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6 Things to Know

  1. The DPRK-RF Treaty on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, signed by Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin on June 19, commits Moscow and Pyongyang to provide military aid to each other in case of an armed invasion “with all means in [their] possession.” Notably, the pact, as released by the DPRK, also commits Russia and North Korea to jointly combat “such challenges and threats as ... illegal circulation of money, legalization of income obtained in a criminal way ... [and] financing of WMD proliferation.” During his visit to Pyongyang, Putin also said he would consider supplying high-precision weapons to North Korea, while Kim reiterated North Korea’s “unconditional support” for Moscow, according to FT.
  2. In the past week, Russia and NATO have taken turns rattling their nuclear sabers. First NATO’s SG Jens Stoltenberg told Telegraph in an interview published June 16 that the alliance is in talks to deploy more nuclear weapons in the face of a growing threat from Russia and China. Three days later, deputy head of Russia’s MFA Sergei Ryabkov issued yet another warning that Russia is working on modifying its nuclear doctrine in response to the “collective West’s” behavior during the Russian-Ukrainian war. A day after that, Vladimir Putin himself weighed in, asserting that “we are still thinking about what can be changed in this [nuclear] doctrine and how” in response to developments that include the “adversary’s” work on developing low-yield nuclear warheads. 
  3. In the past month, Russian forces have gained 55 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 3 square miles, according to the June 18, 2024, issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. 
  4. The “Joint Communiqué on a Peace Framework” adopted at the June 15-16 Summit on Peace in Ukraine covered only three of the most uncontroversial points of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s initial 10-point peace formula: food security, nuclear security and the return of prisoners and children. The June 16 declaration also implied that Russia needs to participate in whatever follow-up may occur. Following the summit, Zelenskyy’s chief of staff said that Ukraine may invite Russia to the next meeting to work out a formula for future peace talks, according to Bloomberg.
  5. Europe’s gas imports from Russia have exceeded supplies from the U.S. for the first time in almost two years, FT reported. Last month, Russian-piped gas and LNG shipments accounted for 15% of total supply to the EU, U.K., Switzerland, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia, while the U.S.’s share of supplies of gas to these countries dropped to 14%, according to FT. While taking more gas from Russia, the EU is at the same time planning its first move to restrict Russian LNG operations, according to Bloomberg.
  6. Monitors of press freedoms in Ukraine are alarmed by what they say are increasing restrictions and pressures on the local media going well beyond the country’s wartime needs, NYT reported. “Despite the pressure, Ukrainian journalists have scored scoops, including reports on issues such as corruption, that have led to resignations and arrests,” according to NYT. In fact, nearly every month a new case of high-profile arrests and dismissals in Ukraine is reported, according to WP. Yet, even as Ukrainian officials insist they are battling corruption, the West says it is still not enough, WP writes.  
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5 Ideas to Explore

  1. As expected, the “Joint Communiqué on a Peace Framework” adopted at the June 15-16 Summit on Peace in Ukraine covered only three of the most uncontroversial points of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s initial 10-point peace formula: food security, nuclear security and the return of prisoners and children. The June 16 declaration  also implied that Russia needs to participate in whatever follow-up may occur. “We believe that reaching peace requires the involvement of and dialogue between all parties,” said the communique, which was signed by 78 participating countries and international organizations. According to Bloomberg’s analysis, Zelenskyy fell short in his bid to broaden international support at the summit as 11 of the attending countries didn’t sign the communiqué, while China didn’t attend the summit altogether. “The failure to win over nations from the Global South shows that Russia remains far from isolated and that Ukraine’s best hopes of fending off the Kremlin’s assault is with Western assistance,” this business news agency’s Andrea Palasciano and Bastian Benrath concluded.
  2. Of the commonalities between communiqués of the past week’s Ukraine peace summit and the G-7 meeting, one stands out: both documents describe the use of nuclear weapons by Russia against Ukraine as “inadmissible.” The Ukraine peace summit’s June 16 declaration, which was signed by most, but not all, of the attending countries, also asserts that the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant “must operate ... under full sovereign control of Ukraine,” while the G-7’s June 14 document condemns “in the strongest possible terms Russia’s irresponsible and threatening nuclear rhetoric as well as its posture of strategic intimidation, including its announced deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus.” The two documents were adopted shortly after Russian and Belarussian militaries announced the continuation of their joint exercise to simulate the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons and the Russian MFA issued a warning that Moscow could revise its nuclear doctrine last week. 
  3. Vladimir Putin’s statement on conditions for peace with Ukraine hardens Moscow’s position on this issue, in the view of Tatiana Stanovaya of R.Politik. “In essence, he is signaling that because a ceasefire seems unattainable under current political conditions in Ukraine, the conditions themselves must change from within—which implies removing Zelenskyy,” Stanovaya said of the statement, which Putin made on June 14. Speaking to Russian diplomats one day ahead of the summit on peace in Ukraine, the Russian leader stated he would agree to a peaceful resolution of the conflict with Ukraine if, among other things, the latter withdraws from four eastern regions partially occupied by his forces; gives up its bid to join NATO; undergoes denazification and demilitarization; ensures the rights of Russian-speakers; and remains denuclearized.
  4. new paper by Belfer Center researchers infers a number of lessons from major post-WWII wars for ending the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Among other things, the Belfer Center’s Kate Davidson, Raphael Piliero, Peter Gaber and Joshua Henderson advise wariness of unanticipated peace spoilers; find that resolve beats resources in a proxy conflict; and infer that complete territorial integrity is not a precondition for prosperity. They also call for seizing the first opening for peace that secures vital interests, assert that “patrons should not only empower belligerents to wage war, but to pursue peace,” and advise that “agreements must lock in the post-war status quo, making future aggression unacceptably costly.”
  5. “From a military—purely military standpoint, you're at a military stand--a stalemate,” former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said of the current state of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Russian forces in Ukraine “have run a small offensive operation ... [with] limited penetrations,” but they “don't have the military capability to overrun Ukraine,” in Milley’s June 13 assessment, and “it is not likely that the Ukrainian military can militarily eject” the Russians. That same day, Presidents Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed off on a 10-year bilateral security agreement between their two countries. In the interview, Milley also advised complementing military action with negotiations. “Obviously, conduct military operations; but also, there always should be some diplomatic effort,” he said.
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June 18 update:

June 18 update: Stalemate. The US and Ukraine signed a bilateral security agreement to “ensure Ukraine can defend itself today and deter future aggression as well” according to National Security Advisor Sullivan. Net territorial change in the past month: Russia +52 square miles. 

6.18.24 Ukraine Overall Map


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