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
- NATO defense ministers met for two days in Brussels as Russia suspended the work of the NATO liaison office in Moscow and recalled its own representatives to the alliance, the Financial Times reports. During the two-day ministerial, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. wanted "predictability and stability" in its relationship with Russia, according to Reuters, while NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia and China should not be seen as separate threats, Financial Times reports. He also said NATO’s forthcoming plans to deter Russia include “significant improvements to our air and missile defenses,” as well as fifth-generation jets, according to Defense News.
- Russia and the U.S. have put forward a joint resolution to the U.N. General Assembly on responsible state behavior in cyberspace. The resolution underscores that all states are interested in promoting the peaceful use of information and communication technology, as well as averting disputes that may arise from its use, Kommersant writes. The U.S. is for continuing dialogue with Russia and China on the risks of escalation in cyberspace, U.S. Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary of Cyber Policy Mieke Eoyang said, according to TASS.
- “I think [U.S. President Joe Biden] did the right thing by deciding to withdraw troops [from Afghanistan],” Russian President Vladimir Putin told an Oct. 21 session of the Valdai Discussion Club. Putin also said Afghanistan should receive economic support and hinted that Russia may recognize the Taliban, according to RFE/RL and The Moscow Times. TASS reports the recognition would be conditioned on its inclusivity and observance of human rights, Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said Oct. 21. Additionally, on Oct. 20, Russia hosted the Taliban for talks in Moscow.
- Russia can increase gas supplies to Europe by 10% as soon as Germany approves the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline, according to Putin, Financial Times reports. Only permission from Germany is required to launch Nord Stream 2, according to Russian Ambassador to Britain, Ukraine Business News reports.
- Gallup asks the world about the leadership of other global powers, including Germany, China and Russia. In 2020, median approval of Germany's leadership across 108 countries and territories stood at a record-high 52%. Russia, for the first time, edged out both the U.S. and China, with a median approval rating of 34%. China and the U.S. tied for last place, with median approval ratings of 30%.
- A Sept. 23-29 survey of Russians by the Levada Center revealed that 44% consider themselves people of democratic convictions (41% in 2018), while 47% do not consider themselves as such (38% in 2018). Some 32% of respondents consider themselves supporters of market reforms in the Russian economy, and 58% don't think so, according to the poll.
This Week’s Highlights
- “Absent another galvanizing terrorist attack of the scale of 9/11, a substantive revival of U.S and Russian intelligence cooperation is unlikely,” writes Paul Kolbe, director of the Intelligence Project at the Belfer Center. “The U.S. and Russia should of course exchange threat information, particularly related to terrorist WMD plans and ambitions. But history teaches us that such cooperation is unlikely to remain anything other than one-off exchanges.”
- “U.S. interests in the Middle East are best advanced by a sober, clear-eyed appraisal of the specific challenges posed by Russian activity—not breathless alarmism,” write the Carnegie Endowment’s Frederic Wehrey and Andrew S. Weiss. “In particular, Washington should recognize that in many instances, Moscow will fall short because of its limited capabilities and the ability of local actors to confound its plans.”
- “In the longer term, the current equilibrium in Sino-Russian relations is not stable,” writes Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “China dwarfs Russia economically and offers a viable alternative to Western technology and financial resources that are becoming less available or are increasingly considered unreliable and unsafe in Russia. ... In the next few decades, Russia’s status and role in world affairs will depend far less on its military and diplomats and much more on the success or failure of its domestic transformation.”
- “The current energy crisis [in China] shows just how paradoxical the transition to green energy in China will be,” write Vita Spivak, an analyst for Control Risks. “On the one hand, Beijing needs to guarantee the country’s energy security, and therefore buy more coal. On the other hand, it needs to reduce its dependency on coal-fired energy and move over to gas-powered electricity plants. Both of these imperatives create new opportunities for Russian exporters of energy commodities.”