Russia Analytical Report, Dec. 12-19, 2022
7 Ideas to Explore
- The time has come to build “a new structure toward achieving peace through negotiation,” according to Kissinger. “The goal of a peace process [for Ukraine] would be twofold: to confirm the freedom of Ukraine and to define a new international structure” in which “Russia should find a place,” Kissinger writes in The Spectator. Kissinger foresees Ukraine “linke[ed]” to NATO in that order but advises against a Russia “rendered impotent by the war.”
- The U.S. wants four things from peace in Ukraine, in the view of WSJ’s Mead. “The war should end quickly”; “the war should end in true peace”; “the war should end in a way that makes clear that Russia's aggression did not go unpunished”; and “the end of this war shouldn't set the stage for the next,” Mead writes in his WSJ column, “It’s Time to Prepare for Ukrainian Peace.” According to the CIA’s William Burns, however, “it's not our assessment that the Russians are serious at this point about a real negotiation.”
- Putin admitted an error in judgement regarding his war against Ukraine early on but vowed to persist with the aggression. During a meeting in March, Putin told Israeli PM Bennett that the Ukrainians were tougher “than I was told.” “This will probably be much more difficult than we thought. … [But] we are a big country and we have patience” Putin told Bennett, according to NYT’s deep dive into the war in Ukraine. The Russian autocrat has not given up his designs on Kyiv and “will have another go” at the Ukrainian capital in February-March, according to Ukraine’s top commander Zaluzhny.
- CIA’s Burns says Xi and Modi have helped dissuade Putin from continuing to rattle his nuclear saber over Ukraine. “It's ... been very useful that Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi in India have ... raised their concerns about use of nuclear weapons as well,” Burns told PBS. “I think that's ... having an impact on the Russians,” the CIA director said.
- The country that has turned out to be best prepared for the kind of war being fought in Ukraine is China. Or that’s what Vasily Kashin of Russia’s Higher School of Economics claims after having studied the need for which military systems the war has highlighted and then ascertained whether China had already made progress toward acquiring these systems.
- A divide has emerged in the Russian elite between “realists” who think Russia should hold the line but pause the fighting, and “radicals” who advocate a rapid escalation of hostilities, according to Tatiana Stanovaya. Both “realists” and “radicals” are pro-Putin but they are so belligerent toward each other that a “final battle” between them is inevitable and its outcome will determine the future of Russia, according to this prominent Russian expert.
- Russia has enough cash in its rainy-day fund to keep the war going for another year and a half, estimates prominent Russian economist Tatiana Mitrova. The Russian economy is hardly likely to collapse as a result of the decline in oil revenues induced by sanctions; however, “the decline certainly will impact … Russia’s development and long-term investment in new projects,” she warns in a commentary for CEIP.
Dear readers: Please be advised that Russia Analytical Report will resume publication on Monday, Jan. 9 due to Harvard’s winter recess. We wish you all happy holidays and the best in the New Year!
I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda
Nuclear security and safety:
“Why the world must protect nuclear reactors from military attacks. Now,” George M. Moore of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, BAS, 12.15.22.
- “As the odds of a nuclear accident in Ukraine are growing, the international community has a responsibility to act. And to act now.”
- “The international community should agree on consistent and clear statements endorsed by a majority of countries and should define under what conditions, if any, attacks against nuclear reactors and nuclear facilities may be allowed during a war. Further, countries would need to delineate the specific procedures, both politically and militarily, by which any such allowed attacks could be carried out. Any resulting legal regime should be unambiguous on what might constitute a justifiable legal basis for an attack on nuclear facilities. To continue delegating this decision to the sole judgment of military commanders at unspecified levels of command is not acceptable.”
- “Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that an international convention could be called now to develop a treaty on these issues. But this does not bar countries from organizing talks about how to protect nuclear facilities in wartime. One option could be for the United States to revisit the concept of the Nuclear Security Summits held between 2010 and 2016 during the Obama administration. ... The Biden administration could, on its own initiative, invite countries to a new Nuclear Security Summit, extended to also address the safety of nuclear reactors and nuclear facilities in wartime.”
North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:
- No significant developments.
Iran and its nuclear program:
- No significant developments.
Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:
“Europe’s long-term security will rest on the reconstruction of Ukraine,” FT contributing editor and global chief economist at Kroll Megan Greene, FT, 12.18.22.
- “Europe should spearhead a recovery program [for Ukraine]. … The EU shouldn’t, however, take the lead on collecting and disbursing funding. Most economists agree Ukraine needs debt restructuring and grants instead of loans if it is to emerge with sustainable debt.”
- “The EU should play a leadership role in a new independent agency set up to match funding with projects in Ukraine and monitor those projects’ implementation. It would be similar to the Economic Cooperation Administration that was established to administer the Marshall Plan.”
- “There is never a guarantee of success with reconstruction programs, as evidenced by Afghanistan and Iraq. The cost of failure in this instance, however, could be enormous for Ukraine, Europe and the world.”
- “A failed state in Europe, bordering Russia, would be a security nightmare. It would ensure a refugee crisis as millions of displaced Ukrainians would have no reason to return home. And it would reinforce skepticism about the West’s values and intentions among countries that have refused to take sides in the war. The fighting continues, but the time to plan for peace is now.”
Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:
“Volodymyr Zelensky and his generals explain why the war hangs in the balance,” The Economist, 12.15.22.
- “Zelensky, Zaluzhny and Syrsky emphasised that the outcome of the war hinges on the next few months. They are convinced that Russia is readying another big offensive, to begin as soon as January. … Whether Ukraine launches a pre-emptive strike of its own or waits to counter-attack, how it garners and distributes its forces, how much ammunition and equipment it amasses in the coming weeks and months—these looming decisions will determine their country’s future.
- “More big attacks [of Russian missiles] could completely disable the grid. ‘That is when soldiers’ wives and children start freezing,’ [Zaluzhny] says.”
- “A second challenge is the fighting currently under way in Donbas … The point of [Russia’s] relentless onslaught on Bakhmut, the generals believe, is to pin down … Ukrainian units so that they cannot be used to bolster offensives in Luhansk … according to Syrsky. Ukraine also faces a renewed threat from Belarus.”
- “The third challenge is the most serious: ‘Russian mobilization has worked,’ says Gen. Zaluzhny. … [T]he main reason Russia has dragooned so many young men, the generals [Zaluzhny and Syrsky] believe, is to go back on the offensive for the first time since its bid to overrun Donbas fizzled out in the summer.”
- “A major Russian attack … could come anywhere, [Zaluzhny] warns: in Donbas in the south, toward the city of Dnipro; even toward Kyiv itself. … Zaluzhny reckons: ‘I have no doubt they will have another go at Kyiv.’”
- “That means that the war has become a race to re-arm. … Ukraine has enough men … But materiel is in short supply. … Zaluzhny, who is raising a new army corps, reels off a wishlist. … The incremental arsenal he is seeking is bigger than the total armored forces of most European armies.”
- “A European official familiar with Ukrainian planning says that the ideal operation would be one that persuaded Mr. Putin that the war was unwinnable, and that prolonging it would risk even his pre-war holdings … Like all coercive strategies, such an attack would rely on restraint as much as aggression, by threatening Crimea, but also possibly forgoing it. … But 95% of his [Zelensky’s] citizens want to liberate the entirety of Ukraine … Hatred of Russia runs deep. ‘It is a tragedy for families who lost children … That’s why people hate. They don’t want compromises.’
“Putin’s War,” Michael Schwirtz, Anton Troianovski, Yousur Al-Hlou, Masha Froliak, Adam Entous and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, NYT, 12.16.22 and “Eight Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation Into Putin’s War,” Anton Troianovski, NYT, 12.17.22.
- “Many of the people closest to Mr. Putin fed his suspicions, magnifying his grievances against the West. … Before the war, when [CIA’s William] Burns warned Russia not to invade Ukraine, secretary of the Security Council Patrushev said Russia’s military was strong enough to stand up even to the Americans.”
- “Russian invasion plans, obtained by The New York Times, show that the military expected to sprint hundreds of miles across Ukraine and triumph within days. Officers were told to pack their dress uniforms and medals in anticipation of military parades in … Kyiv.”
- “During a meeting in March with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel, Mr. Putin admitted that the Ukrainians were tougher ‘than I was told,’ according to two people familiar with the exchange. ‘This will probably be much more difficult than we thought. But the war is on their territory, not ours. We are a big country and we have patience.’ … Several people who have known Putin for decades rejected any notion that he had grown irrational.”
- “People who know Mr. Putin say he is ready to sacrifice untold lives and treasure for as long as it takes, and in a rare face-to-face meeting with the Americans last month the Russians wanted to deliver a stark message to President Biden: No matter how many Russian soldiers are killed or wounded on the battlefield, Russia will not give up.”
- “American officials found out that Gen. Valery Gerasimov was planning a trip to the front lines, but withheld the information from the Ukrainians, worried that an attempt on his life could lead to a war between the United States and Russia. The Ukrainians learned of the trip anyway. After an internal debate, Washington took the extraordinary step of asking Ukraine to call off an attack—only to be told that the Ukrainians had already launched it. Dozens of Russian soldiers were said to have been killed. … Gerasimov wasn’t one of them.”
- “Mr. Putin’s fractured armies have sometimes turned on each other; one soldier said a tank commander deliberately fired on a Russian checkpoint.”
- “A Russian hacking unit, known as Sandworm, went after the Ukrainian military’s satellite communications, used by soldiers in the field. It worked, and by 6:15 a.m. on Feb. 24, the system went down … But the Ukrainian government had … a separate satellite communications system.”
“Russia’s New Theory of Victory. How Moscow Is Trying to Learn From Its Mistakes,” retired Australian Army Maj. Gen. Mick Ryan, FA, 12.14.22.
- “[M]uch of what Russia has in store for 2023 will sound familiar. … Moscow … will continue to use propaganda about NATO aggression to try to keep China, India and other currently neutral states from participating in Western sanctions. It will also use misinformation and disinformation to ensure that Russia’s own population continues to support the conflict. … Similarly, Putin will sustain his energy warfare.”
- “Yet other elements of Russia’s strategy will be new—and Surovikin is playing a critical role in the changes. The general appears to be the first military leader that Putin clearly supports, and—according to a recent speech by U.S. National Intelligence Director Avril Haines—the Russian president is now better informed about the armed forces’ day-to-day operations.”
- “Surovikin could use this relative freedom of action to bring Russia’s fractured military and mercenary groups under a more unified control. … He is certain to use it to better integrate Russia’s air and land operations and to ensure that there’s a better alignment between his country’s battlefield activities and information operations. … During the winter … Surovikin will be on the defensive … But he will begin to prepare Russia’s troops for new operations.”
- “Right now, the Ukrainian military still has the advantage. … Ukrainian leaders are the ones who decide where and when battles are fought. … They have the momentum, and they do not want to relinquish it. But that does not mean Ukraine will have the initiative indefinitely. … [T]he Ukrainians need to understand and then undermine Putin and Surovikin’s plans.”
- “First, that means Kyiv must continue to counter Russia’s information warfare. ... [They] need to keep the war on the front page of Western newspapers and at the forefront of the West’s thinking. And the best way to accomplish that is … winning.”
- “Ukraine’s military strategy will need to evolve. It will have to anticipate and defeat Surovikin’s battlefield actions. To do so, the country is likely to intensify its surveillance of Russia’s front lines, logistics hubs, and command hubs, which can help identify weaknesses it can exploit. ... And Ukraine will need to continue to finding ways to degrade Russian capacities.”
“Russia Is Running Out of Missiles ... or Not,” founding director Simon Saradzhyan, RM, 12.15.22.
- “[S]tarting as early as the spring, multiple Western officials and experts have announced that Russia was running out of precision munitions, and yet Russia has continued to use scores of attack missiles, such as Kalibr missiles, well into winter.”
- “[M]ost … did not specify the kinds of munitions Russia was close to depleting … Nor have most of these announcers specified when the exhaustion of Russia’s arsenals could occur. That didn’t stop leading American and European media outlets from repeatedly quoting such announcements, with most of the media reports I have come across showing no effort to either verify the forecaster’s claims or put them into context.”
- “There is no doubt that if not replenished due to, for instance, the success of Western sanctions in denying Russia access to key components, Russia’s precision missile stocks will be depleted. If reports of Russia using S-300 air defense systems to strike surface targets and launching Kh-55 missiles—originally designed to carry nuclear warheads—to make Ukraine expend more of its own air defense missiles are true, these could be signs that the Russian military’s attack missile stockpiles are lower than they would like.”
- “Whether and when, however, these stockpiles run out might be difficult even for Russia’s military planners to know, given the multiplicity of factors shaping potential outcomes, such as the effectiveness of Western export controls and the number of air defense missiles Ukraine possesses. As we watch these various factors to play out, it is perhaps worth for journalists to consider specifying which of the claims they report were verified, as well as whether earlier claims of that nature had proved correct.”
Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:
“America’s New Sanctions Strategy. How Washington Can Stop the Russian War Machine and Strengthen the International Economic Order,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo, FA, 12.16.22.
- “Sanctions alone are unlikely to stop Putin’s invasion entirely. But they can make it far harder for Putin to continue his war and have dramatically lowered his chances of battlefield success.”
- “One way to think about this strategy is as a set of targeted, surgical strikes on Russia’s ability to wage war. ... We decided to target three elements of Russia’s economy: its financial system, elites and military-industrial complex. To target the financial system, we sanctioned Russia’s key financial institutions.”
- “To make this targeted strategy work, the Department of the Treasury had to work closely with a global coalition of allies and partners.”
- “Washington and its allies and partners have been innovative in the execution of this strategy.”
- “To deny Russia the financial resources to fund its invasion, for example, the coalition immobilized Russia’s sovereign wealth fund and central bank reserves.”
- “The coalition is also pursuing a novel approach to limit Putin’s revenue from Russia’s oil exports without taking that oil off the market: the price cap policy implemented by the European Union, G-7 and Australia earlier this month.”
- “Disrupting the critical supply chains that feed Russia’s military-industrial complex has also constituted a sea change for sanctions policy.”
- “Together, these approaches constitute a bespoke strategy to deny Russia access to the revenue it needs to pay for its war, cut Russia off from resources to prop up its failing economy, and degrade its military capabilities.”
“How to avoid another world war,” Henry Kissinger, Spectator, 12.17.22.
- “I have repeatedly expressed my support for the allied military effort to thwart Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. But the time is approaching to build on the strategic changes which have already been accomplished and to integrate them into a new structure toward achieving peace through negotiation.”
- “A peace process should link Ukraine to NATO, however expressed. The alternative of neutrality is no longer meaningful, especially after Finland and Sweden joined NATO. ... If the pre-war dividing line between Ukraine and Russia cannot be achieved by combat or by negotiation, recourse to the principle of self-determination could be explored. Internationally supervised referendums concerning self-determination could be applied to particularly divisive territories which have changed hands repeatedly over the centuries.”
- “The goal of a peace process would be twofold: to confirm the freedom of Ukraine and to define a new international structure, especially for Central and Eastern Europe. Eventually Russia should find a place in such an order.”
- “The preferred outcome for some is a Russia rendered impotent by the war. I disagree. For all its propensity to violence, Russia has made decisive contributions to the global equilibrium and to the balance of power for over half a millennium. Its historical role should not be degraded.”
- “As the world’s leaders strive to end the war in which two nuclear powers contest a conventionally armed country, they should also reflect on the impact on this conflict and on long-term strategy of incipient high–technology and artificial intelligence. Autonomous weapons already exist, capable of defining, assessing and targeting their own perceived threats and thus in a position to start their own war.”
- “The quest for peace and order has two components that are sometimes treated as contradictory: the pursuit of elements of security and the requirement for acts of reconciliation. If we cannot achieve both, we will not be able to reach either. The road of diplomacy may appear complicated and frustrating. But progress to it requires both the vision and the courage to undertake the journey.”
“It's Time to Prepare for Ukrainian Peace,” columnist Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 12.13.22.
- “Even as we continue to help Ukraine, Americans must begin thinking about what kind of peace they want. This is not yet a question of maps.”
- “The U.S. wants several things from the peace.”
- “First, the war should end quickly. The longer the war drags on, the more destructive it will be.”
- “Second, the war should end in true peace. That is, the fighting shouldn't subside into a frozen conflict that could explode at any moment.”
- “Third, the war should end in a way that makes clear that Russia's aggression did not go unpunished.”
- “Fourth, the end of this war shouldn't set the stage for the next. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's partial expansion was a mistake. … Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus weren't brought into NATO, and Russia has invaded or subverted them all. This war needs to end with a clear security framework. NATO membership for countries that want it would be a simple solution, but others may be possible.”
- “Finally, America does not want the war to end with the dismemberment of the Russian Federation. In a worst-case scenario, the collapse of authority across Russia would invite chaos and war across the Caucasus. It would unleash a nightmare: nuclear weapons and materials for sale to the highest bidder. It would empower China. … [A] stable Russia is hugely preferable to a zone of anarchy stretching from Ukraine to the Pacific and from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea.”
- “During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration spent a lot of time preparing for the post-war world. Team Biden must also think ahead if something more durable than a truce is to come out of the current conflict.”
Great Power rivalry/new Cold War/NATO-Russia relations:
“CIA Director William Burns on war in Ukraine, intelligence challenges posed by China,” interview by Judy Woodruff, PBS, 12.16.22.
- “JW: … [T]he cost to the United States, weaponry, ammunition, Europeans and what they're sacrificing for this war to go on. You're not concerned that [Putin] could outlast all that?”
- “WB: I don't underestimate for a moment the burdens, the challenges that this war poses for Ukrainians, first and foremost, but for all of us who support Ukraine. But, strategically, I think, in many ways, Putin's war has thus far been a failure for Russia. The Russian military has performed poorly and suffered huge losses. The Russian economy has suffered long-term damage. … [W]hen he launched at the end of September a partial mobilization, the reality was that more Russians of military age fled the country than he was able to round up and send to the front.”
- “JW: … [B]ut he seems perfectly secure … do you see any real threat to his position?”
- “WB: I'm not trying to suggest that that poses an immediate threat to his grip on power. … But I think you're beginning to see increasing unease in Russia about the war and an accumulation of damage to the Russian economy and to Russians' future.”
- “JW: What are you most worried about from him, beyond Ukraine?”
- WB: There's been some, I think, very dangerous nuclear saber-rattling that Putin and others around him have done. … I think the saber-rattling is meant to intimidate. We don't see any clear evidence today of plans to use tactical nuclear weapons. We have made very clear … what the serious risks of that would be. I think it's also been very useful that Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi in India have also raised their concerns.”
- “JW: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Mark Milley, Gen. Milley, is speaking about winter may be a time for negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. How do you see that?”
- “WB: Most conflicts end in negotiations, but that requires a seriousness on the part of the Russians in this instance that I don't think we see.”
- “JW: What's your level of concern right now about cooperation between the Russians and the Chinese?”
- “WB: … [W]hen they met at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, they proclaimed a friendship without limits. So, it turns out that there actually are some limits to that partnership … I don't think any foreign leader has paid more careful attention to that war and Russia's poor military performance than Xi Jinping has, as he thinks about his own ambitions in Taiwan and elsewhere.”
“Ten Lessons from the Return of History,” CFR President Richard Haass, Project Syndicate, 12.13.22.
- “First, war between countries, thought by more than a few academics to be obsolete, is anything but.”
- “Second, the idea that economic interdependence constitutes a bulwark against war … is no longer tenable.”
- “Third, integration, which has animated decades of Western policy toward China, has also failed.”
- “Fourth, economic sanctions … rarely deliver meaningful changes in behavior.”
- “Fifth, the phrase ‘international community’ needs to be retired. There isn’t one. Russia’s veto power in the Security Council has rendered the United Nations impotent, while the recent gathering of world leaders in Egypt to contend with climate change was an abject failure.”
- “Sixth, democracies obviously face their share of challenges, but the problems authoritarian systems face may be even greater.”
- “Seventh, the potential for the internet to empower individuals to challenge governments is far greater in democracies than in closed systems.”
- “Eighth, there is still a West (a term based more on shared values than geography), and alliances remain a critical instrument to promote order.”
- “Ninth, U.S. leadership continues to be essential.”
- “Lastly, we must be modest about what we can know. It is humbling to note that few of the preceding lessons were predictable a year ago. What we have learned is … that history … retains its ability to surprise us.”
“Which kind of realism should drive Western support for Ukraine?”, Henrik Larsen of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, CEPS, 12.12.22.
- “Western policy until now has been wisely designed not to give Putin obvious reasons to escalate the war or to involve NATO directly. It should continue to do so.”
- “Ukraine’s initial insistence that Russia fired the before-mentioned rocket that accidentally hit Poland caused suspicion that Kyiv was trying to drag NATO into the war and serves as a reminder that Ukraine needs to be supported but not completely indulged.”
- “Ukraine’s vital interests will continue to differ from those of the West, which means a continued willingness to give Ukraine the weapons and finances to survive, but without a willingness to sacrifice Western lives and with adequate monitoring and conditionality attached to reduce the risk of corruption and uncontrolled arms flows.”
- “At the time of writing, Russia’s domestic politics and standing with its remaining international partners do not suggest that the Kremlin will escalate to a wider mobilization or to the use of nuclear weapons. This may of course change – for example if Ukraine tries to retake Crimea – and thus the Western capitals must constantly evaluate the situation as it develops.”
- “Russia’s conduct does not suggest that peace can be achieved other than by preparing for war. Now and in the foreseeable future, Russia must be convinced that Ukraine has the capability to repel future attempts to seize its territory to a degree where the Kremlin will deem trying as not worth the effort.”
“Decisions the West Must Make on the Russia-Ukraine War in 2023,” former president of the World Bank Robert Zoellick, WSJ, 12.13.22.
- “Washington has shifted from offering Mr. Zelensky an escape to supplying hand-held defensive weapons and then on to transferring sophisticated artillery systems … The U.S. expanded military support as Ukraine fought back defiantly, but President Biden measured the weaponry against concerns about escalating the conflict into a direct U.S. clash with Russia. … President Biden risks offering enough aid to prevent Kyiv's defeat, but not enough to win Russia's retreat or settlement.”
- “NATO's balancing of power with prudence has enabled Mr. Putin to retain the initiative despite shocking losses. Moscow remains on offense … Russia deploys sabotage and disinformation while enlisting Iranian drones to warn the world of the dangers of a widening conflict.”
- “Xi Jinping declared a ‘no limits partnership’ with Mr. Putin before the war. But Beijing doesn't want to pay the price of Putin's adventure, and has warned Russia about using nuclear threats and weapons. … Thinking ahead, Beijing might be the one country, perhaps in concert with others, that can, at the right point, prod Putin to redefine a settlement as an accomplishment. … Mr. Putin believes he can still win a contest of wills … Yet Mr. Putin runs risks, too. Ukraine's heroic resistance has revealed the brittleness of authoritarian power.”
- “In 2023, the friends of Ukraine will need a stronger effort to support Kyiv economically, not just militarily. … Also over the coming year, the U.S. will face the test of integrating its war policy for Ukraine within America's global strategy. In 2022, President Biden's reactions to events pointed the U.S. toward long-term confrontations with both Russia and China. … At times in the past, the U.S. tried to differentiate between the two Eurasian powers … If the administration believes it must threaten both Russia and China while rebuilding at home and adding to America's military strength, Washington will need to weigh whether the dual confrontation will be selective or full-bore. President Biden's decisions on a two-front conflict will set America's course for a decade to come.”
“Are We in the West Weaker Than Ukrainians?” columnist Nicholas Kristof, NYT, 12.14.22.
- “'We will beat the Ukrainian out of you so that you love Russia,' a Russian interrogator told one torture survivor I spoke to in Ukraine, before he whipped her and raped her. That seems a pretty good summation of Vladimir Putin's strategy.”
- “It isn't working in Ukraine, where Putin's atrocities seem to be bolstering the will to fight back. That brave woman triumphed over her interrogators, albeit at horrific personal cost. But I worry that we in the West are made of weaker stuff. Some of the most momentous decisions the United States will make in the coming months involve the level of support we will provide Ukraine.”
- “Polls find American support for aid to Ukraine still robust but slipping, especially among Republicans. And almost half of Americans want the United States to push Ukraine 'to settle for peace as soon as possible,' even if it loses territory.”
- “The exhaustion with Western support for Ukraine may continue to gain ground in the coming months as people grow weary of high energy prices and, in the case of some European countries, possible rolling power cuts.”
- “I don't mean to suggest that everyone backing peace negotiations is craven, fatigued or myopic. Gen. Mark Milley and other Pentagon officials are understandably worried that the Ukraine conflict could spiral out of control into a nuclear war. That's a legitimate concern, and it's always good to peer through the fog of war for off-ramps. But bowing to nuclear blackmail and rewarding an invasion would create their own risks for many years to come, and on balance those dangers seem greater than those of maintaining the present course.”
- “In arguing for the West to stand with Ukraine, I've emphasized our national interest in doing so. But we have values at stake as well as interests, for there is also a moral question to face. When one nation invades a neighbor and commits murder, pillage and rape, when it traffics in thousands of children, when it pulverizes the electrical grid to make civilians freeze in winter—in such a blizzard of likely war crimes, neutrality is not the high ground.”
“European Security Architecture: Against Russia, or With It?”, distinguished fellow Peter Jones, RUSI, 12.14.22.
- “Russia is set to emerge from its war on Ukraine weaker, isolated and less able to project power. ... Yet there can be no comfort for other countries and no settled peace while Russia is in confrontation with Europe.”
- “A different path remains open: one of constructive Russian engagement in European security, a seat at the top table and a functional relationship with international interlocutors, including NATO. But that is not going to happen without a fundamental change in Russian conduct, and justice and accountability for the destruction caused by Putin’s war. And collective security cannot be kept on ice until Russia is willing and able to become a responsible security actor. Until then, European security must be organized in opposition to Moscow.”
China-Russia: Allied or aligned?
“Learning from others’ mistakes? Real lessons of the special military operation for China and their consequences,” Vasily Kashin, Russia in Global Affairs, 12.19.22. Clues from Russian Views
- “There are lessons that we can draw from the SMO already now … that relate mainly to the military economy and military equipment. And they lead us to paradoxical conclusions. The country that has turned out to be best prepared for a war similar to the Ukrainian campaign is China. ... In some of these priority areas, China is already a world leader, both in terms of its technological potential and the state of its industrial base.”
- “Drones play a defining role in the Ukrainian conflict … China … gives priority to the development of [drones] … having made significant progress in saturating its forces with them.”
- “Another class of weapons that plays a crucial role … is artillery... China produces a much wider range of modern artillery pieces and MLRS, as well as precision-guided munitions for them.”
- “The war showed the huge role of satellite intelligence and communications. Yielding in this regard to the United States, China, however, surpasses any other country in the world.”
- “Russia’s most important advantage during the SMO is the world's best military air defense ... China in this area as a whole remains the recipient of Russian technology, but surpasses any Western country in terms of the range of weapons it produces.”
- “Another Russian advantage is the large-scale use of medium-range cruise missiles and operational-tactical ballistic and cruise missiles of the Iskander-M complex. ... China serially produces the widest range of such systems in the world, some of which have no analogues abroad.”
- “One of the key weapons in the conflict are anti-tank missiles ... China produces the most extensive line of anti-tank missiles in the world.”
- “China, which has not been at war with anyone for decades, appears to have done its homework carefully, unlike Russia and the U.S. Its technical priorities hit the mark. And the accumulated industrial potential leaves no chance for a potential adversary in the event of a protracted non-nuclear conflict like the Ukrainian one.”
“Germany’s Unlearned Lessons: Berlin Must Reduce Its Dependence Not Just on Russia, But China As Well,” Liana Fix of ECFR and Thorsten Benner of Berlin’s Global Public Policy Institute, FA 12.15.22.
- “This coming February, the German government will publish its first-ever national security strategy. Just ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this is Berlin’s chance to demonstrate that it has drawn the right lessons from the catastrophic failure of its past approach toward Russia. It is time for Germany to lay out a plan to reduce dependence on China by diversifying trade and investment ties and selectively decoupling from China on critical technologies.”
- “The idea of ‘change through trade’ survived the end of the Cold War and remained an influential concept in Bonn and Berlin, Germany’s capital before and after German reunification.”
- “The limits to the theory that economic interdependence would deter the Kremlin from breaking international norms became ... apparent. In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia. In 2014, it annexed Crimea. In the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, German policymakers thought the economic costs would be too high for Russia to attempt a full-scale attack on Ukraine and to overthrow the government in Kyiv. This was, of course, a fatal miscalculation, underestimating the ideological radicalization of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
- “Scholz warned in Foreign Affairs against returning to a Cold War paradigm, arguing that the world has entered a multipolar era distinct from that period. This assertion applies to Germany as well: the country must bury its own illusions about the lessons of 1989. Instead of ‘change through trade,’ Germany—in conjunction with other Western partners—will need to employ a ‘peace through strength’ approach to dealing with Russia and China. Such are the realities of a more confrontational world.”
“Russian-Chinese Strategic Cooperation in Security in Afghanistan after the US Withdrawal,” the Russian Council of International Affairs and Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Peking University, December 2022.
- “Despite the fact that Afghanistan has managed to avoid the worst-case scenario for the development of security threats, there are still few grounds for optimism. A number of external and internal factors continue to have a negative impact on the situation in Afghanistan, including military-political challenges, the terrorist threat, as well as socio-economic problems.”
- “It is necessary to take into account the activities of political opponents of the Taliban, which also create security risks in the country. The interests of Russia and China would be met by internal political stability in the country, including the unity of the Taliban movement with the leading role of the moderate wing of the movement.”
- “International terrorist organizations maintain a presence in Afghanistan. The possible spread of the terrorist threat in the Central Asian republics and in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is of concern to Russia and China. It seems expedient for Russia and China to expand cooperation in countering the export of terrorism and combating drug trafficking from Afghanistan, including through the SCO.”
- “At the same time, it is important to remember that the solution to the problem of terrorism includes not only forceful counteraction and liquidation of the consequences: it is necessary to be proactive, carrying out joint preventive work and preventing possible outbreaks of threats. In particular, it seems promising to increase the level of intelligence sharing. In addition, Russia and China should call on the world community to help improve the socio-economic situation in Afghanistan, which will also reduce the risks of a possible surge in social tension and reduce the effectiveness of the spread of jihadist ideas.”
- “It seems expedient to more actively involve countries neighboring Afghanistan, as well as influential regional powers, in cooperation with Russia and China.”
- No significant developments.
“How to Know if Putin Is Going to Nuke Ukraine,” David M. Allison of Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, NI, 12.15.22.
- “The most telling indicator of an impending attack would be a direct warning from Putin himself. Although military operations are typically kept secret as long as possible, there are two reasons why Putin would announce his intentions immediately before a strike.”
- “First, providing a direct warning of what was coming and making it clear that the strike was not a prelude to a larger attack would be key to managing escalation.”
- “Second, even if Putin was willing to accept the risks of nuclear use, a direct threat might achieve the same objectives.”
- “Since Putin has never been shy about making threats or boasting of Russia’s willingness to use its military might, we should be reassured that his nuclear rhetoric remains circumspect. In … remarks on Dec. 7, Putin expanded: ‘We have not gone crazy. We are aware of what nuclear weapons are. … This is a deterrent factor that does not provoke the expansion of conflicts, but a deterrent, and I hope everyone understands this.’”
- “As much as Putin may rattle his nuclear saber, it remains firmly sheathed. With no alarm bells ringing from any quarter, the risk of nuclear use is low—for now.”
“Joe Biden's Nuclear Misfire,” columnist William McGurn, WSJ, 12.12.22.
- “What does the world see today? A humiliating American retreat from Afghanistan, an assertive China determined to overtake U.S. military superiority in the Pacific and a general sense that the Americans are bugging out. The hard reality is that if Joe Biden really wants the NPT to have a future, he needs to lead a massive buildup of U.S. military capabilities.”
- No significant developments.
Conflict in Syria:
- No significant developments.
“Whatever Happened to Russia’s Vaunted Cyberoffensive?”, reporters Amy Mackinnon and Rishi Iyengar, FP, 12.16.22.
- “People had already begun laying flowers in front of the Ukrainian Embassy in London by the time Liam Maxwell, director of government transformation at Amazon Web Services, arrived for a lunchtime meeting with Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United Kingdom, on Feb. 24, the day that Russia sent troops and missiles screaming over the Ukrainian border in the opening phases of the largest ground war in Europe since World War II.”
- “Over the next several months, Amazon Web Services helped Kyiv migrate over 10 petabytes, a colossal amount of crucial government data, from across almost 30 government ministries to the cloud and out of the reach of Russia’s invading forces. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister for digital transformation, would later credit the move with helping to preserve the Ukrainian government and economy. ‘Russian missiles can’t destroy the cloud,’ he said at an Amazon Web Services conference in Las Vegas in November.”
- “One advantage for Ukraine of having regularly come under Russian cyberattack over the past several years is that it has given Ukrainians time and expertise to hone their defenses ahead of the assault that began in February.”
- “The other pillar of Ukraine’s digital success has been the remarkable coordination between both private technology companies and foreign governments to aid Kyiv’s cyberdefenses.”
“How the algorithm tipped the balance in Ukraine,” columnist David Ignatius, WP, 12.19.22.
- “[T]he ‘wizard war’ in the Ukraine conflict [is] a secret digital campaign that has never been reported before in detail—and it’s a big reason David is beating Goliath here. … [There is a] software platform allows U.S. allies to use the ubiquitous, unstoppable sensors that surround every potential battlefield to create a truly lethal ‘kill chain.’”
- “The ‘kill chain’ that I saw demonstrated in Kyiv is replicated on a vast scale by Ukraine’s NATO partners from a command post outside the country. The system is built around the same software platform developed by Palantir that I saw in Kyiv, which can allow the United States and its allies to share information from diverse sources—ranging from commercial satellite imagery to the West’s most secret intelligence tools.”
- “Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, told me that this electronic kill chain was ‘especially useful during the liberation of Kherson, Izium, Kharkiv and Kyiv regions.’ What makes this system truly revolutionary is that it aggregates data from commercial vendors. Using a Palantir tool called MetaConstellation, Ukraine and its allies can see what commercial data is currently available about a given battle space. The available data includes a surprisingly wide array, from traditional optical pictures to synthetic aperture radar that can see through clouds, to thermal images that can detect artillery or missile fire.”
- “In this wizard war, Ukraine has the upper hand. The Russians have tried to create their own electronic battlefield tools, too, but with little success. They have sought to use commercial satellite data, for example, and streaming videos from inexpensive Chinese drones. But they have had difficulty coordinating and sharing this data among units. And they lack the ability to connect with the Starlink array.”
- “The ‘X factor’ in this war, if you will, is this Ukrainian high-tech edge and the ability of its forces to adapt rapidly. ‘This is the most technologically advanced war in human history,’ argues Fedorov. ‘It’s quite different from everything that has been seen before.’ And that’s the central fact of the extraordinary drama the world has been watching since Russia invaded so recklessly last February. This is a triumph of man and machine, together.”
Energy exports from CIS:
“Can Russia’s War Chest Withstand the New Oil Cap?”, Tatiana Mitrova of Columbia University, CEIP, 12.14.22. Clues from Russian Views
- “After several months of debate and preparations, the United States and other G-7 nations introduced a price cap on Russian crude oil on Dec. 5. In the 10 months since Russia invaded Ukraine, this is the first serious attempt by the West to slash Russia’s oil revenues.”
- “In all likelihood, an informed assessment of the impact of the oil cap will not be possible for the next six months. There’s too much uncertainty on the market and over the workings of the price cap itself.”
- “Ultimately, however, a fall in revenue for Russia appears inevitable. Following the introduction of the price cap, Russia’s Finance Ministry more than doubled its forecasted budget deficit from 0.9% to 2% of GDP. Next year, the ministry expects oil and gas revenues to fall by 23%, but that might be an optimistic forecast, since the Russian budget is based on oil prices of $62–70 per barrel.”
- “Still, the Russian economy is hardly likely to collapse as a result of the decline in oil revenues. Most likely, the slump in 2023 will be comparable to that seen during the pandemic in 2020, and won’t be enough to force Russia to end its war against Ukraine.”
- “Even if oil revenues decline drastically, the National Wealth Fund is big enough to finance Russia’s war for another year or eighteen months. What the decline certainly will impact is Russia’s development and long-term investment in new projects, both fossil fuels and green technology. In a decade, the energy superpower status Russia had claimed will be firmly in the past.”
“Why the Oil Price Cap Won’t Hurt Putin,” Richard L. Morningstar of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and Benjamin L. Schmitt of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, FP, 12.15.22.
- “When Western leaders announced on Dec. 2 that they had agreed on a $60 price cap on Russian oil exports, they trumpeted it as a bold multinational achievement in energy diplomacy. But anyone who thinks this will be a significant hit to Russian oil revenues—and the Kremlin’s ability to finance its genocidal war to subjugate Ukraine—is likely to be disappointed.”
- “The price cap agreed on by the European Union and quickly endorsed by the United States, G-7 and Australia is not bold enough to significantly affect Russian revenues or impede the conduct of the war. After all, Russian oil has sold at prices in the $60 range for much of the last several years. Moreover, since Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, global energy traders have already limited their offtake of Russian crude to some extent. When countries such as India and China snapped up the surplus, they negotiated steep discounts. But the discount for Urals crude, the main Russian benchmark—nearly $40 per barrel compared with Brent oil in the early months of the war—has slowly dropped into the low $20 per barrel range, allowing Moscow to continue cashing in.”
- “If the price cap starts to show an effect on Russia, it could create political space for further actions to throttle Russian energy revenues. The price cap should not be a one-off energy policy for as long as Russia continues to wage its war of choice. It should be seen instead as an interim measure until the next set of energy restrictions is imposed, including a lower price cap level. The ultimate objective should be an even broader oil embargo. In the immediate term, making sure that the price cap is reduced as soon as it is next reviewed in January is vital to help Ukraine now. The West must freeze Putin’s financial lifeline faster than he can freeze Ukraine.”
- No significant developments.
U.S.-Russian economic ties:
- No significant developments.
U.S.-Russian relations in general:
“The Trouble With Russian Blacklisting,” RAND’s Alyssa Demus, FP, 12.15.22.
- “I’ve officially been banned from setting foot in Russia. Last month, I discovered I was number 44 on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ latest list of banished Americans. Like more than 1,200 other Americans, I now stand accused of having a hand in the ‘promotion of the Russophobic campaign and support for the regime in Kyiv.’”
- “When geopolitical circumstances (or Kremlin policy) prevent experts from engaging with the human dimensions of their research, they have to find alternative, creative ways to observe, interact with and study Russia. Russian men flocking to neighboring countries to escape mobilization could be a valuable resource for insights on recent developments and morale in Russia. Researchers could, for instance, partner with nongovernmental organizations in Georgia to set up focus groups, surveys or other forms of getting information from Russians.”
- “While researchers develop creative ways to continue examining Russia, it’s also a moment to be especially aware of biases skewing their views and decisions. Analysis, informed by interactions with Russians, offers Western leaders a window in. Blacklists hinder this process. With the stakes so high, much depends on experts’ success in getting their analysis right.”
II. Russia’s domestic policies
Domestic politics, economy and energy:
“How Putin’s technocrats saved the economy to fight a war they opposed,” FT’s Max Seddon and Polina Ivanova, FT, 12.16.22.
- “One month before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s top economic confidants briefed him on the likely fallout from Western sanctions. ... At that moment, the technocrats feared Putin was on the verge of recognizing two Kremlin proxy separatist statelets in Ukraine’s Donbas.”
- “Herman Gref, chief executive of Sberbank, led a 39-page presentation warning the Russian president of disastrous consequences if tensions over Ukraine. Elvira Nabiullina, the central bank governor, shared his concerns and had helped prepare the presentation. The latter warned Putin that ‘harsh sanctions’ would set Russia’s economy back decades. GDP could fall by 30% in dollar terms in two years. Inflation would force the central bank to raise interest rates to 35%, cutting real incomes by a fifth. “
- “As Gref rattled through the potential consequences, Putin cut him off and asked him what Russia should do to avoid the worst of the sanctions … Too timid to warn Putin off military escalation, the technocrats had no clear solution—and could not bring themselves to tell Putin he was at risk of courting geopolitical disaster.”
- “Four days into the war, Putin’s economic brains trust clustered together at the far end of a 20ft table in the Kremlin as Putin … asked them how to mitigate the sanctions. ... Instead of breaking with Putin, the technocrats have cemented their role as his enablers, using their expertise and tools to soften the blow of Western sanctions and hold Russia’s wartime economy together.”
- “Russia’s economy has avoided the most dramatic predictions … about the impact of sanctions, with the hit to GDP likely to be in the order of 3.5-5.5% this year.”
- “‘The economic team really saved him. That’s why he keeps them around. If the siloviki had been in control [of the economy] the GDP fall really would have been 10-15%,’ a former senior Russian official says. ‘He’s not crazy. That’s why he left them in their jobs.’”
“Divided in the Face of Defeat: The Schism Forming in the Russian Elite,” Tatiana Stanovaya, CEIP, 12.13.22. Clues from Russian Views
- “Until the September retreat from the Kharkiv region, the reasoning of most members of Russia’s elites … was simple: Russia would have to win somehow. It didn’t matter what that meant in practice, but defeat could well bring sociopolitical destabilization, and the elites certainly don’t want a revolution.”
- “From September, however, everything started to change, and fast. For the first time in the twenty-three years for which Putin has been in power, there are grounds to talk of a gradual divide within the elites. People on both sides of that divide remain pro-Putin and part of the system, but they have different views on what Russia should do next and what its priorities should be. And since the divide is among Kremlin insiders … not much can be done about it.”
- “Putin himself is absent from this nascent debate. No one looks to him, if for no other reason than because his position isn’t clear to anyone.”
- “Even if there is no defeat, there will still be an increasingly distinct dividing line within the pro-war camp.”
- “On one side will be the realists, who believe that since Russia cannot win the war right now, it should pause the fighting to work on rebuilding its army and economy, as well as revamping the political system. For the realists, it was a mistake to start the war, stemming from a distorted understanding of the country’s capabilities. Nor should the referendums have been held, since there was no possibility of holding onto those territories. Still, the realists are opposed to giving up Russia’s positions: the front line must be defended.”
- “On the other side from the realists are those who favor escalation. These people are adamant that to avoid defeat, Russia must be prepared to embark on a full-scale mobilization, concentrate its resources and rain bombs on Ukraine relentlessly until the bitter end.”
- “Russia is heading toward a final battle between the radicals, for whom escalation is a way of life, and the realists, who understand that continuing to up the ante could lead to their country’s collapse. It’s impossible to say right now who will win this battle, but it will determine not only the outcome of the war in Ukraine, but also the future of Russia.”
“Five Intrigues of 2023,” Tatiana Stanovaya, R.Politik Bulletin No. 22 (108), 12.20.22.
- “Deepening splits: It is also possible that the next year will bring real social and political confrontation between two ﬁercely opposing forces: those that favor escalation and those that seek a pragmatic solution. It is entirely possible that this dynamic will develop behind Putin's back as it appears that he is not interested in social changes for now and therefore tends to overlook the alarmingly speedy development of both camps.”
- “The 2024 presidential campaign: By the end of 2023, Putin will have had to decide how he will proceed in the 2024 presidential elections. Either he will run again (he has this right according to the 2020 constitutional amendments) or he will pick a successor. According to R.Politik’s understanding, Putin has not yet decided but is inclined to run again, which is the default option for the presidential administration.”
- “Tightening the screws: At least today, it seems that there is no alternative to the accelerating spiral of repressive laws and practices designed to clamp down on the slightest whiff of political protest or overt opposition.”
- “Peace projects: With a costly and increasingly 'unwinnable' war dragging out for Russia, as well as the huge level of destruction in Ukraine and growing discussion about the price being paid for backing Kyiv in the West, peace projects will pop up more regularly and start to become more interesting to Moscow. While this is no guarantee of successful negotiations, even if there are more, it may fuel hopes in the Kremlin that the end to the war can be 'bargained.’”
“Ukraine War Has Split Russia Into Five Tribes,” columnist Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, 12.15.22.
- “The current, and especially deadly, stage of the war ... has done little to resolve the conflicts inherent in Russian self-identification. Instead, it appears to have split Russians—those of us who care about our self-identification—into at least five distinct groups.”
- “Two of them are firmly in the pro-war camp and thereby free to speak to the domestic Russian audience almost without censorship.”
- “The first one, to which Putin appears to belong, identifies with the Russian state and thus with its vestigial imperial realm rather than with the Russian ethnicity.”
- “The ‘genuine nationalist movement’ Goble wrote about has gained new prominence, however. Represented by characters such as early Ukraine war instigator Igor Girkin (Strelkov) and a host of increasingly popular pro-war Telegram admins, this movement puts Russian ethnicity in focus and rejects much of the Russian state and pro-government elite as too cosmopolitan, too un-Russian.”
- “To both of these groups, the Ukraine war is natural, inevitable and ultimately winnable.”
- “The other three Russian ‘tribes’ are consciously or viscerally opposed to the invasion—and therefore suppressed in Russia or pushed out of the country.”
- “Only one group among them, the smallest, evinces moral clarity. It consists of antiwar activists who identify themselves strongly enough with a future, better Russia to stay, fight and, almost inevitably, go to jail. These are people such as Alexei Navalny ... and Ilya Yashin.”
- “The large pool of physically or psychologically displaced people can be split into two distinct groups: Those who are waiting to be saved, and those who have decided to move on.”
- “The first group includes most of those who stayed behind and a significant number of those who left. They exist, and help to form, a Russia-centric information bubble, whether they are in Moscow, Riga, Tbilisi or Berlin. … Their self-identification is with [their] interrupted and abandoned lives, with a Russia that ceased to exist when the invasion began.”
- “Two of them are firmly in the pro-war camp and thereby free to speak to the domestic Russian audience almost without censorship.”
- “The sense of shame is real ... and, by the end of 2022, it’s part of our self-identification. A Russian victory cannot delete it and a Russian defeat cannot make it worse. We are not ashamed of who we are, but of what our country has become. Some of us are even aware of the role we personally played in making it so. If Russia is ever rebuilt … that shame will strengthen the mortar that will hold the new country together.”
“Russia’s Quiet Riot. Learning to Outlast Putin’s Autocracy,” CEIP’s Andrei Kolesnikov, FA, 12.13.22. Clues from Russian Views
- “Nine months into a war that shows little sign of ending, the mood among the pro-Western intelligentsia in Russia is dark. Russians with liberal views—those who have stayed in the country or found it impossible to leave—feel trapped. They face increasingly brutal repression at home but also the sense that they, along with the regime, are being shunned by the West. They have become double outcasts.”
- “For the moment, there is little that those who remain can do. Just like in Soviet times, political discussions have moved from clubs and restaurants to the safety of private kitchens.”
- “It is important for these people to understand that they are not alone—that their views and feelings are shared by many others like them.”
“The Cost of War: Russian Economy Faces a Decade of Regress,” Alexandra Prokopenko, CEIP, 12.19.22.
- “Nine months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian economy is doing better than expected. The predicted collapse has been avoided, and the forecasted 8–10% fall in GDP for the year has been reduced to a 3–4% drop. Still, before the war, 3% growth was predicted. Recovery is only expected to begin in 2024 at best, and only in the unlikely event that external factors do not significantly worsen. Russia looks set to see yet another lost decade, with a decade of stagnation followed by a decade of regression.”
- “The government and President Vladimir Putin like to repeat that Russia already has everything it needs for development. But a transition to growth based on internal resources would require an end to the war in Ukraine. It would also need less unpredictability overall, increased competition, the decriminalization of economic infringements, and effective safeguards for property rights. The Russian authorities and president have consistently failed to provide those conditions.”
Defense and aerospace:
- See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.
Security, law-enforcement and justice:
- No significant developments.
III. Russia’s relations with other countries
Russia’s general foreign policy and relations with “far abroad” countries:
“Putin’s New Strategy: Laying Claim to Traditional Values,” chief foreign affairs correspondent Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, 12.17.22.
- “Russia’s record of brutality and weakness during the war in Ukraine … has considerably diminished Mr. Putin’s appeal to many parts of the conservative and populist right.”
- “‘If you looked at statements from far-right leaders across Europe, they always said that we need a strong leader like Putin who defends our values, our civilization against the decadence of the West. It did work before the war,’ said Benjamin Haddad, a French parliament member from President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party. ‘But now, it’s more complicated to publicly make a case for Russia.’”
- “Italy provides the most significant example of the break between European populists and the Kremlin. Newly elected Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, whose Brothers of Italy party traces its origins to the neo-fascist movement, successfully campaigned on an appeal to traditional values in September’s elections. However, instead of aligning with Russia, her government … has moved to increase support for Ukraine.”
- “Outside the West, Mr. Putin’s self-anointed role as the leader of the traditional-values camp isn’t an easy sell either, particularly for nations that pride themselves on their own, much older cultures, like India or China.”
- No significant developments.
Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:
- No significant developments.