Russia Analytical Report, June 13-21, 2022

This Week’s Highlights

  • Defense Priorities’ Bonnie Kristian asks whether the U.S. is at war in Ukraine. “If we swapped places,” Kristian writes, “if Russian apparatchiks admitted helping to kill American generals or sink a U.S. Navy vessel—I doubt we’d find much ambiguity there. At the very least, what the United States is doing in Ukraine is not not war.”
  • Lawrence Freedman of King’s College London dissects some of the major mistakes Russia’s military-political leadership has committed in the course of invading Ukraine, including assumptions of easy victory, overconfidence in the troops’ ability to deliver and the rigidness of the command structure. “Putin’s war in Ukraine ... is foremost a case study in a failure of supreme command,” Freedman concludes.
  • Harvard’s Joe Nye infers eight lessons from the Ukraine war, with the most important being that the war is unpredictable. “Immediately following America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, many in Washington predicted a cakewalk, but the effort bogged down for years. Now it is Putin who has let slip the dogs of war. They may yet turn on him,” Nye warns.
  • Anatol Lieven of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft does not believe Russian wars in Ukraine and the Caucasus are part of “some wider plan for aggression against the West.” “We can therefore seek a pragmatic solution to the war without fearing that this will embolden Russia to threaten NATO and the European Union,” Lieven writes. That solution, rooted in ethical realism, can lead to lasting peace that will secure Ukraine’s independence and potential path toward joining the EU, according to Lieven.
  • Economist Alexander Auzan says Western sanctions have led to a process of “colossal simplification” of the Russian economy, somewhat like in the 1990s. The military action in Ukraine, meanwhile, has catalyzed competition within Russia for the state’s economic resources, which may stimulate activity in some sectors (like the defense industry) but will cut off opportunities for other sectors as the situation becomes “cannons instead of butter,” according to Auzan. 
  • Ivan Krastev of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia draws attention to a new report from the European Council on Foreign Relations, based on a pan-European opinion poll, that suggests the break with Russia is irreversible, at least in the short and medium term. According to Krastev, Russia’s middle class can no longer act as if they belong to both the Russian and the Western world. “Changing the nature of the border, and not simply the place of the border, between Russia and the West is the major objective of Putin’s war. Tragically, he is achieving that goal,” Krastev writes.


I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda

Nuclear security and safety:

  • No significant developments.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • No significant developments.

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

“Are We Sure America Is Not at War in Ukraine?”, Bonnie Kristian of Defense Priorities, NYT, 06.20.22.

  • “What we’ve done in Yemen looks a lot like what we’re doing in Ukraine. Last month, leaks by U.S. officials revealed that the United States helped Ukraine to kill Russian generals and strike a Russian warship, and Mr. Biden signed a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, a lot of which is for military assistance like weaponry and intelligence sharing. The bill … comes on top of billions of prior military support. The Biden administration also announced, this month, that it will send rocket systems to Ukraine that could theoretically strike inside Russian territory, and it reportedly has plans to sell the Ukrainian government four drones that can be armed with Hellfire missiles.”
  • “Are we at war in Ukraine? If we swapped places—if Russian apparatchiks admitted helping to kill American generals or sink a U.S. Navy vessel—I doubt we’d find much ambiguity there. At the very least, what the United States is doing in Ukraine is not not war. If we have so far avoided calling it war, and can continue to do so, maybe that’s only because we’ve become so uncertain of the meaning of the word.”

“Why War Fails Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine and the Limits of Military Power,” King’s College London Emeritus Professor Lawrence Freedman, FA, July/August 2022.

  • “Putin’s war in Ukraine ... is foremost a case study in a failure of supreme command. The way that objectives are set and wars launched by the commander in chief shapes what follows. Putin’s mistakes were not unique; they were typical of those made by autocratic leaders who come to believe their own propaganda. He did not test his optimistic assumptions about the ease with which he could achieve victory. He trusted his armed forces to deliver. He did not realize that Ukraine was a challenge on a completely different scale from earlier operations in Chechnya, Georgia and Syria. But he also relied on a rigid and hierarchical command structure that was unable to absorb and adapt to information from the ground and, crucially, did not enable Russian units to respond rapidly to changing circumstances.”
  • “The value of delegated authority and local initiative will be one of the other key lessons from this war. But for these practices to be effective, the military in question must be able to satisfy four conditions.”
    • “First, there must be mutual trust between those at the senior and most junior levels.”
    • “Second, those doing the fighting must have access to the equipment and supplies they need to keep going.”
    • “Third, those providing leadership at the most junior levels of command need to be of high quality.”
    • “The ability to act effectively at any level of command requires a commitment to the mission and an understanding of its political purpose.”
  • “There was an asymmetry of motivation that influenced the fighting from the start. Which takes us back to the folly of Putin’s original decision. It is hard to command forces to act in support of a delusion.”

“In Denial About Denial: Why Ukraine’s Air Success Should Worry the West,” U.S. Air Force Col. Maximilian K. Bremer and Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security’s Kelly A. Grieco, War on the Rocks, 06.15.22.

  • “Ukraine’s success in contesting the skies turns the West’s airpower paradigm on its head—it offers an alternative vision for pursuing airspace denial over air superiority. Despite having one of the largest and most technologically sophisticated air forces in the world, Russia has failed to establish air superiority over Ukraine. And many Western analysts are surprised and bewildered.”
  • “But the puzzlement is a sign of military myopia more than anything else. Western air forces still follow a path first laid out by Italian Gen. Giulio Douhet, U.S. Army Air Corps’ Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell and the Royal Air Force’s Air Marshall Hugh Trenchard. These founding fathers of airpower theory championed winning and maintaining ‘command of the air,’ or, in today’s doctrine, ‘air supremacy.’”
  • “Rather than striving myopically to burst the enemy A2/AD ‘bubble,’ the Air Force would do better to exploit the defender’s advantage in the skies. By adopting an air denial strategy, the Air Force would aim to make it both difficult and costly for China or Russia to quickly seize territory and present it as a fait accompli. This calls for a paradigm shift in American airpower thinking.”

“The Army Risks Reasoning Backwards in Analyzing Ukraine,” RAND’s David Johnson, War on the Rocks, 06.14.22.

  • “There are several areas that the [U.S.] Army should be looking to discern from the war in Ukraine.” 
    • “Assess what Ukrainian force would have been sufficient to reach a sufficient correlation of forces with Russian forces to deter an invasion.”
    • “Analyze what capabilities a deterrent force would require if its primary mission was defense, rather than offense.”
    • “Determine which Russian and Ukrainian capabilities were important in this war and how the Army will specifically provide itself with like capabilities as well as approaches to counter these capabilities. Foremost among these are drones, air defenses, combat vehicle (tank) survivability and indirect fires.”
    • “Understand potential Russian reactions to operational and strategic attacks into Russian territory.”
    • “Assess the vulnerabilities of key Army systems, given Russian and Ukrainian losses in this war, in order to determine mitigating approaches, both technical and tactical.”
    • “Examine the ability of the U.S. industrial base to keep up with munitions expenditures and materiel losses if a war with Russia is protracted.”
    • “Assess the NATO theater medical system to understand its potential shortfalls if casualties approach those by both combatants in Ukraine.”

“Putin’s Pressure Campaign: An Inflection Point for Russia’s Military,” Belfer Center’s Kevin Ryan, Belfer Center, 06.13.22.

  • “How has an historically professional Russian military responded to the pressure of a Putin regime over the past two decades? For that answer, we can look to the fates of three Russian officers and their unexpected intersection last month, on May 19th.” 
    • “On Jan. 31, the chairman of the All Russia Officers Assembly and former senior political-military affairs officer on Russia’s General Staff, Gen.-Col. (ret) Leonid Ivashov, published a blistering open letter on behalf of the assembly in which he claimed Putin was on a suicidal march to war against Ukraine.”
      • “On May 19, the All Russian Officers Assembly posted on its website an announcement that chairman Ivashov was stepping down ‘because of age.’ In his place the assembly had chosen a new chairman—retired Col. Vladimir Kvachkov.” 
    • “Another retired General Staff officer, Col. Mikhail Khodarenok, also publicly warned on Feb. 3 against starting a war with Ukraine and the West.”
      • “But on May 19 … Khodarenok was back on the 60 Minutes show, reversing his earlier comments and predicting a Russian victory in the end.”
    • “The fates of Ivashov, Khodarenok and Kvachkov illuminate the arc of change in Russia’s military under Putin’s leadership.” 

“How Can We Avoid Further Escalation of the International Conflict Caused by Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine?” Carnegie Corporation of New York, 05.25.22.

  • James Acton, Carnegie Nuclear Policy Program: “The small but real residual risk stems largely from regime and domestic politics within Russia and from President Putin’s apparent propensity for risk-taking … Ending the war is the best way to avoid escalation. If President Zelenskyy’s efforts to negotiate with Russia produce an agreement that he believes is in his country’s interests, Ukraine’s friends should be prepared to offer Russia the sine qua non of sanctions relief.”
  • George Beebe, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft: “The best way we can avoid further escalation is for the United States to keep its own objectives and involvement limited. If we restrict ourselves to providing Ukraine with sufficient aid to stymie Russian offensives and encourage a settlement, we have a reasonable chance the war will not escalate vertically or horizontally.”
  • Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, Secretary General of Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs: “The end of the conflict will need a process that will take into account the ‘motivations’ of the countries involved. The search for a ‘full victory’ for any side will lead nowhere and can be very dangerous indeed. Certainly, we will need a ceasefire as soon as possible. ... NATO membership should be ruled out for Ukraine, while the European Union membership of Ukraine should most likely be considered.”
  • Shannon Bugos and Daryl Kimball, Arms Control Association: “Senior U.S., NATO and Russian military and political leaders should maintain direct lines of communication, resume the U.S.-Russian strategic stability dialogue and talks on New START follow-on agreements, refrain from provocative actions—such as moving tactical nuclear weapons from storage and toward operational deployment—and work with Ukraine to effect a ceasefire.”

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

“Alexander Auzan on the ‘Sanctions Storm,’”, 06.10.22. The current affairs website gives highlights from a June 8 interview with the respected Russian economist. Here is a summary: 

  • In addition to natural resources and huge financial reserves (now partially frozen), Russia’s economy has another source of “durability and survival”: an extreme degree of creative adaptability among the country’s people. When crisis hits, Russians don’t start making demands of their government; they start finding ways to make do under the new, unpleasant circumstances. 
  • What we’re seeing now is a “colossal simplification” of the economy, somewhat like the 1990s. Back then, the hardest hit industries were space, defense, electronics; today, they’re finance, consulting, to some extent IT. Now unemployment is hitting the big cities where people worked for multinational companies; next, it will be felt in industrial cities. 
  • Regarding so-called import replacement: Some of the holes left by departing Western companies and investors may be filled by Russians, by Turks, by Chinese. The international sanctions will produce both winners and losers.  
  • But, looking at the big picture, Russia has been set back 10 years. That’s based on the estimate that GDP will contract by 10% by the end of 2022, since growth had recently been about 1% a year. And there’s no guarantee that the decline won’t continue into 2023. 
  • Moreover, in addition to sanctions, the fighting in Ukraine—which promises to drag on for months—carries costs for the Russian economy too. There will be competition for the state’s economic resources, which may stimulate activity in some sectors (like the defense industry) but will cut off opportunities for other sectors as the situation becomes “cannons instead of butter.”  

“Why Europe Must Cap Prices on Russian Energy Imports,” Sciences Po’s Sergei Guriev, Project Syndicate/MT, 06.14.22.

  • “Recently published budget data from Russia’s finance ministry suggests that Putin can hardly afford to cover the war’s mounting costs ... with military spending having increased by almost 130% last month, to 630 billion rubles ($10.2 billion), or 6% of annual GDP on a prorated basis. The data also show that Russia ran a fiscal deficit of more than 260 billion rubles in April, or 2.5% of GDP when prorated to annual figures.”
  • “While global oil prices are very high, Russia has been selling its oil at a huge discount—accepting $70 per barrel for Urals crude in recent weeks, 30% below the market price—while overall output is set to decline by 10% this year.”
  • “A price cap could be implemented immediately—say, at $70 per barrel—and lowered by about $10 each month the war continues. Yes, Putin could refuse to sell oil at this price. But, given that he is already desperate enough to sell to China and India at steep discounts, and today’s energy prices far exceed production costs, this seems unlikely.”

“A Russian Perspective on the Food Crisis. If Washington really wants to improve the situation in the global agricultural market, let us cooperate,” Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov, NI, 06.16.22.

  • “Twenty million tons of grain supposedly ready for shipment from Ukrainian ports, which our so-called partners constantly refer to, constitute less than 1% of the total volume of the global food market. The delay in the export of wheat can be hardly considered a ‘catastrophic’ development of the overall situation.”
  • “It is also worth mentioning that the annual sowing campaign has started in all regions of Ukraine and is rather successful.”
  • “Russia’s goal has always been to stabilize the situation in the world food market and to provide assistance to countries that need high-quality and inexpensive grain. The promotion of the so-called ‘guilt’ of Russia for the deterioration of the situation in global food security has nothing to do with reality.”

Ukraine-related negotiations:

“It’s time to start thinking about the endgame in Ukraine,” WP’s Fareed Zakaria, WP, 06.17.22.

  • “What phase are we witnessing in the war in Ukraine? We are likely in the middle, explains Gideon Rose, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of an excellent book, ‘How Wars End.’”
  • “Most likely, this middle phase of the war will last for a while. Neither Russia nor Ukraine has the capacity to win decisively, and neither is likely to surrender easily. In the short term, this favors Russia. It has taken control of much of Donbas. And because the West hasn’t completely banned Russia’s energy exports, the Russian government has actually profited during this war.”
  • “It would be smart for Ukraine to start thinking about the endgame. That way, it can develop a coherent position, align its strategy around it and gain international support. … Kissinger was criticized for suggesting that Kyiv should not seek to go beyond the pre-Feb. 24 lines on the battlefield. In fact, at this point it appears highly unlikely that Ukraine would even be able to regain all that territory by force, though it should keep trying. But it does seem wise to make that its goal—to reverse Russia’s territorial gains from this year. Then Kyiv can try to get back territories lost before that in 2014 through negotiations.”
  • “The alternative to some kind of negotiated settlement would be an unending war in Ukraine ... Surely it is worth searching for an endgame that avoids this bleak future.”

“What the Fall of Empires Tells Us About the Ukraine War,” Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft’s Anatol Lieven, FP, 06.20.22.

  • “First, … Russian wars in Ukraine and the Caucasus are not part of some wider plan for aggression against the West. The Russian war in Ukraine is about Ukraine. We can therefore seek a pragmatic solution to the war without fearing that this will embolden Russia to threaten NATO and the European Union, with the possible exception of the Baltic states—and then only if the Balts were to take some recklessly aggressive action against Russia (for example, by cutting communications to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad).”
  • “Secondly, we should approach the search for a settlement in Ukraine in a spirit of ethical realism, aimed at a lasting peace that will secure Ukraine’s independence and potential path toward joining the EU, rather than in a mood of hyper-legalism and hyper-moralism that is all too likely to make peace impossible and which our own history does not justify.”

“Western Europe’s cynicism about Ukrainian suffering,” FT’s Simon Kuper, FT, 06.16.22.

  • “Ukraine’s best friend in western Europe is probably the U.K, but then Britain has a military tradition, a ruling party whose voters historically like all wars and a prime minister with no other serious policies whose chief justification for clinging to office is that Ukraine needs him.”
  • “Other western European capitals are waiting patiently for Kyiv itself to decide it wants a ceasefire. Any deal would give Russia effective but not formal control of conquered territory. Western Europeans would make sure Ukraine kept some Black Sea ports so that Putin couldn’t strangle global grain supply. Yes, this would mean rewarding a bloodthirsty dictator, but that’s international relations—see also Joe Biden’s planned visit to Saudi Arabia.”

Great Power rivalry/new Cold War/NATO-Russia relations:

“Eight Lessons from the Ukraine War,” Harvard University’s Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Project Syndicate, 06.16.22.

  • “There are at least eight lessons—some old, some new—that the world is learning (or relearning) from the war in Ukraine.” 
    • “First, nuclear deterrence works, but it depends on relative stakes more than on capabilities.”
    • “Second, economic interdependence does not prevent war.”
    • “Third, uneven economic interdependence can be weaponized by the less dependent party, but when the stakes are symmetrical, there is little power in interdependence.”
    • “Fourth, while sanctions can raise the costs for aggressors, they do not determine outcomes in the short term.”
    • “Fifth, information warfare makes a difference. As RAND’s John Arquilla pointed out two decades ago, the outcomes of modern warfare depend not only on whose army wins, but also on ‘whose story wins.’”
    • “Sixth, both hard and soft power matter.”
    • “Seventh, cyber capability is not a silver bullet.”
    • “Finally, the most important lesson is also one of the oldest: war is unpredictable. ... Immediately following America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, many in Washington predicted a cakewalk … but the effort bogged down for years. Now it is Putin who has let slip the dogs of war. They may yet turn on him.”

“A Strategy for the Fence Sitters: Learning to Live With Countries That Refuse to Take Sides on Ukraine,” Brookings Institution’s Bruce Jones, FA, 06.15.22.

  • “If Washington and its core allies want to build a wider alliance to isolate Russia—or down the road, respond to potential Chinese aggression—Biden will need to win the support of a much broader set of countries. Less than half of the world’s partial democracies and hybrid regimes participated in isolation efforts targeting Moscow. Mobilizing a larger coalition to deal with Beijing will be an even taller order for Washington.”
  • “To make these inroads, the United States will have to reverse its recent tendency to ignore the politics of the global South. Tragically, the United States did not fulfill Biden’s promise of serving as a global ‘arsenal of vaccines’ to help the developing world cope with COVID-19. Washington still has a chance to live up to its concrete commitments on climate finance, sustainable development, food price support, and global governance reform. In its global diplomacy, moreover, the United States would do well to eschew the rhetoric of democracy versus authoritarianism, in favor of more straightforward arguments about the de-stabilizing effects of allowing Russia and its partners to destroy core international norms, such as non-intervention. After all, Washington will need the widest possible coalition to triumph in tomorrow’s geopolitical contests.”

“As Russia advances, U.S. and Europe must redouble aid to Ukraine,” Editorial Board, WP, 06.16.22.

  • “With the invasion now nearly four months old and at an inflection point—between its initial shocks and a longer-term grind—the United States and its allies must learn the right lessons and draw the right conclusions. The first is to take seriously both Russia’s intentions and its capabilities. Mr. Putin still considers all Ukraine to be Russian, as he indicated in a June 9 speech likening his current war to Peter the Great’s 18th-century campaign to retake territory from the Swedish Empire. Despite the vast losses of men and materiel Mr. Putin has already sustained, the Russian military retains an advantage over Ukraine in heavy weaponry crucial to the fight: planes, tanks and artillery.”
  • “A stalemated war could give Russia time to consolidate its territorial gains—and foment division within Western ranks. Hastening and broadening military aid to Kyiv is the best way to prevent that.”

“How Ukraine Will Win. Kyiv’s Theory of Victory,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, FA, 06.17.22.

  • “To avoid growing weary of the war and falling for misleading narratives, the West needs to understand exactly how Ukraine can win, and then support us accordingly.”
  • “We urgently need more heavy weapons from various sources to turn the tide in our favor and save lives. Our most pressing needs are for hundreds of multiple-launch rocket systems and various 155-mm artillery pieces. ... We also need antiship missiles, tanks, armored vehicles, air defense, and combat aircraft to be able to launch effective counterattacks. ... In short, we need weapons that prove that the West is committed to helping us actually win—rather than to just not letting us lose.”
  • “We have a pathway to victory. With sufficient support, Ukraine can both halt Russia’s advance and take back more of its territories.”
  • “If we advance in both the south and the east, we can force Putin to choose between abandoning southern cities, including Kherson and Melitopol, in order to cling onto the Donbas, and abandoning newly occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk so he can hold the south. When we reach this moment, Putin will likely become more serious about cease-fire negotiations.”
  • “Putin is not suicidal; a Ukrainian victory will not lead to nuclear warfare. Any war ends with diplomacy. But that moment has not yet come. Right now, it is clear that Putin’s path to the negotiating table lies solely through battleground defeats.”

Vladimir Putin’s remarks at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum plenary session,, 06.17.22.

  • “The era of a unipolar world order has come to an end ... However, the ruling elite of some Western states seem to be harboring this kind of illusion … If some ‘rebel’ state cannot be suppressed or pacified, they try to isolate that state, or ‘cancel’ it, to use their modern term ... This is the nature of the current round of Russophobia in the West, and the insane sanctions against Russia. They are crazy and, I would say, thoughtless.”
  • “The economic blitzkrieg against Russia was doomed to fail from the beginning. … The worsening of the global economic situation is not a recent development ... [W]hat does our military operation in Donbas have to do with this? Nothing whatsoever ... The rising prices, accelerating inflation, shortages of food and fuel, petrol and problems in the energy sector are the result of system-wide errors the current U.S. administration and European bureaucracy have made in their economic policies.”
  • “While ensuring its domestic food security and supplying the domestic market, Russia is also able to scale up its food and fertilizer exports. … As for Ukrainian food supplies to global markets—I have to mention this because of numerous speculations—we are not hindering them. They can do it.”
  • “Given these circumstances and against the backdrop of mounting risks and threats, Russia was forced to go ahead with the special military operation. ... No doubt, our special military operation goals will be fulfilled.”
  • “The very structure of Western sanctions rested on the false premise that economically Russia is not sovereign and is critically vulnerable. … Of course, sanction restrictions created many challenges for the country. ... But, on the other hand, all this opens up new opportunities for us.”

“From Accepting NATO Aspirations to ‘Denazifying’: 20+ Years of Putin’s Changing Views on Ukraine,” RM Staff, Russia Matters, 06.16.22.

  • “Early into his first term as an elected president in 2000-2004, Putin radiated optimism about what he believed would be a Euro-centric, or even an Atlantic-centric, future for Russia and some of its post-Soviet neighbors.”
  • “[A]s the years passed, and color revolutions and NATO expansion scrambled Russia’s traditional sphere of influence, Putin’s optimism dimmed. Hope for a fruitful, multipolar future on terms sought by Moscow gave way to frustration with what he saw as Western vilification of Russia, fears of sabotage and worries over Russia’s diminishing role on the global stage. This gradual hardening can be seen in many facets of Putin’s public speech but is perhaps most vividly illustrated by his views of NATO.”
  • “Putin has grown increasingly convinced that NATO expansion undermines Russian security while delivering no meaningful security benefit for the alliance—particularly after Ukraine had begun to lobby in earnest for a NATO membership action plan during the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko.”
  • “Another common theme of Putin’s Ukraine rhetoric over the years has been its shared history with Russia. This has served shifting purposes in projecting Russian power—from early inspiration for increased cooperation between sovereign neighbors to Putin’s contention that Ukraine and Russia are ‘one people’ and ‘one nation.’ Accordingly, Putin’s views of Russia’s role vis-à-vis Ukraine also appear to have shifted—from the fraternal … to the paternalistic.”
  • “What becomes apparent from our review of 22 years of official statements is that, typically, Putin has publicly signaled shifts in his views on Ukraine before translating them into actual policies. Some of these, such as the ongoing aggression toward Ukraine, may reflect Putin’s failure to accurately anticipate the costs and benefits of implementation. However, such failures, as Mark Cancian and others have argued, do not mean Putin is irrational.”

“'Russian Rebellion': Local and Global Consequences,” Valdai Discussion Club’s Ivan Timofeev, Valdai Discussion Club, 06.14.22.

  • “Realizing that the game was being played according to fundamentally unfavorable and discriminatory rules from the Russian point of view, Moscow not only slammed the table with its fist and brushed the pieces off the board, it also decided, figuratively speaking, to hit its opponents hard on the head with this board.”
  • “The West has every reason to fear the ‘Russian rebellion.’ Worries about a liberal world order arose long before 2022 and even before 2014. Compared to Russia, China poses a far greater danger. If the ‘Russian rebellion’ is successful, it will become clear that China's ambitions will be even more difficult to contain.”
  • “Yes, the Western blockade will increase the lag and backwardness of the economy. Yes, military operations are costly. Yes, they can cause unpredictable social reactions and even present a challenge to political stability. None of these challenges, however, are capable of knocking Russia off its political course from now on.”
  • “Will the success of the rebellion mean its victory? This will depend on two factors.”
    • “The first is the international political implications. A military success in Ukraine could set off a chain of global consequences leading to the decline of the West. However, such a scenario is far from predetermined.”
    • “The second factor is the consequences for Russia itself. By avoiding promoting a global alternative to the liberal order, Russia will at least have to decide on a program for its own development. ... The preservation and development of a market economy as well as an open and mobile society remain among the most important tasks.”

“Rules Are No Longer Working at All,” Russian in Global Affairs’ Fyodor Lukyanov’s Interview to Business Online, 06.20.22.

  • “It must be understood that the strategic defeat that the West, led by the United States, is preparing for Russia, will not lead to peace and the subsequent restoration of relations. With a high probability, the theater of the ‘hybrid war’ will simply move from Ukraine further east, into the borders of Russia itself, the existence of which in its current form will be in question.”
  • “I see no reason why Russia would be lost. At worst, it will be an unpleasant lesson, the consequences of which will have to be overcome for a long time. Nevertheless, we will overcome them, and perhaps this will even give an incentive for some other trajectory of the country's development.”

“What Makes a Power Great: The Real Drivers of Rise and Fall,” RAND’s Michael J. Mazarr, FA, July/August 2022.

  • “A broad survey of the evidence suggests that these seven characteristics play an outsize role in determining the competitive fate of nations.”
    • “The first essential characteristic—arguably the foundation for all forms of relative national strength—is some version of driving national ambition. Externally, this trait produces a sense of national mission and greatness and a desire to influence world politics.”
    • “In addition to having a driving national ambition, highly competitive societies tend to share opportunities widely among their citizens.”
    • “Another characteristic that stimulates national competitiveness is a shared and coherent national identity.”
    • “Highly competitive societies also tend to benefit from some version of an active state: a coherent, powerful, goal-directed, and effective government that invests in national capabilities and beneficial societal qualities.”  
    • “Most competitive societies share yet another characteristic: They tend to place a strong social emphasis on learning and adaptation.”
    • “Finally, most dynamic and competitive nations embody a significant degree of diversity and pluralism.”
  • “The question is one of will: whether the United States has the reservoirs of creative determination, national solidarity and political resolve to meet this weighty challenge.”

“The Hollow Order, Rebuilding an International System That Works,” University of Virginia’s  Philip Zelikow, FA, July/August 2022.

  • “The need for a new world order is apparent, and policymakers are already at work trying to address the evident failures of the existing system. In doing so, they have again invoked values and philosophies.”
  • “It may be easy, and perhaps natural, for the would-be architects of the new system to organize it around Washington. But that would be a mistake. The enemies of this new order, united by their resentment of the United States, will seek to discredit it as just another effort to dominate global affairs. For this new order to be viable, it must be conceived in such a way that the charge is false.”
  • “The new order must also be decentralized to be effective; the resources and wisdom needed to solve many vexing problems are not concentrated in the United States.”
  • “A revised system of world order … must be open to any countries that can and will help attain its common objectives. India should have a place at any symbolic high table, for example, as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.”
  • “Facing tragic realities, the citizens of the free world must rebuild a global order that is practical enough to address the most vital common problems, even if it cannot and does not promise progress on all the values and concerns people face. This system will be far more effective if the world’s most populous country joins it, and China faces another time of choosing.”

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • No significant developments.

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

“Who Is Deterring Whom? The Place of Nuclear Weapons in Modern War,” Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey’s Jeffrey Lewis and FPRI’s Aaron Stein, War on the Rocks, 06.16.22.

  • “Tom Schelling argued that analysts were mistaken to talk of the brink of nuclear war as if it were the ‘sharp edge of a cliff where one can stand firmly, look down, and decide whether or not to plunge.’ A better description, he argued, was a ‘curved slope.’”
  • “The United States and Russia have edged, ever so carefully, out onto this slope.”
  • “What about the next step? Will Biden hazard another footfall? Will Putin? And then there is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.”
  • “In the face of uncertainty, leaders can try to infer what the other might be thinking. One way to do this is to listen to what an opponent says.”
  • “The fact that this is difficult, frustrating, and ultimately terrifying does not mean that nuclear deterrence is failing. Anticipating the Russian reaction to each increase in the lethal support given to Ukraine is not ‘self-deterrence.’ It is simply deterrence.”
  • “Russia has the means to use these weapons and has explained how they could choose to use them. No human knows how—in that moment—a leader will respond. The goal of deterrence is to never get to that moment of choice and, at least thus far in this war, the two sides have managed to do just that.”

“America’s real deterrence problem,” Brookings Institution’s Melanie W. Sisson, Brookings, 06.15.22.

  • “The deterrence problem the United States actually has, that is, is the tendency to treat deterrence as though it were a capability and not a strategy.”
  • “Analysts have concluded that he [Putin] had a fixed belief about U.S. disinterest as a result of its milquetoast response to his seizure of Crimea in 2014, that he thought NATO’s bonds were brittle and would break if pressed, and that the populations of Europe would be disinclined to tolerate the hardships of forgoing Russian gas and oil. Some have questioned his mental and physical health, while others have criticized the Biden administration for taking the military option off the table from the outset. It may be that the threat of force would have been more effective and, too, it is possible that Putin simply wasn’t deterrable. Those conclusions, however, shouldn’t be drawn without first scrutinizing the West’s strategy to assess the extent that it did, or did not, account for or seek to change Putin’s.”


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security:

  • No significant developments.

Energy exports from CIS:

  • No significant developments.

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

“U.S.-Russia relations, one year after Geneva,” Brookings Institution’s Steven Pifer, Brookings, 06.16.22.

  • “How can the United States have a predictable and stable relationship with a Kremlin leadership that prefers unpredictability and instability?”
  • “Interestingly, both Biden and the Kremlin have recently expressed a desire to resume the U.S.-Russia dialogue on strategic stability at some point. That likely will not begin again until well after the Russia-Ukraine war ends, and it would then be a dialogue conducted by two countries coldly seeking to put constraints on what both regard as an adversarial relationship.”
  • “Relations between Washington and Moscow have often depended in large measure on the tone set by the two leaders. With all that has transpired over the past six months, it is very difficult to see how Biden and Putin could improve bilateral relations. Indeed, could the two even agree to meet?”
  • “The mistrust and bad blood will make cooperation challenging, even on issues where both countries’ interests converge, such as arms control, climate change and dealing with Afghanistan. Restoring anything that looks like normalcy in the bilateral relationship will likely require two things.”
    • “First, Putin’s departure from the Kremlin, something that may not happen for years.”
    • “Second, when Putin leaves power, his successor likely will have to make significant policy changes to demonstrate that Russia will play by the rules of the international order, no longer seek to use military force to impose its will on neighboring states, and be ready to work with the West for a stable and secure Europe. Unfortunately, that will be some time in coming.”


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

“Putin’s iron grip on Russia is a legacy of empire,” LSE’s Tomila Lankin, WP, 06.15.22.

  • “Putin last week praised Peter the Great’s expansionary goals, with a nod to Russian imperial nostalgia. The concept of restoring Russia’s imperial legacy has figured prominently in Putin’s justification for his war on Ukraine.”
  • “Weighing how Russians view the war, Putin can count on societal divides that have been around since the Czarist era.”
  • “Present-day social divisions in Russia go back to the Czarist era, which divided society into groups called sosloviya or ‘estates.’ ... Contrary to its propaganda, the Soviet Union preserved the deep divisions in Czarist society. The Soviet regime even inadvertently consolidated the chasm between the highly educated classes and illiterate peasantry by relying on those educated in the imperial period to advance toward the goal of rapid economic modernization.”
  • “Thanks to these historical legacies, few Russians have both the professional autonomy to challenge the regime and the intellectual training to scrutinize the Kremlin’s false propaganda narratives. But as in Czarist times, a sizable minority of engaged citizens continues to challenge the war and autocracy, whether as emigres abroad, or risking their lives in Russia. These educated professionals, artists, writers and other intelligentsia are often the descendants of Russia’s educated estates.”

“Putin the Emperor: From Annexing Crimea to Restoring the Empire,” Carnegie Endowment’s Andrei Kolesnikov, Russia.Post, 06.15.22.

  • “‘Return and strengthen!’ is now the slogan of the Putin era. These were the words of the current Russian autocrat on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of Tsar Peter the Great’s birth, in the sense that the first Emperor of All the Russias did not seize anything, but only returned it to Russia and strengthened it. So Putin is a new Peter the Great for a new age—and also an emperor, because he is restoring the empire. … He is primarily a Russian imperialist and only secondarily a Russian nationalist and ultra-conservative.”
  • “[T]he implementation of the idea of empire invariably implies the presence of internal and external enemies who must be suppressed … The concept of ‘threat’ is very important in this context. The Russian state is constantly struggling with threats to its security, traditional values, and especially ‘sovereignty’ from the West.”

“Can Putin Survive? The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse,” London School of Economics’ Vladislav Zubok, FA, July/August 2022.

  • “If the sanctions regime does drag on and becomes institutionalized, the West may yet succeed in undermining Putin’s system. Moscow’s talented economists will eventually become unable to shield the country from devastating macroeconomic impacts.”
  • “In the long term, it is possible to imagine this seriously weakening the Russian state. Separatism could rise or return to some regions, such as Chechnya, if the Kremlin stops paying their residents’ bills. ... Still, even a much weaker Russia is not destined to suffer a Soviet Union–style breakup. National separatism is not nearly as much of a threat to present-day Russia, where roughly 80% of the country’s citizens consider themselves to be ethnic Russians, as it was to the Soviet Union.”
  • “The West should nonetheless stay the course. The sanctions will gradually drain Russia’s war chest and, with it, the country’s capacity to fight. Facing mounting battlefield setbacks, the Kremlin may agree to an uneasy armistice. But the West must also stay realistic. Only a hardcore determinist can believe that in 1991, there were no alternatives to the Soviet collapse. In fact, a much more logical path for the Soviet state would have been continued authoritarianism combined with radical market liberalization and prosperity for select groups—not unlike the road China has taken. Similarly, it would be deterministic for the West to expect that a weakened Russia would fall. There will at least be a period in which Ukraine and the West have to coexist with a weakened and humiliated but still autocratic Russian state. Western policymakers must prepare for this eventuality rather than dreaming of collapse in Moscow.”

“How do regular Russians feel about the war in Ukraine?”, Daniel Freeman, Responsible Statecraft, 06.17.22.

  • “Levada, one of Russia’s few remaining independent pollsters, claims it was able to increase candor by switching from telephone interviews to in-person visits. Its work over the last few months provides a few clear insights:”
    • “Supporters of the war outnumber opponents, probably by a ratio of around 2:1.”
    • “Vastly more Russians blame the United States, NATO and Ukraine for the destruction than blame the Kremlin.”
    • “Support for the war is segmented by age, with older Russians more supportive than the young.”
    • “Most Russians believe Russia will defeat Ukraine.”
  • “It would thus be foolish for Western powers to place their hopes for ending this war in some sort of popular revolt in Russia.”
  • “Even if a mass protest movement does emerge as the war drags on, the example of the Belarus protests of summer 2020 provide a sobering reminder that people power in the street isn’t likely to translate into political power if the authorities hold their ground and the security forces remain loyal.”

“Why Gazprom Corruption is Bad For The World, Not Just Russia,” Proekt’s Roman Badanin, MT, 06.16.22.

  • “A group of Russian investigative journalists published a series of articles about massive corruption at Gazprom, Russia's largest company and one of the leaders of the global energy market. Why should this be important to an international audience?”
  • “Thanks to an investigation by the independent media outlet Proekt and the team of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, it has become clear that from the very beginning of Putin’s rule Gazprom has been a source of personal wealth for Putin himself; the head of the company, Alexei Miller, who worked as Putin’s secretary for many years; and a group of high-ranking intelligence officers.”
  • “The scale of the state money expropriated is shocking.”
  • “Western countries should keep this in mind, especially when planning sanctions. None of the proxies described in our investigation has ever been mentioned as a potential target of sanctions—despite the fact that some of them have firms, and maybe real estate, in Europe.  Putin, Miller and their henchmen must answer not only for what they are doing in Ukraine, but also for what they have stolen from their own nation.”

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 aggressive autocracy reduces Russian soft power to ashes,” Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia’s Ivan Krastev, FT, 06.16.22.

  • “What is unfolding is a perverted end of the last European empire. The so-called russky mir, or ‘Russian world,’ conceived as something culturally bigger than the Russian Federation, is being sacrificed on the altar of autocracy and Russian ethnicity.”
  • “A new report from the European Council on Foreign Relations, based on a pan-European opinion poll, suggests the break with Russia is irreversible, at least in the short and medium term.”
    • “A majority of Europeans have lost any illusions about integrating Russia into their world. Many support cutting economic, cultural and even diplomatic ties with Russia.”
    • “Western sanctions have failed to change Russian foreign policy, but they have forced European governments to part with the idea that Moscow can ever be a reliable partner to the west.”
  • “In terms of soft power, the invasion of Ukraine has achieved two things: a decisive end to any lingering post-Soviet identity, and the degradation of Moscow’s use of the Soviet victory over Hitler as part of its national mythology and international reputation.”
  • “Before the war, Moscow’s middle class and Putin’s oligarchs thought and acted as if they belonged to both the Russian and the western world. Such an ‘amphibious’ life is no longer possible.”
  • “Changing the nature of the border, and not simply the place of the border, between Russia and the west is the major objective of Putin’s war. Tragically, he is achieving that goal.”

“There’s a Method to Macron’s Madness,” Michele Barbero, FP, 06.15.22.

  • “Macron’s interest in placating Russia is manifold.”
    • “On the one hand, he wants to secure a prominent role in the peace negotiations that will ultimately have to take place.”
    • “Macron’s insistence on maintaining a connection with Putin is also about France staking out a leadership role in a Europe that has moved past now-departed German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a French foreign-policy tradition that has always prided itself on showing independence from Washington.”
  • “Macron may be right that the time of negotiations sooner or later will come. But as the battle rages on, too many members of the pro-Ukraine front are still dead set against showing any signs of fatigue that Russia could exploit.”

“Germany’s Chancellor Promised to Deter Putin. Then He Did Nothing,” Jagoda Marinić, NYT, 06.14.22.

  • “Allies, including Mr. Zelensky himself, are beginning to question Germany’s commitment to international law and the free world. You can see their point. By doing so little, Mr. Scholz allows Mr. Putin to maintain the autocratic illusion of winning the war. The government’s policy of delay was ostensibly made in the name of peace. In practice, it’s led only to more war and more destruction in Ukraine.”
  • “There is some hope of change. The promise in early June to supply Ukraine with an air-defense system and tracking radar, though at an unspecified date, was a step in the right direction. But it’s all taking far too long. Every day, the Russian military makes gains in Ukraine’s east; loss and fatigue, at last, seem to be afflicting the Ukrainian forces.”
  • “The longer Germany, the most powerful and influential country on the continent, hesitates, the more devastation Mr. Putin can unleash. There should be no more time for delay.”

“Germany’s New Resolve on Russia Is Already Flagging,” Hudson Institute’s Peter Rough, FP, 06.16.22.

  • “The push for diplomacy and neglect of hard power are endemic to German foreign policy, but in the case of Ukraine, there is an additional complication in play. Since the end of the Cold War, Berlin has treated Ukraine as a mere plank of its Russia policy. When former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said in the days before the war that the West would stand down because it believes ‘Russia is more important than Ukraine,’ he could easily have been describing Germany. It has become sport among the Berlin media to press Scholz and his defense minister, Christine Lambrecht, on their support for a Ukrainian victory, a goal that both refuse to endorse.”
  • “The fact that Berlin is awash in rumors of secret negotiations with Russia suggests Germany would prefer to disappoint Ukraine than humiliate Russia—whatever that may mean. For example, if Putin offers to lift the blockade of Odesa in return for sanctions relief or pause hostilities in recognition of a new line of contact, voices for accommodation will only grow. The accommodationists are emboldened by an unlikely ally: the United States. Just like Scholz and Lambrecht, U.S. officials have lately shied away from endorsing a Ukrainian victory.”
  • “The war in Ukraine may have badly mauled the Russian military, but if Putin appears confident, it is because Scholz—along with Macron—may yet help him snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. If so, it will be even clearer that the Zeitenwende was no such thing.”

“Merkel’s lack of regrets illustrates the fallacies of Germany’s Russia policy,” Brookings Institution’s Constanze Stelzenmüller, FT, 06.21.22.

  • “Merkel’s signature approach to dealing with problems—comprehending them fully, but choosing to manage rather than to resolve them—was shared not just by her various coalition partners, but by the German business community and by voters. It is in line with a longstanding postwar tradition of German leaders framing strategic choices as strategic constraints, thereby evading the appearance of agency or responsibility. As a recipe for grappling with an unchained totalitarian Russia—and with a future of permanent upheaval and disruption—it is not just futile but reckless.”

“Italy’s media is being roiled by rows over Russian propaganda,” FT’s Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli, FT 06.15.22.

  • “Up until this year, Italy’s foreign policy and trade relations with Russia mirrored Berlusconi’s fascination with Putin. Now, however, prime minister Mario Draghi is overseeing the most dramatic foreign policy shift in 30 years, and the country is trying rapidly to abandon its dependence on Russian gas.”
  • “Yet several media outlets have continued to air Russian propaganda, offering a platform to Russian and Italian analysts who deny attacks on civilians, blame NATO for the conflict and accuse the Ukrainian government of provoking Putin.”


“Ukraine should not have to pay for this war,” BlueBay Asset Management’s Timothy Ash, bne IntelliNews, 06.13.22.

  • “How can a Ukrainian sovereign default be avoided?”
    • “First, and as noted above, the West needs to think about the funding mix. The balance needs to be skewed towards grants and away from debt.”
    • “Secondly, while it seems fair that Ukraine should not have to pay the financial cost of this war, it can equally be questioned why Western taxpayers should pay when the country clearly, and without any doubt, responsible for those losses is being allowed to get away without reparation?”
    • “Thirdly, the temptation might be to approach private sector involvement in the normal manner through debt relief. This is not cost free, though. It involves the stigma of default, elevated short-term borrowing costs and limited market access for a period.”

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • No significant developments.