Russia Analytical Report, June 3-10, 2024

4 Ideas to Explore

  1. Joe Biden may have concluded that Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats regarding the Ukraine war are “not credible,” but there is still a “real and increasing risk of Russian conflict” with the U.S. and its allies, according to Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group. “There are growing dangers that could dramatically, and suddenly, up the stakes in that conflict,” Bremmer warned in a commentary published by Time in between Putin’s two most recent nuclear threats. First, on June 5, Putin told a meeting with foreign editors that “if someone's actions threaten our sovereignty and territorial integrity, we consider it possible to use all the means at our disposal.” If that were not enough, Putin then made a not-so-subtle hint on June 7 that Russia may resume nuclear testing as part of its efforts to coerce Western countries into stopping, if not reversing, their escalating efforts to help Ukraine on the battlefield. The problem with the Russian leader’s continuously threatening nuclear rhetoric is that if “the situation escalates to the point where the Kremlin genuinely considers nuclear use” and signals accordingly, “such a signal could get lost in the noise,” according to Steven Pifer of Brookings. While purportedly dismissing Putin’s nuclear threats over his war against Ukraine as “noise,” the Biden administration may, nevertheless, expand its nuclear arsenal unless Russia, China and North Korea stop “expanding and diversifying their nuclear arsenals at a breakneck pace,” according to Pranay Vaddi, special assistant to the U.S. president.

  2. Russian politicians gloated following heavy defeats for the parties of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in European Parliament elections, with the Kremlin saying right-wing parties are on the rise in the EU, according to Reuters.1 "Despite the fact that the pro-Europeans retain their leading positions for the time being, over time the right-wing parties will step on their heels," according to Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s deputy at the Security Council, claimed that the outcome of the elections, in part, resulted from what he described as Macron’s and Scholz’s "inept policy" of backing Ukraine in the war with Russia.
  3. Dissecting the surge in corruption-related arrests of top Russian military officials that followed shortly after Putin’s inauguration, David Szakonyi sees three reasons behind this purge and none of them have anything to do with the rule of law. “First, anti-corruption charges are used to punish disloyalty” to Putin’s regime, this assistant professor at GWU writes in Russia.Post. “Second, the loss of a prominent patron can leave corrupt officials exposed,” he continues, referring to Putin’s decision to remove Sergei Shoigu from the post of Russia’s defense minister. “Finally, officials who neglect their responsibilities in a way that tarnishes the image of the regime or threatens its very survival face their corrupt pasts being used against them,” Szakonyi concludes.
  4. The U.S. faces “a serious threat of a terrorist attack in the months ahead,” indicated by, among other factors, the rising number of successful terrorist attacks, such as ISIS-K’s deadly raid of a concert hall outside Moscow in March, according to Harvard’s Graham Allison and Beacon Global Strategy’s Michael Morell. The stated intentions of terrorist groups such as ISIS and its affiliates, as well as their growing capabilities, are also among the multiple factors at work, Allison and Morell warn in an article published by FA on June 10. The two acknowledge that the Biden administration “already has a lot on its plate,” including its need to support “Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s large-scale invasion.” Still, the growing terrorist threat cannot be ignored, and the Biden administration would do well to use America’s existing playbook to deal with it. That playbook includes “steps the intelligence community should take to better understand the threat, steps to prevent terrorists from entering the United States, and steps to put pressure on terrorist organizations in the countries where they find sanctuary,” they write.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

“Despite the risks, Russia continues to use Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as a source of leverage,” Darya Dolzikova, BAS, 06.06.24. 

  • To minimize the amount of leverage Russia thinks it can generate by holding the safety of the ZNPP hostage, continued pressure needs to be applied on Moscow to maintain all ZNPP reactors in shutdown mode by stressing both the risks and the lack of any necessity of Russia restarting reactor operations. The safety and necessity of any future Russian plans to return reactors to hot shutdown (from their current state of cold shutdown) should also be rigorously questioned. 
  • Member states must in turn continue to insist that the IAEA is granted all requested access across the ZNPP and is permitted to speak to all ZNPP staff. Considering the uniquely precarious state of the ZNPP, the IAEA should be granted input into and have oversight of any major decisions about its operations, including the eventual restarting of ZNPP reactors, which should be made conditional on a full IAEA safety assessment of the plant.
  • Ukraine’s partners must also work with Kyiv to identify the kind of support and resources (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear capabilities, medical assistance, transport, etc.) that authorities are likely to require to ensure the plant’s safety and effectiveness of the emergency response in case of a nuclear incident at the ZNPP. 
  • Ukraine’s partners must also commit to redouble—not roll-back—their support of Ukraine’s wider war effort should Russian actions lead to a nuclear safety incident at the ZNPP
  • A concurrent mechanism for deconflicting the airspace around the facility would further help limit the likelihood of intentional or inadvertent air targeting of the ZNPP, including the falling of debris when air defenses are deployed. Such a deconfliction mechanism would of course require Russian cooperation. 
  • Ultimately, so long as the ZNPP remains under Russian control and near the front line of the conflict, there is little that Ukraine and its partners can do to fully prevent a nuclear safety incident at the plant. Moscow continues to be the party ultimately responsible for endangering the safety of the plant since March 2022. Countering Russian disinformation, stressing the importance of IAEA engagement in ensuring plant safety, and clearly communicating continued support to Ukraine in relation to nuclear safety are actions that Western countries can take to help minimize Russia’s perceived coercive value of the ZNPP.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

“The war rages on but Ukraine’s recovery cannot wait,” Orysia Lutsevych, Chatham House, 06.07.24.

  • The estimated price tag for rebuilding Ukraine has already reached $486 billion. .... Ukrainian officials and international partners will gather in Berlin on 11-12 June for the Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC) to discuss how best to provide this non-military support. 
    • Survival of Ukraine’s energy system will dominate the discussion. Funders must ensure that Kyiv has the financial means and technical solutions to heat homes and provide energy to businesses during the upcoming winter. 80 per cent of Ukraine’s energy generation capability has been destroyed or damaged by Russian missile strikes.
  • Given civil society’s active involvement in supporting resistance, Chatham House asked Ukrainian non-profit organizations what they see as key priorities for recovery. Over 200 civil society organizations (CSOs) from all over Ukraine responded to our online survey.... Ukrainian civil society has a highly reformist agenda. In Kyiv and the regions, organizations name the modernization of institutions as the top priority for recovery – even during the war. Ukraine’s capacity for effective statecraft is key to its success on the battlefield.
  • Years of Russian aggression have also created new societal challenges. Survey respondents singled out the reintegration of veterans as one of the most acute challenges facing Ukraine.
    • A first step towards institutional reform is establishing the rule of law and fighting corruption. When asked to assess the most important elements of Ukraine’s internal resilience that require immediate support, 68 per cent of survey respondents selected fighting corruption that undermines institutions, 56 per cent said strengthening the rule of law, and 47 per cent said the accountability and effectiveness of institutions.  
  • Failure to enact domestic reforms will fuel feelings of sacrifices being in vain and could undermine unity and resilience inside Ukraine. Donors and the Ukrainian government must be aware of this risk and ensure that the inclusive recovery starts now.

For in-depth reporting on this subject, see: 

For more analysis on this subject, see:

Military and security aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

“Old and New Lessons from the Ukraine War,”  Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Project Syndicate, 06.04.24. 

  • If one sees the conflict as Ukraine’s “war of independence,” rather than focusing too much on borders, the Ukrainians are already victorious. Putin had denied that Ukraine was a separate nation, but his behavior has only strengthened Ukrainian national identity. What else have we learned? 
    • First, old and new weapons complement each other. 
    • Second, nuclear deterrence works, but it depends on relative stakes more than capabilities. … Putin’s nuclear threat has kept NATO governments from sending troops (though not equipment) to Ukraine. But the reason is not that Russia has superior nuclear capabilities; rather, it is that Putin has designated Ukraine a vital national interest for Russia, whereas Western governments have not.
    • Third, economic interdependence does not prevent war.
    • Fourth, sanctions can raise costs, but they do not determine outcomes in the short term.
    • Fifth, information warfare makes a difference. Modern wars are not only about whose army wins; they are also about whose story wins.
    • Sixth, both hard and soft power matter.
    • Seventh, cyber capability is not a silver bullet.
    • Finally, war is unpredictable. The most important lesson from the Ukraine war remains one of the oldest. Two years ago, many expected a quick Russian victory; and just one year ago, there were great expectations of a triumphant Ukrainian summer offensive. … [Putin] has managed to sell his war of attrition to the Russian people as a “great patriotic” struggle against the West. But the dogs [of war] he has unleashed could still turn around and bite him.

“The Pentagon is learning how to change at the speed of war,” David Ignatius, WP, 06.05.24. 

  • For several decades, military reformers such as retired Navy Capt. Jerry Hendrix have pleaded with the Pentagon to stop buying wildly expensive but vulnerable aircraft carriers and fighter jets and instead focus on getting vast numbers of cheap drones. But nobody seemed to listen.  Christian Brose, another Pentagon reformer who now works for start-up Anduril Industries, put it bluntly in a recent article for the Hoover Institution: "The US defense enterprise … is systematically broken." But for reformers, there's finally a flicker of good news. Change advocates, including Hendrix and Brose, told me that the iron triangle that supports legacy systems - which Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) described as the "defense-industrial-congressional complex" - might finally be giving way to common sense. Every military service, in nearly every combatant command, is experimenting with uncrewed, autonomous systems for land, air, sea and undersea combat.
  • What's finally driving change is the brutal lesson of the war in Ukraine. This is a drone and satellite war: Russian and Ukrainian tanks are almost defenseless against attacks from drones overhead; Russia's huge Navy has lost control of the Black Sea because of Ukrainian naval drones; satellites can feed precise targeting information to kill anything that algorithms designate as a weapon.
  • But there’s a catch: The Ukraine battlefield is a blizzard of electronic warfare. So systems must be truly autonomous, able to operate without GPS or other external guidance, as I described in a recent account from Kyiv of technology developed by the software company Palantir. In makeshift weapons factories in Kyiv, and in defense labs around the United States, designers are creating systems with artificial intelligence at “the edge,” embedded in the weapons themselves, so they don’t have to depend on jammable signals from space.
  • Leading the campaign for Pentagon reform is Kathleen Hicks, deputy secretary of defense. In August, she announced the “Replicator Initiative,” which aimed to transfer the tech lessons of Ukraine for the potential battle areas of the Indo-Pacific. She wanted cheap drones for use in land, sea and air — and quickly. The goal, Hicks said, was to field “autonomous systems at [a] scale of multiple thousands, in multiple domains, within the next 18 to 24 months.”
  • The Pentagon has managed for half a century to keep radical change from breaching its five walls. Carriers, bombers, tanks and fighter jets were built to last forever, and in a cozy world without peer competitors, it seemed that they could. But now, Hicks said, we’re in an era in which the Pentagon needs “deliberate discomfort” and “collaborative disruption.” It’s a revolution that’s long overdue.

“The Risks of Biden’s New Boldness in Ukraine,” Ian Bremmer, Time, 06.06.24. 

  • As Russia’s war grinds on, the Biden Administration is now taking on bigger risks to support Ukraine. The latest example is a White House decision to allow Ukrainian forces to use U.S.-provided weapons to strike targets inside Russia. 
  • Biden has also decided that most of Vladimir Putin’s threats of retaliation aren’t credible. After repeatedly threatening (usually unspecified) action against NATO countries in response to various acts of perceived aggression, and even warning that Russia might use nuclear weapons, Putin has taken very few actions that would trigger a broader war. 
  • Biden is also taking bigger risks with Russia because he wants to avoid the perception he’s doing less than America’s European allies. 
  • We can also expect news, perhaps from next month’s NATO Summit in Washington, about a Western security pact with will likely reaffirm a long-term commitment to Ukraine and formalize a process that accelerates weapons and other aid approvals.
  • All that said, there is a real and increasing risk of Russian conflict with the U.S. and other NATO members. Western leaders can’t expect Putin to sit still when all his bluffs are called. He’s not going to launch a frontal assault on a NATO country, but the risk of increasingly aggressive and disruptive Russian cyberattacks is rising, and the Kremlin can find other ways to make life more difficult in NATO countries. There is also an obvious risk that Ukraine might use Western weapons for attacks that (accidentally or deliberately) hit Russian civilians. Or that Russian strikes on Ukraine kill NATO trainers. Either scenario would force further escalation.
  • In short: don’t be fooled by the appearance of a battlefield stalemate in Ukraine. There are growing dangers than could dramatically, and suddenly, up the stakes in that conflict.

“The movement towards a major war should be taken seriously,” Ivan Timofeev, Valdai Club, 06.20.24.^ Clues from Russian Views. 

  • Strictly speaking, NATO countries have long been party to the conflict.
    • Firstly, Western countries provide significant financial and military assistance to Ukraine.
    • Secondly, Ukraine receives large-scale Western support in the form of intelligence data, including technical data, including data from satellites, radars, reconnaissance aircraft, etc.
    • Thirdly, military specialists who are citizens of NATO countries participate in combat operations.
  • At the same time, such involvement does not yet create an excessive risk of a direct military clash between Russia and NATO. ... A significant factor of escalation with the risk of a direct clash between Russia and NATO may be the appearance of military contingents of the Alliance countries on the territory of Ukraine.
    •  The most likely factor for direct intervention by individual NATO countries or the Alliance as a whole may be a possible major military success of the Russian army. ... Intervention can take several forms. We may be talking about
      • the use of infrastructure, including airfields of NATO countries.
      • the massive participation in the conflict of individual communications units, engineering troops, air defense systems crews, but avoiding their presence on the front line.
      • An even more radical scenario is the deployment of a contingent of individual NATO countries on the border of Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus with the aim of transferring liberated Ukrainian units to the East.
      • Finally, an even more radical option is the deployment of military contingents of NATO countries on front lines, the crossing of which would be considered categorically unacceptable in the Alliance.
        • Any of these scenarios is fraught with a direct clash between the forces of Russia and NATO countries. ... The more losses both sides suffer, the more the vortex of hostilities will grow and the closer the sides will approach the threshold of using nuclear weapons. And here there will be no winners.
  • The movement towards a major war between Russia and NATO should be taken seriously.

“Strikes On Russian Territory: The New Reality,” Bulletin No. 11 (141), R.Politik, 06.11.24. Clues from Russian Views

  • Given the Russian offensive in Kharkiv region and difficulties for Ukraine to maintain the front line without increased Western support, the West has been compelled to reassess its strategy. Several countries are now allowing Ukraine to carry out limited strikes on Russian territory using their weapons and are finalizing plans to deploy military instructors.
  • Multiple factors are likely to drive further escalation from the West, leading to a more polarized and hawkish policy stance that is less open to negotiations as long as Russia maintains the upper hand. However, these developments are constrained by the significant limitations and risks of deeper direct Western engagement in the war, as well as potential strains in Ukrainian relations with its Western allies.
  • The West cannot allow a Russian military breakthrough, yet it cannot afford to intervene directly in combat with Russian forces. With Russia currently holding the tactical advantage in manpower, munitions and motivation, the priority for Kyiv and its Western allies is to sustain Ukraine’s defensive capabilities.
  • Despite perceived limitations, any Western military actions are viewed by Russia as escalatory. Although the current level of escalation is deemed manageable by Moscow, the overarching trend raises significant concerns. Putin is challenged to maintain the credibility of the nuclear threat, seeing its use as a last resort.
  • Moscow holds the view that victory in this conflict may not come from battlefield successes but through geopolitical shifts in the West — such as anticipating the rise of more pragmatic forces that are open to negotiating based on the draft 2022 Istanbul agreements — and deteriorating political conditions within Ukraine.
  • Putin finds himself in a challenging position. On the one hand, frequently invoking Russia's nuclear deterrent without ever following through has led to a growing perception in the West that these threats are not credible, thereby diminishing their effectiveness as a diplomatic tool. On the other hand, the nuclear option remains Russia's primary lever backstopping its efforts in Ukraine and asserting its broader strategic interests. As a result, Putin must carefully balance his use of nuclear rhetoric to avoid further devaluing its credibility. To navigate this dilemma, Putin allows Russia's nuclear deterrent to be emphasized in the public discourse while simultaneously distancing himself from any serious consideration of using nuclear weapons.
    • This balancing act is clearly evidenced by the state-sponsored promotion of figures such as Sergey Karaganov, a vocal advocate for a demonstrative nuclear strike. Karaganov's prominence was confirmed by his role moderating Putin's plenary panel at SPIEF, where he was given ample opportunity to express his pro-nuclear strike views.

“How Russia is recruiting for a long war,” Margarete Klein, SWP, June 2024.^ Clues from German Views. 

  • Russia is banking on a long war of attrition in which it can draw on significantly more personnel reserves than its opponent, while Ukraine is increasingly reaching its limits after almost two and a half years of general mobilization. The number of 18- to 60-year-old men in Russia, at 39 million, is more than three times higher than in Ukraine, at 11 million. Against this background, it is all the more essential for Kyiv to receive sufficient modern weapons and equipment as well as sustainable security commitments from Western states.
  • At the same time, Russia is preparing for a permanent confrontation with the West. The country's defense budget doubled in 2024 compared to the previous year and is now at 108 billion euros. 28 percent of government spending goes to the military, which corresponds to 6 percent of gross domestic product. Together with the classified spending in other budget items that are used for military purposes, the figure is likely to be over 7 percent. The increased military spending is not only intended to boost Russian arms production, but also to achieve the desired increase in the number of armed forces to 1.5 million soldiers. In 2024 alone, 16 new divisions and 14 brigades are to be created.
  • At the same time, elements of a fundamental reorientation of the Russian armed forces can be seen. They are moving away from the reform that began in 2008, which was primarily aimed at carrying out limited missions. Now, in some parts, the concept of a mass mobilization army is being returned to. In the long term, NATO and the EU are confronted with a militarized Russia whose armed forces, despite all the problems, have not only gained operational experience in a classic interstate war, but are also expanding their capacities for this.

For more analysis on this subject, see: 

Military aid to Ukraine:

  • No significant developments.

Punitive measures related to Russia’s war against Ukraine and their impact globally:

“The G7 Should Act with Urgency to Support an International Claims Mechanism to Seize and Transfer Frozen Russian Sovereign Assets to Ukraine,” Daniel F. Runde and Ilya Timtchenko, CSIS, 06.05.24. 

  • The world’s economic leaders—the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom—will gather in Italy from June 13–15, 2024, for the 50th G7 summit to discuss, among other pressing issues, Russia’s war against Ukraine and how to enable Ukraine to win the war while sustaining international support for full compensation from Russia to Ukraine for damages and for Ukraine’s reconstruction. 
  • The transfer of Russian sovereign assets to Ukraine is on the agenda. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will participate. The G7 should seize the opportunity to act with urgency on two critical issues: (1) the creation of an international claims mechanism that will hold in trust for Ukraine Russian sovereign assets intended as reparations for Ukraine and (2) an international claims commission to adjudicate allocation of these funds as compensation for damages or reconstruction.

“5 Priorities for the 50th G7 Summit,” Allison McManus, Robert Benson and Courtney Federico, Center for American Progress, 06.20.24. 

  1. Use Russia’s frozen assets to help Ukraine.
    1. With nearly $300 billion in frozen Russian assets available worldwide, these funds must be mobilized to fill a critical funding gap as Ukraine braces for a brutal summer offensive. 
    2. At the recent G7 finance ministers’ meeting, the United States proposed a compromise to use the interest from frozen Russian assets as collateral for a $50 billion loan to support Ukraine. This plan is a significant step but faces challenges, including who would issue the debt, how risks would be shared among G7 countries, and the potential effects on future interest rates. G7 ministers have indicated their openness to the U.S. plan; a final agreement will require approval at the upcoming summit. 
    3. It is vital that G7 leaders announce a political agreement for this compromise within the final communiqué that signals firm and unified resolve in support of Ukraine.

2. Focus and coordinate food security efforts.

3. Chart a path to Israeli-Palestinian security and peace.

4. Lay the groundwork for COP29.

5. Make multilateral institutions work for all.

Ukraine-related negotiations: 

"Ukraine Summit Opens Door to Limited Future Talks With Russia," Alberto Nardelli, Bloomberg, 06.04.24.

  • A Swiss-hosted summit on Ukraine will aim to carve a path to involving Russian officials in future talks, a draft document shows. The June 15-16 gathering in Lucerne, Switzerland, will focus on three measures as a way to build trust in order to later engage with Moscow on a limited number of issues, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg:
    • Nuclear power facilities must be safe and any threat of using nuclear weapons is “inadmissible.” Nuclear installations, including the power plant in Zaporizhzhia, must operate under Ukrainian control and in line with principles set out by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
    • Food security must not be “weaponized” — and be guaranteed by free navigation in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. Ukraine must have access to third parties for its agriculture products.
    • All captives in the war must be released, including all “deported and unlawfully displaced” Ukrainian children and civilians, who must be returned to Ukraine.
  • Although Russian officials have been excluded from the Kyiv-led format, the document says that an end to the war must involve all parties. “We, therefore, agreed to undertake concrete steps which can serve as confidence building measures in the above-mentioned areas with further engagement of the representatives of the Russian Federation,” the document, which is subject to change in negotiations, says.
  • Before opening talks with Moscow, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had aimed to secure consensus from countries ... for a broader set of demands that included the full withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. But the aims of the Swiss summit, ... have narrowed from Ukraine’s 10-point blueprint in an effort to secure the participation of as many leaders as possible.
  • Ukraine and its allies have struggled to win full backing for the process, above all from China. ... The extent of the participation from other key nations, such as India, Brazil, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, remains unclear. Still, over 100 countries and 75 heads of state have confirmed they will attend, according to the Ukrainian leader. Most Group of Seven leaders will attend, but not US President Joe Biden. 
  • The draft, which says a path to peace must align with the United Nations Charter, anticipates that a second summit will take place.

“The High Cost of Frozen Conflict in Ukraine,” Kaush Arha and George Scutaru, NI, 06.07.24. 

  • Any discussions that hope to produce an effective and sustained armistice should not compromise upon the following three essential characteristics.
    •  First, Ukraine must have a time-bound accession to the European Union. Ukraine brings significant assets to the European project—as it is an agricultural, digital, and industrial powerhouse. 
    • Secondly, there must be a time-bound Ukrainian accession to NATO. NATO, including its new members, Finland and Sweden, would be substantially strengthened by having Ukraine as one of its frontline members. On day one, the alliance would benefit from a battle-tested military that, through sheer grit and ingenuity, has held at bay the might of Russian forces three times its size—for three years. 
    • Third, all efforts should be made to free Crimea from Russian control. Russian-occupied Crimea represents a malign wellspring of coercion and instability across the entire Black Sea region. With Crimea under Russian control, the Black Sea will never be entirely free and open and will stand in the way of regional peace and prosperity. 
  • Any armistice with a credible deterrence against further Russian imperialist operations in the region should be heartily welcomed. Anything short of such a strong deterrent would be immoral, imprudent, impractical, and short-lived. 

“Brazil and China present joint proposal for peace negotiations with the participation of Russia and Ukraine,” (Brazil’s official government website), 05.23.24. 

  • On May 23, 2024, H.E. Wang Yi, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, met with H.E. Celso Amorim, Chief Advisor to the President of Brazil, in Beijing. The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on pushing for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis and calling for the deescalation of the situation, and reached the following common understandings:

1. The two sides call on all relevant parties to observe three principles for deescalating the situation, namely no expansion of the battlefield, no escalation of fighting and no provocation by any party.

2. The two sides believe that dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis. All parties should create conditions for the resumption of direct dialogue and push for the deescalation of the situation until the realization of a comprehensive ceasefire. China and Brazil support an international peace conference held at a proper time that is recognized by both Russia and Ukraine, with equal participation of all parties as well as fair discussion of all peace plans.

3. Efforts are needed to increase humanitarian assistance to relevant regions and prevent a humanitarian crisis on a larger scale. Attacks on civilians or civilian facilities must be avoided, and civilians including women and children and prisoners of war (POWs) must be protected. The two sides support the exchange of POWs between the parties to the conflict.

4. The use of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons and chemical and biological weapons must be opposed. All possible efforts must be made to prevent nuclear proliferation and avoid nuclear crisis.

5. Attacks on nuclear power plants and other peaceful nuclear facilities must be opposed. All parties should comply with international law including the Convention on Nuclear Safety and resolutely prevent man-made nuclear accidents.

6. Dividing the world into isolated political or economic groups should be opposed. The two sides call for efforts to enhance international cooperation on energy, currency, finance, trade, food security and the security of critical infrastructure, including oil and gas pipelines, undersea optical cables, electricity and energy facilities, and fiber-optic networks, so as to protect the stability of global industrial and supply chains.

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

“The Full Transcript of Joe Biden's Interview With TIME,” Time, 06.04.24.

  • When Putin decided to ... go from Russia into Ukraine—the reason why I cleared the intelligence so we can release the information we knew that he was going to attack, was to let the world know we were still in charge. We still know what's going on. ... What he [Trump] never understood ... is that ... he [Putin] wasn’t just going from Russia into Ukraine, for purposes of keeping them from having weapons, etc. He believes it is an essential part of Russia, from the beginning. 
  • [When asked: Is Russia's proposal for, to end the war in Ukraine, the best that Ukraine can hope for at this point?] No, it's not. And by the way, I don't know why you skip over all that’s happened in the meantime. The Russian military has been decimated. You don’t write about that. It’s been freaking decimated. Number one. Number two, NATO is considerably stronger than it was when I took office. Putin... said he wanted to see the Finlandization of NATO. I told him, he's gonna get not the Finlandization, the Natoization of Finland. 
  • [When asked: So what is the endgame though in Ukraine and what does peace look like there?]  Peace looks like making sure Russia never, never, never, never occupies Ukraine. That's what peace looks like. And it doesn't mean NATO, they are part of NATO.  It means we have a relationship with them like we do with other countries, where we supply weapons so they can defend themselves in the future. But it is not, if you notice, I was the one when—and you guys did report it at TIME—the one that I was saying that I am not prepared to support the NATOization of Ukraine. … [I]f we ever let Ukraine go down, mark my words: you'll see Poland go, and you'll see all those nations along the actual border of Russia, from the Balkans and Belarus, all those, they're going to make their own accommodations.
  • I've been able to put 50 nations together to help in Ukraine, led by us but also engaged with, with Japan's leadership. So there is—look as long as there are nuclear weapons available, it's always going to be a problem. It's gonna—the question is how do we stop it? That's why I thought Trump was wrong in not wanting to work early on five years ago, and three years ago, when he left office—with trying to control, work out an arrangement to control access to North Korea, to nuclear weapons and/or nuclear weapons that are available to any other area. 
  • [When asked what he’d do if reelected] To finish what I started in the first term. To continue to make sure that the European continent—I'll tell you, I got a call from Kissinger about 10 days before he died. And he used the following comment. He said that not since Napoleon has Europe not looked over their shoulder at dread with what Europe—what Russia may do, until now. Until now, you can't let that change. ... we cannot let NATO fail, we have to build that both politically and economically. 

“We Cannot Repeat the Mistakes of the 1930s,” Mitch McConnell, NYT, 06.06.24. 

  • Today, America and our allies face some of the gravest threats to our security since Axis forces marched across Europe and the Pacific. And as these threats grow, some of the same forces that hampered our response in the 1930s have re-emerged. 
  • Germany is now a close ally and trading partner. But it was caught flat-footed by the rise of a new axis of authoritarians made up of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. So, too, were the advanced European powers who once united to defeat the Nazis. Like the United States, they responded to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine in 2014 with wishful thinking. The disrepair of their militaries and defense industrial bases, and their overreliance on foreign energy and technology, were further exposed by Russia’s dramatic escalation in 2022.By contrast, Japan needed fewer reminders about threats from aggressive neighbors or about the growing links between Russia and China. 
  • Eighty years ago, America and our allies fought because we had to. ... Today, the better part of valor is to build credible defenses before they are necessary and demonstrate American leadership before it is doubted any further.

“Biden Needs to Create a Convincing New European Security Architecture for Ukraine,” Neil Melvin, RUSI, 06.07.24. 

  • With President Biden signaling that Ukraine will likely not become a NATO member while the confrontation with Russia continues, the US will need to take the lead at the upcoming Washington NATO Summit in setting out how a new European security architecture beyond NATO can be developed to deter Russia from future aggression and to defend Ukraine in the long term. 
  • Biden has concluded that to head off another political fight over membership at the Washington summit, when the US could again be isolated, he needs to make clear that NATO mission creep over the war will not happen. 
  • This will be a hard message to swallow for many who have positioned themselves as cheerleaders for early Ukrainian NATO membership. Critically, it will mean that the White House will need to set out at the Washington Summit a convincing pathway for Ukraine to deter future Russian aggression, to be able to defend itself in the event of an attack, and at the same time to build stronger ties with the Euro-Atlantic community, all in the absence of NATO Article 5 protection. Fortunately, the foundations of such an arrangement have already been put in place.
  • At the NATO summit, the US and other allied countries will need to demonstrate their commitment to the bilateral security agreements as a viable and enduring means of protecting Ukraine, but more than this, they will need to set out a path to develop these agreements in order to ensure Ukraine’s future security. Five areas will require further work:
    • Governance
    • Strengthening Political Commitments
    • Cooperation in the Event of an Armed Attack: 
    • Developing A Ukrainian Future Force
    • Building Common Euro-Atlantic Deterrence
  • Given that Russian hostility towards Ukraine and confrontation with NATO will likely continue for years to come, even if some sort of political settlement of the war in Ukraine is reached, this bridge is likely to be a long one. In the interim, a clear and strong signal from the US and other allies at the Washington Summit of their enduring commitment to the Vilnius framework and its further elaboration will be vital to reassuring Kyiv and alliance members that Biden continues to see the West’s duty as being to support the defence of Ukraine.

“Biden’s Foreign-Policy Problem Is Incompetence,” Stephen M. Walt, FP, 06.04.24.

  • If the main institutions charged with conducting America’s foreign relations—the National Security Council; the departments of state, defense, treasury, and commerce; the intelligence services; and various congressional committees—are not very competent, all the will in the world will not convince others to take our advice and follow our lead.
  • Unfortunately, there is ample reason to question whether America’s foreign-policy institutions can fulfill the lofty global role that U.S. leaders have taken on. The list of dismal performances keeps getting longer … [including] the failure to anticipate where open-ended NATO enlargement would eventually lead; the vain hope that economic sanctions would quickly crash Russia’s economy; or the cheerleading that overlooked the abundant signs that Ukraine’s summer 2023 counteroffensive was doomed to fail.
  • [I]f you think reelecting Donald Trump is going to solve this problem, think again. 
  • Fixing America’s error-prone foreign-policy machinery will take a long time, and I sometimes wonder if it is even possible. That’s one reason why I favor a more restrained foreign policy, one that keeps the United States engaged in the world but reduces the number of issues, problems, and commitments that Washington feels obligated to solve.

“Stephen Kotkin on Ukraine, Russia, China and the World,” book review of “War in Ukraine,” ed. Hal Brands, Kate Davidson, RM, 06.06.24.

  • Stephen Kotkin, a renowned historian and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, surveys what happened, where we stand now and what the United States should do next in his contribution to a collection of essays covering the Russia-Ukraine war edited by Hal Brands of John Hopkins University. Kotkin’s essay, which is entitled “Ukraine, Russia, China and the World,” stands out for putting the current state of the war in recent and global context, as well as proposing a specific policy solution to end the conflict.
  • Kotkin begins his chapter by cataloguing the successes of Kyiv and its allies in the war that are often eclipsed by Ukraine’s current problems with ammunition and manpower but which provide key context. Four major victories marked 2022: “Ukrainian sovereignty, Western unity, Russian humiliation and Chinese self-discrediting,” according to Kotkin.
  • It should be noted that Russia and Ukraine held peace negotiations in spring 2022, but those fell apart, and there have been no public peace negotiations since. The Biden administration has repeatedly said the decision of when to negotiate is up to Ukraine, which currently refuses to negotiate with Russia.
  • Kotkin offers an explanation of why the war of attrition favors Russia. … Wars of attrition are governed by two variables, “the capacity to fight and the will to fight,” and “on the Russian side, neither variable is sufficiently in play,” he explains. Given Russia’s sheltered, growing defense industry and long trade borders, “Ukraine can destroy vast quantities of Russian weaponry—which they have been doing—and still make little to no progress.” … Kotkin sees both Ukraine’s will and capacity to fight as at risk.
  • Kotkin returns to his touchstone for Ukraine: “The key to any war is to win the peace.” … He argues the three key components of winning the peace in Ukraine are “armistice and an end to the fighting as soon as possible, an obtainable security guarantee and European Union accession.” Ukraine and Russia will continue to share a border regardless of how the war ends, so any deal should make sure Russia is “deterred from repeating its aggression or, better still, incentivized not to.”
  • Kotkin concludes by putting the Russia-Ukraine war in the context of U.S. global strategy. The war is just one of “three areas of territorial vulnerability” in the “current U.S.-led international order”—the other two being Taiwan and Israel. While Ukraine is important, “avoiding either a global war or capitulation in East Asia must be the top U.S. strategic priority.” … Kotkin concludes that the real lesson from Ukraine and U.S. history is that the U.S. Army is ill-suited for large-scale land wars, and in essence the United States is currently “renting the Ukrainian land army to degrade Russia’s land army.” The takeaway is sobering, because, while East Asia is mostly water, land warfare is a possibility, and “there is no obvious option, as it were, to rent” a regional army to fight land battles in East Asia.

“Alliances Mean Victory,” Richard Levine, NI, 06.09.24.

  • Should the United States broker a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine in the months to come, our nation must not thwart Ukraine’s righteous objectives and its requirements for future security. In the search for peace, America must eschew any course that is disadvantageous to Ukraine’s ultimate welfare and territorial integrity. 
  • The United States cannot allow President Putin and President Xi to view our efforts to end the conflict as an American accommodation or weakness. 
  • Isolationism is not a strategy; it is its abdication. In aiding Ukraine in obtaining victory, we must not forget that the lessons of this conflict constitute nothing less than a blueprint for how we may contest and ultimately defeat Russia, China, and Iran. Part of this knowledge will permit us to reform our defense industrial base so that it remains unequaled during a time of immense technological change. 

“America’s Military Strategy: Can We Handle Two Wars at Once?”, Michael O’Hanlon, NI, 06.06.24. 

  • By producing and pre-stationing ordnance for several wars at once in key overseas theaters on a larger scale than today, the United States would, in effect, create a hedge against a single war going longer or taking more weaponry than initially expected. This policy would also buy time to start manufacturing more weapons to restore a rock-solid multi-theater capability if and when a war broke out in one place. Fortunately, these are attainable and affordable goals that the National Defense Strategy already pays lip service to. We need to ensure that we have the capabilities, not just the right words.
  • Some of the key additional capabilities that might be needed to support such a strategy include a couple of squadrons of dedicated “fifth generation” fighter aircraft for Korea (to attack North Korean missile launchers early in any war, limiting damage to Seoul); unmanned submarines stationed in the western Pacific with anti-ship sensors and missiles to help Taiwan resist a Chinese invasion attempt; vertical-lift aircraft on Okinawa with ordnance usable for the same purpose; dedicated missile defense systems for the Middle East of the type that helped stymie Iran’s recent missile and drone barrage against Israel; and a brigade of U.S. ground troops backed up by fighters and attack helicopters in the Baltic states as a permanent deterrent against Russian aggression there.  Again, augmentations of some sensor networks and munitions stockpiles also make sense.
  • The price tag for this sort of modest force expansion would hardly be trivial but would not exceed tens of billions of dollars a year. It could be partially funded by selective cuts in the defense budget elsewhere.   

“Russia’s Mercenary-Industrial Complex in Africa,” Christopher Faulkner and Raphael Parens, War on the Rocks, 06.06.24. 

  • Efforts to expose Russia’s nefarious intentions in Africa are already under way, as illustrated by the State Department’s Global Engagement Center tracking of Russian disinformation. But packaging this in ways that reaches appropriate audiences has room for improvement and growth. The United States can amplify its messaging with local media, including local and independent journalists as well as through social media. 
  • Additionally, Washington should consider “rebalanc[ing] the 3Ds,” defense, democracy, and diplomacy. In many ways, and despite U.S. Africa Command commander Gen. Michael Langley’s reflection that the command “plays a supporting role to interagency efforts,” there is a perception that the United States overemphasizes its military investment and engagement at the expense of diplomatic engagement. 
    • Lectures on democracy have proven to be an Achilles’ heel for U.S. foreign policy in Africa, particularly in some recent high-level diplomatic kerfuffles. 
    • Most important... is diplomacy (and development). Washington can and should have an advantage in this space even as Moscow and Beijing continue to deepen relations with African countries. 
  • The harsh reality is that Russia thrives on and benefits from perpetual insecurity in multiple ways and shows no signs of slowing down. It is easy to deflect and merely suggest that Moscow is just an opportunist and that the allure of partnering with Russia will fade. But a reactive approach and strategic complacency are what contributed to Moscow’s fortune in the Sahel and beyond. The United States must reflect, ask tough questions, and take action. While today’s problems in the Sahel may appear monumental, they can get much worse very quickly — and it won’t be Moscow volunteering to pick up the pieces.

For more analysis on this subject, see: 

For in-depth reporting on this subject, see: 

Russia Gears Up for Song, Sports Contests as It Pushes ‘West vs. Rest’ Message,” Ann Simmons, WSJ, 06.09.24.

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

“Russia’s Gain Is Turning Out to Be China’s Pain," Minxin Pei, Bloomberg, 06.06.24.

  • The Ukrainian conflict is entering a more dangerous phase. Putin warned against the use of Western weapons to strike Russian territory. Now that his red line has been crossed, he may feel the need to escalate to restore the credibility of his threats.
  • Much will depend on what kind of damage Western weapons inflict; Putin will calibrate his response according to results on the ground... Putin may even carry out his threat to use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine.
  • That would be a nightmare for China ... Beijing will be blamed either for its failure to stop Russia (so far Xi has received some credit for warning Putin against nuclear escalation) or for its past support for Russian aggression.
  • Besides responding with more military aid for Ukraine, the West will likely seek to punish China by imposing the type of sanctions it has so far withheld, such as blacklisting one or two small or medium-sized Chinese banks and further tightening export controls
  • China has few realistic options to insulate itself against the fallout.

“Why was Asia not as keen on establishing multilateral alliances as Europe after World War II?”, Andrei Kortunov,, 06.06.24.^ Clues from Russian Views. 

  • The Cold War experience teaches us that it is very important to keep the channels of communication between major powers open, even when relations between them are on the wrong track. Maintaining communication between China and the United States, China and India, and other major powers in Asia is particularly important. Doing even very small, incremental work to increase transparency, predictability, and mutual understanding in bilateral relations between potentially hostile countries would be a major achievement. In many cases, the first steps toward building trust can be taken at the Track II level, which would pave the way for productive engagement between officials on both sides.
  • Most importantly, the Russia-China strategic partnership of coordination remains the cornerstone of strategic stability on the Asian continent and globally. President Putin’s recent visit to China and his talks with President Xi will provide new impetus to further advance this partnership. Strengthening security-focused cooperation within multilateral frameworks such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the BRICS, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) will be a useful complement to this partnership. While these overlapping institutions are not a panacea for all of Asia’s security challenges, when they work together, they can ensure that Asia does not fall into Europe’s predicament.

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

"Adapting the U.S. Approach to Arms Control and Nonproliferation to a New Era" Remarks from Pranay Vaddi, Senior Director for Arms Control, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation at the National Security Council, ACA, 06.07.24.

  • Since the dawn of the nuclear era, the United States has focused on a central goal: reducing the risk of a catastrophic nuclear conflict occurring. ... We are committed to seeking the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all;
  • But the last decade has revealed cracks in each of these pillars— Cracks that, as the National Security Advisor said at this forum last year, run substantial and deep. Russia, the PRC and North Korea are all expanding and diversifying their nuclear arsenals at a breakneck pace—showing little or no interest in arms control. Those three, together with Iran, are increasingly cooperating and coordinating with each other—in ways that run counter to peace and stability, threaten the United States, our allies and our partners, and exacerbate regional tension.
  • This is a new and dangerous era marked by evolving proliferation risks and rapid changes in technology. It’s an era that demands we adapt both our strategy and our solutions.
  • Without a change in the trajectory that Russia, the PRC, and North Korea are on— The United States will need to continue to adjust our posture and capabilities to ensure our ability to deter and meet other objectives going forward. We have already taken some prudent steps in this regard. For example, we decided to pursue the B61-13 gravity bomb to provide an additional capability against certain harder and large-area military targets—
  • Absent a change in the trajectory of adversary arsenals, we may reach a point in the coming years where an increase from current deployed numbers is required— And we need to be fully prepared to execute if the President makes that decision—if he makes that decision. If that day does come, it will result from a determination that more nuclear weapons are required to deter our adversaries and protect the American people and our allies and partners.
  • Given the blatant steps by our adversaries to undermine the Missile Technology Control Regime, we are working to streamline our trade and cooperation to boost allied and partner defense capabilities—particularly with regard to long-range strike. We are calibrating our “small yard, high fence” of controls to ensure that we can enable our allies and partners to strengthen their defense and deterrence.
  • The President made clear at the UN last September that “no matter what else is happening in the world, the United States is ready to pursue critical arms control measures.” We are upholding that promise by thinking through what a future arms control agreement with Russia after New START might look like. In any future agreement, our goal will be to reduce nuclear threats to the United States and our allies and partners by limiting and shaping adversary nuclear forces.
  • At least in the near-term, the prospects for strategic arms control are dim. Russia’s outright rejection of arms control dialogue casts a shadow over the likelihood of a New START successor after February 2026. We must be prepared for that possibility—that these constraints disappear without replacement. In their outright refusal to even discuss arms control, Russia and the PRC are failing to meet their international obligations. Practically speaking, they are forcing the United States and our close allies and partners to prepare for a world where nuclear competition occurs without numerical constraints. The reality is that further enhancing our capabilities and posture is incredibly important to rejuvenating strategic arms control.
  • We need to persuade our adversaries that managing rivalry through arms control is preferable to unrestrained competition across domains.

“U.S. Considers Expanded Nuclear Arsenal, a Reversal of Decades of Cuts,” Julian E. Barnes and David E. Sanger, NYT, 06.07.24. 

  • A senior Biden administration official warned on Friday that “absent a change” in nuclear strategy by China and Russia, the United States may be forced to expand its nuclear arsenal, after decades of cutting back through now largely abandoned arms control agreements.
  • The comments on Friday from Pranay Vaddi, a senior director of the National Security Council, were the most explicit public warning yet that the United States was prepared to shift from simply modernizing its arsenal to expanding it. They were also a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia about the likely U.S. reaction if the last major nuclear arms control agreement, called New START, expires in February 2026 with no replacement.
  • It would be an epochal shift, and one fraught with dangers that many Americans thought they had left behind at the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • While the Biden administration has not abandoned its rhetorical support of a world without nuclear weapons, officials have acknowledged that the prospects of new arms control deals are now so remote that they have to think about new strategies. 
  • One of the complications of the current nuclear environment, administration officials say, is the potential that Russia and China may coordinate their nuclear policies, part of the “partnership without limits” that Mr. Putin and Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, announced in 2022. 

“Much ado about Russia’s nuclear rumblings?”, Steven Pifer, Kyiv Independent, 06.03.24. 

  • Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, the Kremlin has sought to play the nuclear card – both to frighten Ukraine and to deter the West from assisting. 
  • It’s challenging to overlook nuclear threats when they come from the country with the largest nuclear arsenal, whether overt or implied. However, it’s essential to remember that Putin does not want a nuclear war. Such a conflict would open a Pandora’s box filled with unpredictable, nasty, and potentially catastrophic consequences – including for Russia. By suggesting that Putin is more ready than Ukraine or the West to risk such a war, he seeks to intimidate them. They can choose not to be intimidated. 
  • The rhetoric coming from Moscow raises one other concern: it makes it hard to recognize and interpret a future genuine nuclear signal. While Putin may be the one to whom attention should be paid, should we dismiss Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, who regularly muses about nuclear weapons, as he did most recently on May 31?
  • If the situation escalates to the point where the Kremlin genuinely considers nuclear use, we would want it to send a clear signal. While Western leaders might not back down, it’s crucial that they correctly understand the stakes. The problem now is that, with all the nuclear rhetoric in Moscow, such a signal could get lost in the noise. This should be a concern for both the Kremlin and the West.

“Meeting with heads of international news agencies,”, 06.05.24. 

  • Let us not allow it to slide to not only use [of nuclear weapons], but even to the threat of use. For some reason, the West believes that Russia will never use it [nuclear weapons]. We have a nuclear doctrine—see what is written there … If someone's actions threaten our sovereignty and territorial integrity, we consider it possible to use all the means at our disposal. … They always try to accuse us of waving some kind of nuclear stick. But have I just now raised the question of the possibility of using nuclear weapons? This is what you do—you bring up this topic, and then say that I waved a nuclear stick.
  • If someone thinks it is possible to supply … weapons to a combat zone to strike our territory and create problems for us, then why do we not have the right to supply our weapons of the same class to those regions of the world where will strikes be carried out on sensitive targets of those countries that do this … to Russia? That is, the answer can be symmetrical. ... Ultimately, if we see that these countries are being drawn into a war against us, and this is their direct participation in the war against the Russian Federation, then we reserve the right to act in a similar way. But, in general, this is the path to very serious problems. 
  • They have come up with this idea that Russia wants to attack NATO. You've gone completely crazy, haven't you? Stupid, in general, how is this table? Who came up with this? This is nonsense, bullshit! ... Such a threat does not exist and cannot exist. We are defending ourselves in Ukraine.
  • No one cares about Ukraine in the United States. All they care about is how great the United States is. The U.S. is not there to fight for Ukraine or the Ukrainian people. It is fighting for its own greatness and world leadership. There is no way they can allow Russia to succeed. Why? Because they believe that this would undermine U.S. leadership. 
  • I believe that the United States administration would force the current Ukrainian leadership to take these decisions on lowering the mobilization age all the way down to 18 years old, and once that is done, they will simply get rid of Zelenskyy. ... I think that they would need a year to do this.
  • [Biden] is an old school politician. ...We never had any special ties with Mr. Trump. However, it is a fact that as president he introduced large-scale sanctions against the Russian Federation. He pulled out of the INF Treaty. It happened during his term in office. I will be completely honest with you: we do not think the election outcome will impact U.S. policy towards Russia. We do not think it will; we do not think there will be any serious changes. ... We believe that the result does not matter here. We will work with any president elected by the American people.
  • As for China, President Xi Jinping’s skillful and highly professional leadership is driving the country’s economic development at a rate needed by China. As far as other areas and sectors are concerned, I always say this and can only repeat here that our international interaction is a restraining factor and an element of stability.  But apart from the economy and mutual security – as you know, we hold exercises and will do so in the future, including military exercises – we maintain military-technical cooperation, an area where we have much to offer to our Chinese friends, who are interested in working together with us along these lines.

Plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum,”, 06.07.24.

  • Regarding nuclear escalation: we never started this rhetoric. ... We simply responded that we needed to take this more seriously - they immediately started saying that we were rattling nuclear weapons. We don't rattle. First. Second, what is use, non-use, in what case to use? We have a nuclear doctrine, and everything is written there. ... We have everything written there: use is possible in exceptional cases - in the event of a threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, in exceptional cases. I don’t think that such a case has arisen – there is no such need. But this doctrine is a living instrument, and we closely monitor what is happening in the world around us, and do not rule out making some changes to this doctrine ... this is also related to the testing of nuclear weapons.
  • If, God forbid, it comes to some kind of strikes, then everyone should understand that Russia has an early warning system. The USA has it too. In Europe there is no developed [early warning] system; in this sense, they are more or less defenseless. This is the first [point]. The second is the power [yield] of the blows. Our tactical nuclear weapons are four times more powerful than the bombs used by the Americans against Hiroshima and Nagasaki ... We have many times more of them - both on the European continent, and even if the Americans bring theirs from the USA - we still have many times more ... Of course, the Europeans must think it over: if those with whom we exchange such blows no longer exist, will the Americans get involved in this exchange of blows at the level of strategic weapons or not? I very much doubt that, and Europeans must think this over.
  • Is it possible to increase the speed of solving the problems we face [in the war against Ukraine]? It is possible, but it is directly proportional to the losses. And, understanding my responsibility, I still proceed from what the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense propose. Speed ​​is important, but even more important is caring for the lives and health of our guys who are fighting at the front.
  • If we want to do this [in Ukraine] as quickly as possible, then the current contingent [of Russian forces in Ukraine] is not sufficient. But we adhere, as I said, to a different tactic: we push the enemy out of those territories that should be brought under our control. In this sense, we have no need to mobilize. We are not planning on this. 
  • [When asked whether Russia will consider sending weapons to adversaries of Western countries that supply arms to Ukraine:] We reserve the right to do this for those states or even some legal structures that are experiencing a certain pressure on themselves, including of a military nature, from those countries that supply weapons to Ukraine and call for them to be used against us, against our Russian territory. If they supply these weapons to the combat zone and call for the use of these weapons on our territory, why don’t we then have the right to do the same, to respond in a mirrored way? I’m also not ready to say that we will do this tomorrow. 
  • We’re observing a real race between countries to strengthen their sovereignty ... countries that until recently acted as leaders of global development are trying with all their might, by hook or crook, to maintain their elusive role as hegemons.
  • As  for the possible loss of some elements of European culture or, say, the genes of European culture in Russia due to the fact that we are turning towards the East and towards Asia. Firstly, we are not turning around due to some opportunistic considerations of today. This reversal is taking place in the world as a whole due to the growth of new centers of economic development. ... Peter opened a window to Europe, because here was the center of economic development, prospects, markets, technologies.

“Joe Biden Is Walking Down the Path to a Nuclear War with Russia,” Daniel L. Davis, NI, 06.07.24.

  • Last Thursday, President Joe Biden secretly gave Ukraine permission to use American-provided weapons to strike limited targets within Russia. What Biden did not explain, however, was an answer to the most vital question: how does this escalation serve America’s interests?
  • It is stunning – and alarming – that such a question even has to be asked. Yet there is no evidence that anyone in the White House, State Department, or Defense Department charted a well-reasoned strategy ahead of the decision to allow American-enabled lethal actions on Russian soil.
  • There is nothing for the United States to gain and a great deal to lose by expanding the allowed target list of our weapons and ammunition to Ukraine. Risking nuclear escalation is foolish to the highest degree. Biden's permission last week should be rescinded immediately before any damage is done.
  • The most prudent course of action at this point is to seek a negotiated settlement on the best terms available, end this current war, and do all in our diplomatic power to prevent the outbreak of a future one. Risking an existential war with Russia when American national security is not at risk is the height of foolishness.

“How 1980 U.S.-Soviet Iran Tensions Went to the Brink of War,” James M. Acton and Nicole Grajewski, FP, 06.09.24.  

  • On Sept. 2, 1980, a U.S. government Special Coordination Committee met to try to determine how to deter a large-scale Soviet invasion of Iran. ...There was widespread concern within the U.S. government that a force buildup by the Soviet Union in its southwest was the prelude to an invasion of Iran.
  • The United States cannot claim success for deterring an attack on Iran—because no attack was planned. Our research, based on declassified Soviet and U.S. sources, as well as memoirs and oral histories, suggests that the crisis was fueled by reciprocal, exaggerated fears. Both the Soviet Union and the United States worried incorrectly that the other had designs on Iran and took steps to deter or mitigate the consequences of its rival’s acting on those designs. Each step compounded fears on the other side, exacerbating tensions. The crisis culminated with a Soviet military exercise[1] that the United States misinterpreted as possible preparation for an invasion and that led Secretary of State Edmund Muskie  to deliver a thinly veiled nuclear threat to his Soviet counterpart at the end of September 1980.
  • Although this war scare was just that—a scare—it could have turned into something more. What if U.S.-Soviet relations were as strained in 1980 as they had been in the early 1960s or even as strained as they were to become within a year or two? What if the Soviet Union had, as part of its own “deterrence actions,” conducted military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf that, against the backdrop of Yug-80, looked to the United States like the start of an invasion? What if, while all this was happening, the United States had lost contact with an aircraft carrier for reasons unknown? It certainly wasn’t all that likely that the war scare of 1980 could have escalated into World War III—but, as Muskie warned, it wasn’t impossible.
  • The real lesson here is that leaders should try to chart a course of action designed to avoid worst-case outcomes under any interpretation of their adversary’s intentions. The first step to managing a potential security dilemma is to recognize that you may be in one.

“Ripe for Rescission: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of U.S. ICBMs,” Taxpayers for Common Sense, May 2024.

  • The U.S. is currently planning to revamp its entire nuclear arsenal, including replacing the Minuteman III (MMIII) Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a new ICBM known as the Sentinel. In January 2024, the Air Force informed Congress of a 37 percent increase in the Sentinel’s projected acquisition costs, triggering a critical breach of the Nunn-McCurdy Act, which mandates that the Pentagon reevaluate programs experiencing significant cost overruns. Accounting for this recent cost growth, the development, procurement, operation, and sustainment of the Sentinel and its nuclear warheads is projected to cost taxpayers up to $315 billion through 2075. Weighing the purported benefits of the Sentinel against this immense cost, this report finds that the Sentinel’s attributes do not justify this cost, and thus recommends cancelling the Sentinel program. It also finds that the purported benefits of maintaining ICBMs in general do not justify the costs, and thus recommends retiring the Minuteman III ICBM in addition to cancelling the Sentinel.
  • Contrary to the NPR’s claim that each leg of the nuclear triad offers complementary benefits relating to “effectiveness, responsiveness, survivability, flexibility, and visibility,” this report demonstrates that ICBMs are outperformed by the sea and air legs of the triad in terms of effectiveness, survivability, and flexibility. It also shows that their greater responsiveness is a risk rather than a benefit, and their visibility is immaterial to their efficacy as a deterrent.
  • Regarding the NPR’s goals of reducing the risk of nuclear war and supporting U.S. nonproliferation goals, this report shows that the Sentinel undermines both by fueling the proliferation of nuclear weapons and flouting the U.S. commitment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to pursue nuclear disarmament, thus undermining U.S. credibility in future arms control negotiations. It also shows that ICBMs increase the risk of nuclear war due to their high responsiveness combined with their stationary status, presenting the president with a “use it or lose it” dilemma in the event of a nuclear attack, which could lead to a catastrophic miscalculation in the event of a false alarm. 
  • Regarding the NPR’s goal of reducing U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons, plans to field the Sentinel through 2075 run counter to this goal, and actively undermine the realization of geopolitical conditions that the NPR cites as necessary for any significant progress toward achieving this goal. 
  • Lastly, the report examines alternatives to the Sentinel, including life-extending the Minuteman III and eliminating the land-based leg of the nuclear triad entirely.
  • Based on this analysis, ICBMs do not meaningfully support and, in some cases, actively undermine the goals laid out in the NPR. Moreover, those goals can be met at significantly lower costs to taxpayers without ICBMs by continuing to field U.S. ballistic missile submarines, nuclear bombers, and nuclear-capable fighters. 
  • Therefore, Taxpayers for Common Sense calls for the elimination of land-based ICBMs through the cancellation of the Sentinel program, the retirement of the Minuteman III program, and the recalibration of U.S. nuclear weapons strategies for a nuclear dyad rather than a triad. 

“When Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Adversary Perceptions of Nuclear No-First-Use Pledges,” Caitlin Talmadge, Lisa Michelini and Vipin Narang, International Security, Spring 2024. 

  • So, what do these findings suggest regarding a potential U.S. NFU declaration? 
    • First, they suggest that a declaration alone is unlikely to generate the stabilizing benefits that proponents envision. For such a pledge to seem remotely credible in the most relevant dyads, the United States would also need to undertake radical revisions to its force structure and nuclear posture, such as fully de-alerting or eliminating most of its arsenal. Granted, some NFU proponents do acknowledge the need for these types of accompanying changes. But our findings highlight that such changes would not be mere additions to bolster or enhance an NFU declaration; they would be fundamental to activating the benefits of such a policy, especially the benefits of crisis stability and political amity. Without them, a pledge simply will not change adversary perceptions. Furthermore, given that the United States is currently pursuing a large-scale nuclear modernization plan across all three legs of the triad, such changes seem extremely unlikely.135
    • Second, even if a U.S. NFU pledge were coupled with dramatic adjustments to nuclear force posture—a move that could have other serious downsides—the tense and even hostile U.S. political relationships with Russia, China, and North Korea would probably still lead them to question whether the United States would abstain from first nuclear use in a crisis or war. From the vantage points of Moscow, Beijing, or Pyongyang, it would be hard to dismiss the possibility of a U.S. SLBM launch even if the United States no longer had ICBMs, or to rule out crisis generation of a launch capability even if the United States kept its land-based forces more recessed in peacetime than they are now. The conflict situations in which these possibilities might arise would be, almost by definition, ones in which these other states would deeply distrust the United States, and hence even a latent residual U.S. nuclear capability for first use would likely be seen as threatening in extremis. Indeed, this pattern appeared repeatedly in the cases that we examined. For these reasons, U.S. adversaries would likely view a U.S. NFU pledge with skepticism, making it hard to see how such a policy would contribute to its intended objectives.

For more analysis on this subject, see: 

“Here’s how nuclear weapons can save the world,” Dmitry Trenin, RT, 06.10.24.


“The Terrorism Warning Lights Are Blinking Red Again. Echoes of the Run-Up to 9/11,” Graham Allison and Michael Morell, FA, 06.10.24.

  • Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, is sounding ... alarms. ... Testifying in December to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wray said, “When I sat here last year, I walked through how we were already in a heightened threat environment.” Yet after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, “we’ve seen the threat from foreign terrorists rise to a whole nother level,” he added. In speaking about those threats, Wray has repeatedly drawn attention to security gaps at the United States’ southern border. Wray is not the only senior official issuing warnings. Since he became commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM) in 2022, General Erik Kurilla has been pointing out the worrying capabilities of the terrorist groups his forces are fighting in the Middle East and South Asia. 
  • The [words of] FBI director’s and the CENTCOM commander ... should be taken seriously. ... Observable trends add weight to these officials’ concerns. Most important is the growing number of both successful and foiled attacks. According to the Global Terrorism Index, deaths from terrorism increased by 22% from 2022 to 2023. This year has already seen the two large ISIS-K attacks in Iran and Russia.
  • Combined, the stated intentions of terrorist groups, the growing capabilities they have demonstrated in recent successful and failed attacks around the world, and the fact that several serious plots in the United States have been foiled point to an uncomfortable but unavoidable conclusion. Put simply, the United States faces a serious threat of a terrorist attack in the months ahead. 
  • The Biden administration already has a lot on its plate, between supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s large-scale invasion, bracing for the possibility that Israel’s failing war against Hamas in Gaza will turn into a wider war against Iranian proxies in the region, and maintaining its focus on China. But policymakers should not underestimate the threat of a terrorist attack inside the United States.
  • Fortunately, the United States has learned a great deal over the past 30 years about how to combat terrorist threats, including threats that are not yet well defined. President Joe Biden and his administration should now use that playbook. It includes steps the intelligence community should take to better understand the threat, steps to prevent terrorists from entering the United States, and steps to put pressure on terrorist organizations in the countries where they find sanctuary. One of the best models to follow is the set of measures Clinton authorized when the terror threat rose in the summer and fall of 1999. Those steps prevented a number of attacks, including at least one attack on the U.S. homeland. That success—as well as the United States’ failure to prevent 9/11—offers valuable lessons for modern policymakers. Today, as then, it is better to be proactive than reactive.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security/AI: 

“AI and the Art of War in Ukraine,” Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 06.04.24.

  • Things should improve [for Ukrainians in Kharkiv]. Russian advances have slowed as reinforcements bolster Ukraine's defense farther north. With the flow of air-defense weapons resuming, and Western countries easing restrictions on Ukraine's use of defensive weapons against immediate cross-border targets, there is reason to hope the city's residents can soon live with more security and less fear.
  • But the fighting isn't stopping, and the Washington policy establishment needs to think harder about the largest, ugliest and most dangerous land war in Europe since World War II. From a tactical and geopolitical perspective, Vladimir Putin's war is changing the global balance of power in ways that the U.S. can't afford to neglect. Some of the news is encouraging. American and Taiwanese military planners can take heart from Ukraine's success in bottling up Russia's Black Sea fleet. 
  • A visit to the battlefields north of Kharkiv revealed one consequence of the evolving state of the art of war. Increasingly one hears soldiers speak of "dead zones" between the opposing forces. Drones, which can now pursue individual soldiers through trenches, make it difficult for either side to conduct operations within 2 or 3 miles of the opposing battle line. 
  • Land and air warfare are rapidly changing, with both Ukrainians and Russians constantly updating technology. Along the battlefront, soldiers and engineers are introducing innovations large and small that can make old weapons systems obsolete overnight. 
  • Past wars have seen cycles of tech competition, but this is the first peer-to-peer war fought in the age of artificial intelligence. Just as the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s saw the development of the tactics and techniques that shaped World War II, Ukraine today is witnessing the birth of a new kind of conflict. The combination of real-time feedback from continuously monitored weapons with the data-handling and design capabilities of flexible, highly trained and motivated battle engineers is introducing a new dynamic of military tech competition.
  • Weapons that were irresistible a few weeks ago can be easily neutralized today. New threats appear overnight. The Pentagon and the American defense industry need to keep up. The old ways of doing business will soon be obsolete.

“Ukraine’s Vision of Robot Assassins Shows Need for Binding AI Rules,” Mark Bergen, Bloomberg, 06.10.24. 

  • Alex Bornyakov, Ukraine’s deputy tech minister, laid out ...  scenario last week at a NATO event in Poland, detailing how a military drone could take out a Russian “war criminal” with a targeted assassination.
  • It was an unsettling advancement to weaponized drones, which the deputy minister added was only in the “prototyping” phase inside Ukraine. But much of the artificial intelligence needed for it exists now. “Computer vision works,” he said. “It’s already proven.”
  • However, giving computers potential control over lethal decisions, like the system Bornyakov described, is controversial among Ukraine's allies..... NATO has an ethical framework for AI and seeks to ensure reasonable human input in any lethal use of force. David van Weel, a NATO assistant secretary general, said one way the organization uses AI is in reading satellite footage to count Russian aircraft and fueling stations. “It’s low-risk,” he said. “Nobody gets killed if you get the number off.”
  • There are calls for those principles to be codified into legally-binding rules, including by the United Nations. “Non-binding principles and declarations, and ad hoc policy measures, are not sufficient to address the significant challenges which autonomous weapons pose,” the organization Stop Killer Robots said to Bloomberg.

“You cannot transfer the decision-making function to artificial intelligence,” Aleksei Pushkov, RIAC/, 06.07.24.Clues from Russian Views. (RIAC is affiliated with the Russian authorities.)

  • I want to say right away that extreme scenarios, scenarios of complete control of AI over all aspects of human life...are unrealistic today. Firstly, because artificial intelligence is not at such an advanced phase of development. Secondly, because people, humanity, have every opportunity to prevent artificial intelligence from taking over vital areas. I very much doubt, for example, that any sane state will give AI such a domain as control over nuclear weapons to say less of [enabling AI] make decisions about use [of nuclear weapons]. ... In order to seize these domains, artificial intelligence must develop to some incredible levels.... In order to begin to subjugate people, AI would have to begin to perceive itself as a separate independent entity. This is exactly what happened, according to the script of the "Terminator" movie, when the Skynet system, which was designed to prevent a nuclear war, evolved and came to the conclusion that the main threat to it was people, so it was necessary to destroy them by turning nuclear weapons against them. Perhaps theoretically this cannot be ruled out, but such a scenario is not currently observable
  • There are, however, serious [AI-related] threats that we face today [including]:
  • Telephone scams.
  • AI-generated disinformation.
  • The ability of artificial intelligence to generate so-called deepfakes.
  • The fourth threat is related to the fact that the vast majority of artificial intelligence programs - that are used in our country -- are “repackaged” models that have been originally created in the West. If one were to ask the artificial intelligence model of one of our [Russian] leading [developers of such models], “Who created you?” the model would sincerely answer: “I was created by the OpenAI corporation.”

Energy exports from CIS:

  • No significant developments.

For more analysis on this subject, see:

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • No significant developments.


II. Russia’s domestic policies 

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

“Why is Russia’s economy booming? Alexandra Prokopenko and Alexander Kolyandr, The Bell, 06.07.24. Clues from Russian Views.

  • One of Putin’s favorite talking points – repeated throughout his appearances at the [St. Petersburg economic] forum – is how the Russian economy is actually profiting from sanctions. And there’s some truth in this. ... Russia’s economy is booming, with both business and the general public feeling more and more confident. At the end of May, the Central Bank’s business climate indicator hit a new 12-year high. And in the first quarter of this year, we saw record levels of investment activity among domestic businesses. In the first three months of this year, Russian GDP grew as much as 5.4%. That’s even more than the previous three months. 
  • According to the Kyiv School of Economics, more than 1,600 transnational companies either left Russia or suspended operations following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However, only 666 of these are truly gone … the exodus also opened up opportunities for Russian companies. Thus, in the first three months of this year, profits more than doubled for companies in the finance and insurance sector. Tourism services saw profits up an eye watering 52 times, construction 41 times. In the 12-month period profits have stagnated, though close to their highs.
  • One of the key drivers of economic growth has been state spending. ... Lending growth doubled in the first quarter of this year, despite a double-digit interest rate. 
  • Both state and private demand are helping turbo-charge Russia’s militarized economy and fueling business optimism. A weakening of Western financial sanctions would encourage capital flight and weaken the Kremlin's war machine. However, the situation also has political consequences: the war in Ukraine is becoming associated in the minds of many with a time of economic opportunity and increased profits – not with sanctions, repression or violence.

“How long can the Russian economy sustain the war?" Dmitriy Nekrasov, Istories, 06.05.24. Clues from Russian Views.

  • The war and sanctions were supposed to deliver a double blow to the Russian economy—at least, that's what most experts predicted. But it has withstood and adapted to the war.
    • The official 2024 budget expenditures on defense amount to 6% of GDP. If we add expenditures 'smeared' across other items, they can be estimated at a maximum of 9% of GDP.
    • Some economies have managed to spend twice as much on defense as Russia does today for 20-30 years while still growing rapidly. The Soviet economy spent on defense an average of 2.5 times more than Russia in 2024 throughout its existence.
  • The ability to withstand these sanctions is primarily explained by the fact that, thanks to oil rents and rather stringent macroeconomic policies, the Russian economy before the war was very different from any other large economies.
  • At the level of financial flows, the state sector has moved from exporting capital to using accumulated reserves, as well as increasing taxes and requisitions on economic entities that previously exported capital.
    • Most war-related economic problems can be reduced by consuming the positive balance of foreign trade.
    • Industry and GDP grew in the overwhelming majority of warring countries with market economies. The exception is those who were subjected to regular massive bombings.
  • Growth in investments in the first years of war is also the norm. In Russia, they grew by more than 10% in 2023 due to leading investments in the military-industrial complex, the replacement of critical imports, and the forced restructuring of logistics and replacement of 'Western' components and technologies with 'Eastern' ones.
    • The military sectors draw resources from other parts of the economy, and the state draws finances from private investors. All this negatively affects the long-term development of civilian sectors but allows military tasks to be solved here and now.
  • Real disposable incomes of the population in 2023 were 5.5% higher than in 2021. 
    • Three factors influenced this: high salaries of contract soldiers and mobilized individuals, large payments to the families of the deceased; a jump in salaries at military-industrial enterprises that need to fulfill sharply increased defense orders; salary growth in civilian sectors trying to retain employees from moving to military enterprises.
    • A strong and long-term drop in oil prices is perhaps the only economic factor that will change the period during which Putin can finance a war of this scale from 'indefinitely long' to 'a few years.'
  • Labor force shortage... If we assume that the war will last several more years, the lack of labor could become the main problem of the Russian economy.
    • The Russian economy has other problems, such as high capacity utilization, which has already exceeded 80%, approaching 100% in some sectors. This will not allow further increases in the production of military products at the pace observed in the last couple of years.

“Russia Turns to Tax Hikes, Other Measures to Fund Its War,” Ekaterina Kurbangaleeva, CEIP, 06.07.24. 

  • Since the beginning of the war, many economists and political analysts have been predicting that it can only be a matter of time before an economic mobilization takes place, with the nationalization of manufacturing, and ordinary Russians forced to buy government bonds. But that moment has still not come. The Russian government prefers to dangle economic carrots and search for reserves rather than resort to the stick just yet. Instead of a new wave of mobilization, for example, the state is offering large salaries to those who voluntarily sign military contracts, and instead of directly confiscating funds from private individuals, it is raising taxes and looking for new tools to attract the savings of ordinary people and companies.
  • Many of the decisions on taxes and savings now being implemented were already being discussed long before the war, but they might never have been adopted if it were not for the state’s pressing new need for financial resources. For the Russian leadership, it seems that people are the new oil. At the same time, the Russian authorities understand that they would be wise not to distract ordinary people from their daily concerns at a time of war, and that they must be inventive and flexible, avoiding any sudden moves.

Defense and aerospace:

“Corruption Hiding in Plain Sight,” David Szakonyi, Russia.Post, 06.05.24. 

  • Something is afoot over in the Russian Defense Ministry. Over the last three months, several top officials and generals have been arrested.... I argue there are three reasons that Russian law enforcement crack down on officials for financial gains reaped from political office.
    • First, anti-corruption charges are used to punish disloyalty to the regime. 
    • Second, the loss of a prominent patron can leave corrupt officials exposed. 
    • Finally, officials who neglect their responsibilities in a way that tarnishes the image of the regime or threatens its very survival face their corrupt pasts being used against them. 
  • A larger lesson from all this is that the Russian government still has more levers to pull in its drive to stay in power at all costs. Although the regime under Putin has fallen appallingly short on achieving most of its preferred objectives, past performance is no guarantee of future collapse. Few elites will defect from a regime that knows everything about them and their families for a West that has all but closed its doors. A new progressive income tax can raise trillions of rubles, while still leaving Russia with the lowest tax rates of any BRICS countries. And perhaps an eye towards anti-corruption might help repair the frayed contract with business reeling from a shortage of qualified labor, rising wage bills, and continued threats of nationalization. Indeed, the arrest of multiple, well-connected Defense Ministry officials helps send a message that knives are being sharpened and no one is completely safe.
  •  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:

“Russian politicians revel in EU election defeats for Macron, Scholz,” Mark Trevelyan, Reuters, 06.10.24.

  • Russian politicians gloated on Monday over heavy defeats for the parties of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in European Parliament elections, and the Kremlin said right-wing parties were on the rise in Europe.
  • In France, Macron called an early parliamentary election, with the first round to take place on June 30, after his centrist party won less than half the share of [Marie] Le Pen’s National Rally in the European voting. Peskov said Russia would carefully monitor the snap vote, “especially taking into account, let’s say, the extremely unfriendly and even hostile attitude of the French leadership towards our country."
  • Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said the results reflected, in part, both leaders' "inept policy" of backing Ukraine in the war with Russia. "Time to retire. To the ash heap of history!" Medvedev posted on social media platform X.
  • Valentina Matviyenko, head of the upper house of parliament, said Macron and Scholz had "suffered a crushing defeat with their parties (that) once again confirms their failure as both national and European politicians. "Moreover, in their case this is a well-deserved result, arising from many years of complete disregard for the real needs of people and society," she wrote on Telegram.
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that after the EU elections, the majority in the European Parliament would still be pro-EU and pro-Ukraine, but the rise of right-wing parties was clear. “This dynamic is visible to the naked eye and of course, despite the fact that the pro-Europeans retain their leading positions for the time being, over time the right-wing parties will step on their heels,” he said. “We are closely tracking these processes.”

“A Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership? Rationales and Dilemmas in India-Russia Relations,” Nivedita Kapoor, The Russia Program at George Washington University, 06.07.24.

  • Given the shifting perceptions of Indian political elites, the positive legacy of India-Russia relations on its own is no longer enough to keep the partnership going. The differences in their positions on the BRI, the Quad, the Indo-Pacific, etc., damage mutual trust, with some openly calling for Russia to tone down its criticism of the Indo-Pacific given the “painful reaction” this causes in India. Imbalanced trade – amid the increased oil imports – and the slowing-down of military-technical cooperation – which allows India’s Western partners to step in and fill the gap – are other challenges that are yet to be addressed. 
  • The shift of India and Russia toward rival major powers is not an issue that will be resolved either easily or any time soon. The two sides have sharply different understandings of the consequences of China’s rise and the policy prescriptions for managing this change in the international system. 
  • Overall, while the Russia-Ukraine war did not directly affect the rationale behind the central arguments for the India-Russia relationship, it complicated a whole host of factors that were shaping India-Russia relations and worsened the external pressures on them. 
  • For now, one can expect India and Russia to avoid any sudden moves, instead focusing on the bilateral nature of ties where mutual cooperation can yield results within a limited agenda. In the longer term, the agenda in India-Russia relations will depend on numerous factors, including the kind of Russian policy that emerges at the end of this war, their respective relations with rival major powers and the contours of the regional and global order. 


"Zelenskyy’s Bid for Asian Support Falls Flat," Karishma Vaswani, Bloomberg, 06.05.24.

  • Rockstar entrances are designed to demandattention, and that is precisely what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s did when he arrived at the Shangri-La hotel to attend the premier Asian defense summit in Singapore. In his trademark green T-shirtand military trousers, flanked by bodyguards, it was as if the Taylor Swift of defense and security had descended onto the foreign policy stage.
  • He’d come to sell the idea that Asia needs to join Ukraine in its life-or-death fight for democracy against autocracy. But his pitch fell flat. 
  • It would be far better for Zelenskyy to focus on the idea that this is about the sanctity of borders, something smaller nations like the Philippines, East Timor and Singapore understand all too well

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

“With a Controversial New Law, Georgia Invites Bids From Russia and the EU,” Vladimir Solovyov, CEIP, 06.04.24.

  • The Georgian government’s adoption of a highly controversial “foreign agents” law may seem reckless, given that it has prompted major protests at home and condemnation in the West. Moreover, the Georgian Dream ruling party has pushed it through in an election year: on October 26, the country will elect a new parliament.
  • If the party is voted out in October, after twelve years in power, the opposition will not fail to take revenge. Georgian Dream’s honorary chairman and the country’s de facto leader, the oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, can fully expect to repeat the fate of former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now behind bars. However counterintuitive, therefore, it seems that the adoption of the foreign agents law simply reflects a new approach by Georgian Dream to maintaining its grip on power.
  • Polls show that if they have to choose just one thing, more than three-quarters of Georgians would choose the return of Abkhazia and South Ossetia over joining the EU and NATO. Tbilisi has already proven that it has the courage to disobey the EU and the United States. Now it is Moscow’s turn to take the initiative. Even if Russia simply facilitates the start of the reintegration process, that may be more important for Georgian Dream’s popularity than a setback in the process of European integration.

“Could Opposition Protests in Armenia Topple the Government?”, Alexander Atasuntsev, CEIP, 06.03.24. 

  • For several weeks Armenia has been roiled by the biggest opposition protests since the 2018 revolution that swept Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to power. ... Notably, the ranks of the protesters have been swelled by members of the clergy and refugees from the long-disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was seized by Azerbaijan last year. However, Pashinyan has repeatedly shown himself to be a political survivor, and the outcome is far from certain. A lot will depend on whether opposition leaders are able to overcome the apathy that has gripped Armenian society in recent years.
  • The current opposition leaders in Armenia—many of whom are known for their close ties to Russia—have little to go on when trying to present a viable alternative to the country’s beleaguered prime minister.

“The War in Ukraine and Changing Perceptions of Russia in Azerbaijan,” Anar Valiyev and Fidan Nazamova, PONARS, 06.03.24.

  • In contrast to many countries in Eurasia, the war in Ukraine has not led to divisions between political elites and society; instead, the country has been united in its attitude toward the Russian aggression. The 'grand rally' in front of the Ukrainian embassy in early March 2022 is a perfect example of the Azerbaijani people’s support for Ukraine.
    • Moreover, the vast majority of young people (89%) state that Türkiye is the closest friend of Azerbaijan. This position is so dominant that the second- (Russia—five percent) and third-ranked (Pakistan—two percent) countries do not even exceed five percent.
    • At present, young people do not see Russia as representing a major threat to Azerbaijan due to Russia’s weakness. The withdrawal of the Russian peacekeepers from Nagorno-Karabakh only strengthened this perception.
  • Overall, Azerbaijani public opinion is ambivalent in its assessment of the war in Ukraine. To be sure, the public, elites, and youth do not support—and even condemn—the Russian invasion. Nevertheless, growing anti-Russian sentiment has not resulted in a rise in support for the U.S. or the EU

“Ukraine War Fuels Resurgence of Modern ‘Silk Road,’” Shujaat Ahmadzada, CEIP, 06.10.24. 

  • This year, an estimated 150,000 tons of freight will be shipped from central China, the eastern terminus of the ancient Silk Road, through Central Asia and across the Caspian Sea to the South Caucasus. Known as the Trans-Caspian International Trade Route, or simply the Middle Corridor, it is often seen as an alternative to more popular maritime options. Some believe that the war in Ukraine and intense interest from Beijing mean the Middle Corridor is poised to enjoy another heyday.
  • Many feasibility studies suggest the growth of the Middle Corridor will bolster EU–China trade, though not enough to significantly affect global trade dynamics. Therefore, the Middle Corridor should be reimagined: from a global conduit between Far Eastern markets and Europe to a regional connectivity initiative, aimed at deepening the Caucasus and Central Asia’s integration and potentially boosting their economic and political resilience.
  • Indeed, the calculations around the Middle Corridor transcend mere economics. After all, connectivity projects operate within securitized environments. The aspiration of economically linking the Caucasus and Central Asia could eventually evolve into an interregional political and security dialogue. Perhaps, in an era of multipolarity, this is the best approach.



  1. Far-right parties had their best-ever European parliament election, wining almost a quarter of the chamber’s seats. Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National won 30 of France’s 81 seats, and more than double the votes of President Emmanuel Macron’s Renew party. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy won 24 seats and increased her share of the national vote, and the Alternative for Germany came second in Germany and snapped up 15 seats. (FT, 06.09.24)

The cutoff for reports summarized in this product was 11:00 am Eastern time on the day this digest was distributed. Unless otherwise indicated, all summaries above are direct quotations. 

*Here and elsewhere, the italicized text indicates comments by RM staff and associates. These comments do not constitute a RM editorial policy.

^ Machine-translated.

Slider photo by Diliff shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.