Russia in Review, Oct. 27-Nov. 3, 2023
6 Things to Know
- Commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces Valery Zaluzhny has admitted that his forces’ offensive has reached a stalemate, while the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces and architect of last year’s successful counteroffensive Oleksandr Syrskyi has described the current conditions along the 600-mile frontline as “difficult” and “challenging.” “There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough … The war is now moving to a new stage: what we in the military call ‘positional’ warfare of static and attritional fighting, as in the first world war,” Zaluzhny said in his essay for the Economist and in his interview to this weekly. “This will benefit Russia, allowing it to rebuild its military power,” he warned. “In order for us to break this deadlock we need something new, like the gunpowder which the Chinese invented.” The Economist estimates that five months into its counteroffensive, Ukraine has managed to advance by just 10.6 miles, while the Oct. 31 issue of the Belfer Center’s war report card estimates that the Ukrainian forces have gained a net total of 16 square miles in the past month. A new Levada Center poll shows that some 62% of Russians think their country’s war in Ukraine is succeeding, while a recent Gallup poll showed that 60% of Ukrainians want their country to fight until a full victory is achieved. Another recent Gallup poll shows that 64% of Americans believe neither side is winning the war.
- U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have urged Congress to send aid to Israel and Ukraine immediately, but House Speaker Mike Johnson made it clear that the Ukraine aid would have to come after the Israel aid and that it would be paired with funding for U.S. border security. ”I can guarantee you that without our support, Putin will be successful,” Austin told a Senate hearing, according to NYT. According to Johnson, this support “will come in short order; it will come next” after the aid to Israel. “We want to pair border security with Ukraine, because I think we can get bipartisan agreement on both of those matters,” he added on Nov. 2. Some Republicans oppose sending more aid to Ukraine altogether, however. “The American taxpayers have become weary of funding a never-ending stalemate in Ukraine with no vision for victory,” eight U.S. House Republicans wrote in a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, NYT reported. The share of Americans who think America is doing too much to help Ukraine has increased from 29% in June to 41% in October, but is still less than the combined shares of those who believe either that the U.S. is sending the right amount (33%) or not sending enough (25%), according to Gallup.
- One of Zelensky’s close aides told Time that even if the U.S. and its allies come through with all the weapons they have pledged, “we don’t have the men to use them.” Ukrainian draft offices have been forced to call up ever-older personnel, raising the average age of a soldier in Ukraine to around 43, Time reported. Less than a month after the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24, 2022, the average age of Ukrainian soldiers was 30-35, according to FT. Thus, if the aging of the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s rank-and-file continues at the rate reported between the launch of the invasion and now, then the average age of Ukrainian soldiers one year from now would be 48-51.*
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remains staunchly opposed to peace talks and he is so convinced of Ukraine’s victory that one of his closest aides has described it as delusion, Time reported. “He deludes himself,” the aide told Time in frustration. “We’re out of options. We’re not winning. But try telling him that.” Three in five (60%) Ukrainians interviewed this past summer said they want Ukraine to keep fighting until it wins, twice as many as the number who want Ukraine to negotiate to end the war as soon as possible (31%), according to Gallup. Fifty-five percent of Russians believed in October that peace negotiations should begin, compared to 51% in September, according to Levada. Forty-three percent of Americans now favor the U.S. trying to help end the war quickly, even if that means Ukraine cedes territory to Russia compared to 36% in June, according to Gallup.
- Hundreds of demonstrators in Dagestan broke into Makhachkala’s Uytash airport and blocked the runway in search of a plane that had arrived from Israel on the evening of Oct. 29. The protesters were angry over the situation surrounding the current war between Israel and Hamas, according to RFE/RL. Some passengers of the plane reportedly had to hide at an Uytash terminal before being flown by helicopter to a military facility. Police eventually wrested control of the airfield from protesters, arresting at least 60 of them. More than 20 people were injured at Uytash and one policeman died of his injuries. In addition to rioting at Uytash, hundreds of demonstrators gathered at a hotel in the Dagestani city of Khasavyurt to look for suspected “Israeli refugees,” while unknown actors set fire to a Jewish cultural center under construction in Kabardino-Balkaria’s city of Nalchik. These actions followed the circulation of rumors that Russian authorities were planning to resettle “Israeli refugees” in the North Caucasus. Vladimir Putin claimed that Western security services had used social media to provoke the violence, while the U.S. State Department condemned the violence.
- North Korea has sent more than 1 million rounds of artillery to Russia that the Russian army appears to be using to bombard Ukraine, Bloomberg reported, citing a lawmaker briefed by South Korea’s spy agency. The Russian Embassy to the Republic of Korea dismissed the claim as unfounded. However, in a separate report, Frontelligence OSINT project estimated that Russia has received roughly 2,000 cargo containers, which collectively house an arsenal of over half a million artillery shells from North Korea in the period spanning from September to the end of October.
NB: Next week’s Russia in Review will appear on Thursday, Nov. 9, instead of Friday, Nov. 10, because of the U.S. Veteran’s Day holiday.
I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda
Impact of the Hamas-Israel War
- Hundreds of demonstrators in Dagestan broke into Makhachkala airport, blocked the runway, and attempted to board a plane arriving from Israel on the evening of Oct. 29 following the circulation of rumors that Russian authorities were planning to resettle “Israeli refugees” in the North Caucasus. It took police several hours to wrest control of the airfield from protesters and disperse them. More than 20 people were injured and one policeman died. In addition, hundreds of demonstrators gathered at a hotel in Khasavyurt, Dagestan on the evening of Oct. 28 to look for suspected “Israeli refugees” based on similar rumors. Unknown actors reportedly set fire to a Jewish cultural center under construction in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkarian Republic—also in the North Caucasus—on the night of Oct. 28 to 29. (ISW, 10.29.23, Interfax, 10.30.23, FT, 10.31.23)
- Russian police have arrested 60 people after the riots in the airport. Law enforcement authorities in Dagestan, a mostly Muslim area in the North Caucasus Mountains, said on Oct. 30 they had identified 150 of the rioters who broke into the airport in search of passengers arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv. Russian courts have sentenced 15 anti-Israeli rioters who stormed an airport in the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan to short terms in prison. (MT/AFP, 11.01.23, FT, 10.30.23)
- Israel’s ambassador to Moscow says some passengers had to hide in the terminal during the weekend riot before being flown by helicopter to safety. Ambassador Alexander Ben Zvi said more than 30 people on the flight that arrived from Tel Aviv were Israeli citizens, and none was hurt. On Oct. 30, some passengers flew to Moscow, some remained. (AP, 11.01.23, Istories, 10.30.23)
- Putin used an emergency meeting on the riots on the evening of Oct. 30 to point the finger at Kyiv and the governments that support it for inspiring the unrest. He claimed that Western security services used social media to provoke the violence. “Psychological and informational attacks” were intended to “destabilize” Russia, he said. “Events in Makhachkala are inspired, among other things, through social networks, from Ukraine’s territory, by Western intelligence services,” Putin said. (FT, 10.31.23, Bloomberg, 10.30.23)
- The United States has condemned the violent anti-Semitic event in Dagestan. (Current Time, 10.30.23)
- Russia’s Jewish community has called on the Russian government to prosecute the anti-Israel rioters. (MT/AFP, 10.31.23)
- Moscow’s Orthodox spiritual leader, Patriarch Kirill, on Oct. 30 condemned the riot as a bid to “sow discord” between Russia’s Jews and Muslims. (MT/AFP, 10.30.23)
- Leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has authorized police to shoot to kill any rioters or demonstrators in the wake of the riot. (RFE/RL, 10.31.23)
- The Telegram social media platform has blocked the Utro Dagestan channel, days after thew angry mob shouting anti-Semitic slogans stormed the airport outside Makhachkala. On Oct. 28 and 29, the Utro Dagestan channel, which had earlier been connected to Kyiv-based Russian opposition politician Ilya Ponomaryov, published numerous reports that “refugees from Israel” were being settled in the Muslim-majority Russian North Caucasus region and calls to seize the airport. Ponomarev said that he cut all ties with the channel over a year ago, according to Novaya Gazeta. (RFE/RL, 11.01.23, RM, 10.31.23)
- A New York Times analysis of Dagestan Telegram channels showed posts falsely claiming Israeli refugees were incoming had been shared long before the antisemitic riot on Oct. 29.The false narrative was spread across multiple, popular Dagestani Telegram channels in the two and a half weeks before the riot, illustrating the power and danger of disinformation in areas far from the Israel-Gaza war. (NYT, 11.02.23)
- In the first days after the Hamas attacks, false rumors began to spread on Russian social media that refugees from Israel were planning to settle in the North Caucasus, according to Alexandra Arkhipova, a sociologist who studies conspiracy theories. (FT, 10.31.23)
- Israel has no right to self-defense against Hamas militants in Gaza as an occupying power in Palestine, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations said on Nov. 1. Vasily Nebenzya used his speech at the special UN General Assembly session on Palestine to condemn Western “hypocrisy” over Palestinian civilian deaths amid their criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 11.02.23)
- Wagner Group, the Russian paramilitary organization, plans to provide an air-defense system to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, U.S. officials say, citing intelligence. The Russian SA-22 system they plan to send uses antiaircraft missiles and air-defense guns to intercept aircraft. (WSJ, 11.02.23)
- The Kremlin on Nov. 3 dismissed a Wall Street Journal report that U.S. intelligence believed Russia’s Wagner mercenary group plans to provide the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia Hizballah with the SA-22 n air-defense system. (Reuters, 11.03.23)
- Elon Musk warned during a forum on X about “civilizational risk” stemming from the Israel-Hamas war cascading into a wider conflict that would pit the U.S. against a united China, Russia and Iran. “I think we are sleepwalking our way into World War III,” Musk said on Oct. 30. (WSJ, 10.28.23)
Nuclear security and safety:
- Russia claimed on Nov. 2 it had intercepted nine Ukrainian drones near the Ukrainian city of Enerhodar, where the Moscow-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is located. “At around 12:30 Moscow time (09:30 GMT) today [Nov. 2], nine Ukrainian copter drones were detected and intercepted by on-duty air defense equipment near the city of Enerhodar in Zaporizhzhia region,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. (MT/AFP, 11.02.23)
North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:
- North Korea has sent more than 1 million rounds of artillery to Russia that President Vladimir Putin appears to be using in his bombardment of Ukraine, according to a lawmaker briefed by South Korea’s spy agency. There have been about 10 shipments of weapons from North Korea to Russia since August. North Korea also sent advisers to Russia on the use of the munitions, which would be enough for about two months’ of shelling. (Bloomberg, 11.01.23)
- The Frontelligence OSINT project reported on Oct. 31 that in their assessment for the period spanning from September to the end of October, Russia has received roughly 2,000 cargo containers, which collectively house an arsenal of over half a million artillery shells from North Korea. This estimate, which leans toward the conservative side, suggests that the actual number likely surpasses 500,000. These artillery shells encompass both 152mm and 122mm calibers, signifying a substantial enhancement of Russia’s military capabilities, particularly as the winter season approaches, according to Frontelligence. (Frontelligence, 10.31.23)
- Claims by a South Korean member of parliament that Russia is allegedly receiving arms deliveries from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are unfounded, as neither the intelligence data cited by the lawmaker nor any other corroborating evidence from the U.S. or South Korea have been provided, the Russian Embassy to the Republic of Korea told TASS. (TASS, 12.02.23)
- North Korea has likely supplied several types of missiles to Russia to support its war in Ukraine, along with its widely reported shipments of ammunition and shells, South Korea’s military said on Nov. 2. (AP, 11.02.23)
Iran and its nuclear program:
- No significant developments.
Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:
- On Oct. 31, 118 cities and villages were shelled by Russia, the largest number of settlements to come under attack this year, Ukrainian authorities said. The shelling was recorded in 10 Ukrainian regions, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on Nov. 1. The ministry reported that an oil refinery in Kremenchuk, a city in the central Poltava region, was targeted by the Russian military, requiring nearly 100 firefighters to extinguish the ensuing blaze. No casualties were reported. (RFE/RL, 11.01.23)
- Russia said on Nov. 1 it had sentenced three more Ukrainian soldiers who fought in the city of Mariupol to jail, as it continued to put soldiers held in captivity on trial. Around 2,500 people were taken into Russian captivity after the fall of Mariupol last May, some of whom were sent to Russia or occupied east Ukraine to face “trial.” (MT/AFP, 11.01.23)
- Ukrainian government prosecutors have opened 17,000 investigations into crimes committed in Kherson, where, during the occupation, civilians were held captive, interrogated, tortured and murdered in a system of ad hoc jails. (NYT, 11.01.23)
- Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure mean blackouts would likely be more severe this winter than last winter and Ukrainians will blame the government, according to senior Ukrainian officials in charge of the problem. (Time, 10.30.23)
- With the war between Israel and Hamas raging, a UN humanitarian official urged the Security Council on Oct. 31 to “not lose focus” on Ukraine, especially with winter approaching. (AFP, 10.31.23)
- Ireland is considering limits on how long Ukrainian refugees can stay in state-sponsored accommodation, as a housing crunch is putting Dublin’s solidarity with Kyiv to the test. The EU country has taken in nearly 100,000 refugees since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. (FT, 10.29.23)
Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:
- In the past month, Russian forces have gained 13 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine gained 29 square miles, according to the Oct. 31 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 10.31.23)
- Five months into its counter-offensive, Ukraine has managed to advance by just 17 kilometers. (Economist, 11.01.23)
- On Oct. 29, HIMARS missiles struck a battalion of mobilized military personnel from Chuvashia in the Zaporizhzhia, region with some Chuvashian chat rooms claiming 120 were killed and wounded. A military serviceman told Idel.Reallii that 47 were killed in the strikes. (Idel.Realii, 11.02.23)
- On Oct. 30, Ukrainian forces were reported to have made confirmed advances near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Geolocated footage posted on Oct. 30 shows that Ukrainian forces have advanced northeast of Kurdyumivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut).Additional geolocated footage from Oct. 29 indicates that Ukrainian forces have marginally advanced west of Robotyne in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast, according to ISW. (ISW, 10.31.23)
- On Oct. 30, Ukraine said it had struck part of Russia’s air defense system in annexed Crimea overnight, as Moscow said it repelled a major attempted missile strike on the peninsula on Oct. 30. Kyiv has increased attacks on the Black Sea peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014, since it launched a counteroffensive against Russian forces earlier this year. “The Armed Forces successfully hit a strategic object of the air defense system on the western coast of occupied Crimea,” the Ukrainian army’s strategic communications unit said on social media. (MT/AFP, 10.30.23)
- On Nov.1-2, Russia launched dozens of air strikes overnight in Ukraine amid signs it is regrouping near the eastern city of Avdiivka with the aim of renewing attacks on the embattled area. (RFE/RL, 11.02.23)
- U.S. and Ukrainian officials estimate that Russia has deployed at least three battalions with thousands of soldiers in the fight for Avdiivka, which started on Oct. 9 and comes at a crucial moment as both sides seek to seize the initiative before winter sets in and temperatures plunge below freezing. Particularly worrying is the fact that the Russians have managed to narrow the gap allowing Ukrainian troops to enter and leave the city to just seven kilometers. (FT, 10.30.23)
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Oct. 27 that Moscow had lost an entire brigade of fighters in Avdiivka area. Those assertions could not be independently verified. The Russian losses at Avdiivka are even more numerous than those suffered by the Russian army in battles last year and at Vuhledar in March this year, Ukrainian officials and analysts claimed. (NYT, 10.31.23, WP, 11.01.23)
- Ukrainian OSINT channel DeepState claimed on Nov. 2 that the Russian forces have planned to complete encirclement of Avdiivka on Nov. 4, but this plan has not been implemented. The channel acknowledged that the Russian side continued to “hold the initiative and is looking for weak points in the defense.” (RM, 11.02.23)
- Russian forces are likely preparing for another wave of highly attritional infantry-led ground assaults on Ukrainian positions in the Avdiivka area. Capturing Avdiivka could open up a 30-to-40-mile stretch of the front line and could create a gateway from occupied Donetsk to other cities, such as Kostiantynivka to the north, which are key to Putin’s goal of conquering the entire Donetsk region. (ISW, 11.01.12, WP, 11.01.23)
- On Nov. 3, Some 24 drones and a cruise missile were intercepted by Ukraine. Drones were targeted at the Kharkiv region in the northeast, sparking several fires, and at the Lviv region about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) to the west. Drones were also intercepted in the Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions, local authorities said. (Bloomberg, 11.03.23)
- As of Nov. 2, Ukrainian forces continued to hold ground in areas on the left bank of the Dnieper river in the Kherson region, “continuing attempts to expand the zone under their control,” according to Russian pro-war Telegram channel Rybar. Ukrainian marines managed to expand their zone of control in the Krynky village in the Kherson region, but then retreated, according to this channel. As of Nov. 3, “hourly” fighting continued in this village, according to pro-war Russian telegram channel Dva Mayora. (RM, 11.02.23)
- Russia has lost at least 150,000 dead, according to the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces Valery Zaluzhny. (The Economist, 12.01.23)
- Zelensky warned against expecting too much success too quickly in Ukraine’s counteroffensive as air alerts sounded in Kyiv and other regions late on Oct. 31. Speaking in his nightly address, Zelensky said the world is set up to expect success too quickly, noting that when the full-scale invasion began more than 20 months ago, few believed Ukraine would endure. “The colossal things done by our people, by our soldiers are now taken for granted … No matter what, we have to do our part, defend our state, [our] Ukrainian independence,” he said. (RFE/RL, 10.31.23)
- After the trip to U.S. in September, Zelensky has been feeling betrayed by his Western allies, feeling that they have left him without the means to win the war, only the means to survive it, according to one member of Zelensky’s team. (Time, 10.30.23)
- Commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces Valery Zaluzhny has admitted that his forces’ counteroffensive has reached a stalemate. “There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough … The war is now moving to a new stage: what we in the military call “positional” warfare of static and attritional fighting, as in the first world war, in contrast to the “maneuver” warfare of movement and speed. This will benefit Russia, allowing it to rebuild its military power, eventually threatening Ukraine’s armed forces and the state itself,” according to Zaluzhny. (The Economist, 10.01.23, The Economist, 11.01.23)
- “The simple fact is that we see everything the enemy is doing and they see everything we are doing. In order for us to break this deadlock we need something new, like the gunpowder which the Chinese invented and which we are still using to kill each other,” Zaluzhny says. “It is important to understand that this war cannot be won with the weapons of the past generation and outdated methods,” he insists. (The Economist, 12.01.23)
- The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said on Nov. 2 that the war was “not in a stalemate” and that Russian troops would continue to press forward on the battlefield. (NYT 10.01.23)
- A new Gallup public opinion poll, which was conducted in October, shows that 20% of Americans think Ukraine is winning the war, 14% think Russia is winning the wart and 64% believe neither side is winning the war. (Gallup, 11.02.23)
- General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces and architect of last year’s successful counteroffensive, described the current conditions along the 600-mile frontline as “difficult” and “challenging.” (FT, 10.30.23)
- Zaluzhny’s priorities for improving his forces’ capabilities to fight the war against Russia are air power, electronic warfare, counter-battery fire, mine-breaching technology and manpower. (The Economist, 10.01.23)
- Zaluzhny’s articles in the economist should also signal to the ministry of defense, which is responsible for procuring weaponry, that its focus on obtaining heavy arms including tanks and artillery is less significant than seeking new technologies and precision weaponry, according to Col. Roman Kostenko, the chairman of the defense and intelligence committee in Ukraine’s Parliament. Already, he said, Ukraine’s military destroys more Russian artillery pieces and armored vehicle with drones than with artillery. (NYT 10.01.23)
- One of Zelensky’s close aides said even if the U.S. and its allies come through with all the weapons they have pledged, “we don’t have the men to use them.” Draft offices have been forced to call up ever older personnel, raising the average age of a soldier in Ukraine to around 43 years. (Time, 10.30.23)
- The commander of the Russian Dnipro grouping of forces in southern Ukraine, Colonel General Oleg Makarevich, was removed from his post. He was replaced by Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky, Russian sources say. Teplinsky was serving as the commander of the Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) since June 2022. (OSINT Status-6’s X (Twitter) account, 10.29.23)
- The Biden administration plans to announce a $425 million military aid package for Ukraine on Nov. 3 including counter drone rockets and munitions, two U.S. officials said. The package is not expected to include additional ATACMS missiles. (Reuters, 11.03.23)
- U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have urged Congress to send aid to Israel and Ukraine immediately, arguing that broad support from U.S. lawmakers for the assistance would signal strength to adversaries worldwide. Austin and Blinken testified on Oct. 31 before the Senate Appropriations Committee as Congress considers President Joe Biden’s request for $105 billion in emergency aid to fund ambitious plans for Ukraine, Israel, and U.S. border security. Blinken and Austin warned members of the committee that the consequences of failing to help Ukraine in its war with Russia and Israel as it strikes back against Hamas would be dire. (RFE/RL, 10.31.23, WSJ, 10.30.23)
- “I can guarantee you that without our support, Putin will be successful,” Mr. Austin told a Senate hearing. “If we pull the rug out from under them now, Putin will only get stronger and he will be successful in doing what he wants to do in acquiring his neighbor’s sovereign territory.” (NYT, 11.02.23)
- In the days since his election, House Speaker Mike Johnson has signaled that he will not seek to block aid to Ukraine altogether, but he has also made it clear that he wants to consider it separately from any assistance for Israel, and put tight restrictions on it. ”We’re not going to abandon them,” Johnson added of the Ukrainians, ”but we have a responsibility, a stewardship responsibility over the precious treasure of the American people and we have to make sure that the White House is providing the people with some accountability for the dollars.” Johnson said Nov. 2 at a press conference that the House will consider Ukraine aid “in short order” after the Israel aid package is approved, while reiterating that he wants to pair funding for Kyiv with U.S. border security. (Politico, 11.03.23, The Hill, 11.02.23, NYT, 10.27.23)
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he is optimistic Johnson will back more U.S. aid to Ukraine, as the House moves this week to advance a funding bill that provides $14.3 billion to help Israel to fight Hamas but no money for Kyiv in the war against Russia.” (WSJ, 10.30.23)
- On Oct. 30, House Republicans introduced a $14.3 billion Israel aid bill that purports to pay for itself by rescinding $14.3 billion of the $80 billion that Congress gave to the Internal Revenue Service last year to improve the agency’s technology and enforcement. Cutting the IRS enforcement budget, in fact, would increase budget deficits by making it harder for the agency to catch tax cheats. (WSJ, 10.30.23)
The White House said on Oct. 30 that offsets sought by House Republicans for Israel and Ukraine spending would be “devastating” for U.S. national security. “Politicizing our national security interests is a nonstarter. Demanding offsets for meeting core national security needs of the United States—like supporting Israel and defending Ukraine from atrocities and Russian imperialism—would be a break with the normal, bipartisan process and could have devastating implications for our safety and alliances in the years ahead,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said. (Reuters, 10.31.23)
- Some Republicans oppose sending more aid to Ukraine—and have moved to separate the funding request from aid for Israel. “The American taxpayers have become weary of funding a never-ending stalemate in Ukraine with no vision for victory,” eight U.S. House Republicans wrote in a letter addressed to President Biden on Oct. 31. (NYT, 11.01.23)
- The Ukrainian military has attacked Russian ammunition storage and parked helicopters effectively with short-range ATACMS missiles from the U.S. but needs longer-range versions of the weapon. “They make a difference on the battlefield and the more we can get the better we can prepare the battlefield.” The version sent has a range of 160 kilometers (99 miles) to 165 kilometers, and although “It’s very good,” Ukraine needs “more of these and hopefully longer-range,” Ambassador Oksana Markarova said. (Bloomberg, 10.30.23)
- With winter approaching, Ukrainian officials are desperate for more air defenses to protect their power grids from Russian strikes that could plunge the country into freezing darkness. So desperate, in fact, that they are willing to experiment with a monster of a weapons system that was the brainchild of Ukraine and is now being pursued by the Pentagon. Americans officials call it the FrankenSAM program, combining advanced, Western-caliber, surface-to-air missiles with refitted Soviet-era launchers or radars that Ukrainian forces already have on hand. (NYT, 10.28.23)
- Ukraine has committed over $1 billion to drone manufacturing. (NYT, 11.01.23)
- Zelensky has dismissed Major General Viktor Khorenko as commander of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and appointed Colonel Serhii Lupanchuk in his place. (Ukrinform, 11.03.23)
- Visiting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba appealed in Berlin for further support for his country’s fight against Russian forces, with international attention currently focused on the situation in the Middle East. “Believe in us, support our fight. And our victory will also be your victory,” Kuleba said on Nov. 3 during a morning appearance on ZDF television. (dpa, 11.03.23)
- Russian pro-war Telegram channel Rybar claimed on Nov. 2 that five disassembled F-16s have been shipped from Poland to Ukraine, but provided no evidence to back that claim. (RM, 11.02.23)
- A poll, which Gallup conducted in October and released in November, shows that the share of Americans who think America is doing too much to help Ukraine has increased from 29% in June to 41% in October. The share of Americans who think America is not helping enough has gone from 26% to 25% in the same period of time. The poll also shows that a clear majority of Republicans—62 percent—say America is doing too much to help compared to 50% in June. Only 14% of Democrats think so. (WP, 11.02.23, Gallup, 11.02.23)
Punitive measures related to Russia’s war against Ukraine and their impact globally:
- The U.S. imposed sanctions on Nov. 2 on one of Russia’s largest publicly traded holding companies, Sistema PJSC, in a new package of restrictions also targeting firms in China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates that are said to provide dual-use items for President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. The sanctions were part of a broader package targeting 130 individuals and entities aimed at clamping down on Russia’s defense and technology sectors, as well as companies and people that help move goods through third countries and into Russia. On Nov. 4, the U.S. also imposed the measures on Novatek PJSC’s Arctic LNG 2 project, which includes Japan’s government as an investor and is set to start exports in the coming months. This is the first U.S. sanction to directly target an LNG export plant in Russia, and companies are still examining the potential impact. (Bloomberg, 11.02.23, Bloomberg, 11.03.23)
- One of the scourges of Ukraine’s counteroffensive is the Zala Lancet drone exploding drone with distinctive X-shaped wings that smashes into targets at more than 100 miles an hour. On Nov. 2, the U.S. sanctioned the Lancet’s maker, Zala Aero. (WSJ, 11.03.23)
- The Kremlin on Nov. 3 dismissed the new package of U.S. sanctions, saying Russia had learned to “overcome” such economic hurdles since the Ukraine conflict began. “Of course, sanctions create additional problems. But I will repeat once again, we have adapted to sanctions… We have learned how to overcome them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. (MT/AFP, 11.03.23)
- The U.S. has increased it sanctions against Russia, targeting companies and individuals in Turkey, China and the United Arab Emirates for supplying Moscow with goods that can be used for military purposes. The new measures include additional action against the Russian energy and mining sectors, and lists more than 200 names around the world facing financial and travel restrictions, the U.S. Treasury and the state department said on Nov. 2. (FT, 11.02.23)
- The European Union is weighing a new round of restrictions that would hit some €5 billion ($5.3 billion) in trade with Russia as part of a sanctions package targeting Moscow for its war against Ukraine. The bloc’s 12th package since Russia launched its invasion last year will tighten restrictions on Moscow’s revenue sources and industry and curtail the Kremlin’s ability to feed its war machine. Vast swathes of Russia’s economy have already been targeted, leaving EU policymakers to plug gaps, use targeted measures and tighten existing sanctions. The new set of proposed measures includes export restrictions on welding machines, chemicals and further technologies used for military purposes, according to people familiar with the matter. Software license bans and restrictions on imports of a small number of processed metals and aluminum products, construction items, transportation-related goods and diamonds are also being considered. (Bloomberg, 10.31.23)
- Russia has restricted Western companies that sell their Russian assets from withdrawing the proceeds in dollars and euros, imposing additional de facto currency controls in an effort to shore up the weakening ruble. Western companies exiting Russia must agree on a sale price in rubles or, if sellers insist on receiving foreign currency, face delays and even losses on the amounts that can be transferred abroad, according to people familiar with the matter. (FT, 10.31.23)
- Russian billionaire Alexei Kuzmichyov, one of the founders of the financial firm Alfa Group, has been charged with tax fraud in France, French authorities said on Nov. 1. Kuzmichyov, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was “placed under judicial supervision” and banned from leaving the country, according to the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF). He also faces charges of concealing work with an organized crime group and suspicion of money laundering. Kuzmichyov was obliged to pay a bond of 8 million euros ($8.5 million). (AFP, 11.02.23)
- Sanctioned Russian tycoon Vladimir Potanin is set to make a legal challenge in the U.K. Supreme Court next week over a $6 billion marital settlement sought by his ex-wife, cementing London’s reputation as the “divorce capital” of the world. Potanin is appealing against a court ruling that gave permission for his former wife Natalia Potanina to bring her claim in England, which could become one of the biggest settlement cases recorded in the country. (FT, 10.29.23)
- “We’re not going to enter into a transaction with the Russian government that somehow justifies them taking over our business,” Jacob Aarup-Andersen told journalists after his first trading update since becoming Carlsberg’s CEO. (FT, 10.31.23)
- Raiffeisen Bank’s Russian operations generated almost half its profits in the first nine months of the year, despite attempts by the Austrian lender to cut back its business in the country. Raiffeisen said on Nov. 3 that it had shrunk its lending in Russia by 30 per cent since January, in response to mounting criticism that the bank—the largest Western lender still operating under Vladimir Putin’s regime—has been dragging its feet. The decline follows a 30 per cent reduction in Raiffeisen’s lending in Russia in 2022. (FT, 11.03.23
- Three Russians have been arrested in New York for shipping electronic components to Russia in violation of U.S. sanctions, American officials said on Oct. 31. Nikolai Golstev, 37, and his wife, Kristina Puzyreva, 32—both Russian-Canadian citizens—were arrested along with their alleged partner Salimdzhon Nariddinov, 52, who has Russian-Tajik citizenship. The trio are accused of sending more than 300 shipments of restricted items valued at about $10 million to Russia, Ivan Arvelo, a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement. (AFP, 10.31.23)
- A Dutch court convicted a Russian businessman of exporting computer chips and other electronic products to the Russian arms and defense industry in violation of European Union sanctions and sentenced him to 18 months in jail. (AP, 11.01.23)
- Bulgaria has expelled Russian journalist Aleksandr Gatsak, a correspondent for the Russian-government’s Rossiiskaya Gazeta, for “security reasons.” (RFE/RL, 11.01.23)
- Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency has accused Nestle of being an “international sponsor of war” for continuing to sell goods and pay taxes in Russia. (Bloomberg, 11.02.23)
- Russian authorities will spend the earnings from the sale of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s apartment in annexed Crimea on Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine, a Russian-installed official said on Oct. 31. Crimea’s Kremlin-backed government auctioned off Zelensky’s confiscated apartment for 44.3 million rubles ($481,500) on Oct. 30, with its buyer identified as Moscow resident Olga Lipovetskaya. (MT/AFP, 10.31.23)
- Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, U.K. Limited Partnerships (LPs) have been named as trade intermediaries in thousands of records detailing imports into the belligerent state. Bellingcat’s analysis of publicly available import and export records has revealed that U.K. Limited Partnerships acted as intermediaries for over 17,000 imports into Russia between Feb. 24, 2022 and Mar. 31, 2023. (Bellingcat, 11.03.23)
- Zelensky does not support either temporary truce or peace talks. He is so convinced of Ukraine’s victory that one of his closest aides has described as delusion. “He deludes himself,” one of his closest aides said in frustration. “We’re out of options. We’re not winning. But try telling him that.” (Time, 10.30.23)
- Ukraine’s effort to recruit allies from the so-called Global South to push forward a blueprint for peace was overshadowed by widening concern over the Israel-Hamas war during a meeting in Malta. Talks on key principles needed to establish a just and lasting peace in Ukraine were interspersed with discussions about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as officials from more than 65 countries gathered over the weekend, according to people familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg, 10.30.23)
- At a security conference in Beijing, Gen. Zhang Youxia, a vice chairman of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, reiterated Beijing’s appeals for peaceful dialogue to resolve the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, and separately told visiting Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that China stands ready to work with Russia in ensuring global stability and responding to security threats. (WSJ, 10.31.23)
- In August 2022, a majority (66%) of Americans told Gallup that the U.S. should support Ukraine in reclaiming its former territory, even if this resulted in a prolonged conflict. That view has waned but not completely shifted, as 54% of Americans maintain that view. Forty-three percent now favor the U.S. trying to help end the war quickly, even if that means Ukraine cedes territory to Russia compared to 36% in June. Some 55% of Republicans, 49% of Independents and 19% of Democrats hold that view. Today, 61% of Americans say the financial aid Ukraine receives from Washington should have limits, with over eight in 10 Republicans sharing this view. (Gallup, 11.02.23)
- According to the Levada Center’s most recent public opinion survey regarding the so-called “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine from October, the opinion on the necessity to continue military actions or to start peace negotiations has remained virtually unchanged—55% believe that peace negotiations should begin (51% in September), while 38% are in favor of continuing military actions (39% in September). The Levada Center survey conducted in October also indicated that there has not been a significant change in the amount of support for the actions of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine. Support has remained high since the beginning of the conflict, and in October, 76% responded that they definitely support or rather support their actions (73% in September). A total of 16% do not support the actions of the Russian armed forces (20% in August). Furthermore, 62% indicated that they believe that the Special Military Operation is progressing successfully (12%—very successfully, 50%—rather successfully); in the past five months, these numbers have not changed significantly. Twenty-one percent hold the opposite view. (RM, 11.02.23)
Great Power rivalry/new Cold War/NATO-Russia relations:
- Giorgia Meloni became the latest prank victim of a pair of notorious Russian comedians, who tricked the Italian premier into a phone call during which she said that Ukraine’s allies are growing weary of the war. The duo known as Vovan and Lexus impersonated an African politician in order to set up the telephone call, which took place in mid-September. Meloni told them that she saw a “lot of fatigue” from “all the sides” over Russia’s war on its neighbor and Ukraine’s counteroffensive was “maybe not going as they were expecting,” according to an audio file published on the pranksters’ social media page and by Italian newspaper Il Foglio. “We’re near the moment in which everybody understands that we need a way out,” Meloni said. “The problem is to find a way out which can be acceptable for both without destroying the international law.” (Bloomberg, 11.01.23)
- Russia’s war of destruction in Ukraine has shown Lithuanians that they cannot retreat and then retake territory. The new strategy is therefore for beefed-up NATO and Lithuanian forces to defend land from the first centimeter. Above all, said Neringa Bladaitė of Vilnius University, the aim is to deter Putin from even contemplating invasion. (FT, 11.02.23)
China-Russia: Allied or aligned?
- Chinese and Russian military officials criticized the United States as an agent of global instability at the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, China’s annual international military summit.
- Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said: “The Western policy of steady escalation of the conflict with Russia carries the threat of a direct military clash between nuclear powers, which is fraught with catastrophic consequences.”
- Zhang Youxia, the vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, said “Some countries deliberately create turbulence and interfere in other countries’ internal affairs,” But in another part of his speech, which was broadcast, Zhang said: “We will deepen strategic cooperation and coordination with Russia, and are willing to, on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, develop military ties with the U.S.” Zhang and Shoigu also met on the sidelines of the forum. (WP, 10.30.23)
- Although Lloyd Austin was reportedly invited to this week’s forum in Beijing, the event was instead attended by Cynthia Xanthi Carras, China country director in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense. The Beijing forum brought together delegations from more than 100 countries, according to the Chinese state media. (WP, 10.30.23)
- No significant developments.
- President Vladimir Putin withdrew Russia’s ratification of a ban on nuclear-weapons tests after complaining last month that the U.S. had failed to finalize the treaty outlawing them. Russia was among 178 countries that had ratified the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, though it hasn’t entered into force globally because it must be signed and confirmed by 44 named states that either have nuclear weapons or possess atomic reactors. (Bloomberg, 11.02.23)
- “We are deeply concerned by Russia’s planned action to withdraw its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Unfortunately, it represents a significant step in the wrong direction, taking us further from, not closer to, entry into force,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. (Interfax, 11.02.23)
- The U.S. is set to hold rare nuclear arms control talks with China amid growing concerns over Beijing’s accelerated push to build up its arsenal of atomic weapons, according to an administration official. The talks will occur as President Joe Biden prepares to meet China’s leader, Xi Jinping, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco in less than two weeks. The sessions also highlight how the U.S. and China are gradually resuming a range of exchanges that had been cut short amid tensions over Taiwan, trade and other matters since Biden and Xi met at a Group of 20 summit in Bali a year ago. (Bloomberg, 11.02.23)
- No significant developments.
Conflict in Syria:
- No significant developments.
- President Biden signed a far-reaching executive order on artificial intelligence on Oct. 30, requiring that companies report to the federal government about the risks that their systems could aid countries or terrorists to make weapons of mass destruction. The order also seeks to lessen the dangers of “deep fakes” that could swing elections or swindle consumers. (NYT, 10.30.23)
- A Russian-speaking hacking group obtained access to the email addresses of about 632,000 U.S. federal employees at the departments of Defense and Justice as part of the sprawling MOVEit hack last summer, according to a report on the wide-ranging attack obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. (Bloomberg, 10.30.23)
- Boeing Co. confirmed it is dealing with a “cyber incident” that targeted elements of the parts and distribution business run by its global services division. A cyber gang with Russian ties, known as Lockbit, claimed in a post on the dark web last week that it would start releasing “sensitive data” if the aerospace and defense giant didn’t meet a ransom demand by Nov. 2. But on the evening of Nov. 1, there was no mention of Boeing on Lockbit’s leak website. (Bloomberg, 11.01.23)
Energy exports from CIS:
- Russian oil-product exports have dropped to a 17-month low after a temporary ban on diesel shipments and as seasonal maintenance crimped refining activity. Refined fuel shipments fell to 2.2 million barrels a day in first 28 days of October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from analytics firm Vortexa Ltd. That’s the lowest since May 2022. (Bloomberg, 10.31.23)
- The EU’s stores of natural gas are nearing full capacity, leading the bloc’s energy companies to park excess reserves in Ukraine ahead of the peak demand of the winter months. According to figures from Gas Infrastructure Europe, the EU’s gas chambers are now almost 99 per cent full, surpassing Brussels’ target of 90 per cent of storage capacity by November. (FT, 11.01.23)
- No significant developments.
U.S.-Russian economic ties:
- No significant developments.
U.S.-Russian relations in general:
- The Supreme Court of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan has denied the appeal filed by RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva against her pretrial detention on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent, which she rejects. (RFE/RL, 10.31.23)
II. Russia’s domestic policies
Domestic politics, economy and energy:
- The Kremlin has reduced the mandatory quarantine period to meet Putin—who may announce his reelection bid on Nov. 4—to five days as the 2024 presidential election, in which he is widely expected to run for a fifth term, draws nearer. At the same time, personal meetings with Putin now hold greater significance for members of the establishment than ever amid the war in Ukraine. Putin is the only world leader to subject everyone he interacts with in person to quarantine in an effort to protect himself from Covid-19. Since spring 2020, he has only met with people who have undergone a two-week isolation under the supervision of FSO (Federal Protection Service) personnel. (MT/AFP, 10.31.23, RM, 10.06.23)
- Putin has replaced the governor of northwestern Russia’s Vologda region in what observers see as the start of annual cadre changes ahead of key elections. Late Oct. 31, Putin signed an executive order “accepting the voluntary resignation” of Gov. Oleg Kuvshinnikov and appointing Georgy Filimonov as Vologda’s Acting Governor until the next regional elections, which are scheduled to take place in September 2024. The Russian leader met with the two officials at the Kremlin as Kuvshinnikov’s resignation was announced. (MT/AFP, 11.01.23)
- A Moscow court has sentenced in absentia the former publisher of the independent news website Mediazona, Pyotr Verzilov, to 8 1/2 years in prison on a charge of distributing fake news about Russian armed forces involved in the invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.03.23)
- Rights group Memorial says it has recognized three of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s lawyers—Vadim Kobzev, Igor Sergunin and Alexei Lipster—as political prisoners. (RFE/RL, 11.01.23)
- Imprisoned Russian politicians—including Kremlin critics Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza—along with other activists are holding a one-day hunger strike on Oct. 30 to honor political prisoners as residents of towns and cities in several Russian regions marked the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression. (RFE/RL, 10.30.23)
- A Moscow court on Nov. 3 sentenced Alexander Strukov, the former photographer of Navalny’s team, to eight years in prison on charges of public calls for terrorism, inciting hatred and violating citizens’ rights to practice religion. (Current Time, 11.03.23)
- Moscow’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal investigation into an editor at a news outlet that has regularly angered the authorities. The Investigative Committee, which handles serious crimes, said in a statement that it had opened a probe of journalist Anna Loiko on suspicion of “publicly justifying terrorism.” Loiko works with the online news outlet SOTA. (Reuters, 11.01.23)
- Russia’s Tver region has outlawed the act of “coercing women” into undergoing an abortion, becoming the second such region to do so amid growing concerns about a looming nationwide abortion ban. (MT/AFP, 11.03.23)
Defense and aerospace:
- The Kremlin has ordered regional officials to file weekly reports on the recruitment of marginalized people in Russia for its war in Ukraine, the investigative news website IStories reported Nov. 2, citing an official letter it obtained. (MT/AFP, 11.02.23)
- An explosion on Oct. 31 occurred at one of Russia’s largest ammunition manufacturing plants, emergency officials said. Authorities in central Russia’s Perm region, located some 1,000 kilometers east of Moscow, said a “bang” was heard at the Solikamsk Plant Ural early afternoon on Oct. 31. “Windows and doors were broken [but] there are no victims, there is no threat to the populace,” officials said in a statement. (MT/AFP, 10.31.23)
- See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.
Security, law-enforcement and justice:
- The Investigative Committee’s branch in Moscow has opened 22 criminal cases of evasion from the army against migrants who received Russian citizenship. More than 80 people born in Central Asian countries were sent to military service in the Russian Armed Forces, the committee said. (Istories, 10.28.23)
- Russia’s FSB said on Oct. 31 it apprehended a man suspected of coordinating an assassination attempt in Russian-occupied Crimea of former Ukrainian lawmaker Oleh Tsaryov, a pro-Moscow public figure who was reported to have been lined up by the Kremlin to lead a puppet administration in Kyiv after Russia’s invasion. (RFE/RL, 10.31.23)
- The first Uzbek citizen has been sent to prison for joining Russian troops fighting in Ukraine’s Donetsk region in 2014-15. (RFE/RL, 10.31.23)
- Russia’s Wagner mercenary group has resumed recruiting fighters in the Perm region and the Novosibirsk region According to online news outlets 59.ru and NGS.ru, the private military company has started to recruit fighters as part of Russia’s National Guard (Rosgvardia) in these regions. (MT/AFP, 11.01.23)
- The unit, which is manned by fighters that used to serve in Wagner and which is becoming part of the Russian National Guard, is headed by the son of Yevgeny Prigozhin, 25-year-old Pavel. (Istories, 11.01.23)
III. Russia’s relations with other countries
Russia’s general foreign policy and relations with “far abroad” countries:
- A final decision on Russia’s participation in the APEC summit in San Francisco on Nov. 11-17, 2023, has yet to be made, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk told reporters on the sidelines of the 16th Verona Eurasian Economic Forum. (Interfax, 11.03.23)
- Russia will have to answer at trial why it hasn’t paid out a record $60 billion arbitration award over the collapse of Yukos Oil Co., after a London judge denied the country immunity from a case brought by the former owners of the now defunct oil producer. (Bloomberg, 11.01.23)
- Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told French broadcaster RMC radio on Oct. 30 that Paris plans to deport 39 Russian citizens who, according to French officials, are followers of radical Islam. (RFE/RL, 10.30.23)
- “A question worth asking,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the chairman of the Polish nationalist governing party, told Gazeta Polska, a conservative magazine, is “to what extent is our public life autonomous from external forces?” Pointing a finger at Germany and Russia, he complained of “forces at work here all the time” to unfairly influence Polish voters. (NYT, 11.02.23)
- Zelensky is considering the “pros and cons” of holding presidential elections next spring, his foreign minister said on Nov. 3. “We are not closing this page. The president of Ukraine is considering and weighing the different pros and cons,” Dmytro Kuleba told a briefing, adding that holding elections during the war with Russia would entail “unprecedented” challenges. (Reuters, 11.03.23)
- Ukraine’s former President’s Office advisor, Oleksiy Arestovych, has announced his intention to run for president whenever the next elections will be held in Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine reported Nov. 1. (NV.ua, 11.01.23)
- Corruption remains a serious problem in Ukraine. A top presidential adviser confided in early October that “People are stealing like there’s no tomorrow.” (Time, 10.30.23)
- An investigation by Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBR) revealed a widespread scheme in which regional military enlistment offices received bribes in exchange for helping people evade mobilization, the SBR wrote on Nov. 1. The scheme involved nine military recruitment officers, as well as other accomplices, and was allegedly organized by the former head of the Kyiv Regional Military Commissariat. It was primarily located in Kyiv Oblast, but involved individuals operating elsewhere in Ukraine. (Kyiv Independent/Yahoo News, 11.01.23)
- While corruption in Ukraine remains a major problem, it does not directly impact the distribution and use of U.S. military assistance to the country, U.S. Ambassador Bridget Brink told Fox News on Nov. 1. (New Voice of Ukraine/Yahoo News, 11.02.23)
- The biggest problem for Ukraine and Ukrainians is the war, followed by corruption and low salaries and pensions, according to the results of a sociological research survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), conducted Sept. 30 to Oct. 13. (Ukrainska Pravda/Yahoo News, 11.01.23)
- Ukraine’s agricultural exporters have left around $3 billion of their revenues overseas since Russia invaded the country, adding to the pressure on the nation’s foreign exchange reserves, according to central bank estimates seen by Bloomberg News. That is 70% to 75% of what traders from various industries have kept outside Ukraine since the start of the war, a government official said, citing calculations from the National Bank of Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 11.01.23)
- Ukraine will introduce mandatory registration for food export companies that is aimed at preventing abuses such as tax avoidance in the export of key agrarian goods, the government said in a resolution published Nov. 1. (Reuters, 11.01.23)
- Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Nov. 2 that Kyiv was confident about its quest to open EU membership talks this year, touting reforms it made even in the face of the Russian invasion. (AFP, 11.02.23)
- The EU is looking into the possibility of using shipments of grain or fertilizer from Ukraine as part of a wider deal on migration and economic support for Egypt. (FT, 10.30.23)
- Last month, Canadian lawmakers used the occasion of a visit by Zelensky to honor Yaroslav Hunka, a Ukrainian Canadian man who volunteered for the Nazi Waffen-SS, a combat group that also oversaw concentration camps during the Holocaust. Now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is discussing whether the time has come to unseal a 37-year old classified report that lists 883 possible Nazi war criminals who found harbor in the country after World War II. (NYT, 10.29.23)
Russia’s other post-Soviet neighbors:
- TotalEnergies SE signed a deal to help develop a wind farm in Kazakhstan and Alstom SA reached one on potentially manufacturing electric trains, as French President Emmanuel Macron concluded a visit to the nation before heading to neighboring Uzbekistan on Nov. 2. (Bloomberg, 11.01.23)
- ArcelorMittal SA shares fell as much as 5.5% after the Kazakh government announced plans to take over the company’s operations in the country after its worst mining accident in recent history. At least 45 workers were killed in an underground coal mine fire at the Kostenko facility that began on Oct. 28, according to Kazakhstan’s emergency ministry. (Bloomberg, 10.30.23)
- Flyseeagro, a Russian firm which says it makes drones for crop spraying, said this week it had signed an agreement to build drones in Uzbekistan’s Navoi free economic zone. “These drones are designed for agriculture,” the CEO of the economic zone Khabib Abdullaev told AFP on Nov. 2. (MT/AFP, 11.02.23)
- Moldova has blocked access to the websites of major Russian news media on grounds that Russia is using them to try to influence upcoming local elections. (RFE/RL, 10.30.23)
- Moldovan President Maia Sandu has accused Russia of “buying” voters in the Nov. 5 local elections by funneling money to pro-Moscow political parties. (Reuters, 11.02.23)
- Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisian has touted a Nov. 3 visit by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to discuss possible peace efforts with neighboring Azerbaijan and to honor victims of Ottoman-era mass killings as “important [and] perhaps historic.” (RFE/RL, 11.03.23)
- The U.S.-based PEN writers’ association warned in a report published on Nov. 2 that the government in Georgia is clamping down on freedom of speech and cultural expression in ways that could have implications for Georgia’s bid to join the European Union. (RFE/RL, 11.02.23)
IV. Quotable and notable
- “These [the Ukraine and Israel-Hamas conflicts] could be global-system-shifting wars, something like World War I and World War II, which reflected and produced major changes in the international order,” Fiona Hill said. “In a sense, the Hamas attack on Israel was a kind of Pearl Harbor moment. It opened a second front.” “Putin feels everything is trending in his favor,” she warns. (LA Times, 10.29.23)
- “China doesn’t want to be stranded alone with no other major power as an ally,” Fiona Hill explained. “Xi needs Putin and Putin needs Xi.” (LA Times, 10.29.23)
The cutoff for reports summarized in this product was 2:00 pm East Coast time on the day it was distributed.
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