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

  • During the US-Russian summit on June 16 Russian President Vladimir Putin offered U.S. counterpart Joe Biden the use of Russian military bases in Central Asia for information gathering from Afghanistan. Putin proposed to coordinate on Afghanistan and put Russia's bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to "practical use.” There has not been no concrete response from the US side, Kommersant,and TOLO news reported.  
  • The presence of the Taliban in northern Afghanistan and its efforts to combat terrorist groups can be seen as a positive factor from the point of view of the security of Russia’s Central Asian partners, Russian presidential special envoy for Afghanistan Zamit Kabulov said, according to TASS. Moscow has no plans yet to remove the Taliban from its list of banned organizations, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on July 23, TASS reported.
  • Bonnie Jenkins, whom Biden nominated as undersecretary of State for arms control and international security affairs in March and who was confirmed in that capacity by the Senate on July 21, is to meet Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Sergei Ryabkov in Geneva on July 28 for the first round of Strategic Stability Dialogue since last year, The Hill reported.
  • Russian negotiators and representatives of the Biden administration have already held four rounds of consultations on cybersecurity issues,  Ryabkov told a Russian-American dialogue on nuclear issues. One of these rounds were held in Geneva last week, Kommersant reported.
  • Russia has “successfully disconnected” from the world wide web during tests of its “sovereign internet” technology, RBC reported. One source said it “aimed to determine whether RuNet could work in the event of external distortions, blockages and other threats.” The final results of the coronavirus-delayed “sovereign internet” tests are expected by Aug. 31, according to The Moscow Times
  • The United States and Germany say they have reached an agreement to allow the completion of Nord Stream 2. In a joint statement on July 21, the United States and Germany said they have agreed on a package of measures, including the possible implementation of sanctions against Russia, that will aim to soften any impact on Ukraine's budget and national security from the completion of the Kremlin-backed project, RFE/RL reported. 
  • The EU’s proposal for a carbon border levy to combat climate change has triggered a sharp response from trading partners led by Russia. Russia hit out at the proposal for so-called carbon border adjustment mechanism and calculated that it stood to lose $7.6bn from it, making Moscow potentially one of the biggest losers from the measures, according to the Financial Times
  • The Sukhoi Company is developing a two-seat version of the Checkmate single-engine light tactical fighter, company spokeswoman Anastasia Kravchenko said at the MAKS 2021 aerospace show. The stealth fighter jet, designed to compete with the U.S. F-35 and capable of striking six targets simultaneously, is expected to take to the skies in 2023 with a first batch due to be produced in 2026. U.S. intelligence have reportedly nicknamed the new Russian fighter jet a “Screamer, as reported by TASS and Defence Blog
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This Week’s Highlights

Given Vladimir Putin's greater ideological affinity for China than for the United States and his obsession with the possibility of liberal revolution, a frenemy alliance with the United States to counter the material danger posed by China is highly unlikely as long as Putin's regime continues, writes Mark L. Haas of Duquesne University.

Expert on the activities of the Russian secret services Andrei Soldatov offers his answer to the question on why Russia is not using Pegasus spyware. On the world market for espionage technology, Russia is a seller, not a buyer, he explains, noting that the FSB is extremely paranoid about foreign spyware. 

Revitalizing U.S. foreign policy will require more than a renewed commitment to diplomacy;  instead, policymakers should embrace the evidence-based policy movement, write Dan Spokojny and Thomas Scherer for War on the Rocks. Its methods would enhance American leaders’ ability to achieve national security objectives by reducing costly inefficiencies, reducing misperceptions, and transforming U.S. institutions into organizations that can continually learn, they argue.

When German chancellor Angela Merkel steps down after the 2021 Bundestag elections, she will leave a substantial void in EU-Russia relations, write Janis Kluge and Leslie Schübel for the National Interest. Despite the different profiles of the front-running candidates, Germany’s foreign policy will most likely face only a gradual update once the dust of the election campaigning has settled, they assert. The most probable outcome of the election is a coalition government that involves both Laschet and Baerbock, leading to bipartisan compromise instead of radical change, according to Kluge and Schübel.

The main message [in Putin’s recent article on Ukraine] can be interpreted as both a proposal and a warning, writes Fyodor Lukyanov, head of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. Putin’s proposal is that Moscow recognizes the reality and does not intend to restore what was lost or to dispute what happened, which it was always suspected of, while the warning is that the proposal is only valid if the reality is understood by all interested parties, which are not going to abuse it, he writes.

With Belarus, the past to be remembered and studied is right before our eyes, according to Michael Kimmage, professor of history at the Catholic University of America. Call it the Ukraine trap, he writes. He argues that worst-case scenarios have been avoided in Ukraine not because Russia has been coerced into backing down but because of the unspoken moderation of Western policy, he writes. In Belarus, the worst-case scenarios should be avoided too, he writes.

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