In the Thick of It

A blog on the U.S.-Russia relationship
Russia war report card

June 13 update: Ukraine made small advances in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk. Zelensky declared that “counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place.” Net territorial change in the past month: Ukraine +96 square miles.

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Russia war report card

June 6 update: No major territorial changes. The Kakhovka Dam in southern Ukraine was blown up, flooding territory near Kherson. Net territorial change in the past month: Ukraine +47 square miles.

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Eritrean pres

Vladimir Putin’s hosting of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in Moscow and Sergei Lavrov's trip to Africa this week are the latest in a flurry of recent initiatives aimed at advancing Russian interests vis-à-vis the continent. In the short term, these diplomatic efforts aim to foil the ongoing campaign by Western powers to isolate Russia over its war against Ukraine. In the medium to long term, they may enable Russia to position itself to benefit from the continent’s rapid growth forecast.

Lavrov’s trip — his third to Africa this year alone,— has included stops in Kenya, Burundi, Mozambique and South Africa, where he is participating in a gathering of BRICS foreign ministers June 1-2. And Russia’s veteran foreign minister will likely be back on the continent at least once more this summer, provided that Putin attends the Aug. 22-24 BRICS summit in Johannesburg in person. (South African authorities have floated the possibility that they would grant the Russian leader immunity from an arrest warrant issued recently by the International Criminal Court — whose jurisdiction Johannesburg recognizes — though they may alternatively end up asking either China or Mozambique to host the summit in their stead.) Regardless of whether or where the BRICS summit takes place, both Putin and Lavrov can also be expected to meet their African counterparts again when they host the second Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg on July 26-29.

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Russia war report card graphic

May 30 update: Continued territorial stalemate. Several drones hit buildings in Moscow, following a large Russian drone attack on Kyiv. Net territorial change in the past month: Ukraine +51 square miles.

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Russia war report card graphic

May 23 update: Stalemate—no significant territorial change. Zelensky attended the G7 meeting, at which US agreed to allow F-16s to be sent to Ukraine. Net territorial change in the past month: Ukraine +68 square miles.

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Russia war report card graphic

May 16 update: Continued stalemate, with small Ukrainian advances in Donetsk and Kharkiv. The UK sent Ukraine missiles with a range of over 155 miles, able to hit almost all occupied territory. Net territorial change in the past month: Ukraine +64 square miles.

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Russia war report card graphic

May 9 update: Continued stalemate. Ukrainian and US officials denied involvement after two drones flew into the Kremlin. Net territorial change in the past month: Ukraine +48 square miles.

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Russia war report card

May 2 update: Ongoing stalemate, with small Ukrainian advances in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Zelensky talked to Xi for the first time since Russia’s invasion, discussing “efforts to restore peace” without territorial compromise. Net territorial change in the past month: Ukraine +46 square miles.

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CIA HQ

CIA director William Burns discusses four areas of long-term strategic importance for the CIA — and, by extension, for the United States: 1. The war in Ukraine, 2. U.S. strategic competition with China, 3. Climate change, energy security and other transnational threats, and 4. the intelligence community’s adaptability to the changing environment.

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Russia war report card graphic

April 25 update: War remains a territorial stalemate. Intense fighting continues in Bakhmut and along the Donetsk front line. Net territorial change in the past month: Ukraine +32 square miles.

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