Russia in Review, March 29-April 5, 2024

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

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org) 6 Things to Know Russian forces have gained 23 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 0 square miles in the past month, according to the April 2, 2024, issue of the Belfer Center’s Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. Most recently, Russian forces have advanced into the outskirts of the town of Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia has long worried about terrorism. The Moscow attack showed it may not be prepared.” – Christian Science Monitor

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

“While many Russians are trying to link Friday’s deadly terrorist attack to Kyiv, the more likely suspect is an older enemy: radical Islamists. Russia has diverted attention from them amid its war with Ukraine.” “The horrific slaughter at Crocus City Hall, in which gunmen with automatic weapons and explosives killed over 130 people last Friday, has jolted Muscovites out of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Asia’s commercial heft helps keep Russia’s war economy going; That holds future lessons for America” – The Economist

File Photo of Beijing Temple, adapted from image at lbl.gov

“… [M]ore than three dozen countries … slapped economic sanctions on Russia … unprecedented in … scope for a target of its size, covering energy and other commodities, finance, technology, travel, shipping and more … to raise the cost … of continuing the war [in Ukraine]. … China … has done the most to undermine the West’s sanctions. Trade between […]

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Russia Analytical Report, Nov. 27-Dec. 4, 2023

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

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org) Miscalculations and divisions marked the efforts of Kyiv and its allies to plan the Ukrainian military’s summer offensive, according to the results of extensive research by Washington Post staff into the lead-up to the largely unsuccessful operation. “The year began with Western resolve at its peak, Ukrainian forces highly confident and … Zelensky predicting a decisive […]

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Russia Analytical Report, Nov. 20-27, 2023

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

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org) There is no “durable stalemate on the ground” in the Russian-Ukrainian war as there is “no clear-cut parity,” CEIP’s Michael Kofman said in a War on the Rocks podcast shortly after returning from Ukraine. Looking back, Kofman advised that “the sooner we can say” Ukraine’s counteroffensive has not been successful, “the sooner we can learn from it.” Looking […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “America’s Withdrawal From Afghanistan Did Not Spur Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine” – Foreign Affairs/ Peter Schroeder

File Photo of U.S. NATO Troops Atop Ridge in Afghanistan

“The Persistent Myth That Could Weaken U.S. Deterrence” “… After nearly 20 years of fighting in the country, Washington [in August 2021] bumbled its way through a [chaotic and] disorderly exit [from Afghanistan] … caught off guard by the rapid collapse of the Afghan security forces and seem[ingly] unprepared to evacuate American citizens or Afghan partners. … Biden’s handling of […]

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Russia in Review, Oct. 27-Nov. 3, 2023

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

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 … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “China’s Xi Doubles Down on Belt and Road as Path to New World Order” – WSJ

File Photo of Beijing Temple, adapted from image at lbl.gov

“Chinese and Russian leaders tout trillion-dollar initiative as a model for international cooperation at summit in Beijing, but Western leaders weren’t there to hear it.” “… [O]ne war raging in Ukraine … another unfolding in the Middle East …Xi Jinping is promoting his signature foreign-policy project as a force for unity, cooperation and prosperity around the globe. At a summit […]

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Russia in Review, Sept. 1-8, 2023

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

7 Things to Know G-20 leaders began arriving in New Delhi on Sept. 8 for their annual gathering as negotiators struggled to bridge differences over the war in Ukraine in the group’s joint statement. While it remains unclear whether a final consensus can be reached, China appears to have dropped its initial opposition to language on Ukraine and Russia, according […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Is Russia Losing Its Grip on Central Asia? What China’s Growing Regional Ambitions Mean for Moscow” – Foreign Affairs/ Temur Umarov, Alexander Gabuev

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“Last month … [in] a diplomatic milestone … Chinese President Xi Jinping[] … invited … leaders of five Central Asian states to … Xian for their first-ever joint summit with China. … [part of] China’s foray into a region … often referred to … as Russia’s backyard. … [P]raise … Xi and his guests from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Despite war, post-Soviet states find breaking up with Russia hard to do” – Christian Science Monitor/ Fred Weir

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

… [At this year’s Victory Day parade,] Putin was joined … by the leaders of seven other post-Soviet countries, including all five former Soviet Central Asian republics, plus Armenia and Belarus. After more than a year of severe stress, many of those countries have sought to distance themselves from embattled Moscow and find alternative avenues for trade, political connections, and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A Kazakh Gorbachev? Why some expect change from new leader” – Christian Science Monitor

Almaty file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

“Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kazakhstan is set to redefine its foreign relations. While Astana cannot sever its ties with Moscow, it now has an opportunity to engage more broadly with the world.” “… Russia’s … invasion of Ukraine has been disquieting for many countries of [Central Asia and environs], none more so than Kazakhstan, which resembles Ukraine in having […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Steps Up Enforcement of Its Long List of Russia Sanctions” – WSJ

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

“Biden administration pushes to close loopholes and lobbies countries like China and India to curb trade with Russia.” “The U.S. has imposed … powerful sanctions against Russia[] … to punish it for the invasion of Ukraine. Now, U.S. officials are pushing to ensure they are effective, closing loopholes, lobbying other nations for support, and cracking down on people abetting Russia’s […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “After Ukraine, Is Kazakhstan Next in the Kremlin’s Sights?” – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Almaty file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

“A social media post by … Medvedev warning that northern Kazakhstan could be next in line after Ukraine was quickly taken down, but … reflects the mindset of Russian hawks … entirely in keeping with Russian political dialogue, where few taboos remain.” “… [G]enerally regarded as Russia’s closest ally after Belarus … [Kazakhstan] has always participated in … Russia’s integration […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The U.S. Can Win Over Russia’s Neighbors” – WSJ

“Central Asia is also vital for America’s rivalry with China.” “… Putin’s war against Ukraine has provided the U.S. … a critical opportunity to diminish Russia’s influence over its neighbors …. The peoples of Central Asia and the Caucasus support Ukraine’s struggle. They remember the conquest by their former imperial masters, the czars and communists. … [including] forced Russification and […]

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In Kazakhstan Upheaval, Economic Grievances Collide With Tricky Transfer of Power

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Peter Leonard – Jan. 12, 2022 Peter Leonard is the Central Asia editor at Eurasianet.org. Kazakhstan has never in its brief post-independence history looked so vulnerable. Last week’s unrest—which has led to dozens of deaths and nearly 10,000 arrests—saw the country’s leadership come under assault from three directions: below, within and abroad. The first murmurs […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia-Led Troops to Begin Leaving Kazakhstan in 2 Days — President” – AFP

Almaty file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

“… Tokayev said Tuesday that a contingent of Russia-led [CSTO] forces would begin leaving … in two days … the pullout … tak[ing] no more than 10 days. … [M]ore than 2,000 troops [were] d[i]spatched at the peak of the crisis … after armed clashes between government opponents and security forces and a looting spree [left] parts of the largest […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Kazakh leader: Russia-led security group to pull out troops” – AP

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“The president of Kazakhstan announced Tuesday that [the] Russia-led security alliance [Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), including six former Soviet states,] will start pulling out its troops [from Kazakhstan] … in two days …. Protests over soaring fuel prices erupted in the oil and gas-rich Central Asian nation of 19 million on Jan. 2 and quickly spread across the country […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Putin Seizes on Crises to Assert Control Over Former Soviet Republics” – WSJ

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“In tightening grip over neighbors, president seeks to signal that his country is a superpower to be both feared and respected.” “… The [Russian-led CSTO] venture into Kazakhstan, at the request of the country’s leader, follows nearly 15 years of Russian interventionism in Georgia, Belarus, Ukraine and elsewhere aimed at pulling [them] even closer to Russia … propping up [Kremlin-aligned] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Kazakhstan Unrest and Russia’s Intervention Transform Ties With Moscow” – WSJ

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“As violence grows, the Russian military deployment injects a new element into the crisis in the former Soviet republic.” “… Nazarbayev steered the country along two tracks[,] [a]t home, … strengthen[ing] … Kazakh identity and weaken[ing] Russia’s historic influence[,] [while, in] foreign and defense policy … hew[ing] close to the Kremlin, assuring Russia … Kazakhstan would always remain a strategic […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Kazakhstan protests mark end of Nazarbayev era” – Financial Times

File Photo of Hillary Rodham Clinton with Nazarbayev

“Former president’s handpicked successor takes control of security forces and turns to Russia for help.” “… protests that have shaken Kazakhstan may mark the end of [81-year-old] Nursultan Nazarbayev’s long grip on power — but do not suggest the oil-rich central Asian country will make a smooth transition from autocratic rule. Nazarbayev had ruled the country for most of Kazakhstan’s […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine Is Only One Small Part of Putin’s Plans” – New York Times

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“… The immediate aim, to be sure, is to return Ukraine to Russia’s orbit. But …. Putin’s design is grand: to refashion the post-Cold War settlement, in the process guaranteeing … Russia’s personalized power system. … Today, Ukraine is the jewel to fight for. But it won’t end there: Belarus, whose embattled leader relies on Russia’s support, could be the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: In Kazakhstan, Putin Again Seizes on Unrest to Try to Expand Influence” – New York Times

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“But a series of revolts against a pro-Russian strongman could also plant the seeds of rebellion at home, analysts say.” “… The arrival in Kazakhstan of 2,500 troops from a Russian-led military alliance amid … violent protest was the fourth time in … two years … Moscow has flexed its muscle in neighboring states — Belarus, Armenia and Ukraine being […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Foreign Policy Experts Map Russia’s Plans for 2022” – Moscow Times

Satellite

The Moscow Times asked 10 commentators for their predictions for the coming year […]

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The Collapse of the Afghan Government Provides a Challenge for China and Russia, Not a Windfall

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

(PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo – Elizabeth Wishnick – Nov. 1, 2021) Elizabeth Wishnick is Professor of Political Science at Montclair State University. The collapse of the Afghan government and takeover by the Taliban is not a net win for China and Russia, nor will these developments automatically cement their partnership. Today, Chinese and Russian officials see the swift collapse of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Urges Major Foreign Aid for Taliban-Ruled Afghanistan” – Bloomberg

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“Russia called for major international aid to help the Taliban … [while] host[ing] the radical Islamic movement for the first time since the chaotic U.S. withdrawal[,] …. [at a] meeting in Moscow attended by the Taliban and 10 countries …. Russia, like China, kept its embassy open in Kabul as Western governments scrambled to evacuate … [but] hasn’t recognized the […]

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FSU Analysts Assess the Impact of Events in Afghanistan on Russia and U.S.-R.F. Relations

File Photo of Kabul, Afghanistan, Residential Area, adapted from image at defense.gov

The perspectives of Russia’s non-government Middle East experts on … the Taliban and its impact on Russia appear to be more varied than those of Russian diplomats and … other official counterparts. [This post] compiled a selection of such views, along … [those of some] Western FSU watchers […]

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RUSSIALINK: “As Chaos Engulfs Kabul, Russia Says It’s Ready to Work With the Taliban” – Moscow Times

Afghanistan houses aerial view, adapted from image at state.gov

Moscow has a history of pragmatism toward the Islamist militia and appears well placed for a transition in Afghanistan. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Felix Light, Pjotr Sauer – Aug. 16, 2021) In the day since a Taliban offensive swept away the U.S.-backed Afghan government, Russian officials are taking satisfaction from their principle global adversary’s humiliation as they prepare to […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: No one thinking of invading Afghanistan” – Interfax

Soviet Era Afghan Soldiers with Flag

(Interfax – July 21, 2021) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has given an interview to Interfax, in which he commented on leaks in Western media regarding a German-U.S. agreement on the Nord Stream 2 project. He also said that Russia does not plan to deploy its troops in Afghanistan and deliver pinpoint strikes on terrorists there. He also denied reports […]

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Western Programs Behind Increase in Border and Enclave Disputes in Central Asia, Prokhvatilov Says

Russian Soldiers Marching

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, May 2, 2021) No one disputes that there are enough reasons on the ground for conflicts among the countries of Central Asia over borders and enclaves, but according to Moscow military analyst Vladimir Prokhvatilov, the number and intensity of such conflicts has increased because of Western civil society programs (fondsk.ru/news/2021/05/01/mjagkaja-sila-i-prigranichnye-konflikty-v-centralnoj-azii-53486.html). According to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Kyrgyzstan Sets New Polls as New PM Reassures Russia” – AFP

Bishkek file image, adapted from image at state.gov

“Kyrgyzstan’s electoral authorities said … parliamentary polls … would be repeated [Dec. 20] …. [A]cting leader Sadyr Japarov moved to assure Russia of the two countries’ strategic partnership. … [The] previous [Kyrgyzstan] vote was annulled over political chaos that unseated a president and rattled Russia. … Allegations of vote-buying … raised by international monitors and losing parties sparked a protest […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “With unrest on all sides, Russia’s regional muscle is being tested” – Washington Post/ Isabelle Khurshudyan

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“… As Russia’s interests abroad have focused on building the country’s standing as a player on the global stage – including malicious operations such as trying to influence U.S. presidential elections – the Kremlin’s grip has weakened closer to home. Competition from Turkey, China and the West is increasingly challenging Moscow’s onetime dominance in the former Soviet space. … [and] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Loses His Footing in Russia’s Backyard” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“Washington has watched Russia expand its global influence, but along its borders, Moscow is losing its monopoly on power.” “… Putin has long tried to strengthen economic and defense relations across Eastern Europe and Central Asia …. Russia still has military bases in Central Asia and the South Caucasus … [T]here are strong commercial and cultural ties …. But … […]

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Thousands Back In Bishkek Streets Demanding ‘Clean’ Politicians For New Government

Bishkek file image, adapted from image at state.gov

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – BISHKEK, Oct. 7, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/kyrgyzstan-fresh-protest-bishkek-clean-politicians-new-government/30880061.html) Thousands have headed back onto the streets in Kyrgyzstan as rival opposition factions look to gain power after violent mass protests forced the annulment of weekend election results over alleged vote buying and prompted the prime minister […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Colin Powell suggests media had ‘hysterical’ reaction to Russian bounty reports” – New York Post/ Sam Dorman

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“… Colin Powell indicated … that media figures overreacted to a recent report that Russian officials placed bounties on … U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. ‘What I know is that our military commanders on the ground did not think that it was as serious a problem as the newspapers were reporting and television was reporting,’ Powell [said] … ‘It got kind […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why we need a little skepticism, and more evidence, on Russian bounties” – The Hill/ David B. Rivkin, Jr., George S. Beebe

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“… [1][H]ow credible are the sources? … not very. … militants and criminals captured and interrogated by Afghanistan’s government. … Captured militants frequently tell … interrogators things they hope … [bring] lenient treatment. Others relate … little more than hearsay. … [2][W]hat other information might support or disconfirm the allegations? …. [I]f the Times report of large financial transfers … […]

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