Russia in Review, April 19-26, 2024

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

(Russia Matters –

7 Things to Know

  1. The U.S. confirmed this week that it secretly sent long-range missile systems known as ATACMS to Ukraine, with the weapons arriving in the country this month. U.S. President Joe Biden reversed course on a decision to withhold the weapons that some feared could lead to an escalation in the war with Russia partly due to Russia’s recently increased attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, as well as the Kremlin’s use of North Korean ballistic missiles, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan, FT reports. The Kremlin said April 25 that Ukraine’s access to long-range weapons would not fundamentally change the outcome of the conflict. “The United States is directly involved in this conflict. It is on the road to increasing the range of the weapons systems it already supplies,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
  2. On April 24, Biden signed a $95 billion national security package—$61 billion of it marked for Ukraine—into law, clearing the way for the U.S. to quickly resume arms shipments for Kyiv, Bloomberg reports. “I’m making sure the shipments start right away. In the next few hours—literally in a few hours—we are going to begin sending equipment to Ukraine for air defense munitions, artillery for rocket systems and armored vehicles,” Biden said April 24 at the White House. However, Ukrainian officials, soldiers and military analysts told FT that the delivery of U.S. aid is unlikely to dramatically alter Ukraine’s situation on the frontline. Despite rapid shipment, the aid will not begin to affect the situation on the frontline for several weeks, during which the frontline situation is likely to continue to deteriorate for Ukraine, according to ISW. The package “does not contain a silver bullet,” according to one senior Ukrainian official, so it “will help to slow down the Russian advance, but not stop it.” The aid will “buy us … about one year,” according to an estimate by Ukraine’s Frontelligence Insight analytical group cited in FT.
  3. In the past month, Russian forces have gained 35 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 2 square miles, according to the April 23 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov sees tougher days ahead, with “a difficult period … mid-May, early June.” While Zelenskyy admitted that his country “did lose the initiative” while awaiting U.S. military assistance, in an interview with NBC, he said he expects weapons to arrive “in time,” allowing Ukraine’s forces to “repel the enemy, and then defeat the plans of the Russian Federation for full-scale counteroffensive actions in June.”
  4. Vladimir Putin will visit China in May, according to AP, but no other details have been announced as of April 26. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Xi Jinping this week to discuss a variety of issues, with Blinken’s harshest criticisms reserved for Beijing’s support of Russia in Ukraine, according to Bloomberg. China is the top supplier of military machine tools and a compound used in munitions and rocket propellant, Blinken said, adding that “Russia would struggle to sustain its assault on Ukraine without China’s support.” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also had a warning for Beijing: China must stop supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine if it wants to enjoy good relations with the West, he said April 25.
  5. “There is no basis whatsoever for an arms control and strategic stability dialogue with the United States in the face of a total hybrid war being waged against our country,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “This agenda cannot be artificially separated from the general international segment and be considered in isolation from other aspects of interstate relations, as Washington is seeking to present,” Lavrov stated this week at a nonproliferation conference in Moscow. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence has confirmed that Russia remains in compliance with New START caps as of the end of 2023, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Mallory Stewart said.
  6. National security advisors and senior officials from the G-7 and the so-called Global South are set to meet in Doha this weekend to discuss Ukraine’s proposal for a peace settlement, Bloomberg reports. The meeting is part of a round of talks preparing the ground for a high-level summit that Switzerland is due to host in June. Russia has not been invited to the Doha gathering and whether China will attend remains unclear.
  7. The manufacturing purchasers’ managers index (PMI), a key reading of business confidence, has reached its highest level in almost 18 years in Russia, according to The Bell.

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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • With a third report of a drone attack in two weeks around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant area, IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi has urged restraint from all sides. Grossi also was asked why he did not say who he thought was responsible for the incidents. He said: “In order to say something like that, we must have proof, indisputable evidence, that an attack, or remnants of ammunition or any other weapon, is coming from a certain place. And in this case it is simply impossible.” (WNN, 04.19.24)
  • “For 785 days now, Russian terrorists have held hostage the Zaporizhzhia NPP,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a message on X, formerly Twitter, on the 38th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. “It is the entire world’s responsibility to put pressure on Russia to ensure that ZNPP is liberated and returned to full Ukrainian control, as well as that all Ukrainian nuclear facilities are protected from Russian strikes,” he wrote. (RFE/RL, 04.26.24)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • Leader Kim Jong Un oversaw tests of a new North Korean rocket system, the official Korean Central News Agency reported April 26. The system could bolster his ability to attack Seoul and it may become a weapon he attempts to sell to Russia for use in its assault on Ukraine. This is the second test of the device this year reported by state media for what weapons experts said is a guided missile system with an estimated range of between 40 kilometers and 60 kilometers (25 miles to 37 miles). (Bloomberg, 04.26.24)
  • Russia’s “complete embrace” of North Korea could increase Kim Jong Un’s appetite for risk when it comes to threatening South Korea and exporting weapons abroad, as well as helping Pyongyang ignore Washington’s call to return to nuclear talks, a senior Biden administration official said. (Bloomberg, 04.22.24)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • Russia is ready to expand its “mutually beneficial” military cooperation with Iran, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani on April 26 in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana. (Bloomberg, 04.26.24)
    • An operation believed to have been carried out by Israel on the Iranian city of Isfahan a week ago took out part of an air-defense system supplied by Moscow, according to US and Israeli reports. A day later, an Iranian official news agency trumpeted the imminent arrival of new fighter jets from Russia, later withdrawing the news without explanation. (Bloomberg, 04.26.24)
    • Iran’s National Security Council chief, Ali Akbar Ahmadian, was in St. Petersburg for an international conference of intelligence chiefs and was due to hold talks with Nikolai Patrushev, among other representatives, Tass reported, citing the Iranian embassy in Moscow. (Bloomberg, 04.23.24)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • Two Russian soldiers have been arrested on suspicion of going on a drunken killing spree in the Moscow-occupied part of southern Ukraine’s Kherson region this week after several people were found dead in the neighboring villages of Podo-Kalynivka and Abrykosivka, according to media reports. (MT/AFP, 04.26.24)
  • Russia’s children’s rights commissioner on April 24 announced a deal with Ukraine to exchange almost 50 children displaced by Moscow’s invasion, but a Ukrainian official declined to confirm the agreement. Maria Lvova-Belova announced that 29 children are due to go to Ukraine and 19 to Russia. But as Russian and Ukrainian officials met with Qatari mediators, the Ukrainian human rights commissioner, Dmytro Lubinets, told AFP he “can’t confirm the information.” The Ukrainian official added that the two countries “don’t have any direct communication on this case.” (AFP, 04.25.24)
  • In 2013, the year before Russia’s military intervention in the east began, mines and factories in the Donbas region earned $28 billion, accounting for 15% of the country’s economic output. But two years into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the factories Russia had promised to revive in the region are in ruins. Nine of the country’s 15 steel mills are destroyed or shuttered behind Russian lines, according to the Employers Federation of Ukraine, an industry group. (NYT, 04.21.24)
  • Rights watchdog Amnesty International’s annual report, released April 24, noted that the war in Ukraine was another key contributor to the decline in the global human rights situation.  Amnesty called out indiscriminate attacks by Russian forces “on populated areas and civilian energy and grain export infrastructure.”  “Both Russian and Ukrainian forces used cluster munitions despite their inherently indiscriminate nature and lasting risks for civilians,” the report reads. (RFE/RL, 04.24.24)
  • For military strikes on civilian targets see the next section.

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • In the past month, Russian forces have gained 35 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 2 square miles, according to the April 23, 2024, issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 04.23.24)
    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signaled Russia’s intent to seize the city of Kharkiv, the first senior Kremlin official to outright identify the city as a possible Russian operational objective. Lavrov stated that Kharkiv “plays an important role” in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s idea of establishing a demilitarized “sanitary zone” in Ukraine to protect Russian border settlements from Ukrainian strikes. (ISW, 04.19.24)
    • Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov on April 22 said that the fight would only get tougher, with Russian forces intensifying their attacks through mid-May in what he described as a “comprehensive operation.” “It will be a difficult period. Mid-May, early June,” Budanov said. (FT, 04.23.24, BBC, 04.19.24.)
    • A blunder during a recent rotation of Ukrainian forces has allowed Russian troops to make a swift 5km gain on the battlefield and move toward Ukraine’s newly fortified defensive line. The situation unfolded in the village of Ocheretyne. “If the enemy manages to capture Ocheretyne, they will bypass the northern flank of the new Ukrainian defense line, which runs down along the Durna river,” the Center for Defense Strategies wrote. North of Ocheretyne, up to 25,000 Russian forces were focusing much of their efforts on capturing the strategic town of Chasiv Yar. If Russian troops were to take control of the town, they would have a strong foothold from which they could launch new assaults on the garrison cities of Kostyantynivka, Druzhkivka, Kramatorsk and Slovyansk. (FT, 04.23.24)
  • While Zelenskyy admitted that his country “did lose the initiative” while awaiting for U.S. military assistance, he said in an interview with NBC on April 21 that Russia wants to occupy Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region before May 9, the day that Russia celebrates as Victory Day to mark the defeat of Germany in World War II. Zelenskyy said he expects an influx of weapons will arrive in Ukraine “in time,” and its forces will to be able to “repel the enemy, and then defeat the plans of the Russian Federation for full-scale counteroffensive actions in June.” (FT, 04.23.24, RFE/RL, 04.22.24)
  • Ukraine is set to increase long-range attacks inside Russia as an influx of Western military aid aims to help Kyiv shape the war “in much stronger ways”, the head of the U.K. military has said. Adm. Sir Tony Radakin acknowledged the downbeat mood surrounding Ukraine’s defense, admitting the country was facing a “difficult” fight to repel advancing Russian forces. (FT, 04.26.24)
  • Ukraine has sidelined U.S.-provided Abrams M1A1 battle tanks for now in its fight against Russia, in part because Russian drone warfare has made it too difficult for them to operate without detection or coming under attack, two U.S. military officials told The Associated Press. (AP, 04.26.24)
  • The Ukrainian Telegram Chanel, Deep State, reported that at 10am on April 26, the Russians began massive counter-offensive actions in Kyslivka. By the end of the day, they had entrenched themselves in the locality. (Telegram/Deep State, 04.26.24)
  • The Ukrainian Telegram Chanel, Deep State, reported that on April 26, indicated that Russian forces have occupied two villages, Semenvika and Soloviove. (Telegram/Deep State, 04.26.24)
  • On April 25-26, Russia attacked railway facilities in three different regions across Ukraine, as the Russian defense minister vowed to step up strikes aimed at slowing the flow of critically needed American weapons and equipment to the front. At least six civilians were killed and 31 others wounded in the attacks, according to the Ukrainian military and local officials. (NYT, 04.26.24)
  • On April 26, four people, including three children, were wounded when Russian troops shelled the village of Derhachi in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, Gov. Oleh Synyehubov said. (RFE/RL, 04.26.24)
  • On April 26, Ukrainian bombardments killed three people in separate attacks on Russian border regions and in occupied Ukrainian territory, Russian and Moscow-installed officials said. (MT/AFP, 04.26.24)
  • On April 25, 13 people were wounded in the Kharkiv region by Russian shelling. (RFE/RL, 04.26.24)
  • On April 25, Ukrainian and Russian forces exchanged drone and artillery fire, leaving at least seven dead, regional officials on both sides of the frontline announced. A Ukrainian attack drone left two dead in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia and two more were killed by Ukrainian artillery fire in the southern Kherson region, officials said. (MT/AFP, 04.25.24)
  • On April 24, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) carried out drone strikes that set fire to oil-storage facilities in Russia’s Smolensk region, a source familiar with the issue has told RFE/RL. Drones hit two fuel and lubricant storage depots in the settlements of Yartsevo and Rozdorove, causing major fires and prompting the evacuation of employees, the source said. (RFE/RL, 04.24.24)
  • On April 23, a Russian drone attack on Ukraine’s Black Sea port city of Odesa wounded nine people, including four children, regional administration chief Oleh Kiper said, adding that several buildings caught fire. Ukrainian air defense systems shot down 15 out of 16 drones launched by Russia at the regions of Odesa, Kyiv, Mykolayiv, and Cherkasy, the air force said in a statement on Telegram. All drones targeting Kyiv were destroyed, Serhiy Popko, the head of the Ukrainian capital’s military administration, said in a message on Telegram adding that there were no casualties or damage in the city. (RFE/RL, 04.23.24)
  • On April 22, the Ukrainian Air Force shot down five combat drones and one reconnaissance drone launched by Russia. The air force said Russia had launched seven Iranian-made Shahed-type kamikaze drones from Cape Chauda in the Moscow-occupied Crimea region. Russia also launched three antiaircraft guided missiles from the occupied Donetsk region, according to Ukraine. In Odesa, regional Gov. Oleh Kiper said the drones targeted a farm, where they damaged a warehouse and agricultural machinery. No human casualties were reported. (RFE/RL, 04.22.24)
  • On the night of April 19-20, the Russian military managed to shoot down 50 Ukrainian drones in eight regions of Russia, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Still, in the village of Poroz, Belgorod region, two people died. In the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka, Belgorod Region, a shell fragment killed a pregnant woman. (Istories, 04.20.24, Media Zona, 04.20.24)
  • Some 120 civilians have been killed in southwestern Russia’s Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine since Russia invaded its neighbor in February 2022, Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov has said. (MT/AFP, 04.23.24)
  • On the eve of the Ukraine aid vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, gunners with Kyiv’s 148th Separate Artillery Brigade told RFE/RL that Ukraine would lose the war without more ammunition. Among their weapons is the M777 howitzer provided by the United States. The gunners say it’s the main thing keeping Russian tanks from overrunning Ukrainian infantry. (RFE/RL, 04.22.24)
  • The bodies of 140 Ukrainian servicemen killed in action have been returned to Ukraine, the Kyiv-based Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War announced in a statement on April 26. (RFE/RL, 04.26.24)
  • A senior Ukrainian security source told AFP April 26 that Russia had increased attacks on railway infrastructure with the aim of disrupting movement of military cargo that includes Western aid. The uptick in deadly attacks is intended to destroy train facilities and “paralyze deliveries and movement of military cargo” ahead of a planned Russian offensive, the source said. (MT/AFP, 04.26.24)
  • On April 22, the Russian Defense Ministry said during a briefing for journalists that Russian troops had completely occupied the village of Novomikhailovka in the Donetsk region and had “improved the tactical situation along the front line.” (Meduza, 04.22.24)
  • Some 796 of Ukraine’s main battle tanks have been destroyed, captured or abandoned since the war began in February 2022, according to Oryx. Over the last two months, Russian forces have taken out five of the 31 American-made M1 Abrams tanks that the Pentagon sent to Ukraine last fall, a senior U.S. official said. German Leopard tanks have also been targeted in Ukraine, with at least 30 having been destroyed, Oryx says. Russia has so far lost more than 2,900 tanks, Oryx data shows, although Ukraine claims that the number exceeds 7,000. (NYT, 04.20.24)
  • Ukraine on April 23 suspended consular services for men of fighting age living abroad, after announcing measures to bring them home amid manpower shortages in the army fighting Russia. (MT/AFP, 04.23.24)
    • The defense ministers of Poland and Lithuania have pledged to help Ukraine repatriate its men who are of fighting age but have left the country to avoid being sent to the battlefield. Poland has an estimated 350,000 Ukrainian military-age men working in the country, according to the Rzeczpospolita newspaper. (FT, 04.25.24, Bloomberg, 04.25.24)
  • Kyiv’s SBU security service said April 23 it suspected a high-ranking cleric and head of east Ukraine’s main monastery of having revealed army positions to Russian forces. The SBU said it had “served a notice of suspicion to the Metropolitan of the Sviatohirsk Lavra who ‘tipped off'” Ukrainian positions in the Donetsk region to Russian forces. Metropolitan Arseniy is listed as the head of the medieval monastery. (MT/AFP, 04.24.24)
  • The sociological group Rating in collaboration with the Gallup International research institute conducted a survey of Ukrainians in October-December 2023. Some 62% said they were willing to fight for their country. This is almost twice as many as those who are not ready – 33%. Gallup also found that Armenia and Saudi Arabia have demonstrated a high level of readiness to fight for their country: their figures are 96% and 94%, respectively. (, 04.23.24)

Military aid to Ukraine:

  • Biden on April 24 signed a $95 billion national security package into law and said assistance to Ukraine would begin to move within “hours,” capping off a bruising fight with Republicans over long-delayed assistance for Kyiv and other besieged U.S. allies. Biden’s signature clears the way for the U.S. to quickly resume arms shipments for Kyiv. “I’m making sure the shipments start right away. In the next few hours — literally in a few hours — we are going to begin sending equipment to Ukraine for air defense munitions, artillery for rocket systems, and armored vehicles,” Biden said April 24 at the White House. (Bloomberg, 04.24.24)
    • On April 20, the U.S. House of Representatives approved over $60 billion in military aid for Ukraine. The Ukraine aid was part of the $95 billion package of national security bills that also includes $26 billion for Israel and $8 billion for the Indo-Pacific region, as well as a bill that could result in TikTok being banned from U.S. app stores. The Ukraine bill passed the House on April 20 afternoon 311 to 112, with 210 Democrats and 101 Republicans voting in favor. No Democrats voted against the aid package, while 112 Republicans voted against. (FT, 04.20.24)
    • Some of the equipment, which will likely include longer-range Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, could be on the way by the end of the week, Democrat Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said. Zelenskyy said legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and awaiting Senate approval had clarified that Ukraine would be receiving the longer-range version of ATACMS. The package DOD is working on now will be significantly larger than the most recent tranche of $300 million, a U.S. official said. It would include armored vehicles; a fourth person said additional Bradley Fighting Vehicles would be part of the shipment. Older Humvees and M113 armored personnel carriers, as well as missiles, are also expected to be in the package. (Bloomberg, 04.22.24, Guardian, 04.23.24, CNN, 04.22.24, Politico, 04.22.24)
      • U.S. officials have not explicitly said which weapons the United States will send to Kyiv as part of the package, but Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said that more air-defense and artillery ammunition would probably be included. ”We can move within days,” he added. Ryder was asked about a nonbinding measure in the House legislation to send Kyiv ATACMS. ”Of course as you know, we’ve always said nothing is off the table,” the general said. (NYT, 04.21.24)
    • The delivery of U.S. aid is unlikely to dramatically alter Ukraine’s situation on the frontline, Ukrainian officials, soldiers and military analysts told FT after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $60 billion military aid package for Kyiv on April 20. The package “does not contain a silver bullet,” according to one senior Ukrainian official, so it “will help to slow down the Russian advance, but not stop it.” The aid will “buy us … about one year,” according to an estimate by Ukraine’s Frontelligence Insight analytical group cited in FT. Should the Senate pass the aid bill on April 23, the U.S. provisions will be in transit to Ukraine by the end of the week, but it will not begin to affect the situation on the frontline for several weeks, during which the frontline situation is likely to continue to deteriorate for Ukraine, according to ISW. (RM, 04.22.24)
    • Eye-opening intelligence briefings, Donald Trump’s change of heart, the counsel of House committee chairs, the realization that the GOP would never unite on Ukraine, his faith and even his son’s acceptance to a military academy are among the multiple factors that shaped House’s GOP Speaker Mike Johnson’s decision to put the $60 billion military aid package for Kyiv to a vote in spite of the risk of being ousted by his GOP colleagues, according to WP and NYT. Johnson—who in pre-speaker times had voted against funding for Ukraine—himself attributed his turnabout in part to the briefings he had received from CIA Director William Burns and others on the status of the war in Ukraine and the global consequences of inaction, according to WPNYT and CNN. In addition, strategic outreach by Republican senators, a visit by Johnson and a provision in the bill for economic aid in the form of forgivable loans, not grants, helped convince Donald Trump of the case for the Ukraine measure, clearing the way for Johnson to move ahead with the bill without sparking the powerful former president’s ire, according to WSJ. (RM, 04.23.23)
    • Finally, U.S. President Joe Biden had good news to share with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. When Biden picked up the telephone to call Zelenskyy on April 22, the two rejoiced over the congressional breakthrough that will result in the first significant new U.S. military aid for Ukraine in 16 months. Biden used the 30-minute call to ”underscore the United States’ lasting commitment to supporting Ukraine” against Russian invaders and promise that arms will start flowing again ”quickly,” according to a White House statement. For a grateful Zelenskyy, the timing was propitious. A Russian missile attack, he told Biden, had just destroyed the television tower in Kharkiv. (NYT, 04.23.24)
      • New U.S. support gives Ukraine the potential to retake the initiative in its fight against Russia’s invasion, said Zelenskyy. “I think this support will really strengthen the armed forces of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said April 25. “We did lose the initiative,” Zelenskyy said. “Now we have all the chance to stabilize the situation and to overtake the initiative.” “We appreciate every sign of support for our country and its independence, people and way of life, which Russia is attempting to bury under the rubble,” Zelenskyy said in a post on social platform X. “America has demonstrated its leadership since the first days of this war.” (Bloomberg, 04.20.24, Bloomberg, 04.21.24)
      • The first package of American weapons under the new law could arrive in Ukraine as early as April, said Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova. (Ukrainska Pravda, 04.23.24)
    • U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin welcomed congressional movement on the aid package. ”The world is still watching,” he warned in a statement. ”Lives are still on the line. America’s long-term security is still at stake. We must never give our friends, our rivals or our foes any reason to doubt America’s resolve.” (NYT, 04.21.24)
    • Fresh U.S. arms deliveries “should have a noticeable impact on the battlefield,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander in an interview. “We can act quickly,” she said. (WSJ, 04.21.24)
    • Russia has threatened to step up its attacks on logistics centers and storage facilities for Western weapons in Ukraine, in Moscow’s first direct response to the passage of U.S. military aid for Kyiv. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on April 23 that his country had “dispelled the myth of the superiority of Western weaponry.” “Our high combat potential allows us to constantly rain fire on the enemy and stop him from holding the line of defense,” Shoigu said. Russia would continue to increase production of its own advanced weaponry “in accordance with the threats posed by the U.S. and its allies,” he said. (FT, 04.23.24)
  • The U.S. State Department confirmed on April 24 that the United States sent long-range missile systems known as ATACMS to Ukraine for use inside its territory, and the weapons arrived in the country this month. (RFE/RL, 04.24.24)
    • Biden’s decision to reverse course on a decision to withhold the weapons that some in the White House feared could dangerously escalate the war with Russia was influenced in part by Russia’s increased attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure in recent months, as well as the Kremlin’s use of North Korean ballistic missiles, according to Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser. (FT, 04.24.24)
    • The Kremlin said April 25 that Ukraine’s access to long-range weapons, including ATACMS provided by the United States, would not fundamentally change the outcome of the conflict. “The United States is directly involved in this conflict. It is on the road to increasing the range of the weapons systems it already supplies,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. (MT/AFP, 04.25.24)
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government is pushing the U.S. to deliver at least one more Patriot anti-missile system to Ukraine to help close the air-defense gap, part of a coordinated effort to get NATO and European Union partners to step up assistance for Ukraine on air defense, according to people familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg, 04.23.24)
  • Austin announced April 26 a $6 billion long-term military aid package for Ukraine — the largest to date — which will allow the U.S. to purchase new equipment produced by the American defense industry for the Ukrainian military. “This is the largest security assistance package that we’ve committed to date. It will include critical interceptors for Ukraine’s patriot and NASAMS air defense systems, more counter drone systems and support equipment, significant amounts of artillery ammunition, and air to ground munitions and maintenance and sustainment support,” Austin said during a press conference. (CNN, 04.26.24)
  • Spain will send a small number of Patriot missiles to Ukraine in response to pressure from EU and NATO allies to send more military aid to Kyiv, according to a report published on April 26. Quoting unidentified government sources, the El Pais newspaper said that Spain had ruled out delivering Patriot antiaircraft launchers, but would supply the Ukrainian military with missiles for the system. (Reuters, 04.26.24)
    • Greece and Spain are under intense pressure from their EU and NATO allies to provide more air defense systems to Ukraine. Spanish and Greek prime ministers Pedro Sánchez and Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose armed forces possess between them more than a dozen Patriot systems plus others such as S-300s, were told their need was not as great as Ukraine’s and that they did not face any imminent threat. (FT, 04.22.24)
  • The U.S. is considering sending additional military advisers to the embassy in Kyiv. It was not clear how many additional U.S. troops would ultimately be sent to Ukraine, but two U.S. officials said the number would be up to 60. (Politico, 04.20.24)
  • Ukraine is approaching an agreement on security assurances with the United States. The document may be signed after the U.S. Congress concludes its consideration of aid to Ukraine, says Zelenskyy. (, 04.21.24)
  • Zelenskyy has called on Ukraine’s Western partners to provide additional defense systems to create an air shield against further Russian missile attacks. He discussed Ukraine’s need for U.S.-made Patriots air-defense systems on April 26 during a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, also known as the Ramstein Format. (RFE/RL, 04.26.24)
    • Austin told the meeting that donated F-16 fighter jets, trained pilots, and service personnel will begin arriving in Ukraine this year from members of the contact group. (RFE/RL, 04.26.24)
  • In a social-media post after hosting Poland’s right-wing President Andrzej Duda, Trump backed the idea that Ukraine’s security is a U.S. national-security interest, while again lashing out at European allies, who for years he has painted as freeloaders for what he sees as insufficient spending on defense. “As everyone agrees, Ukrainian Survival and Strength should be much more important to Europe than to us, but it is also important to us! GET MOVING EUROPE!” he wrote April 18. (NYT, 04.22.24)
  • Rishi Sunak has promised the U.K.’s largest ever military support package for Ukraine as he warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin would “not stop at the Polish border” if Russia won the war. The U.K. plans to give vital equipment to Kyiv including 400 vehicles, 1,600 weapons and 4 million rounds of ammunition, as well as an additional £500 million in military funding, taking the total to £3 billion this financial year. (Guardian, 04.23.24)
  • On April 19 Ukrainian leaders briefed NATO defense ministers about the situation on the battlefield and the country’s critical needs during a remote meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council. “NATO defense ministers have agreed to step up and provide further military support, including more air defense,” Stoltenberg said. (DoD, 04.19.24)

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

  • The U.S. Treasury Department has issued further sanctions targeting companies that manufacture, sell, and ship Iranian drones as part of an effort to curb their use by Russia in its full-scale war in Ukraine. The sanctions announced on April 25 have been imposed on more than a dozen entities, individuals and vessels “that have played a central role in facilitating and financing the clandestine sale of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).” (RFE/RL, 04.25.24)
  • The U.S. is drafting sanctions that threaten to cut some Chinese banks off from the global financial system, arming Washington’s top envoy with diplomatic leverage that officials hope will stop Beijing’s commercial support of Russia’s military production, according to people familiar with the matter. (WSJ, 04.23.24)
  • Companies based in Russia as well as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, China and Hong Kong have imported millions of euros worth of restricted European goods that have been used by the Russian military, despite the EU’s extensive trade restrictions, an assessment seen by Bloomberg suggests. Several of the companies being assessed for potential sanctions. (Bloomberg, 04.23.24)
  • The national security package passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on April 20 includes a provision that would allow Ukraine to use funds from seized Russian assets to fund the war effort. That prompted a sharp rebuke from the Kremlin, whose spokesman Dmitry Peskov vowed a response from Moscow. “Of course, if this is really the case, then America will have to answer for it,” Peskov said. “And we will do this in a way that best suits our interests.” (FT, 04.20.24)
  • Switzerland has frozen Russian assets worth 5.8 billion Swiss francs ($6.36 billion), the government said on April 23, a big drop that could intensify international pressure on the neutral country to do more to sanction Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. The figure, which applies to assets frozen at the end of 2023, was down from the 7.5 billion francs in assets frozen at the end of 2022. The main reason was a decrease in the market value of the shares and other financial assets that have been blocked, said the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, which oversees sanctions.  (RFE/RL, 04.23.24)
  • The U.S. is urging Europe to slash taxes on earnings from frozen Russian assets as part of a proposal to fund Ukraine by borrowing against future profits that it says will free up $50 billion. Daleep Singh, U.S. deputy national security adviser for international economics, told FT the G7 was discussing an idea from Washington to bring forward the value of interest income from the assets to get the cash to Kyiv as early as this summer. (FT, 04.20.24)
  • European companies still operating in Russia are scrambling to comply with a new EU sanctions provision that could significantly alter the way they do business in the country. More than two years since the invasion of Ukraine, multinationals are on the cusp of losing a carve-out that allowed them to provide their Russian subsidiaries with professional services like accounting, management consulting and legal advice. The change in policy comes as Brussels seeks to close myriad loopholes in its sanctions against Russia. (FT, 04.23.24)
  • German construction materials manufacturer Knauf is completely shutting down its operations in Russia after more than 30 years of work on the Russian market. (Ukrainska Pravda, 04.22.24)
  • Norilsk Nickel, the metals group controlled by Russia’s richest man Vladimir Potanin, will move some copper smelting production from its home country to China, as Western sanctions restrict access to key pieces of equipment and cut profitability. (FT, 04.22.24)
  • Zelenskyy on April 25 called for expanding international sanctions against Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine as he met in Kyiv with British Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt, with whom he discussed the situation in Ukraine and the need for increased restrictive measures against Russia that are more difficult to avoid. (RFE/RL, 04.26.24)

For sanctions on the energy sector, please see section “Energy exports from CIS” below.

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • National security advisors and senior officials from around the world are set to meet in Doha this weekend to discuss plans for a summit on Ukraine’s conditions for a settlement with Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. The meeting of officials from the Group of Seven and the so-called Global South is part of a round of talks preparing the ground for a high-level summit that Switzerland is due to host in June. Russia has not been invited to the Doha gathering and whether China will attend remains unclear, said the people. (Bloomberg, 04.24.24)
  • Xi told a visiting Scholz that all concerned “should be at the table and none on the menu” when nations convene at the Ukraine peace summit near Lucerne on June 15-16. (IPQ 04.18.24)

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

  • China must stop supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine if it wants to enjoy good relations with the West, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on April 25, warning Beijing in unusually harsh words it cannot have it both ways. (Reuters, 04.25.24)
  • Sweden’s military spending is set to rise to 2.6% relative to the size of its economy by 2030, with the newest NATO member planning to surpass the alliance’s common goal. Meanwhile, on a trip to the continent, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced raising the U.K.’s defense spending from last year’s 2.07% of GDP by 2030. Sunak, standing beside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, said this would put the U.K. arms industry on a “war footing.” (Bloomberg, 04.24.24, Bloomberg, 04.26.24)
  • French President Emmanuel Macron appealed on April 25 for stronger, more integrated European defenses and said the continent must not become a vassal of the United States, as he outlined his vision for a more assertive European Union on the global stage. Macron said the American security umbrella is a thing of the past and that Europe needs to build its own credible defense strategy if it wants to survive. Macron said Russia must not be allowed to win in Ukraine, and he called for a boost in Europe’s cybersecurity capacity, closer defense ties with post-Brexit Britain, and the creation of a European academy to train high-ranking military personnel. (Reuters, 04.26.24, Bloomberg, 04.25.24)
    • Germany and France are set to seal an agreement April 26 to jointly develop a new battle tank as Europe races to shore up its defenses in light of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 04.24.24)
  • Turkish President Recep Erdogan will meet with Biden at the White House on May 9, according to people familiar with the matter, as they seek ways to boost defense and trade ties. (Bloomberg, 04.26.24)
  • More than 1,000 American military personnel will leave Niger in the coming months, Biden administration officials said, upending U.S. counterterrorism and security policy in the tumultuous Sahel region of Africa. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told Niger’s prime minister, Ali Lamine Zeine, that the United States disagreed with the country’s turn toward Russia for security and Iran for a possible deal on its uranium reserves, and the failure of Niger’s military government to map out a path to return to democracy, according to a senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic talks. (NYT, 04.20.24)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Putin said April 25 he plans to visit China in May, in what could become the first foreign trip for the Russian leader after he extended his rule by six more years in an election that offered voters little real choice. He didn’t say when his visit would take place and didn’t offer any other details. (AP, 04.25.26)
  • Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and China’s security chief Chen Wenqing discussed strengthening ties between the special services and law enforcement agencies of their two countries at talks on April 23 in St. Petersburg on the sidelines of an international conference of intelligence chiefs, the state-run Tass news service reported. (Bloomberg, 04.23.24)
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing on April 26. Xi warned Blinken that the U.S. shouldn’t target or oppose China, as the world’s largest economies wrapped two days of talks spanning thorny disputes on trade and Beijing’s support for Russia’s war machine. They also announced a new working group on artificial intelligence to start in the coming weeks, bolstering expectations for keeping ties steady. (Bloomberg, 04.26.24)
    • Blinken’s harshest criticisms were reserved for Beijing’s support of Russian aggression in Ukraine. China is the top supplier of military machine tools and a compound used in munitions and rocket propellant, he said. “Russia would struggle to sustain its assault on Ukraine without China’s support,” he added, noting that the U.S. was ready to impose additional sanctions on Chinese firms. (Bloomberg, 04.26.24)
    • “China and the United States should be partners rather than rivals,” Xi told Blinken, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement. The two sides should “seek common ground and reserve differences, rather than engage in vicious competition,” he added. (Bloomberg, 04.26.24)
  • “China has neither transferred nor, as far as we know, plans to transfer any ready-made weapons. Components, microchips, have now gone to the machines – but all these are dual-use goods at best, this must also be understood. Just as you yourself said – European, Western, as they say, chips, mechanisms, aggregates. Unfortunately, that’s all there is,”  Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said in an interview.(BBC, 04.19.24.)
  • China needs to take a stand over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rein in its enormous trade surplus with the European Union if it is committed to improving relations, the bloc’s top diplomat in Asia said. (Bloomberg, 04.23.24)
  • China is losing its appetite for Russian coal as import taxes and logistical snarls push Asia’s biggest buyer to cheaper alternatives. Russian exports plunged 22% in the first quarter after Beijing imposed a tax regime at the start of the year that favors some of Russia’s rivals. (Bloomberg, 04.22.24)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said that “several dozen Russian nuclear weapons” were deployed in Belarus, a move that has raised concerns in the West that Moscow’s war against Ukraine could spread. Speaking at the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly in Minsk April 25, Lukashenko said the gathering had unanimously adopted a new military doctrine that considers the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil as a strategic deterrent. (RFE/RL, 04.25.24)
  • U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Mallory Stewart said, “Our intelligence community was able to confirm its belief that Russia did not, as of the end of last year, exceed the caps set by New START.” (ACT, May 2024)
  • Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have reaffirmed a global commitment against deploying nuclear weapons in space, rebuffing U.S. efforts to shine a spotlight on Moscow’s reported plans to do so. Thirteen of 15 Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, while China abstained. The negative vote from Russia — which wields veto power as a permanent member of the council — was enough to block it. (Bloomberg, 04.24.24)
  • Lavrov said: “Today, the United States and their NATO client states are still dreaming of inflicting a ‘strategic defeat’ on Russia and are ready to carry on with their policy of deterring our country ‘to the last Ukrainian.’ At the same time, the West is balancing on the dangerous edge of a direct military confrontation between nuclear powers, which could have catastrophic consequences. We are especially concerned that the three Western nuclear powers are among the main sponsors of the criminal Kyiv regime and the main organizers of various provocations. This could create serious strategic risks and increase the level of nuclear threat.” (Russian Foreign Ministry, 04.22.24)
    • Lavrov also said: “There is no basis whatsoever for an arms control and strategic stability dialogue with the United States in the face of a total hybrid war being waged against our country. This agenda cannot be artificially separated from the general international segment and be considered in isolation from other aspects of interstate relations, as Washington is seeking to present.” (Russian Foreign Ministry, 04.22.24)
    • Lavrov also said: “Our priority is to elaborate an international legally binding instrument that would establish reliable guarantees to prevent the deployment of weapons in space and the use or threat of force as regards space facilities.” (Russian Foreign Ministry, 04.22.24)
  • Poland’s president said his country would be ready to host the nuclear weapons of NATO’s other members in response to Russia’s moving its nuclear weapons to neighboring Belarus. President Andrzej Duda made the comments in an interview published April 22 in the Fakt tabloid. (BG, 04.23.24)
    • Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said: “It is not difficult to assume that in the event of the appearance of American nuclear weapons on Polish territory, the corresponding objects will immediately join the list of legitimate targets for destruction in a situation of direct military conflict with NATO.” (Russian Foreign Ministry 04.22.24)


  • Russian authorities have reportedly arrested another Tajik national in connection with the March 22 terrorist attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue near Moscow that left 144 people dead and hundreds more injured. (RFE/RL, 04.26.24)

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security/AI:

  • No significant developments.

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Russia’s seaborne crude exports maintained a multimonth high in the four weeks to April 21 as the country’s refineries struggled to recover from flooding and Ukrainian drone attacks. (Bloomberg, 04.23.24)
  • The European Union is discussing with member states proposals to sanction key Russian liquefied natural gas projects and a ban on using EU ports to re-export supplies destined for third countries, as part of an effort to limit Moscow’s ability to generate revenues from the fossil fuel. (Bloomberg, 04.25.24)
  • Russia’s focus on boosting natural gas exports to China is proving less lucrative for the nation than its former reliance on westbound deliveries to European markets. Gas prices for the Asian nation are expected to be as much as 28% below those for Russia’s remaining European clients at least through 2027, according to the economic outlook prepared by the Economy Ministry and seen by Bloomberg News. (Bloomberg, 04.23.24)
  • Azerbaijan, host of this year’s COP29 climate summit, will continue to invest in increasing gas production in order to feed demand from Europe as its president said that its abundant fossil fuels were a “gift from God.” (Bloomberg, 04.26.24)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • A Moscow court on April 23 rejected an appeal by jailed U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich against the extension of his pretrial detention until June 30. (RFE/RL, 04.23.24)
  • Russia has continued to show blatant disregard for human rights both in its unprovoked war against Ukraine and in the treatment of its own citizens over the past year, the U.S. State Department has said in its latest annual report on human rights around the globe. (RFE/RL, 04.23.24)
  • Earlier this month, members of the Virginia Kekoas “prepper” militia in Virginia took the step of going public with their fears that Russell Vane, who formally joined last summer, might be either a government informant or a dangerous militant. Eddie “Ice” Ray, the group’s leader, claimed that in early March, Vane said, “What if I could put you in touch with a Russian dignitary at a Russian embassy that would be willing to pay up to $50,000 a month to unify all militias in Virginia?” Vane was in federal custody on April 15 on charges related to manufacturing ricin. (WP, 04.16.24, WP, 04.09.24)

II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • The arrest on bribery charges of one of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s closest allies has weakened his position ahead of a potential government shuffle by Putin, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The detention of Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov may be an attempt to undermine Shoigu, two people close to the Kremlin said. It represents a final warning to Shoigu to improve the ministry’s wartime performance though he’s unlikely to be ousted at this time, one of the people said. Still, the case against Ivanov, who was the focus of a corruption investigation by the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s team early in Russia’s war on Ukraine, is a severe blow to Shoigu’s authority, people close to the Defense Ministry and Russian intelligence services said. (Bloomberg, 04.24.24)
    • Russia’s Investigative Committee announced Ivanov’s detention late April 23 in Moscow on accusations of accepting an “especially large” bribe exceeding 1 million rubles ($11,000). Ivanov denies the bribery allegation, the Interfax news service reported, citing a person familiar that it didn’t identify. He faces as much as 15 years in jail if convicted. (Bloomberg, 04.24.24)
    • The Basmanny district court in Moscow on April 25 sent Alexander Fomin, one of the co-founders of the construction company Olympcitystroy, to pretrial detention until at least June 23 on a charge of giving a bribe to Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov. (RFE/RL, 04.25.24)
  • In January 2019, the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, was diagnosed with “pancreatic necrosis,” reports Novaya Gazeta Europe. At that time, the Chechen leader frequently began taking leave due to “temporary incapacity to work” and missing important public events. Specifically, he was absent from Putin’s federal address in February 2023, remained silent during the Prigozhin rebellion, and missed a meeting of the Russian President with the heads of North Caucasian regions dedicated to his favorite topic — tourism. (Important Stories, 04.22.24)
  • Putin has spoken about the possibility of nationalizing Russia’s industrial facilities. Speaking at the congress of the Union of Russian Industrialists and Entrepreneurs on April 25, Putin said industrial facilities could be nationalized “when actions or inactions of the companies’ owners impose direct damage on the country’s security and national interests.” (RFE/RL, 04.25.24)
  • Russia began moves to compel the country’s largest private bank to redomicile by seeking to suspend the ownership rights of its foreign-registered shareholders. The Finance Ministry on April 24 announced it had filed an application to the Arbitration Court of Moscow Region to suspend the corporate rights of Cyprus-based ABH Financial Limited in Alfa-Bank AO, owned by billionaire Mikhail Fridman and his partners. Alfa Bank was among six “economically significant” companies that were registered abroad and could be forced to redomicile in Russia, under a decree from Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin published last month. (Bloomberg, 04.24.24)
  • The manufacturing purchasers’ managers index (PMI), a key reading of business confidence, has reached its highest level in almost 18 years in Russia. (The Bell, 04.19.24)
  • Russia kept interest rates unchanged April 26, shifting toward more cautious guidance as inflation risks from a persistently tight labor market and growing consumer spending limit the central bank’s options. For the third meeting in a row, policymakers left their key rate at 16%. Speaking to business leaders on April 25, Putin had stressed the need to be “careful” over when to start cutting rates. (Bloomberg, 04.26.24, MT/AFP, 04.26.24)
  • Russia’s Economy Ministry raised its 2024 growth forecast despite mounting sanctions over Putin’s war in Ukraine. Gross domestic product will expand by 2.8% this year, Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov told a government meeting April 23. That compares with the ministry’s forecast of a 2.3% GDP increase for 2024 during budget preparations in the fall. (Bloomberg, 04.23.24)
  • Russian state-controlled lender Sberbank is to pay 752 billion rubles ($8 billion) in dividends after posting its largest-ever profit last year, in a sign of the health of the country’s banking sector despite Western sanctions. The payout by Russia’s largest bank amounts to half of its 2023 profit, chief executive Herman Gref said on April 23. (FT, 04.23.24)
  • A St. Petersburg court froze the Russian assets of JPMorgan Chase & Co. pending consideration of a lawsuit from the country’s second-largest bank that seeks to recover about $440 million. (Bloomberg, 04.24.24)
  • Russian soldiers returning from Ukraine have killed 107 people since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of its neighbor over two years ago, the independent investigative news outlet Vyorstka reported April 25, citing media reports and court filings. Vyorstka said it tallied up the violent crime convictions of 91 ex-convicts pardoned after fighting in Ukraine and 84 regular soldiers who returned from the front lines. (MT/AFP, 04.25.24)
  • More than half of Russians supported the return of the death penalty. This is evidenced by the results of a study conducted by Russian Field. According to sociologists, 53% of respondents would rather support the return of the death penalty, 39% would rather not support it, another 7% found it difficult to answer and 1% of survey participants refused to answer. (Istories, 04.22.24)
  • Ruslan Alexandrov, a veteran of Russia’s war on Ukraine, has been appointed as a district head in his home region on April 22, marking the first known example of a participant in the war being named to public office in Russia. (MT/AFP, 04.24.24)
  • Governors of up to three Russian regions may be replaced by the end of May: governor of the Orenburg region Denis Pasler, the head of the Nizhny Novgorod region Gleb Nikitin and the governor of the Kaliningrad region Anton Alikhanov. (Meduza, 04.22.24)
  • A union of leading Russian publishers and libraries has created an advisory body that would evaluate books for their compliance with the country’s increasingly repressive legislation, the Vedomosti business daily reported April 23. The Russian Book Union’s so-called expert center will issue recommendations on individual books, but leave the final decision to pull the books from sale up to the publishers, according to Vedomosti. (MT/AFP, 04.23.24)
  • Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor said on April 22 that it has “restricted access” to the website of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) group, which monitors the rights of journalists around the world, the NGO Roskomsvoboda reported. Roskomnadzor said the move was made over RSF’s “spreading false news about the special military operation.” (RFE/RL, 04.22.24)
  • A Moscow court on April 22 sentenced Yuri Kokhovets to five years of compulsory labor for giving an antiwar comment to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) two years ago – a criminal prosecution that showed the Russian government intensifying its crackdown on dissent and that could have a chilling effect on international media still operating in the country. (WP, 04.23.24)
  • A court in Kazan, the capital of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan, has reinstated a fine against sociologist Iskander Yasaveyev for holding a poster demanding the release of RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, who has been held in Russian custody since Oct. 18. (RFE/RL, 04.23.24)
  • Russia has arrested Sergei Mingazov, a journalist from the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, for social media reposts over accusations of Russian atrocities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, his lawyer and Forbes said on April 26. (MT/AFP, 04.26.24)
  • A teenager from the Siberian city of Chita has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for anti-war graffiti and social media posts, a Russian court said April 25. (MT/AFP, 04.25.24)
  • A court in Russia’s Komi region on April 24 issued an arrest warrant for Garry Kasparov, opposition politician and a co-founder of the Free Russia Forum, on a charge of creating and leading a “terrorist” group. The Syktyvkar City Court also issued arrest warrants for several other Russian opposition politicians and activists in exile on the same charge. (RFE/RL, 04.25.24)
  • A military court in Russia on April 22 sentenced Andy Stone, the spokesman for Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, in absentia to six years in prison for the “justification of terrorism.” (RFE/RL, 04.22.24)
  • A Russian court on April 24 rejected an appeal filed by anti-war activist Svetlana Marina against a “forced labor” sentence she was handed last month on a charge of discrediting the Russian armed forces. (RFE/RL, 04.24.24)
  • A Moscow court on April 22 sentenced Yury Kokhovets to five years of so-called forced labor for condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during an on-street interview in July 2022 with a reporter from RFE/RL and banned him from administering websites for four years. (RFE/RL, 04.22.24)
  • A Moscow court has launched hearings against Alina Nevmyanova, who backs the invasion of Ukraine, on accusations of vandalizing a ballot box with green antiseptic dye, the independent news outlet Mediazona has reported. Nevmyanova faces up to five years in prison on charges of obstructing voting rights. (MT/AFP, 04.25.24)
  • Russia is seeking to ban the vaguely defined “anti-Russian separatist movement” as an “extremist” organization, the Justice Ministry said Friday. According to the ministry, the so-called movement’s goal is to “destroy the multinational unity and territorial integrity of Russia.” The independent OVD-Info rights project, which first reported on the planned designation, said it was unable to find a formal organization titled “Anti-Russian Separatist Movement.” Observers speculated that designating the “separatist movement” as extremist could lead to wider targeting of anti-war or indigenous rights and decolonial activists in Russia. (MT/AFP, 04.26.24)
  • Russian priest Dmitry Safronov has been suspended for three years and demoted after he oversaw a farewell ceremony at the funeral of outspoken Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny last month. (RFE/RL, 04.24.24)
  • Russian TV personality and blogger Anastasia Ivleeva, who organized a controversial celebrity “nearly naked” party in December, has been fined $542 for “discrediting” the Russian military, according to the Moscow court system’s Telegram channel. (MT/AFP, 04.25.24)
  • Russia on April 25 denied reports that it was considering barring its own citizens from renewing passports abroad, a move that would further disadvantage exiled dissidents who fled political persecution. The independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta said that it had obtained a copy of a draft Foreign Ministry decree suspending passport renewals and other consular services for Russians abroad starting May 1. (MT/AFP, 04.25.24)
  • Russia is reopening the first of several regional airports that were closed when the country invaded Ukraine more than two years ago, state civil aviation agency Rosaviatsia announced April 26. Elista Airport in the republic of Kalmykia is slated to reopen May 3. (MT/AFP, 04.26.24)

Defense and aerospace:

  • World military expenditure increased for the ninth consecutive year in 2023, reaching a total of $2.4 trillion ($2,443 billion). The 6.8% increase in 2023 was the steepest year-on-year rise since 2009. The five biggest spenders in 2023 were the United States, China, Russia, India and Saudi Arabia, which together accounted for 61% of world military spending. Russia’s military spending grew by 24% in 2023 to an estimated $109 billion. This was equivalent to 5.9% of Russia’s GDP. (SIPRI, April 2024)
  • See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement, justice and emergencies:

  • Russia is canceling the popular Immortal Regiment march to commemorate World War II victims for a second straight year due to growing security concerns, officials announced April 23. (MT/AFP, 04.23.24)
  • Police carried out searches at Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Russian media reported April 26. Federal Security Service (FSB) agents searched Garage for two hours before leaving and did not detain anyone, according to the RBC and Novaya Gazeta Europe news websites, which said they were unable to establish the reason for the investigative actions. (MT/AFP, 04.26.24)
  • Authorities in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Karachai-Cherkessia on April 23 identified five men suspected of opening fire on a police patrol a day earlier, killing two officers and wounding another. (RFE/RL, 04.23.24)
  • Police in Russia’s northwestern Leningrad region detained Aleksei Serov, a former fighter for the Wagner mercenary group, over the weekend on suspicion of killing and dismembering a 20-year-old woman. (RFE/RL, 04.22.24)
  • Russia on April 25 handed a long jail term to a Siberian man accused of state treason and terrorism over plans to join Russian units fighting for Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 04.25.24)
  • A Russian court sentenced businessman Oleg Kan in absentia on April 26 to 17 years in prison after being convicted of ordering the assassination of a business rival in 2010. (RFE/RL, 04.26.24)
  • A court of appeals in Siberia has canceled the conviction of five former prison officials who were sentenced in a high-profile case involving the torture and rape of an inmate. It is not clear if the court considered the sentences too lenient or too harsh, since the whole case is now starting again from the beginning. (RFE/RL, 04.23.24)
  • Russian security and law enforcement authorities said April 25 they have thwarted a fake bomb threat allegedly organized by a private security firm. Investigators said three members of an unidentified transportation security organization had last November installed three fake bombs under two road bridges in the city of Tver. “They then provided fake information about an impending terrorist act by phone,” the regional branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said in a statement. (MT/AFP, 04.25.24)
  • Sudden spring warming and rains are continuing to complicate flood recovery across Central Asia. Devastating mudslides in Kyrgyzstan and overflowing rivers in Kazakhstan and Russia are the worst current threats. They follow weeks of floods and a burst dam in Orsk, Russia, on April 6. Mass snowmelt in that region has also wiped out communities and roads along the Ural river in both Russia and Kazakhstan. (RFE/RL, 04.23.24)

III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • European lawmakers have approved a resolution that calls for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all political prisoners held in Russia, including journalists Alsu Kurmasheva and Evan Gershkovich. The resolution was part of a joint motion in the European Parliament on April 25, condemning Russia’s “undemocratic” presidential election last month and their “illegitimate extension” to territories inside Ukraine that Moscow has illegally annexed. (RFE/RL, 04.25.24)
  • France is asking the European Union to set up a new sanctions regime to target Russian disinformation and election interference operations worldwide. The proposal, which is backed by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland, would allow the EU to strengthen sanctions against individuals and entities involved in Russian-sponsored destabilizing activities globally. (Bloomberg, 04.24.24)
  • Several British men were charged under a new national security law for supporting Russia by carrying out an arson attack on a Ukraine-linked business. The men were charged with offenses “in order to benefit Russia” by conducting “hostile activity in the U.K.,” according to the Crown Prosecution Service. (Bloomberg, 04.26.24)


  • Ukraine’s finance chief said a $61 billion US aid package helps cover budget gaps for this year, though the nation’s fiscal outlook for 2025 is “very uncertain” given the duration of the war with Russia. (Bloomberg, 04.25.24)
  • The National Bank of Ukraine cut the key policy rate by a full percentage point to 13.5% on April 25. (Bloomberg, 04.25.24)
  • Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskiy was released from custody on April 26 after posting bail following his arrest earlier in the day over accusations that he had illegally acquired land worth about 291 million hryvnias ($7 million). Solskyi became the first cabinet member under Zelenskyy’s presidency to be detained in a crackdown on corruption demanded by allies as a condition for aid in Kyiv’s war against Russia. (RFE/RL, 04.26.24, Bloomberg, 04.26.24)
  • Military personnel from one of the units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are suspected of killing a police officer in the Vinnytsia region. (, 04.20.24)
  • Zelenskyy enacted the decision of the National Security and Defense Council on “On countering the negative consequences of gambling on the Internet,” which, in particular, provides for a ban on gambling for the military. (Ukrainska Pravda, 04.20.24)
  • A deputy head of a police department in the Kirovograd region has been charged with declaring false information and illegal enrichment. Authorities suspect the man of having illegally enriched himself and acquired assets that exceeded his legal income by more than 14 million hryvnia. (, 04.23.24)
  • Fourteen drug gang members will be tried in Ukraine’s region of Dnieper. Among them are law enforcement officers. (, 04.23.24)

Russia’s other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • When the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia met on April 22 at the Kremlin, it wasn’t Nagorno-Karabakh, Ukraine, or Iran that took center stage. It was the 50th anniversary of a Soviet railroad construction project. (RFE/RL, 04.23.24)
  • Moldovan prosecutors filed corruption charges against the pro-Russian leader of an autonomous region as concerns mount about Kremlin efforts to destabilize the nation’s path into the European Union. Evghenia Gutul, the governor of Moldova’s Gagauzia region, was accused of accepting more than 42 million lei ($2.4 million) in illicit funding from Russia, according to a statement from anti-corruption prosecutors on April 24. (Bloomberg, 04.24.24)

IV. Quotable and notable

  • “I can tell you, frankly, without this support, we will have no chance of winning. You need to be much stronger than your enemy. Today, our artillery shell ratio is 1-10. Can we hold our ground? No. In any case, with these statistics, they will be pushing us back every day,” Zelenskyy said. (PBS, 04.15.24)

The cutoff for reports summarized in this product was 11:00 am East Coast time on the day it was distributed.

Here and elsewhere, the italicized text indicates comments by RM staff and associates. These comments do not constitute an RM editorial policy.

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