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:
- Russia’s Nuclear Safety Institute hosted a U.S. delegation from the National Nuclear Security Administration this week to discuss potential cooperation on enhancing nuclear and radiation safety worldwide, according to a press release from the Moscow-based organization.
- For many in the Kremlin, the choreographed resignation of Kazakhstan’s leader is a model for President Vladimir Putin to consider, but some in the ruling elite are pressing the Russian leader to remain in office as long as possible, Bloomberg cited three unnamed people close to the Kremlin as saying. There’s no agreed-upon scenario for a transition, the people said.
- The Russian state statistics service has stopped publishing its monthly reports on real incomes after years of declining numbers suggested a fall in Russians’ standard of living, the New York Times reports.
- Russia has wrapped up construction of its first rail bridge to China, connecting the two countries across the Amur River, Russian media reported this week, according to The Moscow Times. The bridge is expected to serve as a channel for transporting goods with an annual shipment volume of 21 million tons when it opens later in 2019.
- In the lead-up to Ukraine’s presidential election on March 31, Ukrainians have less faith in their government than any other electorate in the world, according to Gallup. Just 9 percent of residents have confidence in the national government, the lowest level in the world for the second straight year. This is far below the regional median of 48 percent for former Soviet states and the global average of 56 percent in 2018.
- Around 100 Afghan border police fled their posts in Baghdis province and tried to cross the border into Turkmenistan during a weeklong battle with the Taliban, Al Jazeera quoted Afghan officials as saying. The report said the soldiers weren't allowed to cross into Turkmenistan, but other accounts claim they did.
This Week's Highlights:
- Five years ago, Russia’s “little green men” began a not-so-covert military intervention in Ukraine, stoking a conflict that has killed 13,000. Considering whether Vladimir Putin’s gamble has paid off, Russia Matters founding director Simon Saradzhyan writes that the costs for Moscow have been manageable so far, but there is a chance they will eventually become prohibitive—not only due to the cumulative impact of expanding Western sanctions, but because of Russia’s lackluster economic growth model.
- New evidence shows not only that talk of NATO expansion to central Europe began among top policymakers early in 1990, but also how vocally and effectively the Czechs, Hungarians and above all Poles campaigned for accession (with an inadvertent assist from Mikhail Gorbachev), writes historian Mary Sarotte.
- Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili predicts that Russia’s next military intervention will take place in Finland or Sweden.
- The TurkStream pipeline—already a commercial and geopolitical coup for Russia—may strengthen Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hand in the Balkans, while placing a financial and political burden on local governments, writes Dimitar Bechev of UNC at Chapel Hill. Washington, meanwhile, is preparing to enact sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, driving a wedge deeper into the transatlantic alliance, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has come from behind to become a front-runner in Ukraine’s March 31 presidential election because he is essentially the only noteworthy politician appealing to patriotic voters, journalist Konstantin Skorkin writes for the Carnegie Moscow Center.
- In what several sources called a clearly political project, Russia’s Rosneft oil giant has poured around $9 billion into Venezuelan projects since 2010 but has yet to break even, a Reuters investigation has found.
- Putin is poised to sign four bills into law allowing him to clamp down on the last vestiges of press freedom. Under the blatantly unconstitutional laws, the Kremlin wouldn’t need to look for pretexts to close a website or jail a blogger: Any piece of news could be declared fake and dangerous to public safety without the need for even the fig leaf of a court ruling, writes Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky; any criticism of the government could be interpreted as disrespect.