Russia Analytical Report, Feb. 27-March 6, 2023 – 4 Ideas to Explore

File Photo of Red Square, Kremlin, Environs, adapted from image at

(Russia Matters –

  1. U.S. public’s support for aiding Ukraine is decreasing as Americans’ war weariness increases with time, according to veteran journalist Peter Baker’s news analysis in NYT. Overall, support has fallen from 60% last May to 48% now, according to AP/NORC surveys. The decline is more pronounced among Republican respondents, which shows in statements  by GOP presidential contenders. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has criticized the “open-ended blank check” for Ukraine and asserted that “I don’t think it’s in our interest” to be involved in the fight for territory seized by Russia. The U.S.’s current Ukraine aid package is to run out by mid-July and there is uncertainty about whether the GOP-controlled House of Representatives will approve further aid, according to Baker’s analysis.
  2. It is in the U.S.’s interest to take every reasonable step to keep a pathway open to resuming the full implementation of New START, according to former Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller and former attorney in the U.S. State Department Marshall Brown. Russia’s suspension of its participation in the treaty “does not jeopardize U.S. supreme interests” and means that “there is still a legal relationship between the parties,” they write in a commentary for BAS. The U.S. should consider continuing to post data on its strategic nuclear arms per the treaty while reiterating to Russia that “controls on [the] strategic nuclear forces that New START embodies are in the interest not only of the United States and Russia, … but of the entire global community,” according to Gottemoeller and Brown.
  3. When the fighting in Ukraine ends, the West will have to give Ukraine bespoke, fool-proof international security guarantees while engaging Russia in talks on arms control and confidence building, argues Stefano Stefanini. These guarantees would be temporary, lasting only as long as the counter-insurance they provide is necessary. In contrast, EU membership would remain a permanent strategic goal for Ukraine, according to the former Italian ambassador’s post-war vision. Ukraine’s status, whether neutrality or NATO membership, would be decided after peace is attained, the diplomat writes in a commentary for RM, calling for creativity in design and flexibility in the implementation of the peace settlement package.
  4. For many of Global South countries, there are more important problems than the Russian-Ukrainian war, and it remains very difficult to convince them to join the West in punishing Russia for its aggression. Both Angela Stent of Georgetown University and Stephen Walt of Harvard University highlight this key takeaway from the recent Munich Security Conference they attended. “Diehard Atlanticists tend to portray the war in Ukraine as the single most important geopolitical issue … [while] the rest of the world sees it differently … important powers such as India, Brazil or Saudi Arabia have not joined Western-led efforts to sanction Russia,” Walt writes of his MSC impressions in FP. “Their [representatives of the Global South] message was that they face more pressing problems than the war in Ukraine, which they consider a local European issue that does not touch their interests,” Stent writes of the MSC for RM. “It was clear from these [MSC] sessions that it will be very difficult for the West to persuade the BRICS and other players in the Global South to change their stance; neither will they condemn nor sanction Russia,” she writes.

I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda

Nuclear security and safety:

  • No significant developments.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

“Russia’s Theft of Children in Ukraine Is Genocide,” Azeem Ibrahim of Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, FP, 03.01.23.

  • “It is now increasingly clear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a war of genocide. Mounted with genocidal intent, pursued with determined genocidal effort, the war is an assault not only on Ukrainians and Ukrainian nationhood, but the idea of Ukrainian-ness itself.”
  • “Surmounting this all is the theft of children. Even months ago, it was determined that Russia has kidnapped possibly as many as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children and deported them to Russia. Their new adoptive parents, and Russian passports, are the tools of genocide: It is genocide that they are slowly taught to hate and despise their former country.”
  • “This theft and reeducation of children will continue to be an act of genocide long after the last Russian invader has left Ukrainian soil. Russia’s mere defeat will not uproot the cultural narrative that led to this genocide from its entrenched and hallowed place in Russian national life; and it will not, on its own, return Ukraine’s stolen children.”
  • “Russia’s motivation is both genocidal and grimly practical. Its population is aging dramatically. It has thrown away tens of thousands of young male lives in Ukraine, and more in the emigration of its most mobile and future-looking citizenry when the first mobilization was threatened.”

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

Also see the Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force’s most recent Russia-Ukraine War Report Card.

“Russian Military Operations in Ukraine in 2022 and the Year Ahead,” RAND’s Dara Massicot’s testimony presented before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, 02.28.23.

  • “Russia still has untapped manpower (Russian officials say 25 million) and could call for another mobilization this year or next. … There remains a stockpile of armored equipment in strategic reserves (such as older tanks, artillery and fighting vehicles) that likely number in the ow thousands, based on prewar estimates.”
  • “Without mobilizing even more men and pulling battalion sets of equipment from the reserves, it is my assessment that another attack on northeastern Ukraine, such as the Kharkiv region, would be difficult. Another attack on Kyiv seems well beyond the ability of Russian forces for years, or could be put off indefinitely, in my opinion.”
  • “For now, Putin shows no signs of abandoning this war. He seems willing to sacrifice the lives of Russian men and mortgage Russia’s future to achieve his goals. For Ukraine, in need of urgent and sustained support, it is a deadly commitment. Ukraine outclasses Russia with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); tactical adaptation; will to fight; and force employment. It does this organically and with Western weapons, training and intelligence support. The capabilities of both sides are being worn down, and Ukraine will need continued and predictable support as Russia digs deep into its reserves.”

“Biden Challenged by Softening Public Support for Arming Ukraine,” correspondent Peter Baker, NYT, 03.01.23.

  • “Overall, public support for Ukraine aid has fallen from 60% last May to 48% now, according to surveys by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The share of Americans who think the United States has given too much to Ukraine has grown from 7% a year ago to 26% last month, according to the Pew Research Center. … While 50% of those surveyed by Fox News said American support should continue for ‘as long as it takes to win,’ 46% said the time frame should be limited.”
  • “Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist [said,] … ‘In the first few months, it’s always popular. People don’t like what Russia did; it’s awful. But as time goes on, war weariness is a real thing, especially in this country, especially when voters aren’t connecting what’s happening in Ukraine with their own security.’”
  • “[Kevin] McCarthy, who during last fall’s campaign said there would be no ‘blank check’ for Ukraine in a Republican House, is under pressure from a small but vocal part of his caucus critical of American involvement in the war … With a razor-thin working majority, it is not clear whether he would allow another robust aid package to come to the floor for a vote and if so under what conditions.”
  • “Mr. Trump lashed out at Mr. Biden last week for visiting Kyiv instead of East Palestine, Ohio, the site of a recent toxic train derailment. … Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, his most formidable potential challenger for the 2024 nomination, sought to match Mr. Trump, criticizing what he called the ‘open-ended blank check’ for Ukraine and saying ‘I don’t think it’s in our interest’ to be involved in the fight for territory seized by Russia. … Anticipating trouble from the new Republican House, the White House and lame-duck Democratic majority last winter pushed through an [Ukraine] aid package large enough to last until summer.”
  • “The uncertainty about whether Mr. McCarthy’s House will approve further aid may influence how Mr. Biden spends the money already allocated as Ukraine and its supporters press for more expensive, high-powered weaponry that would drain the existing funds and force a new vote earlier.”

“U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine is Going to Get Complicated,” Max Bergmann of CSIS, War on the Rocks, 03.03.23.

  • “The next time the administration runs out of funding and requests more from Congress, McCarthy may choose not to bring a new Ukraine supplemental spending bill to the House floor. The legislation could divide his caucus and could prompt funding opponents to challenge his speakership, replaying his tortuous week-long election to the position in early January. This raises the potential for a potential lapse in funding for security assistance.”
  • “The funding thus far has not required balancing needs for Ukraine against domestic spending. It hasn’t required reducing security assistance for the Indo-Pacific. It did not require shifting funding from weapons procurement. Instead, the funding enabled the U.S. military to buy new weapons systems to replace those sent to Ukraine. The one “cost” from the Department of Defense’s perspective was that supporting Ukraine depletes equipment stockpiles, which could impact U.S. military readiness if the defense industry is unable to deliver in a timely fashion. That is a risk, but a manageable one, especially given the strategic importance of Ukraine aid.”
  • “Without a specific Ukraine appropriation, the administration will likely have to redirect or reallocate money from within the Department of Defense or State Department. This will require congressional approval.”
  • “There are a number of ways in which the U.S. government can keep providing significant support to Ukraine without a specific appropriation. To do so, the Biden administration should begin contingency planning now.”
  • “Western support for Ukraine is absolutely vital to Ukraine’s survival and sends a wider message to the world about the underlying strength of the West. It is essential that the United States and Europe keep up their support for Ukraine over the long run. To do so, U.S. and European leaders need to start acting now.”

“Time Is on Russia’s Side, Not Ukraine’s; The U.S. and its allies need to act at the speed of war as they deliver arms to Kyiv,” William A. Galston of the Brookings Institution, WSJ, 02.28.23.

  • “There is no way to know how much occupied territory the Ukrainian forces can regain. But the West should supply them with what they need to give their counteroffensive—now planned for the spring and summer—every opportunity to succeed. While this conflict might end with a negotiated peace, now isn’t the time to talk about negotiations. Ukraine won’t attain through diplomacy what it can’t regain on the battlefield this year.”
  • “Ukraine’s recovering lost territory wouldn’t be enough to end the war, and a frozen conflict would work to Russia’s advantage. Mr. Putin must be left with no alternative except to sue for peace. The military strategists I’ve consulted believe that the most promising option for accomplishing this is to endanger his control of Crimea. If Ukraine can cut the land bridge to Crimea and destroy the bridge Russia has built over the Kerch Strait, Mr. Putin might be forced to stand down.”

“Facing a long war, Ukraine needs Western fighter jets,” Editorial Board, WP, 02.27.23.

  • “Advanced fighter jets are not a panacea; they are one element of deterrence. If the Biden administration insists, they could be provided on the understanding that Ukraine will not use them to attack targets in Russian territory—where, in any event, Russian air-defense systems would make such sorties too dangerous. Within Ukraine’s own airspace, however, F-16s could narrow the gap between Moscow’s air power and Kyiv’s, and operate relatively safely in coordination with other Western-supplied weapons. Those include U.S.-made AGM-88 HARM radar-destroying missiles that would limit Russia’s ability to use surface-to-air missiles to shoot down fighter jets. What’s more, F-16s are becoming more available as a number of NATO countries shift to the more advanced U.S.-made F-35. Yet without an official say-so from Washington, F-16s cannot be provided to Ukraine.”
  • “All wars end, but history is replete with ones that drag on, waxing and waning without a real cessation of hostilities. If that is the scenario Ukraine faces—and there is reason to believe it is—the United States and its allies need to start thinking beyond spring offensives or annual appropriations or the next election cycle. Long fights call for long-term planning and vision, and effective air power is essential on that horizon.”

“The west must give Ukraine what it needs. This war is a vital national interest of European countries and the US,” chief economics commentator Martin Wolf, FT, 02.28.23.

  • “The Ukraine Support Tracker from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy … provides disturbing information on how limited the support for Ukraine has in reality been, especially from Europe. … Putin could reasonably conclude that Ukraine will not get the resources it needs to sustain the war in the longer run. He might also reasonably hope that he will get greater military support from China. Time, then, is ultimately on his side.”
  • “The west has to prove that this is wrong and it needs to prove this sooner rather than later if the war is not to drag on forever. There must be a recognition that this war is a vital national interest of European countries if they wish the stability and prosperity of postwar Europe to endure. Together with the U.S., they must mobilize the resources, including military ones, needed to win it. If this is not done more generously, it is hard to see how the war can end on terms with which Europe will wish to live.”
  • “Peace can no longer be assumed in Europe. Russia is preparing for a long and costly war. So must the west. … There is no doubt that the past behavior of western countries has undermined their legitimacy in much of the developing world.”
  • “At the same time, the west must make clear that the outcome of the Ukraine war is seen as a vital interest, whether other countries like it or not. It will assess the behavior of other countries, big and small, accordingly. In calculating how to behave, the latter need to understand that the west is indeed resolved that Ukraine will emerge from the fire democratic and independent. That is, one hopes, also the truth.”

“Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment,” Grace Mappes, Riley Bailey, Kateryna Stepanenko, Nicole Wolkov and Frederick W. Kagan, ISW, 03.05.23.

  • “The likely imminent culmination of the Russian offensive around Bakhmut, the already culminated Russian offensive around Vuhledar and the stalling Russian offensive in Luhansk Oblast are likely setting robust conditions for Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.”
  • “The high manpower and equipment costs that the Russian military has spent in failed offensive operations in Luhansk and western Donetsk oblasts and on the operationally insignificant city of Bakhmut will benefit these likely upcoming Ukrainian counteroffensives.”

“Ukraine’s Current Counterintelligence Capabilities,” Eli C. Kaul of Otterbein University, PONARS, 03.01.23.

  • “The Russian FSB has seen diminishing returns on its intelligence collection and operations not just in the Ukrainian region but elsewhere around the globe because of the war. The Ukrainian SBU has generated successes in identifying and apprehending infiltrators of the Ukrainian political and security apparatus.”
  • “The continued collaboration with the West on intelligence and defense matters further indicates a positive trend in the evolution of the SBU’s counterintelligence capabilities moving forward. What is crucial is that the momentum gained by these successes is not lost as things begin to normalize and, hopefully, quiet down.”
  • “The war has displaced many people, and as Ukrainians begin to return home from abroad, there is a high likelihood that Russian operatives may be among them. For the positive trajectory of the SBU to be maintained, it is vital that the repatriation process does not inhibit the rights of Ukrainians while simultaneously ensuring that foreign operatives are restricted from entry—or at least monitored closely should they return.”

Punitive measures related to Russia’s war against Ukraine and their impact globally:

“There is too much we don’t know about Russia’s central bank reserves. Ignorance is not bliss in sanctions policy,” European economics commentator Martin Sandbu, FT, 02.28.23.

  • “[The Central Bank of Russia] does still publish its total reserves on a weekly basis. When Russia invaded Ukraine, they amounted to $629bn. Applying the latest known geographic distribution to this total gives a rough range of $345bn to $415bn in deposits and securities that the CBR owns but is prevented from using (exchange rate movements mean the real number could be somewhat different, though not much).”
  • “It is a puzzle that sanctioning governments, at least in public, have relied for so long on Russia’s own numbers rather than their own. They can, of course, establish their own information.”
  • “Why do we not know? The answer relates to another too little-known fact. The CBR’s assets are not technically frozen. Politicians may slip up in their descriptions—Ursula von der Leyen herself used the term ‘frozen’ in the speech I mentioned above. But the Bank of Russia does not figure on the EU’s sanctions list, and so does not fall under the regulation on asset freezes. Sanctions experts make sure to describe the sanctions affecting the CBR as ‘immobilizing’ or ‘blocking’ (but not freezing) the reserves.”
  • “I am told the reason why Russia’s official reserves could not be treated like normal frozen assets has to do with the degree of sovereign immunity afforded in international law. But that does not justify the lax reporting requirements: if they can and should be tightened up today, they could and should have been tighter from the start.”

“What to do with Russia’s blocked reserves,” Martin Sandbu, FT, 03.02.23.

  • “When it comes to sanctions on ‘stocks’ of assets, in particular on central bank reserves, there are at least two other effects we could hope for. One is straightforwardly punitive: we should inflict pain on Putin’s regime regardless of whether it actually makes him stop committing his crimes. The other is that we should make it pay for the cost of the destruction he has wrought.”
  • “This leads us to the confiscation debate. Blocking Russia’s access to more than $300bn in reserves causes financial dysfunction. But these reserves do not just support smooth financial flows; they are valuable resources in themselves. The legal status quo is that Russia will one day regain access. A further step—for punitive or retributive reasons—would be to seize them and potentially deploy them to rebuild Ukraine.”
  • “So instead of asking the question of whether we should confiscate Russia’s assets, we can ask whether we should selectively repudiate Moscow’s financial claims on us. In technical terms, either can be done at the stroke of a pen. I don’t know if the law, in particular international law, treats selective debt repudiation (or reassignment) differently from confiscating sovereign assets. My point is that understanding the economics reveals that these are the same thing in this case. If they lead to different legal analyses, that is bad news for the law, but good news for those of us who insist that Russia must pay for the destruction Putin has wrought.”

Ukraine-related negotiations:

“Post-War Security for Ukraine: Eventually the Fighting Will End. What Then?”, former Italian Ambassador Stefano Stefanini, RM, 03.02.23.

  • “Since both a Ukraine-Russia peace treaty and a comprehensive European security framework will only become possible in the long term, even after cessation of active hostilities, it will be necessary to fill the security vacuum in the short-to-medium term. The most realistic option, in my view, would be for the West to provide Ukraine with a comprehensive ‘security safety blanket,’ including bespoke, fool-proof international security guarantees—specifically, by an ad hoc group of countries—while pragmatically engaging Russia in negotiations on arms control and limitations, inclusive of conventional weapons and forces, and on establishing a safety net of confidence-building-measures across the Euro-Atlantic space.”
  • “Securing Ukraine will be the most pressing task. But international guarantees to that effect will be influenced by the wider state of European security. First and foremost, they will have to spell out clear terms and mechanisms for military support to Kyiv in case of further Russian aggression. At the same time, Ukraine policy cannot be disconnected from Russia policy, with the latter aimed at lowering the risk of military confrontation and at resuming talks on arms control and limitations.”
  • “Such a security blanket would provide Ukraine a protective political and military shield during the transition from cease-fire to peace, no matter how long the transition takes. It need not be a straitjacket. It will combine elements of a transitional and a permanent nature: International guarantees would be temporary, lasting only as long as the counter-insurance they provide is necessary; EU membership would be a permanent strategic goal, outlasting the transition. Sanctions will remain an eminently adaptable and elastic tool. Ukraine’s status, whether neutrality or NATO membership, would be decided after the peace settlement. The entire package will require creativity in design and flexibility in implementation. This is what after-war diplomacy will be about.”

“It’s Not Ukraine’s ‘Peace for Our Time’ Moment,” columnist Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, 03.01.23.

  • “Knowing what the Putin regime is like for those who live under it and having closely watched the ‘Minsk process’ and its aftermath, I cannot in good faith hold that Ukrainians would be better off compromising with Putin. Their sacrifice is not blind; they would likely gain nothing by bending. While there is any hope of even a partial military victory—of retaking more territory if not all that has been lost—continued resistance and further losses are acceptable to Ukraine’s society. That hope still exists, in part thanks to Western aid but mainly because of the proven ineptitude of Russian commanders, who, unlike their Ukrainian adversaries, haven’t shown even a flash of strategic brilliance in twelve months of fighting. Goliath is huge but dumb.”
  • “Perhaps eminent U.S. historian Stephen Kotkin is right and Ukraine eventually will have to sit down with its ‘murderers’ and negotiate from a position of relative weakness. But not yet.”

“Pressure on Kyiv to open peace talks misreads Russia’s deadly intentions,” former Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk. FT, 03.01.23. Clues from Ukrainian views.

  • “There is not yet a single indicator that the Russian military is ready to leave our homes.”
  • “To think that we can stop the war if we just stop fighting would be a form of suicide.”
  • “If anyone suggests concessions, it will not bring peace but rather legitimize the occupation of Ukrainian territory, condemning residents to endless suffering.”
  • “Constantly pressuring Ukraine to open talks ignores the reality that there is currently no alternative to resistance. While many conflicts in history have ended with negotiations, it’s erroneous to assume that this is always the case. In many situations, conflicts only end with postwar talks, and no conflict where the victim of unprovoked aggression laid down its arms has ended with an acceptable peace for that victim. Therefore, we have chosen to fight for our freedom despite all the hardships.”

Great Power rivalry/new Cold War/NATO-Russia relations:

“The Conversation About Ukraine Is Cracking Apart: What government officials are saying in public, and private, is fascinating—and full of contradictions,” Harvard University’s Stephen M. Walt, FP, 02.28.23.

  • “The war in Ukraine dominated the proceedings [at the Munich Security Conference] … and there were two important dividing lines in the collective conversation.”
    • “The first gap was the vastly different perceptions, narratives and preferred responses between the trans-Atlantic community … and key members of the global south … Diehard Atlanticists tend to portray the war in Ukraine as the single most important geopolitical issue in the world today. … The rest of the world sees it differently.”
    • “The second gap … was a gulf between the optimism that top officials expressed in public and the more pessimistic assessments one heard in private. … None of my private meetings included officials at the very top of key governments, but nobody I spoke with expected the war to end soon and no one thought Ukraine would be able to retake all of its lost territory (including Crimea) no matter how much aid it gets in the next year. … Most of the people I spoke with expect a continued grinding stalemate, perhaps leading to a cease-fire some months from now. Western aid for Ukraine is not aiming for victory; therefore, the real goal is to put Kyiv in a position to strike a favorable bargain when the time comes.”
  • “Here’s what worries me. The Biden administration’s rhetorical support for Ukraine keeps increasing, and it continues to promise us some sort of happy Hollywood ending. … If Biden can’t deliver what he’s promised, then what looks like a compelling demonstration of U.S. leadership today will look a lot less impressive a year from now. If the war is still at a brutal stalemate in February 2024 and Ukraine is being destroyed, then Biden will face pressure either to do more or look for a plan B.”
  • “Moreover, if China decides to give Russia more help, then Biden might have to impose additional sanctions on the world’s second-largest economy, triggering new supply chain problems and jeopardizing the delicate economic recovery that is now underway. And if that happens, Republican presidential hopefuls (one of them in particular) will be licking their chops and liking their chances.”

“America Is In Over Its Head,” Thomas Meaney of the Max Planck Society in Germany, NYT, 03.02.23.

  • “Absent NATO involvement, the Ukrainian Army can hold the line and regain ground, as it has done in Kharkiv and Kherson, but complete victory is very nearly impossible. … The problem for Kyiv is that—public assurances aside—Washington has no interest in directly entering the war.”
  • “Less noticed is that the Kremlin’s war aims may have—out of necessity—been scaled back. Apparently reconciled to its inability to effect regime change in Kyiv and capture much more of Ukraine’s territory, Moscow now seems mostly focused on maintaining its positions in Luhansk and Donetsk and securing a land bridge to Crimea. These are territories that even in the best of circumstances would be difficult for Ukraine to reincorporate.”
  • “The historian Stephen Kotkin recently argued that Ukrainians may be better off defining victory as accession to the European Union rather than a complete recapture of all Ukrainian territory.”
  • “Only Washington ultimately has the power to decide how much of Ukraine it wants to bring under its umbrella. The actual official reluctance to include Ukraine in NATO has rarely been clearer, while the public embrace of Kyiv has never been more florid. In the meantime, European leaders may soon find themselves in the unenviable position of convincing Ukrainians that access to the common market and a European Marshall Fund is a reasonable exchange for ‘complete victory.’”

“Vladimir Putin’s Big Backfire, In many ways, Russia’s president has already lost his war on Ukraine,” Brookings’ Angela Stent, Politico, 02.26.23.

  • “Russia’s relations with the West are broken and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Few Western leaders advocate engaging Russia anymore. And the collective West is united in its opposition to the war as it increases sanctions on Russia and severs economic ties.”
  • “But Russia’s ties with China remain strong. China repeats the Russian narrative about the West being responsible for the war, while indirectly criticizing Putin’s threats that Russia might use nuclear weapons. China does not want Russia to lose this war because of concerns that a leader who might succeed Putin might re-evaluate Russia’s ties to China. China needs Russia for ballast in this new era of great power competition. So China remains the anchor of Putin’s world, even as the relationship increasingly makes clear that Russia is the junior partner.”
  • “In one part of the world Russia is still a player. Since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, Putin has assiduously courted the developing world, the global South, and this part of his world has expanded in the past year. No country in Africa, the Middle East or Latin America has sanctioned Russia and some have abstained on United Nations resolutions condemning the invasion and subsequent annexation of four territories in Ukraine.”
  • “Putin’s world may have shrunk, but he has used this past year to consolidate his power at home.”
  • “But Putin will emerge from this war no longer the leader of a great power. His status as a competent leader has been diminished by his army’s poor performance and by the West’s isolation of him. Russia may still have the largest number of nuclear warheads and a veto on the U.N. Security Council, but it will have lost its seat at the table of global leadership.”

“Is Putin winning? The world order is changing in his favor,” Oxford University’s Peter Frankopan, The Spectator, 03.04.23.

  • “The West’s core coalition may remain solid, but it has failed to win over many of the countries that refused to pick sides. Moscow’s diplomatic mission to build ties and hone a narrative over the past decade has paid dividends.”
  • “Vladimir Putin is quite deliberately cultivating this alliance of nations who feel victims of Western imperialism, and putting Russia at its head. The West wants to see Russia ‘as a colony,’ he said in September. … This message goes down equally well in large parts of Asia, where more than a third of countries declined to condemn Russia in the initial U.N. vote, as well as in Central and South America, where waves of anti-Western and anti-capitalist sentiment continue to swell.”
  • “The idea that it’s America and its allies who are the sources of global disruption and instability holds sway. The setbacks in Afghanistan and the idea that the Ukrainian war happened because of NATO’s expansion have fueled a narrative, and even sympathy, for the idea that Putin is simply standing up to the West. … At the same time, the Russian President appeals to the world’s social conservatism.”
  • “Then there is China, which half-heartedly called last week for peace talks, and this week is hosting Putin’s ally the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. … What unites them [China and Russia] is a shared emphasis on the importance of stability and spreading the idea that it is the West which is disruptive, unpredictable and volatile.”
  • “As for the war, is Russia really losing? The Ukrainians have fought astonishingly well, but have suffered huge losses. … Russia’s economy appears strong enough to keep the war going: the IMF predicts its economy will grow by 0.3% this year. … In Europe, Russia’s weaponization of its energy resources caused widespread difficulties. … In its most blunt terms, the war has served as a moment of one of the greatest transfers of wealth in history, with energy-rich states harvesting giant cash bonuses that, in turn, have further accelerated the changing of the world order.”

“Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: One Year Later,” Editor Dan Kurtz-Phelan’s conversation with analysts Dara Massicot, Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage, FA, 02.27.23.

  • “DM: [T]he Russian Army is very—it’s almost, like, unrecognizable from the way it was a year ago. There’s just been so many loses not only of equipment but from trained specialists as well. … I talk about, you know, an engine in a car where its transmission has been blown. And you can press on the gas pedal all you want, but it’s never going to shift into a higher gear. And I think we’re seeing that right now with Russia’s offensive.”
  • “DM: In terms of getting to Crimea, … it is very challenging for the Ukrainians to get to it. There’s a lot of natural barriers in the way right now if they were going to try to come down through Kherson and get to Crimea on the ground.”
  • “LF: I have the impression that where U.S.-China relations are headed will also decide where China is heading with its support for Russia. And we see this with this big concern in the United States about China providing lethal assistance to Russia. So if China comes to the conclusion that it cannot afford at all to let Russia lose this war, and also that it is a useful leverage towards the United States to play, and that they are not compartmentalizing the relationship with the U.S. with the war, then this could sort of become mixed up into a broader Chinese strategy of pressuring the West also by supporting Russia more visibly than has been the case before.”
  • “MK: I think, [it is] the crux of the dilemma for Putin. That his whole political venture now is based not on achievements and not on the country’s future prospects, which are quite bleak, but it’s based on his ability to lie about the war. And I don’t think he’ll be able to do it indefinitely. … I think the biggest variable that I think will determine the effect of the shape of the war is the sentiments of the Russian people. I don’t think that Ukraine is going to lose its will to fight.”

More Questions Than Answers on Russia and Ukraine at Munich Security Conference,” Brookings’ Angela Stent, RM, 03.03.23.

  • “This year’s Munich Security Conference focused heavily on the Russia-Ukraine war, which dominated both the public and private sessions. No Russian officials were invited, but several Russian opposition figures attended … By contrast, Ukrainian officialdom and civil society were well represented.”
  • “On the public stage, support for Ukraine was strong, with a consensus that Ukraine can and must win the war. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris accused Russia of committing crimes against humanity and pledged that Russia will be held accountable for these crimes. Officials agreed that the collective West would support Ukraine for as long as it takes and that it was up to Kyiv to decide when it was time to negotiate. None of the officials—with the exception of the Ukrainians—articulated a clear vision of what the desired end goal was. For Ukraine, it is liberating the Donbas, and all other occupied territories including Crimea. For the United States and Europe there was no clarity on what a Ukrainian victory would look like, perhaps because it is premature to go into specifics.”
  • “Apart from agreeing that continued support for Ukraine was vital, Europeans at Munich were preoccupied with their own security situation as a result of Russian aggression. The war has brought home to them how dependent they are on the United States for security.”
  • “Although the conference focused heavily on transatlantic perspectives, representatives from the Global South were in attendance with their own distinct views on the Ukraine conflict. Their message was that they face more pressing problems than the war in Ukraine, which they consider a local European issue that does not touch their interests, except on the issue of food insecurity and Russia’s blocking of Ukrainian grain and fertilizer exports.”

“The UK and European Security: Five Key Lessons from the Ukraine War,” Director of International Security Studies Neil Melvin, RUSI, 03.01.23.

  • “1. The U.S. remains the ordering actor for European security, but China and the Indo-Pacific are its priorities.”
  • “2. The EU is a useful security actor, but is unlikely to become the central element of European defense.”
  • “3. European multilateral security is crucially underpinned by a patchwork of diverse security relations between nation-states.”
  • “4. Security beyond the eastern flank is unlikely to be guaranteed by either the EU or NATO, at least in the short and medium term.”
  • “5. There is a growing interdependence between European and international security.”
  • “A defining moment will be when the fighting eventually stops in Ukraine. The end of the war will not just be about setting the terms of the Russia–Ukraine relationship; it will be about the new balance of power across Europe. This will also be a moment when there are likely to be widely diverging views on the future of the continent’s security, how to manage Russia, and even the very concept of European security.”

“On Ukraine, Biden Outshines Macron, Scholz—and DeSantis” columnist Bret Stephens, NYT, 02.28.23.

  • “To President Emmanuel Macron of France, a suggestion: If, as a report in The Wall Street Journal suggests, you are convinced the war in Ukraine is destined for a bloody stalemate, and would like to encourage Kyiv to enter ‘peace talks’ with Moscow that would leave Russia in possession of large tracts of conquered territory, why not lead by example? Publicly suggest the return of Alsace to Germany as evidence that you, too, believe that territorial sovereignty should be negotiable.”
  • “To Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, another suggestion: If you’re going to dangle the prospect of closer ties between Ukraine and NATO (but not full membership) as a way of pushing Kyiv into a diplomatic settlement with Moscow, why not invite several battalions of Russian armor to the vicinity of Berlin? … These are preposterous suggestions. That’s the point.”
  • “President Biden likes to say that the United States will support Ukraine for as long as it takes. But that promise could expire on Jan. 20, 2025, if he doesn’t win a second term. He owes it to his own legacy not to hazard what is potentially the most historic accomplishment of his presidency on next year’s race.”
  • “That’s why it makes no sense for the administration to slow-roll arms deliveries to Ukraine or drop heavy hints that Ukraine is unlikely ever to retake Crimea. Biden’s goal for 2023 should be clear and direct: victory for Ukraine. He can accomplish it through the rapid delivery of game-changing military equipment combined with a diplomatic offensive in which we propose Ukrainian membership in NATO if Russia doesn’t withdraw. Maybe that could even give Putin his off-ramp for surrender. After a year of war, I’m more confident than ever that Biden will make the right choice. That’s more than can be said for Macron, Scholz and the other pale shadows of what passes for statesmanship in the free world.”

“Russia’s Halfway to Hell Strategy. Why Putin Has Not Yet Launched a Total War in Ukraine,” Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan of, FA, 03.06.23. Clues from Russian Views.

  • “Since the early stages of the war, the total-war concept has clearly been in Putin’s thoughts. … Yet judging by Russia’s actions, it has in practice sought to do something different from wage total war. Throughout 2022, the Kremlin made a point of showing that more drastic options were available to it: it could always do more. But it also showed that, for the time being, it was content to go only so far.”
  • “The point here was that by laying out these extreme options—nationalizing industry, mobilizing the economy, pursuing systematic repression or even using tactical nuclear attacks—the Kremlin has staked out space to escalate. It has already announced, in effect, what more it could do, whether on the battlefield or in conducting repressions at home. For Putin, this approach serves multiple purposes.”
    • “The primary target may be Western governments, which are deeply concerned about the possibility of uncontrollable escalation. The Kremlin is adamant about showing them that it has many options but has thus far kept things under control—unlike Kyiv, which in its desperation is, according to Russia, prone to escalation.”
    • “At home, Moscow’s approach also serves another purpose: to demonstrate that it is capable of calibrating its response to Western sanctions and military failures, and that it does not need to go all the way until it truly must.”
  • “In the first year of war, Putin’s partial escalation strategy has generally served him well. It has allowed him to maintain political stability through a combination of intimidation and indifference. Internationally and domestically, it has helped him prepare Russia for a very long war without making the kinds of sacrifices that might ultimately cause the population to rebel. And above all, it has given him flexibility. The more radical options—including economic nationalization and full mobilization—are still open, and the country’s bureaucracy is already prepared to set them in motion.   The question is, How long can this not-quite-total war be sustained?”

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

“The Limits of the No-Limits Partnership: China and Russia Can’t Be Split, but They Can Be Thwarted,” Brookings’ Patricia M. Kim, FA, 02.28.23.

  • “On Feb. 4, 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing. After talks, the two sides released a joint statement declaring that China and Russia’s bilateral partnership was greater than a traditional alliance and that their friendship would know ‘no limits.’”
  • “Partnership with Russia has hurt China’s image in the West and has inspired more concerted coordination among the United States and its partners to the detriment of Chinese ambitions. But China will not forsake Russia anytime soon. Beijing must keep Moscow close as it looks ahead to decades of competition with Washington. It cannot afford to be distracted by tensions with a militarily formidable neighbor with which it shares a 2,600 mile border. In addition, Xi has invested a great deal in his relationship with Putin, the two having met a remarkable total of 39 times since 2012. The Chinese state cannot backpedal away from this personal commitment without suggesting that Xi, its ‘core leader,’ has erred.”
  • “China and Russia’s partnership is real and likely to endure for the foreseeable future. But its strategic implications should not be overstated or underestimated. … A limited partnership between the two countries can still be destabilizing, particularly if China serves as Russia’s economic lifeline and the pair continue to partner in protecting fellow autocracies and enabling their transgressions at home and abroad.”
  • “The United States should neither expect the disintegration of this alignment nor resign itself to the further consolidation of Chinese-Russian ties. Instead, U.S. officials should appeal to Beijing’s fundamental interest in stability to push Chinese leaders to rein in Russian recklessness. … As such, securing China’s cooperation in working toward peace in Europe will be essential.”
  • “The United States and its allies should also give serious thought to why Chinese and Russian accusations of Western hypocrisy and hegemony resonate in many parts of the world and to how they might address these grievances.”

“China has a fateful choice to make on Ukraine,” chief foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman, FT, 03.06.23.

  • “The Chinese know that western corporations and consumers are too dependent on them to attempt a complete economic decoupling. But if trade with the west dropped by even 30 %, the results would be felt in higher unemployment in China—which would worry a government that is acutely sensitive to displays of popular unrest.”
  • “For that reason, China may choose an uneasy compromise. It will continue to present itself as a neutral peace broker in Ukraine, assuring visitors like Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, that it has no intention of supplying Russia with munitions. Meanwhile, it may attempt to funnel weaponry to Russia indirectly, perhaps through third countries such as Iran or North Korea. The president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, visited Xi in Beijing last month—the first visit to China by an Iranian president in 20 years.”
  • “But a policy of covert or deniable Chinese military support to Russia is no magic bullet for Beijing. It might be too restricted to turn the tide of the war in Putin’s favor. And it would still be vulnerable to detection by the US. Indirect Chinese military support for Russia could ultimately be a circuitous route to the same destination: direct confrontation with America.”

“How helping Ukraine prepares us for a confrontation with China,” Gabriel Scheinmann of the Alexander Hamilton Society, WP, 02.28.23.

  • “The Russian invasion has allowed the United States to conduct a dry run of exactly the sort of policies that deterring or defeating a Chinese attack on Taiwan would require: active defense industrial production lines, an efficient logistics network to get those arms into the field, a coalition of allies providing significant firepower and aid, an increase in energy exports to sustain our allies, and economic pressure to punish and degrade the aggressor.”
  • “A major investment in our own industry, to supply the weaponry necessary to make Russia lose, could unite defense hawks and populists, labor and business, internationalists and nationalists alike. What’s lacking is the political will and imagination to make a comprehensive case. Defunding our military is a choice with consequences. Doubling our defense spending would still only put it in the lowest range of Cold War levels. Without doing so, we risk the possibility that—much like Pearl Harbor—only after the United States has been attacked will the arsenal of democracy roar.”

The role and weight of the PRC in the international arena has reached such a level that it is no longer possible [for PRC] to maintain the posture of contemplative detachment,” analyst Fyodor Lukyanov,, 02.28.23. Clues from Russian Views.

  • “China has gained power, which, regardless of its desires and intentions, has made it a potential rival to the United States.”
  • “Be that as it may, another era has begun. China’s diplomatic activism is meant to demonstrate that Beijing has no intention of evading its role in world politics.”
  • “China diligently avoids expressing opinions [on the Ukraine war], because it does not consider it to be its business. However, the regrouping of forces on the world stage is taking its course with China and Russia, whether they like it or not, finding themselves on one side, the United States and its allies on the other.”
  • “For 10 years as head of the PRC, Xi Jinping has significantly changed both the domestic and foreign policy of the country. On the one hand, it emphasizes the classical Chinese worldview more than its predecessors, on the other hand the slogans and ideas associated with socialism are more pronounced.”
  • “The aggressive international environment will increasingly test Beijing’s ability to maintain a balance that suits it. Much will depend on how successful these attempts will be, including for Russia.”

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

“Legal aspects of Russia’s New START suspension provide opportunities for US policy makers,” New START negotiator Rose Gottemoeller and New START legal adviser Marshall L. Brown, Jr. BAS, 03.02.23.

  • “The United States, in support of its own interests, should take every reasonable step to keep a pathway open to resuming the full implementation of New START. … What the Russians are doing is not permitted by the treaty. Nevertheless, they are grasping at international law and their own federal law to provide the arguments to back up the decision.”
    • “Russia is a party to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which permits suspension under specific conditions. Article 62 describes those conditions, focusing on the notion of ‘fundamental change of circumstances.’ Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev zeroed in on this point in his presentation to the Federation Council … Whether or not there is justification for the suspension under Article 62, the Vienna Convention does contain an important point that may provide some hope for the full recovery of New START: Article 72, paragraph 2 states that ‘[d]uring the period of the suspension, the parties shall refrain from acts tending to obstruct the resumption of the operation of the treaty.’”
  • “[There are a] few areas in which the United States can fashion a policy response that keeps a path open to resuming New START’s full implementation. … First, suspension is not withdrawal. ‘Suspension’ means that there is still a legal relationship between the parties, and the existence of this relationship should be emphasized at all levels.”
  • “Second, the United States will make its own determination about how much information to share during this New START suspension. Certainly, from a legal perspective, the U.S. side is not required to continue providing information under the treaty if the Russian side is not reciprocating. However, the United States may decide to provide some information … Even if the Russians are not providing data, the United States should continue to post its data on the State Department website and message prominently its willingness to continue to do so.”

“Four Nuclear States Can Ruin Your Whole Strategy,” columnist Matthew Kroenig, WSJ, 03.01.23.

  • “What President John F. Kennedy declared in 1962 is still true: America needs to be ‘second to none’ in nuclear weapons. Falling behind means losing a critical element of deterrence.”
  • “Instead of pursuing 1990s-era fantasies about reducing the role of nuclear weapons, Washington needs to understand that, for the first time since the Cold War, it is entering a long-term strategic-arms competition. This time will be even more dangerous because the U.S. now faces multiple nuclear-armed rivals. America needs to strengthen its strategic forces to provide an adequate deterrent for itself and the more than 30 formal treaty allies that rely on U.S. nuclear weapons for their security. America won the last Cold War in part because it outcompeted the Soviet Union in strategic forces. Washington should remember that lesson if it doesn’t want to lose this one.”


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security:

  • No significant developments.

Energy exports from CIS:

  • No significant developments.

Climate change:

“How Russia’s war on Ukraine is threatening climate security,” associate fellow Oli Brown, Chatham House, 03.02.23.

  • “In many ways, the war’s ultimate impact on the world’s long-term ability to tackle climate change is still unclear. Of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin has provided perhaps the strongest argument for phasing down reliance on fossil fuels—particularly when those fuels come from unreliable autocratic states that use energy as an instrument of coercion. In the EU, for example, total gas consumption fell by nearly 20% in 2022 as a result of fuel-switching and demand-side measures.”
  • “But, in the short term, there is a risk of locking in new greenhouse gas emissions as governments, prioritizing their energy independence, sidestep action to reduce their carbon footprints. In many countries, the goal of decarbonization, frequently mentioned before the war, has been replaced by energy affordability. Indeed, across the world, countries are building or reopening coal power stations and investing in oil and gas development.”
  • “In the meantime, climate action is getting tangled in a politicized stand-off between the West and Russia, which is putting climate action on the backburner according to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In the run up to COP27 last year, Russia tried to list Crimean emissions in its national level greenhouse gas inventory, a claim that was vigorously disputed by Ukraine as an effort to legitimize the illegal annexation of land. Russia’s climate envoy also linked Russia’s action on its climate targets to the wider political situation at the conference, somewhat cynically, arguing that Russia could achieve its carbon neutrality target earlier if only sanctions were lifted.”
  • “With no end to this devastating war in sight, it is increasingly clear that the impacts of the war in Ukraine will continue to reverberate around the world for years to come. What is equally evident is that the international community, including the OSCE, needs to monitor these impacts and redouble its efforts to avert new security risks as a result of climate change.”

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • No significant developments.

II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

“Putin Re- Stalinizes Russia,” author Joshua Rubenstein, WSJ, 03.03.23.

  • “The ‘thaw’ under Nikita Khrushchev, which denounced Stalin and allowed for greater cultural expression, was soon refrozen by Leonid Brezhnev. Mikhail Gorbachev’s far-reaching reforms in the late 1980s were too much for the system to bear. When the Soviet Union collapsed, its republics gained independence. For a time, particularly under Boris Yeltsin, citizens of the newly constituted Russian Federation enjoyed unprecedented political and intellectual freedom. Borders were open and the state allowed for the free exercise of religion. Human-rights organizations such as Memorial helped conduct research into Stalin’s crimes, open museums at former camps and prisons and organize memorials for his victims.”
  • “Mr. Putin has reversed nearly all these gains. The press is now completely under state control and independent voices of dissent, like that of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, are quickly suppressed. Critics of the regime have been murdered both inside and outside the country. The process of de-Stalinization has reached another dead end.”
  • “Stalin has long been dead, but the imperial dreams of the Bolsheviks who reconstituted the Russian Empire after years of revolution and civil war haven’t been disavowed. His shadow still haunts the land he left behind.”

“I Was Moscow’s Chief Rabbi. Russia Forced Me to Flee,” Pinchas Goldschmidt of the Conference of European Rabbis, FP, 02.28.23.

  • “I know of multiple [FSB] attempts to recruit my colleagues in the Jewish community. In addition, FSB operatives regularly monitored, visited, and intimidated heads of religious organizations, making sure that everyone was aware of their presence. Some Jewish student leaders were invited to the offices of the FSB on Lubyanka Square.”
  • “Within the context of the Russian propaganda narrative of fighting neo-Nazis in Ukraine, the Museum of Tolerance, built by FEOR [Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia] and centering on the narrative of World War II, was used again and again to push the line that the war against Ukraine was a war against the resurgence of Nazism. … Even though the Kremlin partly succeeded in controlling and instrumentalizing the Jewish community of Russia, the FSB continued with its war of attrition against the rabbis, mainly of foreign origin, exiling more than 11 communal rabbis during the last decade—namely, those who did not follow the party line established by the FSB and modeled by the Russian Orthodox Church.”
  • “Indeed, the Russian Orthodox Church has played an essential part in the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine, and as the world marks the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion, we must examine the way religion has been weaponized—and perverted—to justify crimes against humanity.”
  • “All religious leaders should remember one fundamental principle: Their main asset is the people, not the cathedrals. And there is a heavy price to pay for a total merger with the state. Once the state and the church become one, one of them emerges as dangerously, ominously, superfluous.”

Defense and aerospace:

  •  See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • No significant developments.

III. Russia’s relations with other countries

Russia’s general foreign policy and relations with “far abroad” countries:

“Putin Has Assembled an Axis of Autocrats Against Ukraine,” Justin Daniels, assistant editor of the Journal of Democracy, FP, 03.03.23.

  • “Russia isn’t fighting Ukraine alone. Alongside its soldiers are African conscripts, supported by Iranian drones and partly funded by stolen gold and diamonds. They may soon be joined by ‘lethal support’ from China, according to U.S. officials.”
  • “For these vital contributions, Russian President Vladimir Putin can thank his fellow autocrats. And he’s returning the favor: Despite the invasion’s heavy toll on Russia, he still sends resources to other embattled dictators. Autocrats, like democrats, are finding that war offers them new opportunities to cooperate. And dictators’ inherent interest in staying in power means that their collaboration will continue regardless of whether Ukraine prevails.”
  • “These networks weren’t created overnight but reflect prolonged efforts by Russia, China and likeminded regimes to make the world safe for autocracy—particularly following the Western response to Putin’s first Ukraine invasion in 2014. Their activities include neutering international civil society, spreading disinformation, and exporting surveillance technology. Today’s war in Ukraine illustrates the power of these networks—coalitions not of the willing but the wanton—to not only sustain authoritarianism where it already exists, but to export it by force.”
  • “The Kremlin in particular views these networks as fundamental to maintaining power at home and waging a perceived existential struggle against the West. In other words, autocrats already see their struggles against democracy—whether in Iran, Sudan or Ukraine—as interconnected and act accordingly. Democracies must learn to do the same.”

“Russian–Israeli Relations and the Ukrainian Crisis,” Zach Battat of the Middle East & Central Asia Research Center, Valdai Club, 03.06.23.

  • “I firmly believe that a strong Russian–Israeli relationship will help prevent crises in this region. It is, in my opinion, imperative that Israel cooperates with Russia because Israel’s national security passes through Moscow. My hope is that neither establishment pushes their respective leadership to the extreme (whether in bilateral relations or in the geopolitical arena) because working together will keep Israel, the Middle East, Russia and the international community safe.”
  • “The Iranian–Israeli feud, which has been going on for roughly thirty years, seems to be one of those unsolvable Middle Eastern conflicts with roots as old as the region itself. However, its roots are purely geopolitical, which means that solutions can be found and compromises be made regardless of how difficult they may be. Israel and Iran have been geostrategic friends in the past—even after the Shah was deposed in 1979 and when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was using the worst rhetoric against Israel—and there is no reason to believe why this cannot be the case once again.”
  • “I believe that a strong Russian–Israeli relationship could enable Moscow to reestablish relations between Iran and Israel. While the Ukrainian crisis poses a challenge to relations between Russia and Israel, I am confident, given their historical relationship, that a harmonious relationship will prevail.”

“Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s answers to questions during the Raisina Dialogue conference in New Delhi,” Russian Foreign Ministry, 03.03.23. Clues from Russian Views.

  • “We never make friends against somebody. Russia has excellent relations with China and excellent relations with India. The official documents signed by the two leaders characterize relations with India as an especially privileged strategic partnership. I do not know whether any other country has the same status with our Indian friends on paper, officially, but this is what we believe is reflecting the reality, be it the economy, be it technology, be it military cooperation, military-technical cooperation, culture, humanitarian ties, educational ties.”
  • “We have relations with China that have never been so good in their entire history. Russia is interested in these two great nations being friends. And we are trying to be helpful. It was at the initiative of my great predecessor, Yevgeny Primakov, that RIC was created, Russia-India-China. He initiated this, and this was the beginning of the process which eventually culminated in BRICS’ formation. And now BRICS is very popular and about two dozen countries would like to join it. But the momentum was ensured by the decision to create this troika, Russia-India-China. And you might not hear about this as much as of BRICS, but this troika continues to function. … RIC is a platform for India and China to find some additional common grounds in our presence, because they might not feel comfortable enough sometimes being one-on-one. BRICS is another such platform. And, of course, we strongly supported India joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.”

“Russia’s Arctic Shelf Bid and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, Explained,” postdoctoral research fellow Andrey Todorov, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 03.02.23.

  • “On Feb. 6, 2023, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) issued recommendations with regard to the Russian submission in respect of the Arctic Ocean. Russia subsequently accepted the Commission’s recommendations, bringing its two-decade bid to extend its continental shelf close to an end.”
  • “The new recommendations are mostly favorable to Russia: the CLCS agreed with Russia’s arguments that the Mendeleev-Alpha Rise, the Podvodnikov Basin and the Lomonosov Ridge are natural extensions of its continental shelf, and recommended using the points proposed in Russia’s submission to establish the outer limits of the continental shelf in these submarine areas. However, the Commission rejected evidence submitted by Russia as insufficient to prove the continental nature of the Gakkel Ridge, and therefore advised Russia to make a partial revised submission in respect of its continental shelf in the southern part of Amundsen.”
  • “Still, the process of delineating the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean is far from over. First, the five Arctic coastal states must wait for the CLCS to issue recommendations on the pending submissions. Given the long queue of applications from around the world, this could likely take a decade or more. Because the submissions of Russia, Denmark and Russia converge and overlap near the North Pole (see Figure 2), they will have to find compromise through (lengthy) boundary negotiations. Only then will the exact outer limits of each state’s continental shelf be clear. The seabed areas beyond these boundaries will constitute the so called ‘Area,’ where all exploration and exploitation activities fall under the governance of the International Seabed Authority.”


“Battling Corruption in Ukraine—and the U.S.,” contributor James Lardner, New Yorker, 02.27.23.

  • “Payoffs to Ukrainian sailors and naval officers had reportedly worked wonders in 2014, enabling Russia to capture most of Ukraine’s Black Sea fleet without a fight. (Extrapolating from that achievement, Putin reportedly allocated more than a billion dollars to a team of agents provocateurs who, eight years later, were supposed to engineer a coup d’état and install a friendly regime in Kyiv.) But, this time around, when Russian operatives came calling with cash to dispense, key Ukrainian officials either refused it or took the money without betraying their country. That, at any rate, is how the Biden Administration tells the tale in a corruption-fighting handbook—with the no-nonsense title Dekleptification Guide—issued for the benefit of foreign-aid workers and their overseas partners.”
  • “They [Ukrainians] have a ways to go, as several recent war-profiteering scandals (and resignations of public officials) attest. Nevertheless, the Dekleptification Guide rates Ukraine as a success story, praising its efforts to reform the police, prosecutors, and courts; to develop a ‘business culture committed to market competition under the rule of law’; and, most notably, to ‘radically’ expand ‘the degree to which the government collects, and opens to the public, an expansive array of electronic data sources about who owns what in the country and how state resources are spent.’ Ukraine’s strong military performance ‘would not be possible without eight years of hard-fought work building the institutions of dekleptification,’ the guide concludes. Russia, by contrast, is judged to have paid a high price for its ‘rampant corruption.’”

Russia’s other post-Soviet neighbors:

“Why Lukashenko’s Diplomatic Flurry Is Futile,” nonresident scholar Artyom Shraibman, Carnegie Endowment, 03.03.23.

  • “In recent weeks, however, Lukashenko has clearly been trying to broaden his diplomatic horizons. He appears to have overcome his traditional lack of enthusiasm for foreign trips, having recently visited Zimbabwe, the United Arab Emirates, and China, and is next due to go to Iran, while Hungary’s foreign minister was recently received in Minsk. All of Lukashenko’s meetings and trips have one goal: to demonstrate to Belarusians and the West that attempts to isolate their country have failed, and that Minsk still has plenty of partners other than Russia around the world.”
  • “With the exception of China, the scale of the partnerships with the countries visited by Lukashenko does not generally require top-level visits, and certainly does not warrant the hype afforded to them by Belarusian propaganda. The flurry of meetings is intended to send a clear signal that two and a half years of pressure on Belarus have not worked and will not work, so the West may as well lift sanctions. Lukashenko’s desire to go back to the way things were appears to be sincere—unlike his insistent messaging that Belarus does not need the West, which only shows that the opposite is true.”
  • “There has never been such a gaping chasm between Lukashenko’s foreign policy ambitions—and how he sees his role in the region—and Minsk’s sheer irrelevance in the eyes of those whose attention he seeks. For years, the West tried everything it could to draw Belarus closer, despite its archaic pro-Russian regime. Now, amid the cold harsh reality of war, it has given up.”

“Why Estonia Election Results Are a Blow to Putin,” diplomatic correspondent David Brennan, Newsweek, 03.06.23.

  • “Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, long one of Europe’s most avowedly Russo-skeptic leaders, has secured another term in office after her center-right Reform Party topped the polls in Sunday’s general election.”
  • “‘It’s very good news for everybody: for Ukraine, for our allies,’ Marko Mihkelson, a member of Kallas’ party who was re-elected for the sixth time in Sunday’s vote, told Newsweek of the results shortly after Reform Party chiefs met to discuss their success. ‘Bad news for Russia. It’s going to be an even more active and firm position because of the mandate that Kaja, the party, and the possible new coalition gained yesterday,’ Mihkelson said.”

“Once hailed as a reformer, Mikheil Saakashvili languishes in prison,” Editorial Board, WP, 03.05.23.

  • “More than a decade ago, Mikheil Saakashvili carried influence in Washington and Georgia, the former Soviet republic he led as president. … Now, Mr. Saakashvili is imprisoned in Georgia, his health deteriorating, and the goals of European integration are slipping away.”
  • “Mr. Saakashvili once greeted Mr. Biden in Georgia as ‘my dear friend.’ Now is the moment for Mr. Biden to reciprocate and demand his release. Mr. Saakashvili should be allowed to seek medical help abroad. If he perishes in prison, it likely would also be a death knell of Georgia’s quest to join Europe—and a triumph for Mr. Putin, consigning Georgia’s population of 3.7 million to many more years of authoritarian rule.”

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