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
- The death toll has climbed to 20 people in a Russian strike on a mall in the city of Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, according to a Ukrainian presidential adviser. Leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies condemned Russia for the "abominable" attack, calling it a "war crime.” Russia’s defense ministry has admitted responsibility for the missile strike but denied reports of civilian casualties, saying it had hit a military target, according to FT. Reporters from Meduza and The Telegraph have pointed to holes in Moscow’s version of events.
- White House officials are losing confidence that Ukraine will ever be able to take back all of the land it has lost to Russia over the past four months of war, U.S. officials told CNN. Advisers to Biden have begun debating internally how and whether Zelensky should shift his definition of a Ukrainian "victory"—adjusting for the possibility that his country has shrunk irreversibly. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the U.S. and its allies would attempt to help Ukraine’s forces gain as much leverage in the war as possible before winter.
- Asked on June 29 whether “the goals of the special operation [had] changed,” Putin said: “Nothing has changed, of course… I have formulated the overall goal, which is to liberate Donbas, protect its people and create conditions that will guarantee the security of Russia itself. That is all. We are working calmly and steadily… We are not speaking about any deadlines.”
- G7 leaders failed to agree on new sanctions against Russia at their summit due to diverging opinions but plan to discuss new measures—ranging from a price cap on Russian oil purchases to a gold embargo, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- NATO has declared Russia the "most significant and direct threat” to its members’ peace and security in its new strategic concept adopted at a summit in Madrid this week. The concept also defines China as “a challenge” to the alliance’s security. NATO leaders also extended formal membership invitations to Finland and Sweden and announced a sevenfold increase in forces on high alert, while Biden also pledged to raise the number of U.S. destroyers in Spain from four to six, send two additional F-35 squadrons to Britain and establish a 5th Army headquarters in Poland. The announcements amount to an addition of about 1,500 new, permanent or semipermanent U.S. forces.
- "We don't have problems with Sweden and Finland like we do with Ukraine… They can join whatever they want," Putin said in reference to the outcome of the NATO summit. He warned, however, that he would respond in kind if the two countries allowed NATO troops and military infrastructure onto their territory. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Putin’s Russian Security Council, threatened that Russia will station ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons on its border if the two Nordic countries are allowed to join NATO.
- Russia will deliver missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Belarus in the coming months, Putin said on June 25 as he received Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. Six Russian Tu-22M3 strike bombers took off from Russia’s Kaluga region on the night of June 25, before entering Belarusian airspace to fire 12 cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian military intelligence agency.
- There is “no potential for regime change” in Russia, and there are no economic grounds for this, Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska said. “The opposition preferred beautiful European views … and retreated from the life of the country… Waiting for Mikhail Maratovich Fridman or [Pyotr] Aven or [Mikhail] Khodorkovsky to take up arms and break through to Bryansk in tanks—that is unlikely [to happen].”
This Week's Highlights
- On the eve of the NATO summit, scholars including Rose Gottemoeller of Stanford University, Michael E. O’Hanlon of Brookings, Lukas Mengelkamp of University of Marburg and Alexander Graef and Ulrich Kühn of University of Hamburg offer their recommendations on how to strengthen the alliance’s capability to deter Russia, while also paving the way for what Gottemoeller describes as “negotiated restraint on weapons of mass destruction” with Moscow.
- Continuing apace, the war in Ukraine will hit some 125,000 deaths if it lasts a year, well past the 80th percentile of wars since 1816 as measured by The Correlates of War Project, according to Paul Poast of the University of Chicago. “This war will be among the deadliest of the last 200 years even if NATO and Russia manage not to slide into direct conflict—a prospect that carries the risk, though small, of the use of nuclear weapons,” he writes in The Washington Post.
- Mark Katz of George Mason University draws parallels between Putin’s war in Ukraine and two other conflicts: the Crimean War of 1853-1856 and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979-1989. The similarities include large-scale external support for the country Russia was at war with and that, in both cases, “the decision to end the conflict was not made by the Russian leader who began it.”
- John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago asserts that “the United States is principally responsible for causing the Ukraine crisis.” Speaking publicly this month, he said: “The tragic truth is that if the West had not pursued NATO expansion into Ukraine, it is unlikely there would be a war in Ukraine today and Crimea would still be part of Ukraine.”
- The Quincy Institute’s Anatol Lieven explains how, in his view, Russia can be persuaded to withdraw from the territory it has occupied since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24.
- FT columnist Edward Luce notes how many of “the rest” have not joined the West in trying to isolate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and in helping Kyiv’s war effort. Only four of 55 African leaders attended Volodymyr Zelensky’s “recent virtual address to the African Union, which had finally agreed he could speak to them after 10 weeks of asking,” according to Luce.
- Robert McCauley of Boston University has studied the Central Bank of Russia’s response to Western sanctions and warns that managers pondering how defend their reserves from punitive measures could seek to avoid U.S. country risk more than the dollar. “Offshore dollars and synthetic dollars, out of the immediate reach of U.S. law, can substitute for onshore dollars,” he writes in the FT.
- Anton Troianovski of the New York Times has interviewed some of Russia’s business leaders and top intellectuals to conclude that there are no signs of a broad challenge to Putin by the elites. The interviews, he writes, “show … that the mood spans a spectrum from desperation to exhilaration, but with one common denominator: the sense that the country’s future is out of their hands.”
NB: The next Russia Analytical Report will appear on Tuesday, July 5, because of the U.S. Independence Day holiday.Read more