Russia in Review, July 28-Aug. 4, 2023

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

6 Things to Know

  1. In the past month of fighting Russian armed forces made a net gain of 14 square miles, according to the estimate by the Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task ForceTheir research shows that the period saw Russian forces gain 43 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine’s net gain was 29 square miles, according to the Aug. 1, 2023 issue of the task force’s Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. One of the main directions of Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive goes through the region of Zaporizhzhia; however, in the two months since the beginning of their multi-pronged counteroffensive, Ukrainian troops have advanced less than 10 miles at any point along this southern province’s 100-mile front, according to NYT’s July 30 estimate. These estimates indicate that the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which began in early June, is yet to gain momentum. Moreover, as MIT professor Barry R. Posen has noted in his recent FP piece, “Observers should not be surprised if this [Ukrainian] offensive peters out with, at best, a partial success.”*
  2. The war of Russian and Ukrainian drones has continued this week. Russian armed forces used scores of longer-range drones to target ports in southwestern Ukraine that service the country’s grain exports. In the two weeks since its withdrawal from the grain deal, Russia has reportedly destroyed 180,000 tons of Ukrainian grain in these ports and other facilities, all while increasing exports of its own grain by 50%. In contrast to the Russian targeting of Ukraine’s exports, Ukraine appeared to have trained its UAVs this past week on government and symbolic targets in downtown Moscow while employing improvised sea drones to damage a Russian Navy ship off its Black Sea fleet’s base at Novorossiysk. The number of kamikaze drones flown by Ukraine into Russia between May and July was double the total for all of 2022 as of late July, according to NYT.
  3. More than half of Americans believe the U.S. has already done enough to help Ukraine, according to a poll recently conducted by SSRS for CNN. Some 51% of respondents to the July 1-30 poll hold that view. In contrast, 48% said the U.S. should do more for Ukraine. Some 55% of Americans believe Congress should not authorize additional funding to support Ukraine, while 45% hold the oppositive view, according to the poll. The shares of Americans who approve Joe Biden’s handling of the situation in Ukraine and the U.S. relationship with Russia total 45% and 43%, respectively, according to the poll.
  4. This week has seen U.S. and Ukrainian officials launch negotiations on bilateral security commitments for Ukraine per the joint declaration of support for Kyiv adopted by the G-7. Commenting on the U.S.-Ukrainian talks, Andriy Yermak, chief of staff for Volodymyr Zelensky, said that “security guarantees for Ukraine will be concrete, long-term obligations ensuring Ukraine’s capacity to defeat and restrain Russian aggression in the future.” “These will be clearly drafted formats and mechanisms of support,” he added. Does the U.S. need to offer security guarantees to Ukraine? If yes, then why and what should they look like? If not, why not? We posed these questions to four prominent U.S. experts on post-Soviet Eurasia, including Thomas Graham of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Atlantic Council’s Melinda Haring, Mark N. Katz of George Mason University and Joshua Shifrinson of the University of Maryland. You can read their answers here.
  5. Just how well are the G-7’s price caps on exports of Russian refined fuels working? Since February, there have been two G-7 caps on the sale of Russian refined fuels, one for higher value products at $100 a barrel and another for lower ones at $45, according to Bloomberg. Argus Media, whose prices are central to the caps, says Russian naphtha and fuel oil are trading above the lower cap, while diesel is trading above the higher one. Price caps or not, Russia expects to get what Bloomberg has described as a “huge inflow” of energy revenues by the end of this year. Total extra proceeds from Russian oil and gas sales is to reach $11 billion in the last five months of 2023, according to this news agency.
  6. A Russian court convicted imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny on charges of extremism and sentenced him to 19 years in prison. He will be serving time in a special regime colony that keeps prisoners in cells with the lights constantly on and bars them from speaking, according to WP. Navalny, who is widely believed to be persecuted by the Kremlin for his anti-Putin political activities, would serve this new term concurrently with his current sentence of nine years, which he received in 2022. The harshness of the latest verdict, which bars him from family visits or even letters for 10 years, has bewildered even some pro-Kremlin analysts, to say less of Western leaders and activists.

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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • IAEA experts have inspected the roofs of the power units of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and found no mines or explosives there, according to the agency’s press release. The roof access on Aug. 3 came just after a successful ninth rotation of IAEA teams. (TASS, 08.04.23, IAEA, 08.04.23)
  • Public consultation and a round-table discussion involving a variety of organizations has concluded that the proposed decommissioning plans for Leningrad 1 and 2 meet Russian and IAEA standards. The next stage is to finalize the materials before submitting them as part of the process of obtaining the necessary national licenses and approvals. (WNN, 07.31.23)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • While in Pyongyang to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean war armistice, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met Kim Jong Un and noted the two countries’ “common border and rich history of cooperation.” “I am convinced that today’s talks will help strengthen cooperation between our defense agencies,” he said in a statement released by Russia’s defense ministry. Kim also led Shoigu on a tour of a weapons exhibition, where nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and drones were on display. (FT, 07.27.23, Bloomberg, 07.27.23)
    • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on July 29 that the United States believes Shoigu is in North Korea to secure supplies of weapons. On Aug. 3 National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Shoigu used a recent visit to Pyongyang to request an increase in North Korean arms supplies. (FT, 08.04.23, RFE/RL, 07.29.23)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • At least 10,749 Ukrainian civilians, including nearly 500 children, have been confirmed killed since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, Yuriy Bielousov, Ukraine’s lead prosecutor for human rights violations, said in an interview with Interfax Ukraine. (WP, 08.03.23)
    • Pope Francis is considering appointing a special Vatican envoy for the return of children to Ukraine. (TASS, 08.04.23)
  • At least 79 civilians have been killed on Russian soil since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine last year, the independent news website 7×7 reported Aug. 1. Casualties were reported in the Belgorod region (48), Krasnodar region (16), the Bryansk region (10) and the Kursk region (five), with the age of the victims ranging from 5 to 84 years old, the outlet said. (MT/AFP, 08.04.23)
  • Nearly half of Ukrainians held in Russian detention centers in Kherson were subjected to widespread torture including sexual violence, according to a report published Aug. 2. The report by a Mobile Justice Team, part of the U.K., EU and U.S.-sponsored Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group reveals analysis of an initial pool of 320 cases of detention in Kherson, across more than 35 identified detention centers (CNN, 08.02.23)
  • Ukrainians living in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine are being forced to assume Russian citizenship or face harsh retaliation, including possible deportation to Russia, U.S.-backed research published on Aug. 2 said. “The report details a disturbing campaign to compel residents to adopt Russian citizenship,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. (RFE/RL, 08.03.23)
  • Russian children’s commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova has said that more than 700,000 Ukrainian children have been taken from Ukraine to Russia since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 07.31.23)
  • The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) has expressed “deep concern” over Russia’s issuance of arrest warrants for several court officials, including one of its judges. The Russian Interior Ministry said on July 27 that ICC Judge Tomoko Akane was placed on the government’s wanted list. (RFE/RL, 08.01.23)
  • On July 31, Russian missiles slammed into Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s native city of Kryvyi Rih and the southern city of Kherson, killing at least 10 people and injuring close to 100—a barrage that came one day after three drones struck Moscow in the latest attack on the Russian capital. (WP, 08.01.23, MT/AFP, 07.31.23)
  • On July 31, at least four residents of the Russian-occupied Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine were killed in Ukrainian shelling, Kremlin-backed officials said. (MT/AFP, 07.31.23)
  • On Aug. 1, a skyscraper in Moscow’s main business district was damaged by a drone strike for the second time in three days. The drone hit the 42-storey IQ-Quarter tower, which houses the offices of Russian trade, digital and economic development ministries. The IQ-Quarter is part of the Moscow City business district, which stretches along the western edge of the city on the banks of the Moskva river. (FT, 08.01.23)
    • Russia’s independent media outlet Vyorstka said 12 out of the 28 drone strikes on Moscow and the Moscow region in the past three months have resulted in damage to homes and government facilities. (MT/AFP, 08.03.23)
    • The number of kamikaze drones flown into Russia between May and July was double the total for all of 2022. At least three different Ukrainian-made drones have been used in attacks inside Russia, including Moscow, according to an analysis by The New York Times. The three drones identified by The Times—the Bober, the UJ-22 Airborne and a third model with an undetermined name—have all been used to hit targets in Russia, including Moscow, and the attacks have been increasing, based on a tally by The Times of geolocated visuals and local reports. (NYT, 08.02.23)
    • Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, said that ”there is a clear threat” and that ”measures are being taken” to improve defenses of the capital. (NYT, 08.02.23)
  • On Aug. 2, Russian drone strikes damaged grain facilities at the Ukrainian ports of Izmayil and Odesa overnight. Kyiv was also targeted with drones. More than 10 drones targeting the Ukrainian capital were downed. (MT/AFP, 08.02.23, RFE/RL, 08.02.23, FT, 08.02.23)
    • Since the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal two weeks ago, small ports on the Danube River are the only shipping outlet for millions of tons of grain from Ukraine. (NYT, 08.02.23)
    • “In two or three months, we may not have a single port left,” Natalia Humeniuk, the spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military southern command, told French journalists this past week. “They want to dominate the Black Sea. They want to have a monopoly on grain,” she said. (NYT, 07.29.23)
  • On Aug. 2, Ukraine shot down 11 of the 25 Iranian-made drones launched at the Odesa region overnight, Gov. Oleh Kiper said. (Bloomberg, 08.03.23)
  • On Aug. 3, eight people were injured when shelling hit a church in the center of Kherson, Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s Office said. (WP, 08.03.23)
  • On Aug. 3, Ukraine shot down all 15 Shahed drones fired by Russia, the Ukrainian air-defense forces said. Separately, Kyiv’s military administration, said the past night saw the eighth consecutive drone attack on the capital. (Bloomberg, 08.03.23)
  • In the two weeks since Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal, Russian attacks have destroyed 180,000 tons of grain, 26 port infrastructure facilities and five civilian vessels, according to Ukraine’s foreign ministry. (NYT, 08.02.23)
  • Blinken on Aug. 3 took aim at Russia in a speech to the U.N. Security Council in New York, accusing Moscow of “blackmail” over its recent withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative. (RFE/RL, 08.03.23)
    • Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the U.N., countered later in the debate, saying of the U.S.: “All that drives you is the desire to punish Russia in your pipe dreams of dealing it a strategic defeat.” (Bloomberg, 08.03.23)
  • The United States has been told that Russia is prepared to return to talks on a deal that had allowed the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain, but “we haven’t seen any evidence of that yet,” the U.S. envoy to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said. She said that if Russia wants to get its fertilizer to global markets and facilitate agricultural transactions “they’re going to have to return to this deal.” (RFE/RL/Reuters, 08.01.23)
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to abstain from moves that would exacerbate tensions, Erdogan’s office said after the two leaders held a phone call, following Russian strikes on Ukrainian ports. (RFE/RL, 08.02.23)
  • Pope Francis on July 30 called on Russia to reverse its decision to abandon the Black Sea grain deal, under which it had allowed Ukraine to export grain from its seaports despite the ongoing war. (Reuters, 07.30.23)
  • Zelensky said on July 30 that he believes Russia will renew its attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure in the fall and winter, saying his administration was taking steps to secure the power grid and calling for every city and village in the country to be prepared. (NYT, 07.31.23)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • In the past month of fighting Russian forces have gained 43 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine gained 29, according to the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 08.01.23)
  • The complicated training in Western combined arms maneuvers has given the Ukrainians scant solace in the face of barrage after barrage of Russian artillery. Ukraine’s army has for now set aside U.S. fighting methods and reverted to tactics it knows best, focusing on wearing down the Russian forces with artillery and long-range missiles instead of plunging into minefields under fire. A troop surge is underway in the country’s south, with a second wave of Western-trained forces launching mostly small-scale attacks to punch through Russian lines. Ukraine’s decision to change tactics is a clear signal that NATO’s hopes for large advances made by Ukrainian formations armed with new weapons, new training and an injection of artillery ammunition have failed to materialize, at least for now. (NYT, 08.02.23)
    • Ukraine is focused on two main southward thrusts, with the aim of cutting off Russian resupply routes. One line of attack goes through Staromaiorske toward the city of Berdiansk on the Azov Sea, and another, farther west, toward the city of Melitopol. Both cities command strategic transit routes for Russian forces occupying southern Ukraine and Crimea. In two months, Ukrainian troops have advanced less than 10 miles at any point along the region of Zaporizhzhia’s 100-mile front. (NYT, 07.30.23)
      • Fierce fighting continues around the Zaporizhzhia region’s village of Robotyne — an area previously held by Russian forces that is less than 1½ miles from the Kremlin’s main defensive line. By several accounts, the battle there presents Ukraine’s closest and most feasible path for breaking through the Russian line, with officials characterizing it as having major “strategic value.” Ukrainian OSINT Telegram channel DeepState’s assessment of the battlefield dynamics as of Aug. 3 said the fighting in the Rabotyne area was “heavy,” reaching the outskirts of this settlement. (WP, 08.04.23, RM 08.04.23)
    • In the first two weeks of the counteroffensive, as much as 20% of the weaponry Ukraine sent to the battlefield was damaged or destroyed, according to U.S. and European officials. In one battle in which Ukraine’s newly formed 23rd brigade took part, Ukrainian soldiers attacked in 10 American-made MaxxPro armored vehicles, but only one came back, a solider of that unit said. This brigade is one of the nine Western-trained units prepared and equipped for the counteroffensive. (NYT, 08.02.23, NYT, 07.30.23)
  • Ukrainian OSINT Telegram channel DeepState’s assessment of the battlefield dynamics as of Aug. 3 contained acknowledgement that the Russian forces had established control over three streets that abut a railway in the Luhansk region’s settlement of Novoselivs’ke.  The Russian forces also advanced in Bilohorivka nearby, according to this channel, which acknowledges that “the enemy has the initiative” in that area. The advance in Bilohorivka has also been reported by pro-war Russian Telegram channel WarGonzo. (RM, 08.04.23)
  • On Aug. 4 a Ukrainian naval drone carrying 450 kilograms of TNT struck the Russian Navy base at Novorossiisk in the Black Sea, causing extensive damage to a Russian warship docked there, sources in the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) told RFE/RL. (RFE/RL, 08.04.23)
    • Videos published online showed what appeared to be a partly sunken Russian Navy vessel being towed in the waters around Novorossiysk. Russian pro-war Telegram channels claimed the Ropucha-class ship was the Olenegorsky Gornyak, which has been used to transport troops and military hardware into occupied Ukrainian ports. (MT/AFP, 08.04.23)
    • A video published by the Ukrainian news site Ukrainska Pravda and verified by Storyful showed the bow of one of the drones plowing into the Ropucha-class landing ship, Olenegorsk Gornyak. (WSJ, 08.04.23)
    • The visuals verified by NYT show the vessel, a Ropucha-class landing ship, seemingly listing, with damage in the middle of its port side, while tugboats try to bring it into the port. The ship is the same type as the one seen under attack in a video captured by a naval drone. (NYT, 08.04.23)
    • The pro-Kremlin KP daily’s war reporter Alexander Kotz acknowledged that the Ukrainian drone attack damaged the Olenegorsky Gornyak ship and that it had to be then towed for repairs. Kotz wrote that the crew of the ship was not ready to repel the attack, failing to detect the approaching drone. (RM, 08.04.23)
    • Russia’s Defense Ministry said earlier on Aug. 4 that its forces had repelled two Ukrainian naval drone attacks on the Novorossiisk base, while Krasnodar regional Gov. Veniamin Kondratyev said that no casualties or damage were reported from the attacks. (RFE/RL, 08.04.23)
    • Novorossiysk is Russia’s main Black Sea oil port, exporting about 600,000 barrels a day. It is also the main export point for oil from Kazakhstan, with the 1.2 million b/d line from the Caspian Pipeline Consortium terminating there. (FT, 08.04.23)
  • Journalists from the BBC and Mediazona have identified the names of 29,217 Russian military members killed in Ukraine since February 2022. At least 870 of them died after the Ukrainian counteroffensive began in the spring of 2023. (RFE/RL, 08.04.23)
  • At least 8,500 members of the Russian Airborne Forces have been wounded in the year and a half since Russia invaded Ukraine, the elite troops’ commander said Aug. 2. Airborne Forces commander Mikhail Teplinsky disclosed the figures in a video message congratulating comrades on Paratroopers’ Day. Hours later, the footage was taken down. (MT/AFP, 08.03.23)
  • Positioned close to the front lines, the Ukrainian stabilization points, temporary medical posts where patients are stabilized for onward evacuation, have been receiving a constant inflow of  Ukrainian soldiers wounded in the fighting. The numbers have been “colossal,” said a medic from the center. (NYT, 08.02.23)
  • The United States has committed more than $60 billion in aid to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion. That includes more than $43 billion in military aid. That’s more than the U.S. distributes in aid to any other country. (WP, 08.04.23)
  • The Biden administration is seeking to increase stretched supplies of crucial munitions for Ukraine to support the counteroffensive against Russian occupying forces. The weapons effort is focused on delivering more 155mm caliber shells used in the howitzers Ukraine is deploying along the front line, officials said, and includes supplies from international allies in the short term and plans to ramp up U.S. production in the next two years. (FT, 08.01.23)
  • Pushing to restock depleted U.S. weapons stockpiles, the Pentagon has put on contract almost $2.3 billion of a potential $6 billion to Lockheed Martin Corp., the top maker of munitions that the U.S. has provided Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion, according to new Defense Department data. So far, the Pentagon has obligated $9.7 billion to replenish stockpiles, out of a total $26 billion appropriated for that purpose by Congress. (Bloomberg, 08.03.23)
  • Ukrainian pilots will begin training on F-16 fighter jets this month, Zelensky said in a speech to heads of Ukrainian diplomatic missions. (WP, 08.03.23)
  • Ukraine’s nascent weapons industry produced twice as many mortars and artillery rounds last month than it did for all of 2022, a top government official said on Aug. 2. (NYT, 08.03.23)
  • Members of the volunteer territorial defense units in the Russian regions of Belgorod and Kursk that neighbor Ukraine are being armed with hunting rifles rather than with assault rifles, according to Kommersant. This would make them seriously under-gunned in any incursion of Ukrainian-based units into Russia. (RM, 08.04.23)
  • Shoigu visited the war zone in Ukraine to inspect a command post and captured Western military hardware, the army said Aug. 4. (MT/AFP, 08.04.23)
  • Nearly 8 in 10 Americans are worried the war will continue without a resolution for a long time, including 82% of Democrats, 75% of independents and 73% of Republicans according to a new July 1-30 CNN poll conducted by SSRS. (CNN, 08.04.23)

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

  • Moscow provides more than 20% of U.S. nuclear fuel, but the U.S. Senate last week passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes an amendment aimed at boosting U.S. uranium production and enrichment. The amendment passed by a nearly unanimous vote of 96-3, suggesting it could be included in the final version of the Pentagon policy bill that could head to Biden’s desk this year. (WP, 08.03.23)
  • Russia said on Aug. 4 that U.S. bank JPMorgan had this week stopped processing payments for the Russian Agricultural Bank. (Reuters, 08.04.23)
  • The European Union agreed to impose more sanctions on Belarus with export bans on highly sensitive goods and technologies that boost Belarus’s military and technological development as it cracks down on efforts to bypass restrictions on Russia over its war in Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 08.03.23)
  • Lithuania will close two of its six border crossings with Belarus amid concerns over the presence of Wagner mercenaries there, the Lithuanian deputy interior minister said on Aug. 4. (Defense post, 08.04.23)
  • Lithuania will revoke the residence permits of more than 1,000 Belarusian and Russian citizens that the Baltic nation’s authorities deem a security threat. (Bloomberg, 08.04.23)
  • Georgia’s Finance Ministry on Aug. 2 said the exporting and reexporting of U.S. cars to Russia and Belarus was banned as of Aug. 1. The same decision regarding cars exported from the European Union took effect on July 26. According to the ministry, from January to July some 51,000 cars worth $930 million were reexported from Georgia, including 3,786 units to Russia worth an estimated $52 million. (RFE/RL, 08.04.23)
  • JDE Peet’s NV will from the end of the year sell coffee and tea in Russia only under local brands, it said on Aug. 2, as it lowered its annual earnings target, saying the business impact was uncertain. (Reuters, 08.02.23)
  • Czech media reports say investigators have frozen bank accounts and impounded the property of Russian oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov and his son Feliks in Prague and Karlovy Vary. (RFE/RL, 07.31.23)
  • Last year Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase & Co found a way to scoop up greenbacks at a low price and then sell them to clients fleeing Russia. To pull it off, the people said, the Wall Street firms turned to an obscure source with which they had rarely traded dollars before: lenders based in countries deemed “friendly” by Russia and not sanctioned by the U.S., such as Halyk Savings Bank of Kazakhstan JSC and First Heartland Jusan Bank JSC and JSC in Kazakhstan and Ameriabank CJSC in Armenia. (Bloomberg, 08.02.23)
  • Airbus is forming a joint venture with U.S. start-up Voyager to compete to build a replacement for the International Space Station. (FT, 08.02.23)
  • Russia has added Norway to its list of foreign states that have committed so-called “unfriendly” acts against Russian diplomatic missions, news agencies reported on Aug. 3. Countries on the list are limited in the number of local staff they can hire in Russia, with Norway restricted to 27. (Reuters, 08.03.23)
  • A court in Moscow has fined Apple for failing to remove information related to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Interfax reported. The Magistrates Court in the Taganka district ordered Apple on Aug. 3 to pay 400,000 rubles ($4,300.) (RFE/RL, 08.03.23)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • Saudi Arabia is set to host peace talks among Western countries, Ukraine and key developing countries. The meeting would bring senior officials from up to 30 countries to Jeddah on Aug. 5 and 6. Ukraine and Western officials hope the efforts could culminate in a peace summit later this year where global leaders would sign up to shared principles for resolving the war. They hope that those principles could frame future peace talks between Russia and Ukraine to Kyiv’s advantage. A summit this year, however, wouldn’t include Russia. (WSJ , 07.29.23)
    • U.S. government officials will attend a Ukraine peace summit in Saudi Arabia, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told a briefing on July 31. (RFE/RL, 07.31.23)
    • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would monitor the meeting. “It remains to be seen what goals will be set and what, in fact, the organizers plan to talk about,” Peskov said during a daily briefing for reporters. (WP, 08.01.23)
    • Chinese Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs and former Ambassador to Russia Li Hui will travel to Saudi Arabia to participate in an international conference on Ukraine, China’s Foreign Ministry said on its website. (TASS, 8.04.23)
    • National security advisers or their equivalents have been invited to attend the meeting, which comes amid intense fighting in southern Ukraine. (FT. 07.30.23)

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

  • This week has seen U.S. and Ukrainian officials launch negotiations on bilateral security commitments for Ukraine per the joint declaration of support for Kyiv adopted by G-7 countries ahead of July’s NATO summit in Lithuania. Commenting on the U.S.-Ukrainian talks, Andriy Yermak, chief of staff for Zelensky, said that “security guarantees for Ukraine will be concrete, long-term obligations ensuring Ukraine’s capacity to defeat and restrain Russian aggression in the future.” “These will be clearly drafted formats and mechanisms of support,” he added.  (RM, 08.04.23)
  • While U.S. military officials and analysts don’t expect Beijing to deploy broad military forces in the Arctic, they said China is sharing satellite and electronic intelligence from the region with Moscow. In response, the U.S. is beefing up its presence in the Arctic by adding to its polar icebreakers. (WSJ, 07.30.23)
  • Artificial intelligence, drone attacks on critical infrastructure and the prospect of future disruption to energy supplies by a hostile Russian regime are among the main threats to the U.K. identified in a government risk assessment, the Cabinet Office’s national risk register. (FT, 08.03.23)
  • Former president Donald Trump called on congressional Republicans to withhold military support for Ukraine until the Biden administration cooperates with their investigations into the president and his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings. (WP, 07.30.23)
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s lawmakers boycotted an extraordinary meeting of parliament that opposition parties had called to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO. (Bloomberg, 07.31.23)
  • Some 55% of Americans say Congress should not authorize additional funding to support Ukraine vs. 45% who say Congress should authorize such funding, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. 51% say that the U.S. has already done enough to help Ukraine while 48% say it should do more. A poll conducted in the early days of the Russian invasion in late February 2022 found 62% who felt the U.S. should have been doing more. (CNN, 08.04.23)
  • Recent Pew surveys show that 71% Americans believe the U.S. considers other countries’ interests when making international policy decisions. By comparison, across the 23 other countries surveyed, people are generally split: A median of 49% say Washington considers other nations’ interests and 50% say it does not. (Pew, 07.26.23)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Russian and Chinese warships have practiced searching for and destroying a mock enemy submarine in the southwestern part of the Bering Sea, the Russian Pacific Fleet said in a statement. The training assignments were fulfilled during the third joint patrol of the Pacific by sailors of the two countries. The third joint Russian-Chinese patrol in the Pacific began on July 28. (Interfax, 08.04.23)
  • Russian authorities have approved a draft agreement with China to establish an international protected area for rare tigers and leopards, the Russian Natural Resources Ministry said Aug. 1. (MT/AFP, 08.03.23)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • The United States assesses that, as of July 1, 2023, the Russian Federation has not engaged in significant activity above the New START Treaty central limits, the U.S. State Department’s  Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance said in a report. The United States continues to assess that there is not a strategic imbalance between the United States and the Russian Federation that endangers the national security interests of the United States, according to the report. (DOS, 07.26.23)


  • Russian military specialists have shared antiterrorist practices with colleagues from ASEAN during a joint command-post exercise in Myanmar, the Russian Defense Ministry said Aug. 4. The exercise started on Aug. 2 in Myanmar. Besides the Russians, it also involves representatives of the military agencies of Brunei, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines. (Interfax, 08.04.23)

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security/AI:

  • The FBI’s access to a controversial intelligence trove of intercepted emails, texts and other electronic data should be curtailed following serial missteps that have damaged public and congressional trust in the surveillance tool, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a White House panel of intelligence advisers has concluded. (WSJ, 07.31.23)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Russia expects to get a huge inflow of energy revenue by the end of this year despite an oil price cap imposed by G-7 nations, and may channel it toward spending as the government continues to pour resources into the war in Ukraine. In the last five months of 2023, total extra proceeds from oil and gas sales are estimated to reach 1 trillion rubles ($11 billion), according to two people close to the government with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity. That amount is above a baseline level in the budget. (Bloomberg, 08.04.23)
  • Since February, there have been two G-7 caps on the sale of Russian refined fuels, one for higher value products at $100 a barrel and another for lower ones at $45. Argus Media Ltd., whose prices are central to the caps, says naphtha and fuel oil are trading above the lower cap, while diesel is trading above the higher one. (Bloomberg, 08.02.23)
  • Russia’s oil firms are setting a record pace in their drilling this year, even as the country has agreed with OPEC+ to make longer production cuts. Rigs drilled 14.7 thousand kilometers of production wells in Russia from January to June, 6.6% more than planned and 8.6% more than the same period in 2022, according to data seen by Bloomberg. (Bloomberg, 07.31.23)
  • An OPEC monitoring committee comprising Saudi Arabia and other key OPEC+ nations recommended no changes to the coalition’s supply policy at an online meeting on Aug. 4. (Bloomberg, 08.04.23)
    • Russia will prolong a cut in its crude exports of 300,000 barrels per day into September, while tapering the size of the supply reduction, according to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak. (Bloomberg, 08.03.23)
    • Russia’s two most-watched oil indicators—seaborne exports and domestic crude processing—are finally signaling that the nation may be in full compliance with its OPEC+ pledge to cut output. Last month, the combined daily volume for those two crucial flows was under 8.6 million barrels. That’s almost 490,000 barrels below February levels—closely matching Russia’s pledged production cut. (Bloomberg, 08.02.23)
  • Germany, which got 55% of its supply of natural gas from Russia before the war, now imports zero. Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have halted or are close to halting flows. And Italy has been steadily trimming imports, and pledges to be free of Russian natural gas by the end of this year. By contrast, Austria, which received nearly 80% of its gas from Russia before the invasion, still got more than half its total from Russia in May. (NYT, 07.31.23)
  • The idea of creating a gas hub in Turkey is still on the table and yet if it’s established, it would be an electronic trading platform rather than a physical facility to store large volumes of Russian gas, according to Putin. (Bloomberg, 07.29.23)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • U.S. President Joe Biden’s handling of the U.S. relationship with Russia was approved by 43% of respondents, according to a new July 1-30 CNN poll conducted by SSRS. A similar 45% of Americans approve his handling of the situation in Ukraine. (CNN, 08.04.23)
  • Trump is dominating his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, leading his nearest challenger, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, by a landslide 37 percentage points nationally among the likely Republican primary electorate, according to the first New York Times/Siena College poll of the 2024 campaign. (NYT, 07.31.23)
  • The U.S. government is committed to providing nearly $110,000 in foreign aid to projects in Russia, and $240,000 to China, in 2023, despite surging tensions with Moscow and Beijing. Data from shows $107,847 is scheduled to be spent by the U.S. Department of the Interior in Russia in 2023, all of which will go to the Amur Tiger Conservation in a Changing Landscape in Russia Project. (Newsweek, 08.03.23)

II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • The federal budget ran a monthly surplus in June for the first time this year, helping to shrink the deficit to 2.6 trillion rubles so far in 2023. (Bloomberg, 08.04.23)
  • The ruble has weakened 22% against the dollar so far this year and is at its lowest level since March last year. Each ruble decline against the dollar means 100 billion-120 billion rubles in additional revenue for the government, Bloomberg Economics Russia economist Alexander Isakov said. (Bloomberg, 08.04.23)
  • Russia will start buying foreign currency and gold as a recovery in energy revenue brought it above the target set in the budget. The Finance Ministry said Aug. 3 it will purchase 40.5 billion rubles ($433 million) during the Aug. 7-Sept. 6 period under a budgetary mechanism designed to insulate the economy from the volatility of commodity markets. (Bloomberg, 08.03.23)
  • On Aug. 1, the ruble-denominated Moex Russia Index closed at 3,093.64, above its level before the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. “It’s not a functioning market,” said Kamil Dimmich, partner at North of South Capital, a London-based emerging-market equity manager. “If I had to guess the outlook, I’d say the market will continue rallying because domestic investors have nowhere to put their savings.” (Bloomberg, 08.01.23)
  • Government spending as part of gross domestic product has jumped by 13.5% in the first quarter compared with the same period last year, the highest growth rate in data going back to 1996. Economists attribute much of the growth in Russian industrial production this year to weapons and materiel. (WSJ, 08.02.23)
  • Russia’s homegrown drive for import substitution has shown mixed results so far. Some 65% of industrial enterprises in Russia are dependent on imported equipment, according to a poll by Moscow’s Higher School of Economics published in June. (WSJ, 08.02.23)
  • Russia’s industrial worker shortage reached a new high last month, the RBC reported, citing a survey by the Yegor Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy. The survey found that 42% of Russian industrial enterprises faced a shortage of workers in July, surpassing April’s record-setting shortage of 35%, according to the same survey of around 1,000 enterprises. (MT/AFP, 08.03.23)
  • contributor Alexander Zhelenin’s analysis of Russia’s past censuses and other data indicate that the number of ethnic Russians in Russia has diminished by some 12-13 million during Putin’s rule. (RM, 08.01.23)
  • The volume of trade between the Russian ruble and the largest dollar-pegged crypto token surged during the attempted insurrection by the Wagner Group earlier this month, as Russians rushed to find an alternative to the country’s weakening currency. Trading volumes between Tether’s coin and the ruble were $14.7 million on June 24, up 277% from $3.9 million 24 hours earlier. (FT, 07.30.23)
  • The share of Putin’s decrees that he classified upon signing reached 62% in July 2023, setting a record for Putin’s presidency, according to Media Zona. (RM, 08.02.23)
  • Putin commented on the ongoing crackdown on dissent in Russia, saying that “there must be a certain attitude toward people who are causing harm inside the country.” During a press conference following the Africa-Russia summit in St. Petersburg on July 29, Putin noted that Russia “is in an armed conflict with a neighbor” when a journalist asked if it was “normal for people to be arrested for things they have written or said.” (RFE/RL, 07.29.23)
  • A Russian court convicted imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny on charges of extremism and sentenced him to 19 years in prison on Aug. 4. Navalny is already serving a nine-year term on a variety of charges that he says were politically motivated. The new charges are related to the activities of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation and statements by his top associates. Russian state news agencies reported that he would serve this new term concurrently with his current sentence on charges of fraud and contempt of court, which resulted in a 9-year sentence in 2022. He will be serving time in the special regime prison colony, the harshest in Russia’s penal system, keeps prisoners in cells with the lights constantly on, barred from speaking. The sentence bars him from family visits or even letters for 10 years. (AP, 08.04.23, WP, 08.04.23)
    • In a statement on the eve of the Aug. 4 sentence, Navalny said, “It’s going to be a long sentence. What’s called a ‘Stalinist’ sentence.” He said another case being prepared against him — on terrorism charges — would potentially add another decade, although current law may limit his imprisonment to 30 years. (WP, 08.04.23)
    • U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Moscow’s “abuse” of the opposition leader shows a “complete disregard for even the most basic of human rights”.  (Independent, 08.04.23)
    • “The totally unfounded new conviction against Alexei Navalny is a testament to the Kremlin’s resolve to decapitate Russian opposition for many years to come,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. (HRW 08.04,23)
    • “Navalny got horror,” wrote pro-Kremlin analyst Sergei Markov on Telegram. “Isn’t that too much? Why these cruelties? Why can’t Navalny see his wife? He’s not a killer. Rigidity should be applied in other areas.” (WP, 08.04.23)
  • Twelve arson attacks or attempted arson attacks on military conscription centers were registered across Russia in the last 24 hours, media reports said on Aug. 1. The majority of the alleged attackers were women. (RFE/RL, 08.01.23)
  • The lawyer for the arrested ex-leader of Kremlin-backed separatists in Ukraine, Igor Girkin (aka Strelkov), says the materials of his client’s case have been classified as “top secret.” (RFE/RL, 08.03.23)
    • “Roughly speaking, our main enemies at the moment are the patriots, as the liberals used to be,” an official in the presidential administration told The Moscow Times. (MT/AFP, 08.02.23)
  • A court in Russia’s Kursk region has sentenced a 19-year-old man from Siberia to six years in prison on treason charges. Danil Berdyugin took part in anti-war rallies and signed several petitions in Novosibirsk. (RFE/RL, 08.04.23)
  • Takhir Arslanov, a 67-year-old retired Russian from Novosibirsk, was sentenced to three years in prison for posting anti-war comments on social media. (RFE/RL, 08.02.23)
  • The Supreme Court of Russia said on Aug. 2 that it had rejected an appeal filed by Ivan Safronov, a prominent former journalist, against his conviction in a high-profile treason case that highlighted the Kremlin’s crackdown on the media and free speech. (RFE/RL, 08.02.23)
  • The First Court of Appeals in Moscow has upheld the 25-year prison term handed to outspoken Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza on charges of high treason, involvement in activities of an undesirable group and discrediting Russia’s armed forces that he and his supporters call politically motivated. (RFE/RL, 07.31.23)
  • The share of Russians who feel they are responsible for what is happening in Russia decreased from 37% in December 2022 to 32% in July 2023, according to the Levada Center. The share of respondents who think they have little or no influence on what happens in Russia increased from 76% in December 2022 to 79% in July 2023. (RM, 08.04.23)
  • One in five Russians (21%) believe that Russia has the most just social system in the world, according to a Russian Public Opinion Research Center survey published on the center’s website on Aug. 2. When asked which country’s society they believed has the most just principles, 11% of respondents named China and 6% Belarus, while Sweden and Norway were mentioned by 5% of respondents each, and Germany and the United Arab Emirates were mentioned by 4% each. (Interfax, 08.02.23)

Defense and aerospace:

  • The 5.59 trillion rubles ($59 billion) spent on defense in January-June this year marks a 12% increase from the originally targeted 4.98 trillion rubles ($54 billion) on defense spending for all of 2023, according to the document cited by Reuters. (MT/AFP, 08.04.23)
  • Russia imported more than $502 million worth of foreign-made microchips in the first six months of 2023 despite U.S. and EU sanctions, the independent news website Vyorstka reported July 31, citing classified customs data. (MT/AFP, 07.31.23)
  • Putin has signed a law that expands the age range for compulsory military service to 18-30 starting in January 2024. (MT/AFP, 08.04.23)
  • More than 321,000 volunteers signed contracts with the Russian Defense Ministry to serve in the Russian armed forces during the period from Jan. 1 to Aug. 3, according to deputy chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev. (TASS, 08.03.23)
  • The regional centers of the Wagner PMC continue to recruit after leader Prigozhin publicly announced the cessation of the recruiting centers’ work, Important Stories reported. One of the ex-mercenaries told Important Stories that recruitment has resumed through the Orthodox sports club Paratrooper in Omsk and one of the PMC points in Novosibirsk. Prigozhin said that Wagner would continue to operate in Africa and Belarus. (WP, 08.01.23, RM, 08.02.23)
    • The Agentstvo (Agency) Telegram channel cited investigative journalists on Aug. 3 as reporting that catering companies linked to the leader of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, have signed state contracts worth at least 2 billion rubles ($21.4 million) since Prigozhin led a short-lived mutiny in late June. (RFE/RL, 08.03.23)
  • Russia announced Aug. 2 that it had begun naval exercises in the Baltic Sea, amid rising tensions with its European neighbors over the conflict in Ukraine. Russia regularly holds naval drills in the Baltic Sea, often in response to NATO exercises in the area. (MT/AFP, 08.02.23)
  • Putin on July 30 praised Russia’s Navy in an address at an annual warship parade in St. Petersburg, which he attended accompanied by several African leaders. (MT/AFP, 07.30.23)
  • Russia’s Proyekt has examined the businesses of 121 Russians that are on Forbes’ 2021 list of Russia’s richest, discovering that 58 of them have received government contracts to provide products and services used by Russia’s MoD troops and National Guard, Media Zone reported. (RM, 07.31.23)
  • Oleg Deripaska, Leonid Mikhelson, Gennady Timchenko and other Russian businessmen recruit volunteers for the war on salaries, according to Important Stories. In the meantime, their businesses, which are involved in this—Rusal, Novatek, PIK, Mospromstroy—successfully avoid sanctions, according to this outlet’s investigation. (RM, 08.01.23)
  • See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Igor Sofonov, a former fighter from the Wagner mercenary group who was recruited from prison last year, has been accused of stabbing six people to death after returning home to Russia’s Karelia region following a tour of duty in the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 08.03.23)
  • A Russian court has sentenced six associates of the late Maksim Martsinkevich, a notorious Russian ultranationalist who died while in detention in 2020, on charges of murder motivated by ethnic hatred to prison terms between eight and 15 years. (RFE/RL, 08.01.23)
  • A military court in Moscow has sentenced 12 associates of a notorious gangster from Russia’s North Ossetia region in the North Caucasus to prison terms between 12 years and life. The Prosecutor-General’s Office said on Aug. 2 that the members of Aslan Gagiyev’s gang were sentenced after the Second Western District Military Court found them guilty of involvement in a series of murders, attempted murders, abductions and other crimes. (RFE/RL, 08.02.23)

III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Russia shipped 4.54 million tons of wheat for export in July, based on preliminary data, 50% more than in the same month last year, the Russian Grain Union said. (Interfax, 08.01.23)
  • Heads of state from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will make a pronouncement on the enlargement of the group when they meet later this month, Anil Sooklal said at a briefing in Johannesburg on Aug. 2. Twenty-two nations have asked formally to become full-time members of the group, and more than 20 others have submitted informal requests. So far, representatives from 71 nations have been invited to attend the summit, Sooklal said. The meeting will take place in Johannesburg on Aug. 22-24. (Bloomberg, 08.02.23)
    • India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Shri Arindam Bagchi has called “baseless” speculations and untrue reports in some media that the country is against BRICS expansion. The decision on the potential enlargement of BRICS concerning specific countries should be made by consensus, Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira told TASS. (TASS, 08.02.23, TASS, 08.03.23)
  • The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell has accused Russia of seeking to increase its global influence by offering cheap grain to developing countries, and urged world leaders to speak with “a clear and unified voice” against Moscow’s unilateral termination of the Black Sea grain deal. (NYT, 08.03.23)
  • French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on July 31 blamed the junta in Niger and Russia for the attack on the French Embassy in Niger. (WSJ, 08.01.23)
  • Around 187,800 foreign citizens visited Russia as tourists in the first half of 2023, which is only one-tenth of the record-breaking figure seen before the Covid-19 pandemic in the first half of 2019, Maya Lomidze, executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, said. (Interfax, 08.03.23)


  • Zelensky is likely to head to New York in September for the United Nations General Assembly, where he is expected to make the case for his “peace formula” plan, according to people familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg, 07.31.23)
  • Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said on Aug. 1 it had summoned Polish Ambassador Bartosz Cichocki over recent statements by Marcin Przydacz, an official at Polish President Andrzej Duda’s office, about Ukrainians’ “lack of gratitude” for Warsaw’s assistance in Kyiv’s efforts to stop Russia’s ongoing invasion. (RFE/RL, 08.01.23)
  • Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk said on July 31 that lawmaker Andriy Kholodov of the ruling Servant of the People party had resigned. A day earlier, Skhemy (Schemes), an investigative project run by RFE/RL, revealed that Kholodov had been out of the country since January and is now with his family in Cyprus, where he owns a property. (RFE/RL, 07.31.23)
  • A court in Kyiv on Aug. 1 issued an arrest warrant on a charge of high treason for former pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker Vadym Rabinovych, who is currently outside of Ukraine, the State Bureau of Investigations (DBR) said on Aug. 2. (RFE/RL, 08.02.23)
  • Zelensky signed a law on July 28 moving the official Christmas Day holiday to December 25 from January 7, the day when the Russian Orthodox Church observes it. (RFE/RL, 07.29.23)
  • In the weeks since the Kakhovka dam explosion, Ukrainian archaeologists and scavenger hunters have discovered all sorts of things: pieces of stone axes at least 1,000 years old; Nazi-era helmets; an old bridge; Cossack cannon balls from the 17th century; and flint rock from the Russo-Turkish wars of the 18th century (a lot of war stuff, actually). (NYT, 08.04.23)
  • Zelensky on Aug. 3 expressed indignation at corruption uncovered during an audit of Ukraine’s military recruitment centers and pledged to fix the system by placing in charge people who understood the meaning of war. “The investigation is revealing numerous abuses,” Zelensky said. “And they are frankly revolting.” (Reuters, 08.03.23)
  • Ukraine’s anti-corruption watchdog said Aug. 3 that it detained an armed forces official accused of helping draft-age men flee the country in exchange for a cash payment. (Kyiv Post, 08.03.23)

Russia’s other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Poland will send more troops to protect its border with Belarus and has summoned the country’s envoy in Warsaw to protest what it described as the violation of its airspace by two Belarusian helicopters on Aug. 1. (Bloomberg, 08.01.23)
    • The Polish Defense Ministry says two Belarusian military helicopters that were conducting training exercises near the border violated Poland’s airspace on Aug. 1. The ministry said in a statement that the charge d’affaires of Belarus would be summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry to explain the circumstances of the incident. (RFE/RL, 08.01.23)
  • Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, “We have information that more than 100 of Wagner mercenaries have moved in the direction of Suwalki Gap, near Grodno” in western Belarus, Morawiecki told reporters in Gliwice on July 29. He described it as a step toward a “hybrid attack on the Polish territory.” (Bloomberg, 07.29.23)
  • “I am convinced that in cooperation with Lithuania and Latvia, we should work toward the complete isolation of Belarus in the future,” Deputy Interior Minister of Poland Maciej Wasik told public television Aug. 2. “Lukashenko reacts only to force.” (Bloomberg, 08.02.23)
  • Poland on Aug. 4 said it had detained a Belarusian man on suspicion of being part of a “Russian spy ring” which it claimed planned to derail trains carrying aid to Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 08.04.23)
  • Lithuania’s president reinforced a warning about the presence of Russian mercenaries in neighboring Belarus, saying the Wagner group could conduct “various provocations” across the border. (Bloomberg, 07.31.23)
  • Fortifications are being actively constructed near the tent camp of the private Wagner mercenary group in the village of Tsel in eastern Belarus, the site believed to be where troops from Prigozhin’s company have settled after its aborted mutiny in Russia in late June. (RFE/RL, 08.02.23)
  • The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has called for the reopening of the Lachin Corridor, the only route linking Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been blocked by Azerbaijan for more than seven months, warning that the humanitarian situation in the breakaway region is “very troubling.” Samantha Power’s call came as a convoy of 19 Armenian trucks carrying emergency food aid to Nagorno-Karabakh has been blocked for almost a week. (RFE/RL, 08.01.23)
  • EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has reaffirmed in a meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Miyrzoyan the bloc’s support for the reopening of the Lachin Corridor. (RFE/RL, 08.03.23)
  • Georgia’s government on July 31 issued a joint statement with China on the establishment of a “strategic partnership” between the two countries. According to the statement, issued as Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili was on an official visit to China, “Georgia decisively supports one China principle.” Gharibashvili met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Qiang during the visit. (RFE/RL, 07.31.23)
  • A driver slammed his car into the gates of the Russian Embassy in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, early on Aug. 2, before driving away from the site, police said. Police chased the man, who was driving a Mercedes-Benz, and managed to arrest him in Straseni, some 30 kilometers northwest of Chisinau, after he hit two other cars. (RFE/RL, 08.02.23)
  • Moldovan lawmakers on July 31 passed a bill that prevents the leaders of a Russia-backed party “Shor” that was banned by the Constitutional Court from running in elections for a period of five years. (RFE/RL, 07.31.23)
  • An official at the Russian General Consulate in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, said on Aug. 1 that Kazakh authorities have decided not to extradite Russian IT expert Nikita Kislitsin to the United States. In late June, Kazakh authorities said they arrested Kislitsin, who is the senior executive at the F.A.C.C.T. (formerly Group-IB) company, one of Russia’s top cybersecurity firms, at Washington’s request. (RFE/RL, 08.01.23)
  • Kazakh Trade and Integration Minister Serik Zhumangharin opened the Kazakh-Afghan Business Forum on Aug. 3, stressing what he called the “importance” of economic ties between the two countries even though Astana considers the Taliban militants running Kabul to be “terrorists.” (RFE/RL, 08.04.23)
  • Turkmenistan Airlines has suspended flights from Ashgabat to Moscow due to what it called “a situation in Moscow’s airspace,” an apparent reference to recent drone attacks in the capital. (RFE/RL, 08.01.23)
  • Authorities in Kyrgyzstan’s southern region of Batken say the border with Tajikistan, shut down more than two years ago following a deadly standoff, can “gradually reopen” after delimitation and demarcation work between the two Central Asian nations is fully accomplished. (RFE/RL, 08.04.23)
  • Two migrants from Tajikistan were killed in a mass brawl in the Russian city of Chekhov in the Moscow region on Aug. 1. (RFE/RL, 08.03.23)

IV. Quotable and notable

  • “Observers should not be surprised if this [Ukrainian] offensive peters out with, at best, a partial success,” wrote MIT professor Barry R. Posen. (FP, 08.03.23)
  • “We continue to see their counteroffensive move forward,” Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon’s spokesman, said Aug. 1. “This will be a marathon and not a sprint.” (WP, 08.04.23)
  • “Without Asia’s cooperation, you can’t cripple Russia’s economy,” Nicholas Mulder, a professor of history at Cornell University, said. (WSJ, 08.02.23)

The cutoff for reports summarized in this product was 2:00 pm Eastern Time on Aug. 4, 2023.

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