Russia Analytical Report, May 2-9, 2022

This Week's Highlights

  • NYT’s Troianovski and Barnes asked Western military analysts and officials why Russia’s onslaught in Ukraine has not been even worse. Part of the answer, the interviewees say, is that Ukrainian air defense continues to threaten Russian aircraft, and Russia has also struggled with its precision munitions. Additionally, Moscow may be eager to avoid destroying Ukraine’s infrastructure in the hope that it can still take control of the country. Finally, Russia may have refrained from a cyberattack on NATO because Putin may be waiting for a later stage in his campaign to do that, according to the interviewees.
  • In his Victory Day speech, Putin mentioned Kyiv, Kharkiv and Minsk when describing how soldiers fought for the “defense of our Motherland,” and claimed that Ukraine had been planning an “an invasion of our historic lands.” His speech was also conspicuous for what it did not include, according to NYT: “Putin did not try to frame any part of the Ukraine war as a ‘victory,’ offering no signal of an imminent end to the conflict”; however, the Russian leader “did not renew his implicit threats of nuclear war.”
  • Kissinger says he sees a possibility that Putin may “escalate by moving into a category of weapons that in 70 years of their existence have never been used,” and yet “there’s almost no discussion internationally about what would happen if the [nuclear] weapons actually became used.” WSJ’s Seib and Harvard’s Walt are also concerned that Putin may resort to nuclear weapons if his war effort in Ukraine fails. 
  • New America think-tank’s Slaughter warns that expanding NATO to Finland and Sweden will deepen the East-West fissure. “Europe will never be truly peaceful unless it integrates eastern European nations, including Russia, into its economic and security structures,” though “that will not happen with Putin in office,” according to Slaughter. In contrast, Finnish National Defense University’s Ossa and Koivula see distinct advantages in expanding NATO to Finland, as does Barnard’s Marten.
  • East China Normal University’s Slezkine notes how Zelensky and Biden invoked the “free world” in discussing Russia’s war against Ukraine, warning that renewal commitment to this Cold War era concept could produce an “insistence on viewing distant wars as decisive tests, an intolerance of nonalignment, an inability to formulate a common purpose in positive terms and a reliance on the enduring evil of the enemy.”
  • Georgetown’s Stent reminds us that the countries that abstained or voted against UNGA resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and suspending it from the Human Rights Council account for more than half of the world’s population. Russia “will remain a country with which a significant number of states will still be quite content to do business—and quite careful not to antagonize Moscow,” she argues.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • No significant developments.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

“The Refugee Opportunity. Those Fleeing Ukraine and Elsewhere Are a Boon to Host Countries,” Dany Bahar, FA, 05.03.22. The author, an economist and an Associate Professor of Practice of International and Public Affairs at Brown University, writes:

  • “In depicting refugees (or migrants more generally), the media and other commentators tend to focus on the costs they impose. ... But this pessimism is rarely supported by empirical research. In fact, data overwhelmingly suggests that refugees are a tremendous boon for the economies in which they resettle.”
  • “A 2016 study by McKinsey Global Institute found that although migrants represent only 3.4% of the global population, they create nearly 10% of global GDP, a figure that’s more than twice the size of what they would have produced if they never moved. Some estimates show that eliminating all barriers to human mobility could increase GDP by 50 to 150%.”
  • “Despite the circumstances that forced them to flee, refugees—a subset of all migrants—also enlarge the pie. In the United States, working-age male refugees across the board had a 67% employment rate from 2009 to 2011, compared with 60% for native-born men, increasing economic activity. They also own homes at the same rates as natives (which makes them investors) and pay their fair share in taxes while still having enough disposable income for consumption and further investment.”
  • “Ukrainians can be tremendous assets to the economies welcoming them—regardless of their education levels. This also applies to the many Russians who have fled their country because of its politics.”

“Amid Ukraine’s ruins, Russia is rebuilding totalitarianism,” Editorial Board, WP, 05.06.22. The news outlet’s editorial board writes:

  • “One should not overstate the parallels to the Soviet-era famine, in which 3.9 million Ukrainians—out of a total of 5 million in the USSR as a whole—lost their lives. The death toll in today’s war, substantial as it is, does not approach that. But one should not understate the parallels, either. In blatant disregard of Ukraine’s recognized status under international law, Mr. Putin has declared that it is not a real state but rather the product of anti-Russian foreign machinations, which Russia must counter with force. This can only be called a war of conquest—and Mr. Putin is deadly serious about it. His opponents, led by the United States, must be equally serious about stopping him.”

“The Push to Prosecute Russia's Vladimir Putin for the Ukraine War,” Niharika Mandhana, WSJ 05.02.22. The author, Southeast Asia bureau chief for the news outlet, writes:

  • “Some legal scholars and public figures say Russia's leaders should be prosecuted for invading Ukraine. They envision a special tribunal with high-ranking defendants, Russian President Vladimir Putin chief among them. The tribunal would ‘signal our resolve that the crime of aggression will not be tolerated, and that we will leave no stone unturned in bringing to an end the terrible events we are now seeing,’ said a March statement by several international lawyers, a former Nuremberg prosecutor and former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown.”
  • “Aggression is a leadership crime, said Philippe Sands, a law professor at University College London and an expert on international courts and tribunals, who is part of an effort to prepare the legal texts that could facilitate a possible future tribunal for Ukraine.”
  • “The key questions, Mr. Sands said, are: Is Russia waging a manifestly illegal war and who is responsible for the decision to go to war? ‘Gathering evidence for the crime of aggression is not complex,’ he said, since Russia's large-scale attack on another state's territory, including bombardments of Ukrainian cities by its armed forces, fit the crime's definition.”
  • “The next question is, where could an aggression trial take place? Not at the International Criminal Court. Although the ICC was created with four crimes in mind—war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression—its jurisdiction over the crime of aggression is much narrower compared with the three other crimes. ... That is why some legal experts have floated the idea of a special or ad hoc aggression tribunal, though how it should be formed and by whom are widely debated questions.”
  • “No matter how a tribunal comes up, it faces the practical hurdle of getting Russian defendants in front of it. Those advocating for an aggression trial concede it isn't likely that Mr. Putin or Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will end up in the dock.”

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

“Russia’s War Has Been Brutal, but Putin Has Shown Some Restraint. Why?” Anton Troianovski and Julian E. Barnes, NYT, 05.03.22. The authors, Moscow bureau chief and a national security reporter for the news outlet, write:

  • “Russia’s war against Ukraine has leveled cities, killed tens of thousands of people and forced millions of others from their homes. But quietly, some military analysts and Western officials are asking why the onslaught has not been even worse.”
  • “Part of the reason appears to be sheer incompetence: The opening weeks of the war demonstrated vividly that Russia’s military was far less capable than believed before the invasion. But American and European officials also say that President Vladimir V. Putin’s tactics in recent weeks have appeared to be remarkably cautious, marked by a slow-moving offensive in eastern Ukraine, a restrained approach to taking out Ukrainian infrastructure and an avoidance of actions that could escalate the conflict with NATO.”
  • “For weeks, officials in Washington have discussed why the Russian military has not been more aggressive in trying to destroy the supply lines that send Western arms shipments into Ukraine. Part of the answer, officials say, is that Ukrainian air defense continues to threaten Russian aircraft, and the deeper Russian planes go into Ukraine the greater the chance they are going to be shot down.”
  • “Russia has also struggled with its precision munitions … Many of those weapons have failed to work properly, and Russian supplies of the weapons are limited. … Other officials have argued that Moscow is eager to avoid destroying Ukraine’s infrastructure too severely, in the possibly misguided hope that it can still take control of the country.”
  • “American and allied officials have debated why Mr. Putin hasn’t tried widespread or more damaging cyberstrikes. Some say that Mr. Putin has been effectively deterred. ...Others argue that a cyberstrike on a NATO country is one of the few cards Mr. Putin can play and that he may be waiting for a later stage in his campaign to do that.”

“Russia is losing on the electronic battlefield,” David Ignatius, WP, 05.03.22. The author, a columnist for the news outlet, writes:

  • “Russia has stumbled and lost its way in the little-known realm of intercepting and jamming communications, an increasingly essential element of military success. … Russia's vulnerability was vividly demonstrated this past weekend when it was reported that Maj. Gen. Andrei Simonov, among his country's leading electronic war specialists, was killed in a Ukrainian artillery strike on a command post near Izyum. The fact that Ukraine could strike such a sensitive position illustrates its surprising mastery of precision targeting and attack.”
  • “Ukraine has tapped into Russian communications, blocked its signals, blinded its surveillance and captured some its most advanced EW systems, experts say. The United States and its NATO partners have provided crucial EW equipment and training. But American experts say it's the Ukrainians themselves who adapted these high-tech weapons to protect their homeland.”
  • “The Russian way of war on the electronic battlefield suffers from some of the same limitations that have hindered Russian forces generally, U.S. military experts say. The Russian systems are big and best suited to static positions, rather the multipronged mobile offensive that Russia launched in February. Russian systems operated well in the tight battle zone of Donbas in 2014, and they may repeat that success in the new Donbas campaign that began last month.”
  • “Russia's centralized, top-down command structure also hindered its EW forces in making quick adaptations; there weren't any Russian noncommissioned officers who could make speedy fixes. … When their fancy communications equipment broke down, the Russians resorted to cellphones on Ukrainian networks, which revealed not just their plans but their locations—allowing precise attacks.”
  • “When the history of the Ukraine war in finally written, the chapter on electronic warfare may be one of the most telling—and one where U.S. assistance was both least visible and most helpful.”

“Can Ukraine’s Military Keep Winning?” Margarita Konaev and Polina Beliakova, FA, 05.09.22. The authors, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a Ph.D. candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, write:

  • “To win in the Donbas, the Russians must quickly pivot away from the failed strategy of trying to seize Kyiv that got them bogged down in urban centers spanning the north, east, and south of Ukraine. Instead, they must implement a plan that takes advantage of the more favorable terrain in the east. … But Russian forces may be too depleted and demoralized to fully capitalize on the operational advantages of the war’s new geography.”
  • “The Ukrainians face almost the opposite challenge. To win in Donbas, they will likely have to shift to a more conventional fight on open ground, where they may be more vulnerable. The terrain in the east does not offer the cover allowed by forests and urban areas, making it more difficult for Ukrainian forces to conduct the insurgency-style attacks that worked so well in the first stage of the war. In this conventional style of warfare, the Ukrainians need more tanks, artillery, and rockets to conduct a large-scale counteroffensive.”
  • “Numbers also matter for the Ukrainian side. A small, well-equipped, highly motivated force could defend a city against a much larger offensive force and even win.”
  • “Recent expert assessments suggest that Russia may be preparing diplomatically, militarily and economically for a protracted conflict. The fight in the Donbas is therefore likely to be brutal, but it will not be swift, and it may not be decisive.”

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

“Russia’s war tests Europe’s moral mettle as much as its economy, Martin Wolf, FT, 05.03.22. The author, chief economics commentator for the news outlet, writes:

  • “The aim must at the least be to lower the revenue Russia receives from its exports, not increase it. A number of economists have considered what this might require. Seven points emerge from their analyses.”
    • “First, the EU’s vulnerability to Russia, but also power over it, is greater in gas than oil, because gas depends more on a fixed infrastructure.”
    • “Second, the most effective way to lower revenue to Russia is not an embargo but a punitive tax or tariff, which should shift Putin’s ‘energy rent’ to consumers.”
    • “Third, imposing tariffs would generate revenue that can be used to help those suffering losses in real incomes at present.”
    • “Fourth, a tax imposed by the EU alone on Russian exports would achieve more in gas than in oil, because of the greater difficulty of diversifying gas exports.”
    • “Fifth, trade sanctions would be more effective the greater the number of participating countries.”
    • “Sixth, one might extend sanctions on oil by placing sanctions on shipping.”
    • “Finally, the cost of such measures to Russia would be a large multiple of their costs to the EU and allies.”

“The US Confiscation Policy,” Ivan Timofeev, Russian International Affair Council, 05.06.22. The author, director of programs at the Russian International Affairs Council, writes:

  • “On April 28, U.S. President Joe Biden asked Congress to pass new legislation on the confiscation of Russian property. … Biden’s proposals include the following:”
    • “First, to create an effective mechanism for the confiscation of property located in the United States and owned by sanctioned ‘oligarchs’ or persons involved in illegal activities.”
    • “Second, the Biden Administration is pushing for a mechanism that would allow the transfer of property seized from the ‘kleptocrats’ to compensate Ukraine for the damage caused by military action.”
    • “Third, the confiscation of property that is used to help circumvent U.S. sanctions, as well as the inclusion of sanctions circumvention in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).”
    • “Fourth, it is proposed to deepen interaction with foreign allies and partners. In the EU, in particular, property worth more than $30 billion has already been confiscated.”
  • “While the advantages of these moves will bear fruit in the very near future, disadvantages will make themselves felt later. First of all, Russia itself would move to confiscate Western-owned assets on its territory. …  Another disadvantage for the United States is the significant loss of leverage over certain segments of the Russian elite. … Finally, the victorious march of the authorities of the U.S., the EU and other countries over the fragments of Russian property gives rise to legitimate fears among investors from other countries.” 

“The West needs to up its sanctions game against Russia,” Michael McFaul, WP, 05.04.22. The author, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, writes:

  • “Too many Russian oligarchs close to Putin and too many Russian officials working for Putin still have not been sanctioned. The present approach places too much discretionary burden on governments implementing sanctions as they try to decide which individuals deserve to be sanctioned and which do not.”
  • “For that reason, rather than targeting specific individuals, the world should shift some sanctions to target positions in the Russian government, state-owned enterprises, political parties and state-controlled media. Russians in these jobs then have a choice: They can stay in their government and government-affiliated roles and face the consequences—or resign and avoid sanctions.”
  • “Once this new principle of sanctioning positions is in place, the United States and European sanction lists should be expanded dramatically.”
  • “This list should include, at a minimum, those at the deputy minister level, all generals and colonels in the armed forces, police, and intelligence services, and anyone at the vice president level at state-owned enterprises.”
  • “Policies for sanctioning private sector individuals also must become more uniform. To eliminate subjectivity and lobbying efforts, all of Russia’s 100 richest people should be sanctioned, without exception.”

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • No significant developments.

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

“The New Cold War Could Soon Heat Up. Why Russia and the West Might Escalate the Fight Over Ukraine,” Ian Bremmer, FA, 05.02.22. The author, president and founder of Eurasia Group, writes:

  • “Even if Putin is persuaded to end this war by casting a small land grab in eastern Ukraine as a historic victory for Russia, there can be no return to the relative stability that existed before Feb. 24. The new Cold War will be open ended: Russia will remain indefinitely saddled with allied sanctions and will have few trade ties with Europe that might encourage restraint. A humiliated Putin is likely to test NATO’s resolve. Russia could, for example, strike allied weapons convoys, training centers and storage depots in Ukraine. It could conduct limited cyberattacks against U.S. and European civilian infrastructure. It could escalate its disinformation campaigns to subvert upcoming elections in the United States and European countries. It could cut off gas supplies to more European countries and restrict exports of critical commodities. Amid a growing economic crisis, NATO leaders would be under tremendous pressure to respond to these provocations in kind—risking further dangerous escalation.”
  • “If Putin loses the Donbas and finds it impossible to declare victory at home, the risks of escalation rise even further. In this scenario, Moscow might consider using chemical weapons to turn the tide or attacking NATO facilities in Poland. U.S. and European leaders could respond by launching direct strikes on Russian assets in Ukraine or enacting a no-fly zone. Washington would step up its sanctions campaign and, in turn, gas would immediately stop flowing to Europe. Both sides would be tempted to conduct destructive cyberattacks on each other’s critical infrastructure. Although still unlikely, the use of nuclear weapons and NATO troop deployments would no longer be unthinkable. Without guardrails, there is no telling where this new logic might lead.”

“The West vs. the Rest,” Angela Stent, FP, 05.02.22. The author, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writes:

  • “Russian President Vladimir Putin made four major miscalculations before he launched his invasion of Ukraine. … But he did get one thing right: He correctly estimated that what I call ‘the Rest’—the non-Western world—would not condemn Russia or impose sanctions.”
  • “The United Nations has voted three times since the war began: twice to condemn Russia’s invasion and once to suspend it from the Human Rights Council. These resolutions passed. But tally up the size of the populations in those countries that abstained or voted against the resolutions, and it amounts to more than half of the world’s population.”
  • “Leading the Rest in refusing to condemn Russia is China. … The other major holdout against criticizing Russia has been India, the world’s largest democracy and a U.S. partner in … the Quad. … Although most Arab countries voted to condemn Russia’s invasion in the first U.N. vote, the 22-member Arab League subsequently did not. … Israel’s position is largely determined by Russia’s support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, where both Russian and Iranian forces are present.”
  • “Most African countries abstained in the vote condemning Russia’s invasion, and many voted against suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council. South Africa, a democratic member of the BRICS group of emerging economies, has not criticized Russia. … Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua have supported Moscow—as expected—but others have also refused to condemn the invasion. Brazil, a BRICS member, declared a stance of ‘impartiality’ ... More disturbing was Mexico’s refusal to present a common North American front.”
  • “Russia’s economy will be diminished, and if it succeeds in creating a ‘sovereign internet,’ it will de-modernize and become ever more dependent on China. But it will remain a country with which a significant number of states will still be quite content to do business—and quite careful not to antagonize Moscow.”

“A Message to the Biden Team on Ukraine: Talk Less,” Thomas L. Friedman, NYT, 05.03.22. The author, an opinion columnist for the news outlet, writes:

  • “Last week, in Poland, standing near the border with Ukraine, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin got my attention—and certainly Vladimir Putin's—when he declared that America's war aim in Ukraine is no longer just helping Ukraine restore its sovereignty, but is also to produce a 'weakened' Russia.”
  • “Forcing Russia to withdraw from Ukraine is not the same as declaring that we want to see it weakened so badly that it can never do this again anywhere—that's an ill-defined war aim. How do you know when that is achieved? And is it an ongoing process—do we keep degrading Russia?”
  • “Our goal began simple and should stay simple: Help Ukrainians fight as long as they have the will and help them negotiate when they feel the time is right—so they can restore their sovereignty and we can reaffirm the principle that no country can just devour the country next door. Freelance beyond that and we invite trouble. How so? For starters, I don't want America responsible for what happens in Russia if Putin is toppled. Because one of three things will most likely result.”
  • “Putin is replaced by someone worse. … Chaos breaks out in Russia, a country with some 6,000 nuclear warheads. As we saw in the Arab Spring, the opposite of autocracy is not always democracy—it's often disorder. … Putin is replaced by someone better.”

“The War in Ukraine Calls for a Reset of Biden’s Foreign Policy America Can’t Support Democracy Only When It’s Convenient,” Matthew Duss, FA, 05.04.22. The author, foreign policy adviser to independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, writes:

  • “Russian aggression has also reinvigorated a moribund transatlantic alliance. The danger is that rather than develop a new paradigm for this era, policymakers will simply attempt to exhume an old ‘us versus them’ Cold War model, shock it back to life, and put a tuxedo on it. As in the days after 9/11, a momentary sense of unity could be used to promote a set of tragically counterproductive policies.”
  • “The administration’s framing of the Russian war on Ukraine as symbolic of a battle between democracy and autocracy might be rhetorically satisfying but obscures more than clarifies the challenges and opportunities of this moment.”
  • “First, it overlooks that the contest between democracy and autocracy is being waged within states as much as between them, including within the United States, as authoritarian-leaning ethnonationalist forces continue to gain strength—indeed, draw strength—from an us versus them discourse of civilizational struggle.”
  • “It is also unconvincing in light of Washington’s own support for many autocratic governments, particularly (but certainly not only) in the Middle East.”
  • “Finally, as the United States considers what future it wants, it is helpful to remember the choices it didn’t make when it had the opportunity. In the years leading up to 9/11, a global justice movement began to emerge in the global North. ... Unfortunately, much of that movement’s momentum was buried in the rubble of the World Trade Center. ... In late 2019 and early 2020, the world saw a wave of protests driven by similar outrage against government corruption and self-dealing elites. ... If the United States really wants to put itself on the side of democracy, it will hear these voices and commit to supporting a more expansive redistribution of global power and wealth and the building of a more humanitarian global order.”

“The Trouble With ‘the Free World’: Why It’s a Bad Idea to Revive a Cold War Concept,” Peter Slezkine, FA, 05.06.22. The author, a postdoctoral fellow at East China Normal University, writes:

  • “On the day the attack began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to ‘free world leaders’ for support. In his State of the Union address on March 1, U.S. President Joe Biden emphasized ‘the resolve of the free world.’ ‘The free world is united in its resolve,’ echoed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson three days later.”
  • “The return of the free world may have consequences that transcend the realm of rhetoric. From the late 1940s through the mid-1960s, the American commitment to free world leadership resulted in a series of unintended policymaking constraints. … Perhaps the key feature of the free world was its negative definition. … Another flaw in the free world doctrine was the conceptual impossibility of nonalignment.”
  • “A renewed commitment to a negatively defined free world would produce a familiar set of problems: an insistence on viewing distant wars as decisive tests, an intolerance of nonalignment, an inability to formulate a common purpose in positive terms and a reliance on the enduring evil of the enemy. It is not too late to devise a flexible and regionally attuned foreign policy that does not require a worldwide mobilization against a single, globally interconnected existential threat. Attempting to lead something called the free world is not a grand strategy. It’s a trap.”

“Ukraine and the shadow of the Nazis,” Gideon Rachman, FT, 05.09.22. The author, chief foreign affairs commentator for the news outlet, writes:

  • “Achieving a permanent weakening of Russia would clearly be a big geopolitical win for the west. It would reduce the security threat to Europe, diminish China’s most important ally and give new credibility to president Joe Biden’s insistence that ‘America is back.’”
  • “But openly adopting a ‘weak Russia’ policy also contains substantial risks. It increases the dangers of escalation—including nuclear escalation. And it also risks validating the Kremlin’s narrative that the war is driven by NATO’s animus against Russia, rather than Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine. That, in turn, may weaken international support for U.S. efforts to isolate Russia.”
  • “Knowing all this, the White House is struggling to maintain message discipline in the western alliance. Escalation in rhetoric does not just risk escalation on the battlefield. It also makes an eventual peace settlement even harder to achieve.”
  • “The bleak conclusion is that the end of this war is a long way off.”

“Ukraine: From Bad to Worse?” Andrew J. Bacevich, American Conservative, 05.05.22. The author, a writer at large for the magazine, writes:

  • “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a criminal act. Aiding Ukraine’s effort to defend itself is entirely justified. But when this war ends, it will leave unsettled more issues than it resolves. For starters, Ukraine and Russia will remain neighbors and Russia’s pariah status will have to be unwound.”
  • “Further, regardless of its outcome, the ongoing war will leave intact the ideological, cultural, and economic problems presently afflicting the United States. Perplexing Joe Biden and dividing the political establishment, those problems will persist regardless of who prevails in Ukraine. For all the feel-good references to ‘freedom’ from the likes of Paul Krugman, the vicious and cruel Ukraine war will not enable America to begin the world all over again. To fancy otherwise is an illusion.”
  • “Beginning America itself all over again will prove challenging enough, as Tom Paine himself would likely realize. On that score, avoiding war might offer a good place to begin.”

“Our democracy at home depends on preserving freedom in Ukraine,” Liz Cheney and  Jake Auchincloss, WP, 05.06.22. The authors, U.S. representatives, write:

  • “From East Asia to Europe, Africa to Latin America, they are threaded together by the same existential question: Is democracy on the march, or in retreat? The outcome in Ukraine will reverberate across the world.”
  • “The United States — and Congress — must continue to deliver a strong and unequivocal answer, because democracy everywhere is fragile. Strains of authoritarianism here at home make that painfully clear. Democracies, though, draw succor from one another. In defending Ukraine’s democracy, we stand up for our own. In combating tyranny overseas, we strengthen our freedom at home.”

“Expanding NATO will deepen east-west fissure: Admitting Finland and Sweden would only broaden the divide between Russia and its neighbors,” Anne-Marie Slaughter, FT, 05.05.22. The author, president of the New America think-tank, writes:

  • “The threat of Russia invading either Finland or Sweden is remote. But admitting them to the military alliance will redraw and deepen Europe’s 20th-century divisions in ways that will probably preclude far bolder and braver thinking about how to achieve peace and prosperity in the 21st.”
  • “NATO’s immediate aim should be to help Ukrainian forces push Putin far enough back to his starting positions in the east of the country that he is willing to engage in serious peace negotiations. But what does a positive peace look like?”
  • “The real question here has to be how to get to the best outcome for all of Europe … Russia is part of that continent. Europe ends and Asia begins at the Ural Mountains. Historical efforts to locate the ‘center of Europe’ have landed on spots in Poland, Ukraine and Belarus. Russia belongs to both Europe and Asia, but nearly 80% of its population and almost all its major cities are west of the Urals.”
  • “U.S., U.K. and EU leaders should specify that in return for military and economic support, Ukraine must be willing to negotiate about its own security guarantees, language rights for Russian-speaking Ukrainians and a future European security architecture. … Finnish and Swedish leaders should announce that although they have long seen the virtues of military neutrality, Putin’s aggression has caused them to rethink.”
  • “Putin has made ‘a new European security architecture’ a dirty phrase, a term of capitulation, as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky regularly suggests. But Europe will never be truly peaceful unless it integrates eastern European nations, including Russia, into its economic and security structures. That will not happen with Putin in office, nor perhaps under his immediate successors. But let us not condemn the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Moldovans, the Georgians, the Belarusians and so many others to yet another century of exclusion.”

“What Would Finland Bring to the Table for NATO?” Heljä Ossa and Tommi Koivula, War on the Rocks, 05.09.22. The authors, a doctoral student and a professor of strategic and defense studies at the Finnish National Defense University, write:

  • “The current NATO debate in Finland manifests the scale of the geopolitical tremor that Russia’s aggressiveness and unpredictability have unleashed: nobody can make it alone anymore. This is particularly true of small countries like Finland. Resources are scarce and, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and social sector will continue to swallow a major part of the national budget. Moreover, demographics are not in Finland’s favor as the population ages and the armed forces need to make do with a shrinking pool of recruits. Relying on international cooperation is not a panacea to these challenges, but it will make the hit a little softer. Cooperation is, of course, not a one-way street. It enhances the safety of Finland, but Finns like to see themselves as reliable partners and providers of security and stability too. Once made, the assumed responsibilities are taken seriously, both in national defense and international cooperation.”

“Finland’s New Frontier: Will Russia Seek to Disrupt Helsinki’s NATO Bid?” Kimberly Marten, FA, 05.04.22. The author, a professor of political science at Barnard College, writes:

  • “It is impossible to know for sure how Putin and his military forces will react to a Finnish bid to join NATO. As Russia’s initially bungled invasion of Ukraine and frequent targeting of civilians there has shown, the Kremlin’s own motives these days seem less strategic and more emotional, hobbled by miscalculations and Putin’s apparent isolation, and driven by the Russian leader’s sense of rage against the West. Given Finland’s long-standing membership in the EU community and defense ties with NATO, to join the alliance officially seems more like a logical next step than a sea change, but Putin’s reaction remains unpredictable. In the face of that unpredictability, it is probably safer for Finland to be inside the alliance than out.”

“Why We Are Missing the Cold War,” Andrey Sushentsov, Valdai Discussion Club, 05.06.22. The author, the Valdai Club program director, writes:

  • “Despite hostility, it is with the United States that Russia will discuss the future contours of European security. Russian-American consultations began a long diplomatic marathon in November-December 2021, when the last attempt at a diplomatic settlement of military differences took place. “
  • “When the acute phase of the Ukrainian crisis will pass, the parties will return to negotiations, and Russian-American consultations will again be the center of decision-making on the future of European security. At the same time, it is obvious that the Americans’ interest now is to make the Ukrainian crisis last as long as possible, so that Russia comes out of it weaker: this will create a different negotiating reality.”
  • “As Vladimir Lenin argued, ‘to drag out the negotiations, you need a delayer.’ Today, it is the United States that plays precisely such a role in the unfolding crisis.”

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

“We are now living in a totally new era,” Edward Luce’s interview with Henry Kissinger, FT, 05.09.22. In this interview, Kissinger says:

  • “In principle, the [Sino-Russian] alliance is against vested interests, it’s now established. But it does not look to me as if it is an intrinsically permanent relationship. … The geopolitical situation globally will undergo significant changes after the Ukraine war is over. And it is not natural for China and Russia to have identical interests on all foreseeable problems. … I think it is unwise to take an adversarial position to two adversaries in a way that drives them together.”
  • “[When asked: ‘today’s nuclear language, which is coming thick and fast from Putin, from people around him, where do you put that in terms of the threat we are facing today?’] There’s almost no discussion internationally about what would happen if the weapons actually became used. My appeal in general, on whatever side you are, is to understand that we are now living in a totally new era, and we have gotten away with neglecting that aspect.”
  • “I have met Putin … once a year for a period of maybe 15 years for purely academic strategic discussions. I thought his basic convictions were a kind of mystic faith in Russian history . . . and that he felt offended, in that sense, not by anything we did particularly at first, but by this huge gap that opened up with Europe and the east. He was offended and threatened because Russia was threatened by the absorption of this whole area into NATO.”
  • “I think he miscalculated the situation he faced internationally and he obviously miscalculated Russia’s capabilities to sustain such a major enterprise—and when the time for settlement comes all need to take that into consideration, that we are not going back to the previous relationship but to a position for Russia that will be different because of this—and not because we demand it but because they produced it.”
  • “In all these crises, one has to try to understand what the inner red line is for the opposite number . . . I have no judgment when he comes to that point. When that point is reached will he escalate by moving into a category of weapons that in 70 years of their existence have never been used? If that line is crossed, that will be an extraordinarily significant event. Because we have not gone through globally what the next dividing lines would be.”

“China won't repeat Putin's Ukraine mistakes in Taiwan,” Josh Rogin, WP, 05.04.22. The author, a columnist for the news outlet, writes:

  • “China has a key advantage that Russia didn't. By not going first, Xi can easily avoid repeating Putin's military blunders, and China also now knows the West's playbook for responding. This has likely led Xi to adjust China's plans for attacking Taiwan in at least four ways, according to Army Gen. Richard Clarke, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, who spoke at the McCain Institute Sedona Forum on Saturday.”
  • “First, given that Putin failed to achieve his goal of conquering Ukraine in days, Xi is likely revising his plans to ensure that any invasion would begin by bringing down overwhelming force on Taipei and possibly other key Taiwanese cities. … Next, a Chinese attack on Taiwan would likely be a surprise. … Third, Xi is also likely making moves to preemptively counter any economic sanctions or isolation the West might bring to bear as punishment after an attack, he said. … Lastly, according to Clarke, Xi sees Putin losing the information war and therefore would likely spend more resources to control the information space before and after any attack.”
  • “The United States should change its strategy for the defense of Taiwan to take into account what China is likely learning in Ukraine, Clarke told the forum. Clarke wants the United States to help make Taiwan an ‘indigestible porcupine’ by arming Taiwan's military with weapons that have proved useful in Ukraine for repelling Putin's invasion.”
  • “The biggest mistake the West made in Ukraine was ... waiting until after Putin attacked to mobilize a real defense. For Taiwan, the time to arm the island and deploy the resources needed for rallying to its defense is now.”

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • See “We are now living in a totally new era,” Edward Luce’s interview with Henry Kissinger, FT, 05.09.22. in the "China-Russia: Allied or aligned?" subsection above.

“Putin's Ukraine Adventure Unleashes Nuclear Genies; Russia's conflict in Ukraine raises the risk of nuclear war itself, but it also may well be ushering in a new period of nuclear proliferation,” Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, 05.09.22. The author, executive Washington editor for the news outlet, writes:

  • “[Putin] is unleashing some dangerous nuclear genies from the bottles in which they had been contained for the past three decades. Those genies include the risk of nuclear war itself, the return of nuclear blackmail as a tool of statecraft, and the emergence of new incentives for other nations to acquire nuclear arms.”
  • “The gravest risk, of course, is that a Russian military that is either failing or hopelessly bogged down in Ukraine would turn to a nuclear strike—perhaps with a small-scale tactical nuclear weapon—to reverse the tide. That risk appeared particularly stark when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned two weeks ago of ‘considerable’ danger of nuclear conflict.”
  • “The more subtle risk is of nuclear blackmail, which was a periodic X factor in Cold War struggles between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. ... So far, the blackmail doesn't seem to be working. U.S. officials note that they actually have stepped up aid to Ukraine since Russian officials began hinting more directly about the potential of nuclear-weapons use.”
  • “Still, there is a long way to go. Depending on how this conflict turns out, Mr. Putin could end up showing China how to use nuclear blackmail to get the world to back off if and when it chooses to move on Taiwan. … Yet there is an even more subtle risk: the possibility that countries currently on the edge of nuclear-weapons capability, or considering going there, will conclude that the best way to avoid being the next Ukraine is to actually acquire nuclear weapons.”
  • “But it's tricky. How does the West calibrate the struggle so Mr. Putin is defeated, thereby showing that nuclear blackmail doesn't work, yet do so without so humiliating him that he pulls the nuclear trigger? That's why the period ahead is so dangerous.”

“The Use and Misuse of Nuclear Fear,” Michael Krepon, Arms Control Wonk, 05.04.22. The author, co-founder of the Stimson Center, writes:

  • “Is the sky falling? No—at least not yet. Putin’s nuclear threat making has a clear purpose: He wants NATO to back off to facilitate his war of aggression against Ukraine. If supporters of Ukraine act in ways that allow Putin’s nuclear threats to succeed, we can expect nuclear threat making to become more prevalent, and nuclear dangers to rise on several fronts.”
  • “All of which leaves arms controllers on the horns of a dilemma: How do we characterize nuclear danger without playing into Putin’s game plan? If arms control is to have a future, Putin needs to lose more than he gains in this war, and he needs to lose more than he gains without resorting to nuclear use. The outcome of this war has to demonstrate that aggressive war by a nuclear-armed state doesn’t pay—especially in a case where the victimized state gave back its nuclear weapons to the aggressor. The outcome of this war also has to demonstrate that nuclear threat making doesn’t succeed. In other words, much has to go right and worst cases have to be avoided. I believe this is hard, but achievable. One of the conditions for success in this war is calibration—not only with regard to the use of force, but also regarding how we characterize nuclear danger.”

“Why Washington Should Take Russian Nuclear Threats Seriously,” Stephen M. Walt, FP, 05.05.22. The author, the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University, writes:

  • “When a country is losing—or not winning as quickly as it wants—it is likely to consider other options no matter who happens to be pulling the triggers on the other side. Moreover, the absence of U.S. troops in Ukraine might make escalation more attractive to Russia’s leaders.”
  • “I’m also worried because Putin has a track record of issuing warnings and then following through on them. … Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is illegal, immoral, and unjustifiable, but it wasn’t something Putin launched on a whim. … As Putin’s many speeches on this subject have made clear, he and his associates saw Ukraine’s drift into de facto alignment with the United States and NATO as an existential threat … and they almost certainly believed that the time to stop this process was running out.”
  • “The failure to take Kyiv has shifted Russian war aims to the east (and probably reduced Moscow’s overall ambitions), but Ukraine’s future geopolitical alignment was the principal casus belli, and that issue has not gone away as far as Moscow is concerned. … Trying to inflict a decisive defeat on Russia creates the circumstances that might encourage a rational leader to contemplate a demonstration strike with a small nuclear weapon.”
  • “If Putin thinks he is facing total defeat, a military collapse or even being removed from power, why wouldn’t he consider raising the stakes? …To be sure, the use of even a single nuclear weapon could prove just as harmful to Russia as its invasion has been. ... [I]t would set a very worrisome precedent, and no one can be certain that even very limited use would stay that way. Washington has every reason, therefore, to avoid this alarming scenario.”
  • “I’d be a lot more comfortable if Western leaders took the possibility of nuclear use more seriously, ended their loose talk about war aims and focused more attention on ending the war than on achieving an ill-defined but supposedly decisive victory. … As I’ve noted before, ending this war requires all parties to settle for less than they originally wanted, and that includes the United States.”

“Nuclear Abolitionists Are Getting Ukraine Wrong,” Peter Huessy, NI, 05.08.22. The author, president of GeoStrategic Analysis, writes:

  • “It is widely understood the current U.S. administration took Putin’s nuclear threats seriously, which means, as far as Putin is concerned, his nuclear threats worked. This suggests that more threats may be on the way.”
  • “On the other hand, it is also false to assert that U.S. nuclear deterrence no longer works. In fact, the United States took America’s deterrent off the table and declined to directly intervene in Ukraine against Russia, effectively giving Moscow a green light to invade. That does not mean the U.S. deterrent failed. It means the United States failed to use its deterrent.”


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security:

  • No significant developments.

Energy exports from CIS:

  • No significant developments.

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • No significant developments.


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

“This crisis cannot be described by the words ‘bounce back.’ We remain in free fall and are yet to hit the bottom,” Interview with Russian economist and MSU professor Natalya Zubarevich in Delovoi Kvartal, 04.28.22. In this interview, the Russian economist and Moscow State University professor says:

  • “I would like to stress again that this crisis cannot be described by the words ‘bounce back.’ We remain in free fall and are yet to hit the bottom. This is a long, hard and tough crisis.”
  • “One risk is the exit of companies from Russia. Another risk is a decrease in demand for Russian exports. … The devaluation [of the rubles] seems to have been reversed but everyone understands that the exchange rate is artificial.”
  • “The impoverishment of the population is inevitable. It is the contraction of effective demand that is now slowing down inflation—people are simply buying less. … The Center, the North-West, the Volga region, the Urals and Tyumen, where oil and gas engineering is developed, will suffer geographically.”
  • “The dependence of the federal budget on oil rent is gigantic. In a good year, like in 2014, 27% of all tax revenues of the federal budget were provided by the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug. In a bad year—18%, but still this is the main source. Add 9% Yamal and everything will become clear.”

“Is Putin’s Popularity (Still) Real? A Cautionary Note on Using List Experiments to Measure Popularity in Authoritarian Regimes,” Timothy Frye, Scott Gehlbach, Kyle L. Marquardt and Ora John Reuter, PONARS, May 2022. The authors of the policy memo write:

  • “The repressive nature of the Russian state raises questions about whether we can trust respondents in public opinion polls. Some respondents may fear that revealing their opposition to the president could lead to negative consequences and will therefore falsely state they support him. As a result, Putin’s actual level of support could be lower than responses to direct questions in public opinion polls suggest.”
  • “Our original list experiments in 2015 suggested that Putin’s popularity was largely real, with those small differences ... In both 2015 and 2020–21, the list experiments roughly capture the actual population-level support for different politicians. If true, Putin’s support dropped from 2015 to 2020–21 to a far greater degree than implied by direct questioning.”

“Putin’s Orange Obsession: How a Twenty-Year Fixation With Color Revolutions Drove a Disastrous War,” Lincoln Mitchell, FA, 05.06.22. The author, an adjunct associate research scholar at Columbia University, writes:

  • “[I]f the survival of his [Putin’s] autocratic regime is his driving aim, the specter of a popular uprising at home goes a long way toward explaining why Moscow felt it was necessary to try to destroy the democratic government in Kyiv rather than undertake a far more limited, easily achievable invasion in the east of the country.”
  • “This motivating fear has never been widely understood in the West. Had Western leaders been able to recognize Putin’s color revolution obsession, Russia’s demands that Ukraine renounce NATO and implement the Minsk agreements—the never-enacted, Moscow-driven settlement of the Donbas war that would have given the separatist republics extensive powers in Kyiv—might have been seen differently: rather than ends in themselves, more of a pretext aimed at securing Moscow’s primary goal of establishing a compliant leadership in Kyiv that was inoculated against Western influence.”
  • “Paradoxically, in choosing to invade, the Kremlin seems to have fallen for its own color revolution propaganda, leading it to think that the Ukrainian government was merely a Western creation and did not represent the Ukrainian people. As the war in Ukraine drags on, it is also becoming apparent that Putin made another, potentially catastrophic miscalculation. A war that was originally driven by an effort to ensure regime preservation at home has led to a cratering Russian economy due to sanctions, a humiliating showing by Russia’s military, Russian soldiers coming home in body bags, and—despite ever-harsher crackdowns—growing Russian protests against the war. This is not what regime preservation looks like. In his fervor to bring an end to color revolutions once and for all, Putin has made himself that much more vulnerable to a popular uprising.”

“Address by the President of Russia at the military parade,” Vladimir Putin, Kremlin, 05.09.22. In this address, the Russian president says:

  • “The defense of our Motherland when its destiny was at stake has always been sacred. It was the feeling of true patriotism that Minin and Pozharsky’s militia stood up for the Fatherland, soldiers went on the offensive at the Borodino Field and fought the enemy outside Moscow and Leningrad, Kyiv and Minsk, Stalingrad and Kursk, Sevastopol and Kharkiv.”
  • “Last December we proposed signing a treaty on security guarantees. Russia urged the West to hold an honest dialogue in search for meaningful and compromising solutions, and to take account of each other’s interests. All in vain. NATO countries did not want to heed us, which means they had totally different plans. And we saw it.”
  • “Another punitive operation in Donbas, an invasion of our historic lands, including Crimea, was openly in the making. Kyiv declared that it could attain nuclear weapons. The NATO bloc launched an active military build-up on the territories adjacent to us. Thus, an absolutely unacceptable threat to us was steadily being created right on our borders. There was every indication that a clash with neo-Nazis and Banderites backed by the United States and their minions was unavoidable.”
  • “Russia launched a pre-emptive strike at the aggression. It was a forced, timely and the only correct decision. A decision by a sovereign, strong and independent country. … We are a different country. Russia has a different character. We will never give up our love for our Motherland, our faith and traditional values, our ancestors’ customs and respect for all peoples and cultures. Meanwhile, the West seems to be set to cancel these millennia-old values.”
  • “We honor all soldiers of the allied armies—the Americans, the English, the French, Resistance fighters, brave soldiers and partisans in China—all those who defeated Nazism and militarism. … Donbas militia alongside with the Russian Army are fighting on their land today, where princes Svyatoslav and Vladimir Monomakh’s retainers, soldiers under the command of Rumyantsev and Potemkin, Suvorov and Brusilov crushed their enemies, where Great Patriotic War heroes Nikolai Vatutin, Sidor Kovpak and Lyudmila Pavlichenko stood to the end.”
  • “I am addressing our Armed Forces and Donbas militia. You are fighting for our Motherland, its future, so that nobody forgets the lessons of World War II, so that there is no place in the world for torturers, death squads and Nazis. … For Russia! For Victory!”

“Putin defends his Ukraine invasion, invoking World War II, but does not signal an escalation,” Anton Troianovski, NYT, 05.09.22. The author, Moscow bureau chief for the news outlet, writes:

  • “President Vladimir V. Putin used his Victory Day speech on Monday to try to channel Russian pride in defeating Nazi Germany into support for this year’s invasion of Ukraine. But contrary to some expectations he did not make any new announcements signaling a mass mobilization for the war effort or an escalation of the onslaught.”
  • “The speech was conspicuous for what it did not include. … Mr. Putin did not try to frame any part of the Ukraine war as a ‘victory,’ offering no signal of an imminent end to the conflict. … The Russian leader did not renew his implicit threats of nuclear war, after warning late last month that countries that ‘create a strategic threat to Russia’ during the war in Ukraine could expect ‘retaliatory strikes’ that would be ‘lightning fast.’”
  • “Mr. Putin did lash out at the United States, as he has in the past, depicting America as the true aggressor and Russia as a stronghold of patriotism and ‘traditional values.’ He also made plain his ever-more-open nostalgia for the Soviet empire, describing May 9, 1945, as a day of triumph for ‘our united Soviet people.’ He mentioned Belarusian and Ukrainian cities among the ones that Red Army soldiers fighting for their ‘Fatherland’ defended: Kyiv, Minsk, Sevastopol and Kharkiv.”

“Putin’s Red Square parade will be a squalid spectacle,” Andrei Kozyrev, FT, 05.06.22. The author, a former Russian minister of foreign affairs, writes:

  • “Kremlin propaganda tries to connect the invasion of Ukraine with the ‘Great Patriotic War’ fought by Russians and Ukrainians against Hitler’s Germany. They dubbed the administration of Volodymyr Zelensky, the freely and fairly elected president of Ukraine, ‘Nazi.’ Moscow euphemistically calls the war a ‘special military operation’ to liberate Ukraine from Nazism and to return it to the Russkiy mir, a vaguely defined zone of Moscow domination bound by the Russian Orthodox Church, whose patriarch has blessed the invasion.”
  • “Now, the Kremlin is preparing to portray this operation as a successor to the war against Nazism at the traditional second world war Victory Day parade held on May 9 in Red Square in Moscow. Putin has in fact succeeded in establishing a connection with the Nazis—but through his own deeds, not by slandering Kyiv. Consider these similarities between Russian aggression today and Hitler’s war of conquest in Europe after 1939.”
  • “A grand display of the Russian military in Red Square and the false ‘anti-Nazi’ justification of its aggression in Ukraine is a blasphemy against the memory of the Holocaust and of the dozens of millions murdered in the second world war.”
  • “The seats reserved for foreign diplomats and dignitaries should remain vacant. This would send a powerful message to the millions of Russians who will be watching the parade on television.”

“Now we see, with Putin, why Nuremberg-style Soviet trials were needed,” Natan Sharansky, WP, 05.09.22. The author, chairman of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, writes:

  • “The parallels between Soviet-era imperialism and Putin's recent actions are striking.”
  • “At the outset of World War II, Stalin declared Poland an artificial creation of the Versailles Treaty; claimed that the Soviet Union had no choice but to invade it to save oppressed minorities of Ukrainians and Belarusians; and asserted that the people of the occupied territories had expressed their support for this act by voting to join the USSR.”
  • “Before invading Ukraine, Putin declared that country an artificial creation of the Soviet Union; claimed that Russia must invade to save the oppressed Russian-speaking minority there; and asserted that elections would confirm the will of the Ukrainian people to return to Russia.”
  • “It is impossible to say whether Putin would be in power today if Soviet crimes had been tried. But the public atmosphere would undoubtedly be different. It is a platitude that, as George Santayana noted, those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Today's Russia shows that those who do not confront the truths of the past are doomed to remain its victims and to victimize many others along the way.”

“A Heart-to-Heart With Russia's Elites,” Yevgenia Albats, The New Times/MT, 05.04.22. The author, chief editor of The New Times, writes:

  • “Unlike the 1998 collapse, the current financial and economic crisis has no positive outlook. There is only one direction it can take: down. The bureaucrats, the siloviki and the loyalists who have become (almost) an opposition still hope to reverse the negative trend.”
  • “I have no doubt that they are reading reports from the frontline in Ukraine very carefully. How quickly will they realize that the life they have built for themselves is over? That the old one will never come back? That politics came for them and now they will have to eat scraps from the sanctions? And that this disaster, which has destroyed their future and that of their children, has a first name and a last name? These people may have different points of view, but so far I haven’t found anyone willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause of expanding the Russian Empire.”

Defense and aerospace:

“Russia's ultimate political survivor faces a wartime reckoning,” Paul Sonne and Catherine Belton, WP, 05.09.22. The authors, reporters for the news outlet, write:

  • “In the 2 1/2 months since the Kremlin launched a war against Ukraine, the facade that Shoigu meticulously presented over the past decade has disintegrated into an ugly reality, laying bare the incompetence and barbarity of one of the world's biggest militaries.”
  • “Shoigu's future is now on the line. Having retreated from its attack on Kyiv, the Russian military is facing immense pressure to save face and capture a larger swath of Ukraine's east. Questions persist about how much blame Shoigu should bear for the Russian force's failures—as opposed to Russia's military leaders and intelligence chiefs, widely seen to have miscalculated how much Ukrainians would resist.”
  • “A civil engineer by training who lacks a military background, Shoigu almost certainly wouldn't have taken the lead in crafting the campaign plan—a task that probably fell to his military counterpart, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, and the rest of the brass..... But Shoigu is culpable, military analysts say, for the state of the Russian force.
  • “Reform efforts that began under Shoigu's predecessor stalled after he took over in 2012. … He jettisoned a program to establish an American-style corps of noncommissioned officers that could have instilled professionalism in the lower ranks. … Ambitions to expand the number of professional contract military personnel weren't fully met, while the ministry spent lavishly to procure expensive weaponry.
  • “Russia went into the war without a fully ready combat reserve. The results have been apparent in Ukraine ... ‘Shoigu built a military that looked good in scripted exercises, and proved effective in limited wars, but when thrown into a large conflict, showed that it couldn't scale operations and revealed the extent of rot in the system,’ CNA’s Michael Kofman said.”

See subsection "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:

“Is Ukraine's War Just? The Pope Hasn't Said,” Francis Rocca, WSJ, 05.05.22. The author, Vatican correspondent for the news outlet, writes:

  • “Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Pope Francis has made clear that he condemns the ‘violent aggression against Ukraine’ and sympathizes with ‘victims whose innocent blood cries out to heaven.’ But the pope has also raised questions about whether he thinks the Ukrainians have a right to defend themselves through the use of arms.”
  • “Has Francis repealed the traditional Catholic teaching widely known as just war theory, which holds that nations may under certain conditions legitimately defend themselves by military force?”
  • “There is also a ‘very cautious element in Catholic doctrine on the use of armed force,’ notes James Turner Johnson, professor emeritus of religion at Rutgers University—one that recalls St. Paul VI's 1965 words to the United Nations General Assembly: ‘Never again war!’ Pope Francis' position could be considered to be consistent with that tradition.”
  • “Some speculate that the pope is leery of playing a part in a conflict with the potential to escalate between NATO and Russia, as he sees his role as one that should transcend geopolitics. Writing for the website of the Italian daily il Fatto Quotidiano, Marco Politi, author of three books about the pope, used a term applied to Pope Pius XII for his vocal anticommunism in the early years of the Cold War: Mr. Politi explained, ‘He does not want to be the military chaplain of the West.’”


“What Ukrainians Think About the War With Russia,” Daniel Twining, WSJ, 05.07.22. The author, president of the International Republican Institute, writes:

  • “Thanks to an unprecedented effort from the International Republican Institute to conduct a nationwide poll of Ukraine during a time of war, we now know what its people think about the conflict, their leadership and the future of their country.  Several results stand out.”
  • “First, President Volodymyr Zelensky commands a 94% approval rating.”
  • “Second, Ukrainians want no part of a new Russian empire and overwhelmingly aspire to join the West. When asked which economic union they would join if they could enter only one, 80% chose the European Union and only 2% supported the Eurasian Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. If a referendum were held on North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership, 59% of Ukrainians would vote to join, while only 14% would vote against.”
  • “Third, 97% of Ukrainians believe they will win the war.”
  • “The results of our survey are part of a story being written by a people who share a vision of victory and a belief that their future will bring glory to Ukraine. We must continue to stand with them.”

“The War Over Ukrainian Identity” Nationalism, Russian Imperialism and the Quest to Define Ukraine’s History,” Georgiy Kasianov, FA, 05.04.22. The author, NAWA Chair Professor in the Department of Political Science and Journalism at Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland, writes:

  • “Both Russia and Ukraine are obsessed with the past and are guilty of distorting the historical record for modern purposes. But there is a fundamental difference in their positions. Russia turns to the past to justify expansion, aggression and domination, to resurrect an empire. Ukraine does it in self-defense and self-determination to preserve and nurture an independent republic. Russia fights for the past. Ukraine fights for the future.”

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

“Why Belarus matters: Like Ukraine, democracy is at stake,” Editorial Board, WP 05.02.22. The news outlet’s editorial board writes:

  • “Ukraine is fighting for its future as a democracy, but there is also a struggle for liberty going on in Belarus and Russia. Such inspired leaders as Ms. Tikhanovskaya, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and jailed opposition figures Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza in Russia, give us reason to hope that democracy will prevail. They deserve the world's support.”


IV. Quotable

  • No significant developments.