Russia Analytical Report, June 27-July 5, 2022

This Week’s Highlights

  • Annie Sparrow of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai argues that attacks on Ukraine’s healthcare are central to the Russian military’s way of waging war and calls for changing the Kremlin’s cost-benefit analysis with regard to what constitutes high-yield war crimes.
  • Yale’s Thomas Graham analyzes the outcomes of NATO’s Madrid summit, concluding that neither the alliance’s new force posture nor its new strategic concept are likely to prompt Putin to rethink his Ukraine strategy. “Nothing suggests that he [Putin] believes that the West’s provision of more sophisticated weaponry is going to shift fortunes on the ground,” he writes.
  • The Russian-Ukrainian war will leave Russia and Belarus separated from the EU and NATO by a new line drawn across Europe, according to Michael Kimmage of Catholic University of America. “Europe will be, once the smoke and dust of war settle in Ukraine, what it always was—a battlefield,” and the United States will not be a distant onlooker. Rather, the U.S. “will be standing on one side, with its many allies, across the trenches from its oldest and most familiar adversary,” Kimmage predicts.
  • Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings argues that Henry Kissinger’s proposition for a Russian-Ukrainian peace deal requiring territorial compromise by Kyiv should be explored. One approach toward such a deal could envision a future referendum to determine sovereignty over disputed territories, while another option would create autonomous zones where both Ukraine and Russia claimed sovereignty, and a third approach would defer solutions, according to O’Hanlon.
  • In the view of RAND’s David Johnson, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict may be heralding “the end of short wars between states by professional armies” and the return of conscription. Regardless of what Putin achieves or fails to achieve in Ukraine, it is on the domestic front that he is winning his war, according to Kirill Rogov of Re: Russia. Putin is turning Russia into a kind of “Orthodox Iran” separated from Europe as if by some fathomless moat, according to Rogov.


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:

“What America Should Do If the Iran Nuclear Deal Talks Fail,” Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue’s Maria Fantappie and Johns Hopkins University’s Vali Nasr, FA, 07.01.22.

  • “The growing push for stronger diplomatic relations between Iran and its Arab neighbors presents Washington with an opportunity to reorient regional security. By working closely with Arab states ...Washington can build broader support for controlling escalation between Israel and Iran. It must couple the imperative of containing Iran militarily with encouraging regional diplomacy to influence its behavior. Israel is wooing Arabs to join an anti-Iran security umbrella. Iran has every reason to dissuade Arabs from taking that step. Arab states can use this leverage to encourage both Iran and Israel to desist from risky provocations and keep in check their shadow war.”

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

“Russia is waging war on Ukrainian healthcare,” Annie Sparrow of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, FT, 07.05.22.

  • “There is no doubt that attacks on healthcare are central to the Russian military’s way of waging war.”
  • “Once we understand that attacks on healthcare are a high-yield war crime, our aim must be to change the Kremlin’s cost-benefit analysis.”
    • “Governments should single out this criminal strategy for denunciation. Urgent efforts should be made to convey to the Russian people, in Russian, the human costs of targeting hospitals.”
    • “The World Health Organization must identify attacks on healthcare in Ukraine as war crimes and describe the public health consequences.”
    • “Prosecutors should prioritize these war crimes, and pay special attention to those who orchestrate such attacks.”
  • “We should ensure that Putin pays every possible reputational, diplomatic and political price for these atrocities. Otherwise, this criminal doctrine will become normalized.” 

“Investigators of War Crimes in Ukraine Face Formidable Challenges,” NYT’s Valerie Hopkins, NYT, 07.03.22.

  • “[Under way is] Ukraine’s wide-ranging effort to collect evidence to prosecute Russia and its military for war crimes in the brutal killings of Ukrainian civilians.”
  • “Ukraine’s judicial system is now almost wholly devoted to investigating war crimes, with most of its 8,300 prosecutors fanned out across the country collecting evidence.”
  • “Ukraine’s top prosecutor said this past week that almost 20,000 more cases—involving accusations of torture, rape, execution-style killings and the deportation of what Mr. Belousov said could be tens of thousands of Ukrainians to Russia—were being investigated.”
  • “Experts say the process is proceeding with extraordinary speed and may become the biggest effort in history to hold war criminals to account. But it faces an array of formidable challenges.”
    • “For one, the investigations are being undertaken even as the war rages in the east. … Also, although investigators from inside and outside Ukraine are all collecting evidence, there is little coordination.”

“How to Break Russia’s Black Sea Blockade. The World Must Act to Address the Global Food Crisis,” Mark Cancian of Center for Strategic and International Studies, FA, 07.01.22

  • “If NATO sailed convoys to Ukrainian ports, it might have to contend with a Russian attack. … Russia would most likely use naval mines and submarines to attack the grain convoys, since these weapons are not only effective but also covert and deniable, which would mitigate the blame assigned for shooting first. ... A less confrontational option would be to enlist non-NATO countries to provide escorts and cargo ships. A country like Egypt, which depends heavily on imported grain, might be willing to take on the risks a convoy would entail.”
  • “There are also diplomatic options that could be worth pursuing. Putin, for instance, has stated that Russia would allow shipments from Ukraine under some conditions. One could imagine a ship-for-ship agreement, in which one merchant ship from Ukraine would be allowed to engage in international trade in exchange for one ship from Russia doing so.”
  • “Over the longer term, the status quo will prove untenable. Should the war continue, dwindling supplies will cause shortages and food riots that could lead to social and regime instability. The West will face mounting pressure to act. Global hunger may not be acute yet, but when it hits, it will hit hard. It is the responsibility of NATO and the West to have a plan in place before the shortage becomes a crisis.”

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

“A Modern-Day Frederick the Great? The End of Short, Sharp Wars,” David Johnson of RAND Corporation, War on the Rocks, 07.05.22.

  • “Although it is too early to tell what the war in Ukraine heralds, the West may be witnessing the end of short wars between states by professional armies.”
  • “How the American people would respond to a new draft as a hedge against great power war is unknowable. In any case, it is not a viable course of action for the U.S. military to rely upon absent its institution by authorization in law. Therefore, the Department of Defense needs to take steps to reduce its vulnerability to mass casualties. Below are several suggestions that, although certainly not comprehensive, are a necessary beginning.”
    • “Systems of rotational readiness should be abandoned and the individual replacement system and tiered-unit readiness reinstituted. As Robert Rush convincingly argues in his pathbreaking study Hell in Hurtgen Forest: The Ordeal and Triumph of an American Infantry Regiment, the individual replacement model enabled the U.S. Army to keep units in action. German forces did not have a similar system and their units eventually suffered attrition to the point of combat ineffectiveness.”
    • “The focus of combat medical care should be on returning soldiers as rapidly as possible to the fight.”
    • “Finally, the American people ought to be prepared for the realities of a war like that in Ukraine. We may assess we are better, but we should accept the reality that the capacity to inflict large casualties at range from Russian systems is very much present.”
  • “The long-term demands of a protracted war with China or Russia will demand a modern-day American levée en masse with implications far beyond reinstituting conscription. ... We are also witnessing in real time the sacrifices this has demanded from Ukraine and Russia. The final question for us as a nation, as we ponder the realities of great power competition and conflict, is this: Are we up for the same?”

“The Real Key to Victory in Ukraine. Why Sustaining the Fight Is Everything in a War of Attrition,” Kirstin J. H. Brathwaite of Michigan State University and Margarita Konaev of the Center for a New American Security, FA, 06.29.22.

  • “The strength of Ukraine’s sustainment effort will depend in part on what happens in Washington and other Western capitals. ... How long this support lasts will depend on the public mood in Western countries. Support for Ukraine remains relatively high in the United States, in European countries, and in allied countries such as Australia, Japan, and South Korea. Yet popular opinion about the war is more mixed in parts of Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa, where Russia has more influence and where it has concentrated its disinformation campaigns. If inflation, food shortages, and supply chain disruptions persist, countries in these regions could push to scale back sanctions on Russia or reduce aid to Ukraine.”
  • “But just as important as the international climate is what happens in Ukraine itself. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees have returned home in recent months. Repatriation on this scale could initially strain food and health resources, but it could also help revive the economy and labor market, facilitate the movement of supplies and medical support to the frontlines in the east, and provide a morale boost to the nation as a whole.”
  • “As the war in Ukraine has transformed into one of attrition, the importance of sustainment has been elevated, perhaps above all else. Although a decisive military victory in which the Ukrainians expel Russian forces from their entire territory seems increasingly unlikely, Kyiv could still stymie Moscow’s progress and strengthen its position for future negotiations by continuing to surge reinforcements and supplies to the frontlines. If the past four months of war have revealed anything, it is that underestimating Ukraine is a mistake. The United States and its allies must do their part to help Ukraine sustain the fight.”

“Lessons of Russia's War in Ukraine: You Can't Hide and Weapons Stockpiles Are Essential,” WSJ’s Daniel Michaels, WSJ, 07.04.22.

  • “Some lessons aren't all that new, such as the value of strong leadership and resilient supply lines.  Others are: The modern battlefield has no hiding places and no boundaries. Drones, electronic surveillance and space-based observation make concealment harder than even a few years ago.”
    • “With electronic surveillance now pervasive, planners are seeking ways to operate without emitting radio signals.”
  • “Relentless bombardments from both sides have made clear the importance of ready stocks of weapons and munitions.”
  • “While some observers said the rout [of Russian forces at Kyiv] foretold the death of the tank, others said what it really showed was the need for well-coordinated maneuvers involving a variety of troops and weapons, known as combined-arms tactics.”
  • “‘The will to fight is decisive,’ said NATO’s Mr. Stoltenberg. He cited not just ‘the commitment of Ukrainian troops, but also of the Ukrainian people to defend their own country.’”

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

“Russia/Sakhalin-2: nationalization sends message to Shell and its peers,” Lex, FT, 07.01.22.

  • “Russia will force the ownership of its Sakhalin-2 natural gas project into a local entity, threatening the investments of foreign groups including Shell and Japanese trading companies. It is a shot across the bows of energy producers that are attempting to negotiate exits from Russia.”
  • “The move appears to be less about attacking Japanese investors Mitsui and Mitsubishi, which together own 22.5%. Both have said they want to continue as customers. Russian liquefied natural gas accounts for nearly a tenth of Japan’s needs.”
  • “Russia does not want Shell to remain a phantom shareholder, providing no capital or operational expertise. From March, ExxonMobil discontinued working at nearby Sakhalin-1, which it has a 30% stake in and operates. Oil and gas production there has plummeted some 80%.”
  • “If Shell hoped to sell its stake to, say, Chinese oil producers such as Cnooc or CNPC, that now looks a lot more difficult. BP, which owns a fifth of state-owned Rosneft, and Total Energies of France, which has large investments in Russia’s gasfields, have plenty to ponder. Expect more asset grabs to come.”

“Russia/energy price cap: complex plan may not be needed,” Lex, FT, 06.28.22.

  • “A [G7-proposed] cap would need to drastically cut Russia’s received price of oil to have an impact on its economy. Note that most G7 members have only agreed to explore a cap’s ‘feasibility.’ That hints at the complexity. Tracking the provenance of refined fuel exports from Russia could make any cap devilishly hard.”
  • “In theory, however, the plan has merit. Instead of slashing oil supply to all countries—Russia is the world’s number-three producer—it would allow it to flow.”
  • “One way might be via shipping insurance on oil cargos. The International Group of Protection & Indemnity Clubs in London covers about 95% of the global oil shipping fleet, Rystad Energy points out. Close to two-thirds of world oil travels by sea, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This insurance might be restricted unless buyers agree to a maximum price for Russian crude.”
  • “It is possible that a cap will not be needed at all. Bearish energy analysts, such as Citi, expect Brent to fall towards $75. On the current Urals price discount, that puts crude below the current Russian forecasted budget price.”

“Companies should follow through on pledges to leave Russia,” Editorial Board, FT, 07.04.22.

  • “Western governments are united in opposition to Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine while eschewing direct military involvement for fear of uncontrollable escalation. They have chosen instead to pressure Moscow by economic means. Their populations are being asked to make sacrifices through soaring prices and possible energy shortages.”
  • “There is a compelling case for most western companies—except those selling, say, vital medicines—to join this effort. If they have to close Russian operations, they should offer local staff the same terms as if they were withdrawing for purely business reasons. There is another way to help, too. With recovery costs now put at more than $750 billion, companies should heed the pleas of President Volodymyr Zelensky—and redirect their Russian investments, and more, to Ukraine.”

“Can Putin’s Russia ever reopen for business?” Rui Soares of FAM Frankfurt Asset Management, FT, 07.04.22.

  • “Russia accounts for less than 10 % of revenue for the vast majority of the foreign companies that were active inside its borders, which in turn is equivalent to a year or two of their normal global revenue growth. It is surely fair to assume that without regime change the overwhelming majority of western companies will not return to Russia after the end of the Ukraine war, independently of official western political and economic sanctions being formally lifted or not. Putin’s Russia will become a pariah state.”

Ukraine-related negotiations:

“Everyone's talking about the endgame in Ukraine. Here's how it might look,” Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings, WP, 07.01.22

  • “Any progress toward peace would likely begin with a cease-fire, perhaps sometime this summer or fall, roughly along the lines of current combat. With this approach, Russia would remain in control for the foreseeable future of most of the land it holds now—much of the East, the Crimean Peninsula and the land bridge between the two. No agreement would be reached on permanent borders. Kyiv and Western countries could maintain their principled position that all of the disputed land is Ukrainian. They could hold out hope that a future Russian leader after Vladimir Putin might see things the way they do and finally return the land—perhaps in the 2030s, once Putin is finally gone.”
  • “Until then, Russia would remain under sanctions. As an inducement to Putin, however, the West could signal that these sanctions would not get any tougher or broader once a cease-fire was reached.”
  • “Ukraine might not be prepared to accept such an interim arrangement today—but Kyiv might well change its mind after a few more weeks or months of intense fighting and likely futile attempts at recapturing most of the territory Russia now holds.”
  • “Henry A. Kissinger recently made waves by suggesting that any such deal would require territorial compromise by Kyiv. But even if the 99-year-old statesman was too blunt for some, he raised a topic that should be explored. … At least three other concepts could be invoked—indeed, all three might be needed.
    • “One approach could envision a future referendum to determine sovereignty over disputed territories, after a multiyear cooling-off period.”
    • “Another option would create autonomous zones where both Ukraine and Russia claimed sovereignty.”
    • “A third approach would simply defer some difficult situations. … Russia would hold onto some swaths of land; Ukraine would insist that the land was still its own; negotiations could be scheduled for the future to reconsider the topic. … The alternative—a potentially indefinite continuation of this terrible war—is so bad that we should try, working with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, to jump-start the conversation.”

“Biden’s Endgame Shouldn’t Be Victory for Ukraine,” Tulsi Gabbard, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Daniel L. Davis of Defense Priorities, FP, 06.27.22.

  • “While there is still time, and Kyiv still controls 80% of its territory, a change in U.S. policy would provide a chance to save Ukrainian lives and prevent further territorial losses. At minimum, the Biden administration should de-emphasize its goals of weakening Russia and instead prioritize diplomacy, helping Kyiv and Moscow find a negotiated end to the war.”
  • “It is in the U.S. national interest to prevent the war from escalating in Ukraine or expanding beyond it. Avoiding the risk of direct U.S.-Russian or NATO-Russian confrontation is vital because of the dire global consequences of a nuclear war. The world is already at a greater risk of nuclear war than at any time since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.”
  • “While it is up to Kyiv and Moscow to decide how and when this war ends, U.S. weapons and other aid are underwriting Ukraine’s war effort. Just as Ukraine has agency, so too does the United States—and U.S. interests are not identical to Ukraine’s.”
  • “It is in the best interests of Ukraine, Europe, the United States, and the world for this war to end. It is crucial at this important junction that the United States in particular, and the West in general, base policy on the combat realities in Ukraine—and not recklessly seek an unattainable outcome. Ignore reality long enough, and it is possible Ukraine could outright lose the war and, along with it, the leverage it currently possesses.”

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

“NATO Countries Signal Resolve at Summit: What Does It Mean for Russia?,” CFR’s Thomas Graham, CFR, 06.30.22.

Moves by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) this week reportedly put the alliance on its most dangerous footing with Russia since the Cold War. Is that true?

  • “Yes, NATO’s new Strategic Concept adopted at this week’s summit defines Russia as ‘the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.’ Tensions have not been this high along the NATO-Russia frontier since before the end of the Cold War.”
  • “As always, lurking in the background is the risk of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons. Russian saber-rattling has diminished in recent weeks, but it will likely reemerge with greater urgency should the situation on the battlefield turn against Moscow.”

How might Russia respond?

  • “Russia’s strategic position has deteriorated substantially as a consequence of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. NATO is more unified in opposition to Russia than it has been for years, NATO has more forces along its borders than … since the end of the Cold War, and Finland and Sweden are set to join the alliance. ... Nevertheless, Russia’s reaction has been surprisingly mild. ... What lies behind this stance is unclear, but, given the tough battle in Ukraine, Putin might not want to take on additional problems.”

Could changes to force posture and strategic concept have any impact on the assault on Ukraine or Russia’s longer-term calculations?

  • “NATO’s new force posture and strategic concept are not likely to prompt Putin to rethink his Ukraine strategy. He is making slow but steady progress on the battlefield in the east and south. … But the new circumstances in Europe do pose a long-term strategic challenge to Russia.”

Did the summit reveal a newfound sense of NATO unity?

  • “The summit was an impressive show of resolve to counter Russia’s aggression, including through continued diplomatic, economic and military support for Ukraine. NATO pledged to further expand its military support for its vulnerable allies along the Russian frontier.”
  • “However, challenges remain. … Burden-sharing is a perennial issue. … In recent weeks, France, Germany, and Italy have expressed interest in finding a negotiated settlement to the conflict, which would likely leave some seized Ukrainian territory in Russian hands. That position is vehemently opposed by Poland and the Baltic states, among others.”

Madrid Summit Declaration, issued by NATO Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Madrid, 06.29.22.

  • “We condemn Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms.  It gravely undermines international security and stability.  It is a blatant violation of international law. … Russia has also intentionally exacerbated a food and energy crisis, affecting billions of people around the world, including through its military actions. … We will continue to counter Russia’s lies and reject its irresponsible rhetoric.  Russia must immediately stop this war and withdraw from Ukraine. Belarus must end its complicity in this war.”
  • “We warmly welcome President Zelensky’s participation in this Summit.  We stand in full solidarity with the government and the people of Ukraine in the heroic defense of their country.  We reiterate our unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders extending to its territorial waters.”
  • “The Russian Federation is the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. … With determination, resolve and in solidarity, Allies will continue to counter Russian threats and respond to its hostile actions and to fight terrorism, in a manner consistent with international law.”
  • “We will continue and further step up political and practical support to our close partner Ukraine as it continues to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russian aggression. Jointly with Ukraine, we have decided on a strengthened package of support. … In light of the changed security environment in Europe, we have decided on new measures to step up tailored political and practical support to partners, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova.”
  • “We reaffirm our commitment to NATO's Open Door Policy. Today, we have decided to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO, and agreed to sign the Accession Protocols.  … The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure.  The security of Finland and Sweden is of direct importance to the Alliance, including during the accession process.”

“NATO’s Hard Road Ahead. The Greatest Threats to Alliance Unity Will Come After the Madrid Summit,” Charles A. Kupchan of Georgetown University, FA, 06.29.22.

  • “Although the Russian invasion of Ukraine constitutes a traditional act of territorial aggression, it also reveals just how complicated the security agenda has become. ... Cybersecurity, food security, supply chains, migration, relations with China, the international payments system—the war has left few issues untouched. ... NATO can handle some, but certainly not all, of these cross-cutting issues.”
    • “Deeper linkages between NATO and the EU offer one avenue for better integrating the geopolitical and the geoeconomic.”
    • “Another option would be to establish a new transatlantic council charged with addressing policy issues.”
  • “It is now time for NATO to start moving toward a cease-fire and diplomatic endgame in Ukraine, in no small part to maintain transatlantic solidarity and guard against homegrown threats to liberal democracy that may pose an even greater threat to the Atlantic community than Putin. This pivot needs to be part of a broader effort to build a transatlantic architecture fit for purpose amid the interdependence of the twenty-first century.”

“A Post-War Stand-Off Between Russia and the West Is Inevitable. There will be no Europe whole, free, and at peace,” Michael Kimmage of Catholic University of America, NI, 07.05.22.

  • “Whatever happens on the territory of Ukraine, a new line has been drawn across Europe. It is a vague and uncertain line. On one side are Belarus and Russia. On the other are the European Union and the NATO alliance. This will be a line of contact—long, shifting, dangerous—for decades to come. Russia will not have the power to transcend this line, and either through magnetism or coercion to draw Europe into its orbit. But neither will non-Russian Europe or the transatlantic alliance or the West have the power to subdue Russia or erase its influence.”
  • “Of what will this influence consist? Russia will attempt to turn any source of European instability to its advantage, something that will be felt every time there is an election, every time a government falls and every time two or more European states come into conflict with one another. Russia’s negative influence will be expressed through cyberattacks and perhaps in occasional military attacks, given that Russia now has very little to lose by irritating the West and by trying to knock it off balance. And Russia’s negative influence will be expressed in nuclear threats, some of which will fall on deaf ears (if they are merely bluster) and some of which may be backed up by a non-trivial intent to make them seem as credible as possible.”
  • “This state of affairs is a tragedy for the United States, as it will be a tragedy for Europe. There will be no Europe whole, free, and at peace. Europe will be, once the smoke and dust of war settle in Ukraine, what it always was—a battlefield, and on this battlefield the United States will not be a distant onlooker. It will be standing on one side, with its many allies, across the trenches from its oldest and most familiar adversary.”

“Ukraine and the Return of the Multipolar World,” Emma M. Ashford of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, NI, 07.04.22.

  • “It is ... easy to see why many have hailed the war in Ukraine—and the unexpected successes of the Ukrainian military in pushing back the initial Russian onslaught—as a repudiation of spheres of influence in world affairs, and a reassertion of the notion of an American-led liberal international order in which power and might matters less than norms and values.”
  • “But nothing could be more mistaken. A sphere of influence is not a normative concept, nor something a state cedes to another out of courtesy or pity. It is instead a simple fact: the place where one great power is unwilling or unable to commit the necessary resources to force another state to submit. In that regard, Ukraine is itself … a clear example of how they work in practice.”
  • “The war in Ukraine has demonstrated three things about the shifting balance of global power.”
    • “First, while America may still claim a global sphere of influence, it is not willing in practice to risk a nuclear war with Russia to protect Ukraine.”
    • “Second, spheres of influence are rarely uncontested, and Russia has thus far proven incapable of imposing its will on Ukraine, failing to achieve both its primary and secondary military goals in this war.”
    • “Third, while much of the coverage of the war in Ukraine has been framed in this bipolar way … the response to the war has been far less clear-cut. Outside of Europe, most states have taken a more nuanced approach to the crisis.”
  • “It would be foolish for U.S. policymakers to assume that this war presents either a vindication of the liberal order or a repudiation of power politics and spheres of influence. Instead, it suggests that they must learn to navigate a world that is not divided into black and white, but rather, into many shades of gray.”

“How united is the West on Russia?” Tobias Bunde of the Hertie School's Centre for International Security and Tom Lubbock of Kekst CNC, WP, 07.05.22.

  • “Our Munich Security Index analyzes public risk perceptions in the G-7 nations, as well as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa … through surveys conducted by Kekst CNC, a global communications firm.”
    • “Compared to a November 2021 version of the index, respondents have become far more willing to see their country oppose Russia, both economically and militarily. ... Respondents are also willing to provide military support. Other than Italy, an outlier in other surveys as well, more respondents say their country should do more to support Ukraine with weapons.”
    • “Relative majorities in Italy (38%), Germany (44%), France (48%) and the United Kingdom (50%), as well as absolute majorities in Canada (51%) and the United States (53%) agree … that ‘NATO members should push back harder against Russia even if the risk of military escalation between NATO and Russia increases.’ The only countries in which more than a quarter of respondents disagree are Italy (27%) and Germany (26%).”
    • “Respondents also seem ready to consider a major overhaul of NATO's eastern flank. While a considerable part of the public in the NATO members surveyed remains undecided (from 31% in Germany to 41% in Canada and Italy), pluralities in Canada (43%), France and the U.K. (both 46%), Germany (48%) and the U.S. (49%) say that their country ‘should massively increase its military presence at NATO's eastern border.’”
    • “The net scores [those who support Ukraine's bid minus those who oppose it] we tallied are generally slightly lower vs. questions on EU membership for Ukraine, but continental Europeans vs. other NATO members diverge in their views. We found net scores on the question of Ukraine's joining NATO lower in Italy (+14), Germany (+16) and France (+28), compared to scores in the U.S. (+44), the U.K. (+44) and Canada (+58).”

“The West Needs a Cure for Cold War Fever,” Edward Lucas of the Center for European Policy Analysis, FP, 07.05.22.

  • “For all its military superiority over Russia’s decrepit forces, NATO is struggling to create a credible defense for the Baltic states, for Poland, and in the Black Sea region. Washington and its allies also need a comprehensive defense against the full spectrum of hybrid warfare that Moscow—and, for that matter, Beijing—are already deploying. That will require hard thinking on questions ranging from restrictions affecting higher education to the role of technology companies in curbing propaganda attacks. Cybersecurity, supply chain resilience, and boosting social trust and cohesion are priorities in this new type of cold war, too.”
  • “While doing all that, the other big task is creating a diplomatic framework for dealing with the Kremlin. One aim must be better Western cohesion that puts a stop to Russia’s ability to divide NATO and the EU. Another lesson from the old Cold War is to communicate unambiguously the colossal costs Russia will incur with any military adventure against the Baltic states or other NATO member. A third is to minimize the risk of accidental escalation, particularly with hotlines, to avoid a misunderstanding leading to the use of nuclear weapons.”

Ending the War in Ukraine: Three Possible Futures,” Rajan Menon of City College of New York, TomDispatch, 06.26.22.

  • “Here are three possible scenarios for the ending of this ever more devastating war.”
    • 1. “De Facto Partition”
    • 2. “Neutrality with Sweeteners”
    • 3. “A New Russia”
  • “The suffering and destruction in Ukraine and the economic turmoil the war has produced in the West should be compelling enough reasons to end it.”

“Strategic Foundations of the Ukraine Crisis,” Andrei Sushentsov of MGIMO, Russia in Global Affairs, 07.04.22.

  • “We are probably in the midst of the crisis which is far from coming to a head ... a point of balance has not yet been found in the ongoing military crisis. However, it has its own options for development.”
    • “In the first scenario, the current Ukrainian government and Russia enter into an agreement that takes into account Russian demands, and these agreements are recognized by the West as part of a European security package deal. Then the Russian-Ukrainian crisis gives way to a Russian-Western military-political confrontation, similar to the Cold War.”
    • “The second scenario suggests that the further development depends on the military situation on the ground. In that case, either a balance is inevitably found, or one of the sides wins.”
    • “The third scenario suggests a sharp escalation of tensions between Russia and the West. The Ukraine crisis may spread to some NATO countries, or the West may step up its sanctions war against Russia in a bid to destroy the foundations of Russian statehood. In this case, the risks of a nuclear collision will increase. So far, the Western leaders have distanced themselves from such plans and said that they will not engage NATO forces in this conflict. Nevertheless, we have repeatedly seen how the West crosses its own ‘red lines.’ Unfortunately, this can happen again.”

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

“Putin’s rupture with the west turns Russia towards China,” Kirill Rogov of Re: Russia, FT, 06.30.22.

  • “[O]ne can view Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine—at first glance, an irrational gambit—as an attempt to ensure the most comprehensive, long-term break possible between Russia and the west.”
  • “Regardless of what Putin achieves or fails to achieve in Ukraine, it is on the domestic front that he is winning his war. He is turning Russia into a kind of ‘Orthodox Iran’ separated from Europe as if by some fathomless moat.”
  • “The Kremlin’s confrontation with the west today is turning the tables. As the new rivalries of the 21st century take shape, it represents the most valuable strategic gain that has yet come China’s way.”

“Ukraine Is the Korean War Redux,” Jo Inge Bekkevold of the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, FP, 06.28.22.

  • “Which conflict in history offers the greatest parallels to Russia’s war in Ukraine? The answer is undoubtedly the Korean War. Although different in origin and scale, both conflicts are regional wars with worldwide implications—heralding, accelerating and solidifying the transition to a new bipolar global order.”
  • “The war in Ukraine is both accelerating and consolidating the geopolitical divide between the West and a Sino-Russian axis.”
    • “First, the war in Ukraine increases Russia’s dependency on China.”
    • “Second, the war in Ukraine solidifies a hardened European view of China as a potential security threat.”
    • “Third, the war in Ukraine intensifies the Sino-U.S. economic divide and will accelerate efforts to limit interdependency.”
    • “Finally, the war in Ukraine has given NATO and the trans-Atlantic community a revived sense of unity.”
  • “The past three decades of globalization have seduced many into thinking that great-power conflict is obsolete and belongs to a dark past. The war in Ukraine has awakened the world to a different reality.”

“China’s Long Game in Russia: Violating Sanctions? No. Ensuring Russia’s Survival? Yes,” Lizzi C. Lee of Wall St TV, RM, 06.30.22.

  • “Policymakers and analysts the world over … want to know how far Beijing will go to provide a lifeline to Moscow during its brutal war in Ukraine. … On balance, China appears to be abiding by Western-led sanctions, although there is variation by sector in the intensity of continued business relations with Russia.”
  • “In the short term, Chinese governmental and corporate actors have largely obeyed the Western sanctions. In the long run, the economic onslaught against Russia will steel Beijing’s will to achieve technological and financial sovereignty in the face of Western dominance.”
  • “China’s tech and financial sectors are most wary of secondary sanctions, due to their heavy reliance on Western supplies and infrastructure. The behavior of the energy sector is more complicated, driven by both economic interests and geopolitical concerns.”
  • “China’s state and non-state sectors face different incentives when it comes to sanctions compliance. Private actors, driven largely by commercial interests, have opted to relinquish a Russian presence rather than risk painful sanctions exposure, though this can provoke anti-Western backlash at home. China’s state actors, on the other hand, walk the tightrope of strengthening economic partnerships with Russia while trying to avoid the optics of directly funding Putin’s war on the international stage.”
  • “With Russia weakened by war, China certainly has greater leverage to extract benefits from the relationship. Bilateral ties still include plenty of mistrust. But it is unlikely that Beijing believes the war will divert U.S. attention from strategic competition with China in any meaningful way.”

Nuclear arms control/non-proliferation:

“Russia-Belarus nuclear sharing would mirror NATO’s—and worsen Europe’s security,” Nikolai N. Sokov, BAS, 07.01.22.

  • “At their meeting on June 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, discussed the deployment of Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus. … The most obvious rationale for Russia’s future deployment in Belarus is this week’s adoption of the new NATO Strategic Concept.”
  • “Deployment of dual-capable Iskanders in Belarus would enhance both conventional and—if accompanied by the transfer of nuclear warheads—nuclear deterrence. … Russia’s announcement likely was triggered by the partial blockade of Kaliningrad Oblast that Lithuania introduced in the preceding week.”
  • “Russia’s decision announced on June 25 does not appear reversible, although it is notable that the transfer of nuclear warheads to Belarus was not mentioned, indicating this could require a separate decision.”

“Thinking About the Unthinkable in Ukraine. What Happens If Putin Goes Nuclear?” Richard K. Betts of Columbia University, FA, 07.04.22.

  • “In the event of a Russian nuclear detonation, NATO will have two conflicting aims. On the one hand, the alliance will want to negate any strategic benefit Moscow could gain from the detonation; on the other, it will want to avoid further escalation. This dilemma underlines the obvious imperative of maximizing Moscow’s disincentives to go nuclear in the first place.”
  • “To that end, NATO should not only pose credible threats of retaliation but also cultivate support from third parties that Putin wants to keep from joining the Western opposition. So far, Moscow has been buoyed by the refusal of China, India and other countries to fully join the economic sanctions campaign imposed by the West. These fence sitters, however, have a stake in maintaining the nuclear taboo. They might be persuaded to declare that their continued economic collaboration with Russia is contingent on it refraining from the use of nuclear weapons.”
  • “Washington will always keep declared threats and strategy vague enough to provide flexibility and escape hatches. Still, any further nuclear saber rattling by Putin should prompt simple but forceful reminders from Washington of what Putin knows but might otherwise convince himself the West has forgotten: Russia is utterly vulnerable to nuclear retaliation, and as generations of thinkers and practitioners on both sides have reiterated, a nuclear war has no winner.”

“A Turning Point on Nuclear Deterrence,” Daryl G. Kimball of the Arms Control Association, Arms Control Today, July/August 2022.

  • “As egregious, worrisome and risky as Putin’s nuclear antics are, the reaction of the international community until recently has been far too mild.”
  • “Fortunately, a much needed, more forceful rejection of nuclear weapons and threats of use emerged from the first meeting of states-parties to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) held in Vienna June 21–23. Citing ‘increasingly strident nuclear rhetoric,’ the TPNW states-parties issued the Vienna Declaration, which condemns all threats to use nuclear weapons as violations of international law, including the U.N. Charter. The declaration demands ‘that all nuclear-armed states never use or threaten to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances.’”
  • “The declaration underscores that, for the majority of states, outdated nuclear deterrence policies create unacceptable risks. The only way to eliminate the danger is to reinforce the norms against nuclear use and the threat of use and to accelerate stalled progress toward verifiably eliminating these weapons.”
  • “Given the growing risk of nuclear war, the first meeting of TPNW states-parties and the NPT review conference must become a turning point away from dangerous nuclear policies and arms racing that threaten global nuclear catastrophe.”


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

“U.S. wrestles with Russian, Iranian provocations in the Middle East,” WP’s Karoun Demirjian, WP, 07.03.22.

  • “A burst of Russian and Iranian maneuvers against U.S. interests in the Middle East has forced the region's new military commander toward an early reckoning over how to reestablish deterrence without sparking a wider conflict.”
  • “Army Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla … met in late June with dozens of the approximately 300 soldiers, Special Operations forces and foreign trainees stationed at this sprawling base in eastern Syria. The high-level visit occurred just days after Russian fighter jets attacked a combat post operated by Syrian opposition fighters inside the garrison. Russian military officials, citing a purported vehicle explosion they claimed had wounded Syrian government troops, notified the Americans of their intent 35 minutes prior, according to a U.S. military official.”
  • “No U.S. personnel were harmed in the Russian strike on Tanf. But that was little solace to Kurilla, who characterized the incident as part of a wider attempt by U.S. adversaries to assert dominance in the region while betting that the United States will not mount a kinetic response.”
  • "‘The last thing we want to do is start a conflict with Russia right now,’ Kurilla told the troops at the garrison. But, he added, ‘we will defend ourselves … We won't hesitate to respond.’”
  • “Though U.S. government officials are coy about what would trigger a military response, there is a consensus among experts that one clear red line for the United States is the killing an American citizen.”

Cyber security:

“Why Cyber Dogs Have Yet to Bark Loudly in Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine,” Nadiya Kostyuk of Georgia Institute of Technology and Erik Gartzke of University of California, San Diego, Texas National Security Review, Summer 2022.

  • “Because it is primarily an informational domain, cyberspace is most useful in pursuing informational goals. In Ukraine, we can see that this is precisely what Russia is doing.”
  • “Hollywood has gotten cyber war wrong, preferring to imagine a domain in which bits and bytes somehow lead to spectacular explosions … Intellectuals have not done much better. Rather than looking for direct, palpable effects, we are better off considering how information shapes political affairs indirectly and how politicians seek to condition information. Cyber war is more about beliefs and data than it is about wresting physical control over objects or destroying material capabilities.”
  • “What can we expect from cyberspace in future wars? Most likely, more of the same. The Russo-Ukrainian conflict has already demonstrated tendencies that we identified in a more systematic analysis. Cyber attacks do not generally lead to increased conventional conflict behavior. Nor does cyber war make redundant conflict in other domains. Instead, there has been a decline in conventional war … Taking territory is no longer the fast route to wealth and power that it once was. Instead, important nations collect, contain and acquire knowledge. The ability to build sophisticated technologies and glean and process insights about one another differentiates powerful nations from those that can only wish to be so.”
  • “Our systematic analysis of global military and cyber campaigns and descriptive anecdotes from the Russo-Ukrainian war suggest that cyber war cannot replace traditional forms of combat. Cyber attacks will also often fail to make physical attacks more effective or practical, unless and until each is well coordinated with the other. … Differences in these respective arenas mean that the future of warfare will likely not be fundamentally altered by cyberspace. Instead, the objectives of states are already evolving in an informational world. Nations will not use cyber war in the place of more traditional war, but they will rely increasingly on cyberspace as a domain for pursuing these new, informational objectives.”

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:

“Why America’s Far Right and Far Left Have Aligned Against Helping Ukraine,” Jan Dutkiewicz of Harvard Law School and Dominik Stecuła of Colorado State University, FP, 07.04.22.

  • “The ends of the horseshoe virtually kiss when these two men’s [Chomsky’s and Kissinger’s] theories about the end of the conflict in Ukraine overlap. Recently, both men called for the West and Ukraine not to escalate the conflict with Russia and to instead seek ‘peace.’ And they have both, often in tandem, been used by both the left- and right-wing commentariat to support their claims about Ukraine.”
  • “To see leftists conceding that Kissinger has a point and Republicans handing it to Chomsky has been quite something. But, the argument goes, if Chomsky and Kissinger (and Mearsheimer) agree, then they must be right. But they’re not. Putin said so himself when he recently compared himself to Peter the Great, claiming Russia’s right to expand into its previous colonies and dropping the pretense that Western provocations had much to do with his decision to invade Ukraine. And there went the strongest argument of both ends of the horseshoe: that this was the West’s fault, driven by the United States.”
  • “So what accounts for why the ends of the horseshoe are magnetically attracted to each other, pulled away from the rest of the spectrum? … [A]n overwhelming majority of Americans do not hold coherent ideological views. People who do are, in many ways, outliers. … This is the populist, anti-establishment dimension of U.S. politics.”
  • “The prevalence of a certain populism on both the left and right, which shapes debates online and in the media as well as the political messaging and policy priorities of Democratic and Republican politicians alike show that not just the political landscape but the nature of political discourse is deeply fractured. This is not simply a question of polarization but of something deeper: the increasing nonexistence of a shared understanding of political reality. Ukraine, rather than a protagonist in this trend, is just a bellwether of things to come.”


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

“If Putin Was a Woman,” WSJ’s Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 07.04.22.

  • “Vladimir Putin isn't trying to be more like Rambo. Among other heroes of Russian history, he is trying to imitate Catherine the Great. The most successful of a line of 18th-century rulers, mostly female, who expanded the empire of Peter the Great and made Russia the greatest land power in Europe, Catherine conquered the Crimea and western Ukraine. She won naval battles in the Black Sea and ruthlessly suppressed rebellions at home. Having installed a former lover as king of Poland, she gleefully took the lion's share of that unhappy country while partitioning it three times.”
  • “All the key beliefs of Putinism, represented as eternal truths about Russia and its place in the world, are on display in a series [‘Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great’] that is as entertaining as it is educational.”
    • “All other countries hate and seek to ruin Russia. Talk of ‘values’ in international relations is a cynical con by which the hostile West seeks to confuse and disarm Russia.”
    • “Russia is also threatened from within. Greedy officials, populist discontent and pretenders to power would pull Russia to bits if left to themselves. Foreign enemies are eager to join forces with domestic ones, constantly probing to weaken Russia.”
    • “Only a strong ruler, exempted from the restraints of conventional morality and armed with a powerful internal security apparatus that is free to use harsh measures can keep Russia safe.”
  • “Successful rulers do not give up when the going gets tough. They, and the Russian people with them, dig in for a long, ugly war. This is the picture Mr. Putin wants the Russian people to have of their current situation, and to a significant degree it is likely how he sees himself.”

“The Ukraine War and the Putin Succession,” Peter Rutland of Wesleyan University, NYU’s Jordan Center/Transitions, 06.23.22.

  • “Presumably, when the time comes, Putin will name a successor and hand power to him very quickly—as did Boris Yeltsin in December 1999. It is possible that such a transfer of power would be challenged by rival elites: but that is unlikely, since no one wants to repeat the chaos of the 1990s. But if Putin were to die unexpectedly, there could be a chaotic interregnum. There is no authoritative collective body, such as the Politburo of Soviet times, to choose the next president. The Security Council would presumably step into that role.”
  • “In the meantime, politicians are maneuvering to be first in line when the time comes to pick a designated successor. The war increases the likelihood that a successor will come from the ranks of the security bosses, the siloviki.”
    • “Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is the second most popular politician in Russia after Putin, but his image was damaged by the poor performance of the Russian army in the assault on Kyiv. Also, at 67 he is too old to be anything other than a transitional leader. Likewise the two most powerful men after Putin–Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council, and Aleksandr Bortnikov, head of the FSB security service–are both one year older than Putin.”
    • “Alongside the siloviki, Putin relies on a team of loyal but competent managers. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has been keeping a low profile since the war began, in keeping with his image as a technocrat. In contrast, Sergei Kirienko and Dmitry Medvedev have jumped on the patriotism bandwagon. ... Another ambitious politician who is playing the patriotism card is Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the State Duma.”
  • “Until he was appointed prime minister in August 1999, no one foresaw the elevation of Vladimir Putin to the presidency. Similarly, this time around it is also possible that Putin will pick someone from the security agencies who does not yet have a prominent public profile.”

“War excites speculation about the possible break-up of Russia,” FT’s Tony Barber, FT, 07.02.22.

  • “In this interview with the Italian magazine Limes, the prominent Russian foreign policy thinker Sergei Karaganov was asked if a long war in Ukraine might result in Russia’s break-up. He replied: We know it’s a possibility and we are openly talking about that . . . We also know that for the first time since the . . . cold war we have some western powers openly aiming at disaggregating Russia.”
  • “Casey Michel says it may not be necessary to break up Russia, as Cheney advocated, if the country can be modernized and rebuilt as a democratic federation. … A very different take comes from Janusz Bugajski of the Jamestown Foundation. He says Russia’s break-up might set off ethnic and territorial conflicts, but could also promote ‘the creation of several viable states with a notable degree of political stability.’”
  • “Vladislav Zubok, a much-respected Russian historian, injects a dose of reality into these speculations. He says that, even if Russia agrees to an ‘uneasy armistice’ in Ukraine, there will 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.’”
  • “Writing in the National Interest magazine, Julian Spencer-Churchill of Montreal’s Concordia University contends that Putin’s authoritarian system cannot last. ‘What is certain is that a liberal constitution in Moscow will lead to further secession of Russian minority territories.’”
  • “Russia’s thinly populated far east is vulnerable to China, which, though friendly with Moscow now, may have an eye one day on reclaiming territories ceded to the tsarist empire in the 19th century. And that raises a big question. To the extent that China is the west’s long-term rival in this century, shouldn’t western governments want a stable, united Russia—not a broken-up Russia? To that, I would add—if Russia starts to fall apart, what will happen to its nuclear arsenal?”

How regions are suffering from war,” Interview with Moscow State University’s Natalya Zubarevich, Reforum, June 2022.  

  • “The problem today is the very concentrated involvement of Russian enterprises in global chains. Either you are exporters or manufacturers of processing products and you get a lot from imports—parts, equipment, components. Exports to Europe have been closed, and it is impossible to redirect these gigantic flows to Asia. … I feel sorry for the most advanced regions, which are maximally included in the global value chains. Today they pay for their activity and sink the most.”
  • “Let’s compare April 2022 with March 2022. ... Industry—minus 8.5%, extractive industry—minus 10%, processing—minus 6%. … Technical degradation awaits us. Each city will have its own problem ... Russia will break up into such problematic cities. … Representatives of one enterprise told me that they were looking for drawings of Soviet cars.”
  • “Now let's look at the service sector, April 2022 to April 2021. Trade minus 10% in real terms, wholesale minus 12%, non-food trade minus 17% … a contraction of effective demand.”
  • “The food industry, the agricultural sector will be able to develop (if it is not crushed by quotas and export duties: the authorities actively use them so that prices within the country do not grow). Domestic tourism … this is a matter of income and price tag, which will be rolled out by tourism workers.”
  • “[W]here this road may lead further in the coming years, I don’t know: it’s not the economy that makes decisions, politics drive the economy. And I can’t say anything about that—I don’t have the qualifications of a doctor of a certain specialty.”

“The weak spot of Putin’s image,” Abbas Gallyamov, Russia.Post, 07.04.22.

  • “The war is already starting to disappear from the front pages and soon will fade into the background. Issues like the economy, domestic policy, living standards and social problems will again come to the fore. This will be a moment of weakness for Putin—in such situations his ratings start to decline even without any focused external influence. If organized, such influence could significantly speed up the process. If a political actor was actually carrying out a major targeted campaign against Putin, then he would create a pool of experts who, having given up fighting a war with the regime on the ‘ideological’ front, would take up public analysis and criticism of the economic policy pursued by the government from a non-ideological standpoint.”

“Prison doesn't give me many views of the sun,” WP’s Vladimir Kara-Murza, WP, 07.01.22

  • “Parallel to his stuttering invasion of Ukraine, Putin has conducted a highly effective blitzkrieg against what remains of political freedoms in Russia, turning his regime from highly authoritarian to near-totalitarian almost overnight.”
  • “The fact is that most Russians are not aware of the horrendous war crimes being committed by Putin's forces in Ukraine. Propaganda is not the only reason; repression is another. Anyone who publicly criticizes Putin's war in Ukraine could face arrest and years of imprisonment—as I now do under one of the hastily instituted new articles of the criminal code.” 
  • “Each of the thousands of Russian antiwar protesters is standing up not only for the people of Ukraine and for the international rule of law but also for the future of our own country. Each one is giving another reason to hope that a renewed, reformed post-Putin Russia can one day take its place in the community of democratic nations—and in a Europe that would finally become whole, free and at peace.”

“When Culture Reaches for a Gun, Andrei Kolesnikov of Carnegie Endowment for International Piece, MT/NT, 06.28.22.

  • “Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the State Hermitage Museum, joined Vladimir Putin, Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev, Patriarch Kirill and former culture minister Vladimir Medinsky in the role of heavy artillery to justify ideologically Russia’s choice of civilization: self-isolation and an archaic militarized state.”
  • “‘War ... is a nation’s form of self-assertion.’ A phrase we might have heard from Mussolini or Franco or any other dictator in the 20th century came from Piotrovsky in the 21st. In this war there is unprecedented number of refugees and displaced persons—more than 8 million as of June—almost 5,000 confirmed dead on the Ukrainian side and an unknown number on the Russian side. We don’t know exactly how many because Putin's Russia doesn’t care about them, it hides its dead and does not repatriate its corpses. Is this the self-assertion of a nation? For what? For the ‘denazification’ of 320 dead children? The ‘demilitarization’ of flourishing cities, factories, schools that were certainly not built by Putin?”
  • “‘We militarists and imperialists understand our historical mission,’ says the Hermitage director, a specialist in Asian art and heir to a prominent family. But ‘we’ are not all militarists and imperialists.”
  • “What other theses did Piotrovsky offer? We are ‘more Europe’ than Europe itself. We are the guardians of its true values. Today's Europe has lost its Europeanness, while we cherish and nurture it. Of course, if we mean the medieval Europe ravaged [by] wars, crusades and plagues, then we are Europe. Modern Europe is not at war with anyone, does not kill anyone and does not wipe cities off the face of the earth. Refugees are migrating to modern Europe, not to ‘welcoming’ Russia. I wonder why not.”

“The Wagnerverse: Pop culture and the heroization of Russian mercenaries,” Marlene Laruelle of The George Washington University and Kelian Sanz Pascual of the Center Geopolitics of the Datasphere, Russia.Post, 06.28.22.

  • “The private military company (PMC) Wagner has once again made international headlines with the arrival of around 1,000 of its employees on battlefields in Ukraine. For its supposed owner Evgeny Prigozhin, this is a return to a familiar environment: his companies began their disinformation activities in Ukraine during the Maidan revolution.”
  • “The PMC is no longer limited to making war or business: it is also involved in a broader strategy of branding Russia in the eyes of foreign, as well as domestic public opinion. This new activity is not so surprising if we recall that Prigozhin himself specializes in Russia’s image abroad and can therefore offer Wagner many of his contacts in the worlds of public relations and show business.”
  • “It is not surprising that the PMC Wagner entered this ideological market and took over an already well-established Russian cultural tradition. Moreover, it did so at a time when mercenary activity has been propelled to the forefront of the international scene. In this market, Russia has certain advantages and a brand image. It remains to be seen how this image will survive the war in Ukraine: the legion of foreign volunteers launched by Kyiv tends to recruit in similar circles, including among ‘white nationalist’ groups, but in a geopolitical logic opposed to Russia. Time will also tell whether or not Russia’s image in the mercenary realm will be transformed by the war in Ukraine and if the branding ambitions of the PMC Wagner still have a future.”

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:

“In Russia Crisis, India Tries to Balance Geopolitics and Economics,” NYT’s Emily Schmall and Suhasini Raj, NYT, 06.28.22.

  • “When Russia first invaded Ukraine, the United States warned India against buying more Russian oil, saying that New Delhi could face ‘consequences.’ Now the West is softening its stance, emphasizing that India doesn’t need to choose sides.”
  • “The changing tone reflects the middle path that India is carving out for itself in this geopolitical crisis, as the nation tries to maximize its geopolitical leverage without limiting its economic opportunities.”
  • “In many ways, Mr. Modi is maintaining India’s traditional position of strategic autonomy.”
    • “India’s ties to Russia date to its independence, when few other nations recognized New Delhi’s currency or creditworthiness. Over the years, Russia has backed India at the United Nations on questions over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir. It is also India’s largest arms supplier. After a visit with Mr. Modi in April, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said the two countries were looking at ways to expand trade.”
    • “At the same time, India’s prime minister is breaking from the past by showing less reticence to be part of overtly Western-led alliances, such as the Quad security grouping that includes the United States, Australia and Japan. As India’s largest market, the United States is also key to Mr. Modi’s ambitions to expand India’s economy by 8 to 9% annually.”


“The Source of Ukraine’s Resilience. How Decentralized Government Brought the Country Together,” Tymofii Brik of Kyiv School of Economics and Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili of University of Pittsburgh, FA, 06.28.22.

  • “A major source of Ukraine’s resilience is this strong sense of local civic identity. It is the backbone of the country’s self-defense, and it helps explain why so many Ukrainians—especially Russian speakers—are so willing to defend their communities against Russian invasion. And it’s no accident that local governments have so much authority. Decentralization reforms adopted after the Maidan revolution in 2014, which overthrew the Russian-backed government of Viktor Yanukovych and came to be known as the Revolution of Dignity, have played a pivotal role in building national unity.”
  • “Local governments should be the focus of Ukraine’s reconstruction effort. Early evidence shows that action at the local level is more responsive on most issues than national or even international efforts. Local volunteers are much faster at securing local funding, waste little on overhead and can operate much closer to the frontlines with better local knowledge than international organizations.”
  • “It is imperative that international donors learn from past reconstruction failures and work to support Ukraine’s hromadas and other local government structures as they help the country rebuild. Hromadas and other local authorities are not perfect, but by delivering on their promises, they have increased satisfaction and trust in local leadership by ensuring resources are spent on those who need it most.”

“Serhii Plokhy: Putin’s imperialist narrative ‘is being crushed,’” interviewed by Polina Ivanova, FT, 07.01.22.

  • “There are not many people in the world who have dedicated vast amounts of time to the study of the medieval east Slavic state of Kyivan Rus. Harvard historian Serhii Plokhy is one. Vladimir Putin is another. … ‘The politicians and the generals,’ he [Plokhy]says, are seeking to occupy not just lands, but ‘swaths of history’ as well. So there’s nothing left to do but fight against the ‘abuses and misuses of history.’ ‘The task is really to defend your turf.’”
  • “Today, ‘we have an imperialist narrative, written by Putin, and his . . . ’ Plokhy begins to say ‘ . . . and his inner circle,’ but then wonders aloud whether there is one left. In Ukraine, that view of the world, and the distorted historical story that underpins it, is being defeated, Plokhy says. ‘It’s just being crushed.’”
  • “So it is Russia that might change the most as a result of this war. ‘The fall of empire is not a particularly Russian phenomenon. We are in London now after all,’ he says. … But normally, when empires fall apart, the old imperial powers reinvent themselves, finding a new identity as nation-states, he says. This hasn’t happened yet for Russia. ‘We believed, in 1991, that the Soviet Union came to an end, and a new era started,’ Plokhy says. And for many people, including many Ukrainians, it did. ‘But it didn’t start for the core group’—for Russia, or at least for its elite.”
  • “Perhaps the birth of a new identity for Russia, one free of the hangover of empire, will be the long-lasting outcome of this war. ‘I want to think optimistically,’ Plokhy says.”

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • No significant developments.