This page features the weekly news and analysis digests compiled by Russia Matters. Explore them by clicking "Read More" below the current week's highlights and subscribe using the subscribe links throughout the site, like the one below, to receive our digests via email. Past digests are available in the News Archive, which is accessible via the link on this page.
This Week's Highlights:
- Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he may meet U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of a G20 summit next month in Japan and that Russia was fully ready for normalizing relations with Washington as soon as domestic U.S. political conditions permit, according to RFE/RL. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after his visit to Russia that the U.S. shares several interests with Moscow, including counterterrorism, North Korean denuclearization and Afghan reconciliation. “I know for certain we kept America safe as a result of information that Russia provided us and I know we saved Russian lives with information that we had,” he said on May 16, according to The Moscow Times.
- Former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn gave special counsel Robert Mueller information about several attempts by people associated with the Trump administration or with Congress to obstruct the Russia investigation, according to newly released court documents cited by RFE/RL. A judge has ordered that portions of Mueller's report relating to Flynn, which had previously been blacked out, be made public by the end of the month.
- Foreign ministers from the Council of Europe, the continent's chief human rights watchdog, reached an agreement on May 17 that opens the way for Russia to return to the organization, resolving a dispute that began after Moscow's seizure of Crimea, Reuters reports. The agreement follows efforts by France and Germany to find a compromise among the 47-nation group and means Russia will likely take part in a meeting of the council's parliamentary assembly in June, when key new appointments will be made.
- Russia’s economy grew 0.5 percent in the first quarter, well below estimates, as expansion stalled after last year’s surprisingly strong performance, Bloomberg reports. The preliminary estimate from the official statistics agency Rosstat came in under the lowest forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 14 economists.
- Prosecutors uncovered nearly $25 million worth of fraud at Russia’s state-run space and defense behemoths Roscosmos and Rostec last year, according to The Moscow Times. Overall, fraud totaled $1 billion in 2018, according to prosecutors. “There’s no end in sight. Billions are stolen,” Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, two high-profile corruption cases have advanced: Prosecutors have requested a 15 ½-year sentence for Russian police colonel Dmitry Zakharchenko, who was found to have the equivalent of $120 million in cash at home, and have charged a high-level FSB official, Col. Kirill Cherkalin, with accepting $850,000 in bribes, RFE/RL and The Moscow Times have reported.
This Week’s Highlights:
- In separate articles, professor Nikolas Gvosdev and reporter Emily Tamkin write that Russia stands to benefit from the United States’ increased tensions with Iran.
- President Trump’s new initiatives on arms control, involving both Russia and China, should be lauded, but he must avoid “going big too soon” and, instead, should take a more measured approach, beginning with extending New START and then “expanding and deepening nuclear reductions with Russia” before bringing in China, according to veteran arms control negotiators Richard Burt and Jon Wolfsthal.
- Is Russia really increasing the number of its non-strategic nuclear weapons, asks nonproliferation expert Hans Kristensen? Or is the Pentagon exaggerating with “a perfect threat-funding-loop sales pitch”?
- Recent history shows that governments can ignore robust opposition to NATO membership among their voters, but Ukraine’s new leader likely won’t be able to do the same—because of Russia. Daniel Shapiro writes for Russia Matters.
- The Washington Post editorial board describes a lawsuit brought by three groups seeking to force President Trump to follow laws governing official record-keeping, which would presumably include keeping detailed records of face-to-face meetings with his Russian counterpart.
- In order to avoid “needless conflict” perhaps it’s time for Washington to offer Moscow a “sensible agreement” on spheres of influence in their immediate neighborhoods—namely, the Western hemisphere and Eastern Europe, writes Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute.
- Rumors about the reasons for the high death toll after this month’s Sukhoi Superjet crash are fueling fury in Russia—in part, because people there have long stopped believing that officials will divulge the true causes of accidents, according to columnists Maria Zheleznova and Vladimir Ruvinsky.