What can you say, let them try. We have heard many times that the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian.
This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it seems that everything is heading towards this.”

4-6 July
Russian forces ‘destroying everything’ in eastern Ukraine
Luhansk’s Governor Serhiy Haidai says Russian forces are ‘burning down and destroying everything on their way’.
(Al Jazeera) Russian forces are involved in scorched-earth tactics in their offensive in eastern Ukraine, pounding civilian areas with missiles and reducing villages, towns and cities to rubble, the governors of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces have said.
Indiscriminate shelling by Russian forces over the past 24 hours had killed at least eight civilians and wounded 25 more, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday.
Russia Advances Behind Brutal Barrage, but Will Its Strategy Keep Working?
The Russian and Ukrainian armies have both been badly mauled, raising questions about how long they can keep fighting as they have, particularly the outgunned Ukrainians.
As Russia declares victory in Luhansk, Ukraine captures tanks and regains territory in neighbouring region
Ukrainian soldiers interviewed by CBC at their front-line positions say Russia’s triumphs in the Luhansk region have obscured hard-won military successes elsewhere — including in the neighbouring Izyum region.
In April and May, Russian troops drove hard through the rolling countryside to try to capture the nearby city of Slovyansk, with the aim of encircling a large part of Ukraine’s army. But soldiers from the 93rd Mechanized Brigade stopped the Russian advance — and since then, Ukrainian forces have been slowly regaining lost territory.

Thinking About the Unthinkable in Ukraine What Happens If Putin Goes Nuclear?
(Foreign Affairs) Planning for the potential that Russia would use nuclear weapons is imperative; the danger would be greatest if the war were to turn decisively in Ukraine’s favor. That is the only situation in which the Russians’ incentive to take that awesome risk would be plausible, in an attempt to prevent defeat by shocking Ukraine and its NATO supporters into standing down. The Russians might do this by setting off one or a few tactical nuclear weapons against Ukrainian forces or by triggering a symbolic explosion over an empty area.
There are three general options within which U.S. policymakers would find a variation to respond to a Russian nuclear attack against Ukraine. The United States could opt to rhetorically decry a nuclear detonation but do nothing militarily. It could unleash nuclear weapons of its own. Or it could refrain from a nuclear counterattack but enter the war directly with large-scale conventional airstrikes and the mobilization of ground forces. All those alternatives are bad because no low-risk options exist for coping with the end of the nuclear taboo.
Ukrainian forces take up new positions as Putin hails Luhansk victory
(Reuters) – Ukrainian forces were taking up new defensive lines in the eastern part of the country on Monday, preparing for the next phase in the war as President Vladimir Putin proclaimed Russia’s victory in the months-long battle of Luhansk.
Russia captured the city of Lysychansk on Sunday, bringing an end to one of the biggest battles in Europe in generations. For two months, Moscow brought the full might of its ground forces to bear on a small pocket of the front line. It completed Russia’s conquest of Luhansk province, one of two regions it has demanded Ukraine cede to separatists in the Donbas region.
The battle is the closest Moscow has come to achieving one of its stated objectives since its forces were defeated trying to capture Kyiv in March. It marks Russia’s biggest victory since it captured the southern port of Mariupol in late May.
Analysis: Russia hails capture of Luhansk region, but big Ukraine battles lie ahead

17 June
Hackers crash internet as ‘Russian Davos’ adjusts to new reality
(Reuters) – Hackers on Friday delayed the start of President Vladimir Putin’s speech to Russia’s flagship economic forum, shorn of strong Western participation as Russia adjusts to the “new reality” of life under Western sanctions.
Internet connectivity and speeds suffered at the forum, and Putin’s speech, in which he accused the West of trying to crush his country with an economic “blitzkrieg”, was delayed by a little over 100 minutes.
State companies made a point of publicly signing deals and many firms had stalls with floor-to-ceiling display screens and glamorous attendants at the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum, which aims to rival the Davos World Economic Forum.
Western sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine combined with related supply chain issues have starkly altered Russia’s export-import dynamics, with the country now looking to the likes of China and India and turning away from the West.
Key banks have lost access to the global payments system SWIFT, Western brands are shunning the country and selling up in a hurry, writing off billions of dollars in assets – and the European Union has promised an embargo on Russian oil.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko lamented Russia’s backwardness in technology, and said the “painful process” of Russia switching to its own technology was under way.

8 June
Russian Orthodox Church sends its second most powerful figure on lower-ranking overseas posting
– Second in command headed Church’s foreign relations
– Synod decrees he should be sent to Budapest instead
– Ukraine conflict has deepened split within Slav Orthodoxy
The Church did not respond to a Reuters request for an explanation of the abrupt departure of Hilarion, who holds a doctorate from Oxford University and was seen as a potential successor to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
The Russian Orthodox Church is by far the biggest of the churches in the Eastern Orthodox communion, which split with Western Christianity in the Great Schism of 1054. Today it has about 100 million followers within Russia and more outside.
But the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has divided the two biggest Slav congregations, and added to a growing dispute within Slav Orthodox Christianity that goes back more than a thousand years to the very roots of Russia and Ukraine.

19 May
We Should Say It. Russia Is Fascist.
By Dr. Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University and the author of many books on fascism, totalitarianism and European history.
(NYT) Fascism was never defeated as an idea.
As a cult of irrationality and violence, it could not be vanquished as an argument: So long as Nazi Germany seemed strong, Europeans and others were tempted. It was only on the battlefields of World War II that fascism was defeated. Now it’s back — and this time, the country fighting a fascist war of destruction is Russia. Should Russia win, fascists around the world will be comforted.
A time traveler from the 1930s would have no difficulty identifying the Putin regime as fascist. The symbol Z, the rallies, the propaganda, the war as a cleansing act of violence and the death pits around Ukrainian towns make it all very plain. The war against Ukraine is not only a return to the traditional fascist battleground, but also a return to traditional fascist language and practice. Other people are there to be colonized. Russia is innocent because of its ancient past. The existence of Ukraine is an international conspiracy. War is the answer.

3 May
Russian War Report: New fires and alleged sabotage operations across Russian territory
By Digital Forensic Research Lab
(Atlantic Council) Over the past several days, numerous strategic facilities on Russian territory have caught fire. The reason of the fires in most cases were not officially confirmed, though many of them are suspected to be sabotage operations. At the same time, Siberia is experiencing massive seasonal wildfires, which Russia has lacked enough manpower to keep under control.
On May 3, videos surfaced showing a massive warehouse caught fire in Bogorodskoye, northeast of Moscow. Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations also provided photos showing the scale of the fire, which reportedly spanned an area of more than three hectares.
On May 2, videos captured a fire at a munitions factory facility in Perm, near the Ural Mountains, roughly 1,500km east of Moscow. The factory reportedly manufactured Grad and Smerch rocket munitions, which have played a significant role in destroying cities in Ukraine. And on May 1, videos documented fuel-oil tanks burning in Mytishchi. The location of the fuel depot is reportedly only thirty minutes from the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, photos surfaced on May 1 suggesting that a railway bridge in Russia’s Kursk region was destroyed due to sabotage. The bridge reportedly was used to transport Russian troops and military equipment to Ukraine. Kremlin media outlet RIA Novosti reported on the incident without providing the cause of the “partial collapse.”
At the same time, Siberia is currently experiencing massive seasonal wildfires. Videos that surfaced on May 2 captured the enormous scale of the wildfires. Ukrainian journalist Denis Kazansky reported that the fires continue to burn as there is no one to put them out, because the military unit responsible for extinguishing fires in the region is currently fighting in Ukraine.

29 April
Mark Galeotti: Russia’s Hardliners Present Their Manifesto
[J]ust as the Soviet system was always really a wartime economy, even during times of ostensible peace, this is the essence of the silovik manifesto: a Russia committed to a cultural, political and sometimes military Forever War with the West, demanding absolute discipline and the mobilization of society and economy alike.
(Moscow Times) … [Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council],  a career security officer first in the KGB and then the successor Federal Security Service (FSB) is in effect Putin’s national security adviser. He does not court publicity, so this kind of lengthy, showcase interview [with the official government newspaper of record, Rossiiskaya Gazeta] is as significant as it is unusual.
He is truly the hawk’s hawk. I have in the past described him as ‘the most dangerous man in Russia’ because of the way he drags Putin into even more extreme positions, fuelling his ambitions with talk of Russia’s historical mission and his paranoias with warnings of Western plots. As such, he is in many ways the lead spokesman of the siloviki – the ‘men of force’ of the military and security agencies – and the most nationalist of them, at that.
This interview was in many ways a silovik manifesto. It paints an apocalyptic picture of a world in which an America that “has long divided the whole world into vassals and enemies” and which is “used to walking on scorched earth” has turned against Russia because it is not willing “to give up its sovereignty, self-consciousness, culture, independent foreign and domestic policy.”

22 April
Russians are told they have two choices: Win this war or be destroyed
They justify Putin’s fratricide because the West, and ‘internal Ukrainians,’ present an existential threat
By Leonid Ragozin, freelance journalist based in Latvia.
(WaPo) The available evidence shows significant support for the war, as well as a surge in patriotism. According to the Levada Center, a respected independent pollster, the number of Russians who thought the country was going in the right direction rose from 52 percent before the invasion to 69 percent after, and Putin’s personal approval rating soared to a whopping 83 percent. But these figures come with a major caveat. New legislation makes “discrediting the armed forces” a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and that can encompass all sorts of things, including calling the war a war — circumstances that cast doubt on whether the polls are representative or the answers truthful. As an experiment staged by researchers at the London School of Economics showed, support for the war goes down by 15 percentage points when people are encouraged to speak their mind.
Whatever the true level of support, it’s clear that Russians aren’t necessarily buying Putin’s rationale for the invasion.

8 April
Do Not Go Gentle (Act Two)
One of the last independent newspapers in Russia finds new ways to cover a war that the government doesn’t want them to cover. Producer Robyn Semien talks to one of their editors, Nikita Kondratiev, about how it’s going.
(This American Life) Novaya Gazeta is one of the oldest independent newspapers in Russia. Its editor-in-chief won the Nobel Peace Prize last year.
… And when the war began, it didn’t follow those new rules from the Russian government. It did straight accurate reporting. Then, the Russian Ministry of Defense sent a written warning saying all their news was fake news.
They couldn’t keep operating the way they had. They could be shut down, which left the paper to figure out what to do, how to report on the war. And what they came up with was pretty ingenious.

29-30 March
As Russia sees tech brain drain, other nations hope to gain
(AP) — Russia’s tech workers are looking for safer and more secure professional pastures.
By one estimate, up to 70,000 computer specialists, spooked by a sudden frost in the business and political climate, have bolted the country since Russia invaded Ukraine five weeks ago. Many more are expected to follow.
For some countries, Russia’s loss is being seen as their potential gain and an opportunity to bring fresh expertise to their own high-tech industries.
This week, Putin reacted to the exodus of tech professionals by approving legislation to eliminate income taxes between now and 2024 for individuals who work for information technology companies.
Some people in the vast new pool of high-tech exiles say they are in no rush to return home. An elite crowd furnished with European Union visas has relocated to Poland or the Baltic nations of Latvia and Lithuania.
A larger contingent has fallen back on countries where Russians do not need visas: Armenia, Georgia and the former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
What I Heard From Passengers on the Last Train Out of Russia
For a month after the invasion of Ukraine, the high-speed Allegro train carried disaffected Russians to Helsinki. On Sunday, that final rail connection to Europe was severed.
So I was there on Sunday as some 340 passengers disembarked from the final Allegro, along with four pets in travel cages, and a squad of stern-looking Finnish border guards who joined the train at the border and inspected the arriving Russians on board as the train sped to Helsinki.

Why Do So Many Russians Say They Support the War in Ukraine?
In a climate of wartime censorship, the mere expression of an unsanctioned thought begins to feel like a protest action.
By Joshua Yaffa
(The New Yorker) “The vast majority of Russians feel no sense of political responsibility whatsoever. That means the state can do absolutely anything and people won’t think it has anything to do with them.”

7 March
As Russia’s Military Stumbles, Its Adversaries Take Note
President Vladimir Putin could still reduce cities in Ukraine to rubble, officials say. But European countries say they are not as intimidated by Russian ground forces as they were in the past.
(NYT) Ukraine’s military, which is dwarfed by the Russian force in most ways, has somehow managed to stymie its opponent. Ukrainian soldiers have killed more than 3,000 Russian troops, according to conservative estimates by American officials.
Ukraine has shot down military transport planes carrying Russian paratroopers, downed helicopters and blown holes in Russia’s convoys using American anti-tank missiles and armed drones supplied by Turkey, these officials said, citing confidential U.S. intelligence assessments.
The Russian soldiers have been plagued by poor morale as well as fuel and food shortages. Some troops have crossed the border with MREs (meals ready to eat) that expired in 2002, U.S. and other Western officials said, and others have surrendered and sabotaged their own vehicles to avoid fighting.
That Russia has so quickly abandoned surgical strikes, instead killing civilians trying to flee, could damage Mr. Putin’s chances of winning a long-term war in Ukraine. The brutal tactics may eventually overwhelm Ukraine’s defenses, but they will almost certainly fuel a bloody insurgency that could bog down Russia for years, military analysts say. Most of all, Russia has exposed to its European neighbors and American rivals gaps in its military strategy that can be exploited in future battles.

4-6 March
Ukrainians Find That Relatives in Russia Don’t Believe It’s a War
Many Ukrainians are encountering a confounding and frustrating backlash from family members in Russia who have bought into the official Kremlin messaging.
(NYT) As Ukrainians deal with the devastation of the Russian attacks in their homeland, many are also encountering a confounding and almost surreal backlash from family members in Russia, who refuse to believe that Russian soldiers could bomb innocent people, or even that a war is taking place at all.
These relatives have essentially bought into the official Kremlin position: that President Vladimir V. Putin’s army is conducting a limited “special military operation” with the honorable mission of “de-Nazifying” Ukraine.
Russia cracks down on dissenting media, blocks Facebook
(AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday intensified a crackdown on media outlets and individuals who fail to hew to the Kremlin line on Russia’s war in Ukraine, blocking Facebook and Twitter and signing into law a bill that criminalizes the intentional spreading of what Moscow deems to be “fake” reports.
The moves against the social media giants follow blocks imposed on the BBC, the U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvia-based website Meduza. The government’s sweeping action against the foreign outlets that publish news in Russian seeks to establish even tighter controls over what information the domestic audience sees about the invasion of Ukraine.
Russian ‘fake news’ law could give offenders 15 years in prison
A punishment for statements that ‘discredited’ the military
(The Verge) Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a law punishing “fake news” with up to 15 years in prison. The rule will impose fines or jail terms for spreading false information about the military, as well as fines for people who publicly call for sanctions against Russia. Courts would mete out the harshest sentences for fake news that leads to “serious consequences.”
According to earlier coverage from The Moscow Times, the bill is meant to penalize people who knowingly “distort the purpose, role and tasks of the Russian Armed Forces, as well as other units during special military and other operations,” including people who spread unapproved information about Russian war losses.

15 February
Alexei Navalny faces 15 more years in prison as new trial starts
Russian opposition leader in fresh trial at penal colony far from support base on charge of embezzlement
The Russian opposition leader is accused of embezzling donations to his FBK anti-corruption organisation, which has accused Vladimir Putin of owning a £1bn mansion and other top officials enriching themselves through corrupt schemes.
Navalny has denied the charges and calls them politically motivated.
The new trial for embezzlement began on Tuesday inside the IK-2 penal colony in Vladimir, an unusual setting three or four hours’ drive east of Moscow, that severely limits the ability of supporters and observers to attend the hearings.

3-4 February
‘Russians Are Not Your Enemy’: A Lonely Petition Against Kremlin’s War Wind-Up
(Moscow Times) While most Russians blame the West for the standoff over Ukraine, a small group of intellectuals is trying to tell the world that not everybody is behind their leader.
The open letter — titled “If Only There Was No War” — is one of the only signs of public pushback inside Russia against the Kremlin’s military buildup around Ukraine, which Western intelligence agencies say has now surpassed 100,000 troops. It criticizes the “party of war” in the Kremlin, calls for peace, and urges that political attention be turned to Russia’s mounting domestic problems, like the rising cost of living.

Russia has a history of launching invasions during (or just after) the Olympics.
As Beijing prepared to officially open the Winter Olympics on Friday, athletes there did not have the world’s undivided attention. In another part of the capital, Xi Jinping, China’s leader, was preparing to host President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
The United States and NATO have been warning for weeks that Russia may be on the brink of invading Ukraine. If that were to happen before Feb. 20, it would not be the first time in recent memory that Russia troops had marched into a former Soviet republic during the Olympics.
As Beijing was hosting the opening ceremony for the 2008 Summer Games, news spread that Russian troops had moved into Georgia. At the time, Russia’s president was Dmitri A. Medvedev (who held the office for four years while Mr. Putin was prime minister). But it was Mr. Putin’s stern statements, issued from the Beijing Olympics, that appeared to define his country’s position.
In 2014, Russian troops began streaming into Crimea days after Mr. Putin returned to Moscow from the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi. The invasion was a response to the ouster of Ukraine’s president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, in late February, during the Games.

26-27 January
Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will not open if Russia invades Ukraine, says US
US and German officials signal hardening of position on controversial gas link
Nord Stream 2 is designed to double the amount of gas flowing from Russia straight to Germany, bypassing the traditional transit route through Ukraine via a pipeline along the bed of the Baltic Sea.
It has faced resistance within the EU, from the US as well as Ukraine on the grounds it increases Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and denies Ukraine transit fees, at a time of Moscow’s broader standoff with the west.
Russia’s Military, Once Creaky, Is Modern and Lethal
A significantly upgraded military has emerged as a key tool of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, as he flexes his might around the globe and, most ominously, on the Ukraine border.

14 January
Russia’s other European invasion
By Tom Tugendhat
(Atlantic Council) As Western policymakers focus on a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, they are turning a blind eye to another invasion: the capture of European elites. From London to Athens and far beyond, bankers, lawyers, lobbyists, and former officials have all been snapped up by the Kremlin and its allies. While Russian tanks mass on the Ukrainian border, interests linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s predatory regime are amassing influence in capital cities across the continent.
The most recent high-profile example of such influence efforts involves former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who in June joined the board of the Russian state oil company Zarubezhneft (on the nomination of the Kremlin). Fillon is far from alone. Austria’s former Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl—made infamous by footage of her curtseying to Putin on her wedding day in 2018—was appointed to the board of Rosneft, Russia’s most powerful state oil company, last June. This board is chaired by none other than Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor who is paid six hundred thousand dollars a year for the privilege. He is not the only former European chancellor with a Russian connection; former Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern is also on the supervisory board of Russian Railways. While none of these individuals has broken any laws in assuming these positions, their roles highlight a systemic threat for Europe.

13 January
Russia raises negotiation stakes with possibility of military deployment to Cuba, Venezuela
(PBS) [Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei] Ryabkov said a refusal by the U.S. and its allies to consider the key Russian demand for guarantees against the alliance’s expansion to Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations makes it hard to discuss such issues as arms control and confidence-building steps that Washington says it’s ready to negotiate.
“The U.S. wants to conduct a dialogue on some elements of the security situation … to ease the tensions and then continue the process of geopolitical and military development of the new territories, coming closer to Moscow,” he said. “We have nowhere to retreat.”
Ryabkov’s comments mark the first time during the current tensions over Ukraine when a senior official mentioned the possibility of Russian military deployments to the Western hemisphere.

11 January
Around the halls: Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and the European security order
Pavel K. Baev, Jessica Brandt, Vanda Felbab-Brown, Samantha Gross, Daniel S. Hamilton, Marvin Kalb, Patricia M. Kim, Kemal Kirişci, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Steven Pifer, Melanie W. Sisson, Constanze Stelzenmüller, and Angela Stent
(Brookings) Late last year, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia massed troops on its border with Ukraine and issued draft agreements with the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) spelling out demands for changes to the European security order including no further expansion of NATO. With the United States and its European allies and partners embarking on a series of pivotal negotiations with Moscow beginning January 9 in Geneva, mass protests erupted in Kazakhstan in the first week of 2022 and the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) intervened militarily at the request of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. What are Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions? How should the U.S. and its allies respond to Russia’s moves? What are the implications of the Kazakhstan uprising? Below, Brookings experts reflect on recent developments in the former Soviet Union and offer policy recommendations.
Kazakhstan’s Tokayev announces swift end to Russian-led intervention, reorganizes security forces
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced Tuesday that troops from Russia and other members of a regional security organization would leave the country within 10 days after the unrest that roiled the energy-rich nation for the past week was quelled.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization answered Tokayev’s appeal for help by sending in 2,500 peacekeeping troops Thursday after protesters rioted in cities across the country, setting government buildings alight and looting the Almaty airport. It was the organization’s first intervention since its formation in 2002.

7 January
Kazakhstan and the Price of Russia’s Empire
Nina L. Khrushcheva
From the czars to Lenin and Stalin, Russia’s leaders have almost universally believed that the cost of empire, in both blood and treasure, was justified. With Russian-led troops heading into Kazakhstan, it seems clear that Vladimir Putin agrees.
(Project Syndicate) For Russia, the costs of Putin’s ambitions are mounting. Consider the country’s military expenditure, which increased from 3.8% of GDP in 2013 – the year before Russia invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea, and supported secessionist forces in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions – to 5.4% in 2016. While military expenditure as a share of GDP declined in 2017 and 2018, it is now climbing once again. With Russian troops stationed in the occupied Georgian region of Abkhazia, the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus, this is not a surprise. More difficult to quantify are the strategic costs of empire, which Putin is loath to recognize. The Kremlin’s imperial agenda, especially the annexation of Crimea, has called into question the post-Cold War settlement in Eurasia, from the Baltic to the Bering Sea. The world’s other powers – particularly the United States and China – are strongly invested in upholding the status quo that Putin is seeking to upset.
… The domestic costs – and polling by the Levada Center in Moscow suggests that few Russians are willing to trade their living standards for enhanced global status – ought to be sufficient to convince Putin to abandon his imperial ambitions. If not, the possibility of reigniting a rivalry with China surely should. But it is far from guaranteed that Putin will give reason its due. He is already ignoring the lessons of Russia’s own history.

6 January
Kazakhstan’s Unprecedented Crisis
In trying to calm violent protests, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has involved an unpredictable and untrusted partner.
Paul Stronski
(Carnegie) Tokayev has called on the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Russian-dominated regional security bloc, for help in quelling the violence, with Russian peacekeepers reportedly arriving Thursday morning.
The country is now in an unprecedented crisis, and the situation is rapidly evolving.
Tokayev’s decision to call on the CSTO and Russia for help is a risky move. CSTO involvement has internationalized what essentially started as a domestic protest movement by adding an unpredictable and often untrusted partner (Russia) to the mix. The arrival of Russian troops in the country has already raised concerns in some circles about future of Kazakhstan’s sovereignty. Furthermore, Kazakhstani nationalist sentiments have also been on the rise recently, as visibly seen in the Kazakh flags protesters continue to wave.
Fresh violence in Kazakhstan after Russia sends troops to put down uprising
Police say they have killed dozens of rioters in Almaty
18 members of security forces killed – state TV
Around 2,500 peacekeepers deploying in Kazakhstan
(Reuters) – Fresh violence erupted in Kazakhstan’s main city on Thursday after Russia rushed in paratroopers to put down a countrywide uprising in one of Moscow’s closest former Soviet allies.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, said he called in the Russian forces overnight, alongside others from a Moscow-led military alliance of ex-Soviet states. He blamed the unrest on foreign-trained terrorists who he said had seized buildings and weapons.
Moscow said it would consult with Kazakhstan and allies on steps to support the Kazakh “counter-terrorist operation” and repeated Tokayev’s assertion that the uprising was foreign-inspired. Neither Kazakhstan nor Russia provided evidence to support that.


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.

23 November
Russia’s Move
By George Friedman
(Geopolitical Futures) … Russia is surrounded by vulnerabilities. So it has developed a soft approach to deal with them. It does not send in tanks; it uses political and economic problems to increase its influence. Thus is the case in Belarus, where the instability under President Alexander Lukashenko allows Russia to increase its power and destabilize the border with Poland. In Central Asia, it uses economic relations and the tension between Central Asian states to increase its influence. In the South Caucasus, it has inserted peacekeepers to maintain a truce between Azerbaijan and Armenia, giving it various avenues for leverage. It maintains good relations with China of course, but both remain wary of the other.
The North European Plain, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Chinese border are all vital. But the central issue for Russia is Ukraine. Ukraine is where the United States has, from the Russian point of view, sunk its claws. Russia can manage Belarus, but it cannot exert soft power in Ukraine because of the potential for American intervention.

19 November
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.”

One Comment on "Russia November 2021- August 2022"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson September 3, 2022 at 12:44 pm ·

    From European observers:
    “Putin seems to be bringing back the hallowed Czech tradition of defenestration of opponents practised since 1418. The fate of Masaryk in 1948 was the most noticeable in my lifetime.
    Until today at least seven prominent opponents of Putin have died under peculiar circumstances. How long Putin is able to carry on like this, is quite interesting. If I were him, I would be looking over my shoulder constantly.” TB
    Putin and his hired henchmen have taken defenestrations / cleansing process /murder to a new level of art form. I wonder if the condemned are given final smokes and allowed to make a farewell statement? That’s too civilised perhaps. CS

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