Russia Analytical Report, Oct. 10-16, 2023

5 Ideas to Explore

  1. The attack by Hamas on Israel signals the end of “a delicate entente” between Israel and Russia as the latter’s role in the Middle East continues to undergo a “tectonic shift” that began after Vladimir Putin’s decision to re-invade Ukraine, according to WSJ’s Alan Cullison and Thomas Grove. Directed by Putin—who had not called Netanyahu to offer condolences until Monday—the Russian government is busy strengthening ties with Arab states, such as Egypt, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, according to Cullison and Grove. Moscow is also “now seen as laying the foundation for a strategic relationship” with Teheran, according to their article. The Kremlin is also using the Israel-Hamas war to distract Russians from internal problems, Thomas Graham of the Council on Foreign Relations told the article’s authors.
  2. “Israel-Gaza War Means Hard Choices for Ukraine,” reads the headline of Ross Douthat’s recent commentary in NYT. One such hard choice is whether to “seek some kind of cease-fire now, while their military position is still stable and the aid money is still flowing,” this NYT columnist writes. “While wars of attrition can end suddenly and unexpectedly when one side finally falters, there’s no guarantee that the Ukrainian side won’t be the one to collapse,” Douthat warns. Ukraine is not the only stakeholders in this war that should be exploring paths toward a ceasefire. If the Biden administration is not “talking urgently” through back channels with the Russian leadership to look “for a path to an armistice, it’s badly misreading the challenges ahead,” Douthat warns. Putin may be interested in such talks, given that the “Russian economy being fully absorbed into China’s sphere of influence is not in Russia’s long-term interests; and a war of attrition could turn suddenly against the Russians, too,” according to Douthat.
  3. The Israel-Hamas war is tilting the global balance of power in favor of Russia and China by stretching Western resources while relieving pressure on Russia and providing new opportunities to China, according to WSJ’s Yaroslav Trofimov. Just as Russia benefits from America diverting its attention away from Ukraine to Israel, “China benefits from Washington’s attention once again being diverted by trouble in the Middle East,” according to this WSJ journalist. “If the Gaza fighting concludes swiftly, it will not affect aid to Kyiv,” Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov was quoted by NYT as saying. According to chairman of the NATO Military Committee Rob Bauer, however, when it comes to European members of NATO’s military supplies to Ukraine, “the bottom of the barrel is … visible” already.
  4. “It is not too early” for America to “begin serious conversations with the world’s only other AI superpower” becauseprospects that the unconstrained advance of AI will create catastrophic consequences for the United States and the world,” according to former U.S. national security advisor/secretary of state Henry Kissinger and Harvard’s Graham Allison. As leaders make choices regarding how to impose regulatory constraints on AI, “lessons learned in the nuclear era can inform their decisions,” Kissinger and Allison write in their FA commentary, entitled “The Path to AI Arms Control.” When thinking about how to regulate AI, Biden, Xi and other leaders should keep in mind that the “challenges presented by AI today are not simply a second chapter of the nuclear age,” Kissinger and Allison write. In addition to discussing AI risks privately at the APEC summit in November, Biden and Xi should create an advisory group of U.S. and Chinese AI scientists, and encourage a dialogue on the subject between scientists of various countries, according to Kissinger and Allison. The authors also believe that “formal governmental negotiations should seek to establish an international framework, along with an international agency” like the IAEA. In Kissinger’s and Allison’s view, even if world leaders “act now to face the challenges posed by AI as squarely as their predecessors did in addressing nuclear threats in earlier decades,” they are unlikely to be as successful. “Nonetheless, the incandescent fact that we have now marked 78 years of peace among the nuclear powers should serve to inspire everyone to master the revolutionary, inescapable challenges of our AI future,” Kissinger and Allison conclude.
  5. “The objectives of U.S. strategy must include effective deterrence and defeat of simultaneous Russian and Chinese aggression in Europe and Asia using conventional forces,” according to “America’s Strategic Posture. The Final Report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States" co-chaired by Madelyn Creedon and Jon Kyl. Per these objectives, the size and composition of America’s “nuclear force must account for the possibility of combined aggression from Russia and China.” As for the non-nuclear component, the United States needs to “develop and field homeland IAMD1 that can actually deter and defeat coercive attacks by Russia and China,” while also staying ahead of the North Korean threat, according to the report. In addition to calling for what FAS has described as a “broad nuclear buildup,” the report also warns that “risk of military conflict with those major powers has grown and carries the potential for nuclear war,” and urges the U.S. “to explore nuclear arms control opportunities ... to enable future negotiations in the U.S. national interest that seek to limit all nuclear weapon types, should the geopolitical environment change.”


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

Consequences of Israel-Hamas war: 

“Hamas Attack Ends a Delicate Entente Between Russia and Israel,” Alan Cullison and Thomas Grove, WSJ, 10.15.23.

  • Putin is one of the few major world leaders who hasn’t called Netanyahu to offer condolences for the more than 1,300 Israelis killed by Hamas in the attack.2
  • The ending of entente between Russia and Israel highlights a larger tectonic shift under way in Russia’s role in the Middle East since Putin launched his war in Ukraine. 
  • Moscow is now seen as laying the foundation for a strategic relationship with the Islamic republic [Iran], which supplied thousands of suicide Shahed drones that Moscow used since the invasion of Ukraine … and which is now providing components for Moscow to assemble the drones inside Russia. Russia, in turn, has delivered Yak-130 training aircraft to Iran’s air force and is considering a deal to sell Iran Su-35 jet fighters, which could shift the balance of air power in the Middle East.
    • “Russia is looking for a partner who can provide arms, but its embrace of Iran is driven also by a broader anti-Western sentiment,” said Nikolai Kozhanov, an expert on Russian-Iranian relations at Qatar University.
    • The embrace has extended to Iran-sponsored Hamas, which carried out the massacre on Israeli civilians. Over the past year, at least two high-level delegations have flown to Moscow for talks. Over the weekend, Hamas wrote a message on its Telegram channel praising Putin’s position on the growing violence. 
  • Russia hasn’t denounced the attack by Hamas. Andrei Gurulev, State Duma deputy and member of its Defense Committee, noted the effectiveness of Hamas in overcoming Israeli defenses and wrote on his Telegram channel that Russian forces could learn from their methods and the Israeli response. 
  • Russia supports a Palestinian state based on Israel’s 1967 border with a capital in East Jerusalem. The Kremlin meanwhile has domestic reasons to welcome a war farther from Russia’s borders. With Russian presidential elections slated for March, the Kremlin has been looking for a diversion from the war in Ukraine. 
  • Thomas Graham, a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Russian state media will likely pounce on any chaotic developments in Israel or elsewhere that will be a distraction to Russia’s internal problems.

“How the Israel-Hamas War Is Tilting the Global Power Balance in Favor of Russia, China,” Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, 10.16.23. 

  • The war between Israel and Hamas isn’t just risking a regional conflagration. It is also affecting the global balance of power, stretching American and European resources while relieving pressure on Russia and providing new opportunities to China.
  • As Washington’s attention focuses on the Middle East, Russia is probably the clearest beneficiary of the spreading upheaval. Pointing at the mounting Palestinian deaths—around 2,750 by the latest count—Moscow revels in what it calls the hypocrisy of the Western governments, which have roundly condemned Russian massacres of civilians in Ukraine but offer only mild, if any, criticism of Israeli actions in Gaza.
    • Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose forces, according to Ukrainian authorities, killed tens of thousands of civilians as they besieged the Ukrainian city of Mariupol for months last year, compared the Israeli siege of Gaza to that of his hometown St. Petersburg, then called Leningrad, during World War II. This, in essence, equated Israelis with Nazis. Such language, a stark departure from Putin’s once warm relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is part of Russia’s diplomatic effort to position the country as the leader of the global movement against the West’s “neocolonialism,” even as it pursues a colonial war of conquest in Ukraine.
  • China, too, has embraced the Palestinian cause in a way it hadn’t done in decades. Its once cordial ties with Israel are in tatters.. “The crux of the matter is that justice has not been done to the Palestinian people,” China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday, in his first public remarks since the Hamas invasion triggered the war. 
    • As Beijing prepares for a possible clash with the U.S. over the future of Taiwan, China benefits from Washington’s attention once again being diverted by trouble in the Middle East, China watchers say.
  • Should the war in the Middle East expand to involve Lebanon and then possibly Iran and the U.S. directly, the already shrinking resources of military aid slated for Ukraine could become even scarcer—a danger acknowledged by Kyiv.

"Russian Reactions to Hamas-Israel Conflict: From Offers of Mediation to Schadenfreude," Conor Cunningham, Olga Kiyan, Mikael Pir-Budagyan, RM, 10.13.23.

  • As violence escalated between Israel and Hamas in the wake of the latter’s indiscriminate attacks on multiple civilian and military targets this week, top Russian officials seized the opportunity to blame the crisis on what they described as America’s repeated failure to use its “monopoly” on mediation between the two sides to reach a fair and lasting peace deal. Putin and the top members of his team have also called for a cessation of hostilities, citing the urgent need to prevent further casualties, which Israel and Gaza estimated at 1,300 and 1,799, respectively, as of Oct. 13, and expressed a willingness to mediate.
  • Prominent Russians who publicly oppose Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule also called for a cessation of hostilities, while some of them argued that the Kremlin actually stands to benefit from the fighting as it distracts the U.S. and some of its allies from aiding Ukraine in its defense against Russia. At the same time, some of these opposition figures have argued that Putin does not want a significant further escalation of the conflict, and expressed skepticism that this deadly crisis will draw Moscow closer to Iran.
  • Of hardline Russian-language Telegram channels that support Putin’s war in Ukraine (Z channels), many focused on the military and security aspects of the conflict. Some argued that the fact that Hamas was able to launch multiple attacks from Gaza into Israel constitutes an intelligence failure. They also claimed that the Israeli side had been repeating mistakes that the Russian military committed at the beginning of its offensive against Ukraine but then corrected. Some of these Z channels’ editors could not help engaging in schadenfreude, recalling criticism of the Russian military’s conduct in Ukraine by some Israeli analysts.

“Ukraine Worries That Prolonged War in Gaza May Dilute Global Support,” Andrew E. Kramer and Matthew Mpoke Bigg, NYT, 10.15.23.

  • Ukraine … also finds itself grappling with what are seen in Kyiv as worrying shifts in the geopolitics of the war. The attention of key allies is pivoting to the war in Gaza, military aid from the United States is bogged down in the Republican fight over leadership in Congress and cracks in European support have emerged during elections in Poland and Slovakia.
  • “We are now in a new phase,” Pavlo Klimkin, a former Ukrainian foreign minister, said … “The whole geopolitical environment has become more diverse, more messy,” he said in an interview ... Another war, he said, means “less time for us.”
  • If the Gaza fighting concludes swiftly, it will not affect aid to Kyiv, Kyrylo Budanov, the director of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, told Ukrainian news media. “But if the situation drags on,” he said, “it is quite clear that there will be certain problems with the fact that it will be necessary to supply weapons and ammunition not only to Ukraine.”
  • Mr. Zelensky has publicly fretted that the world’s gaze could shift away. “If international attention turns from Ukraine, one way or another it will have consequences,” he said in an interview with France 2 television. “Russia needs a pause in the war in Ukraine to better prepare for a new and bigger invasion and to then attack Ukraine’s neighbors, which are members of NATO. I think that Russia will take advantage of this situation, this tragedy.”
  • There are also reasons to believe that Ukraine’s alliances are sufficiently entrenched that they are unlikely to falter, according to Ivo Daalder, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and the president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The United States and countries in Europe accept that Ukraine is playing a crucial role in blocking Russia’s aggression, he said, and they are unlikely to deviate from that view. Military aid will continue to flow, he said.

“The False Choice Between Ukraine and Israel. Helping Kyiv won’t rob weapons to fight Hamas or Hezbollah,” Editorial Board, WSJ, 10.12.23.

  • Choosing between Ukraine and Israel would be a strategic mistake. Blocking Russia’s attempt to reconstitute its empire in Europe and defending America’s main ally in the Middle East are both in the U.S. national interest. 
  • Republicans are right to be frustrated with Mr. Biden’s policy in Ukraine, but Kyiv’s detractors in Congress are in a political bind on a combined aid package because they badly misjudged the world moment. They want a separate vote on aid to Ukraine and Israel so they don’t offend the isolationist sentiment on the right that they have ginned up. 
  • The fantasy that the U.S. can abandon Europe and the Middle East to focus on China imploded on Oct. 7. The threats to the U.S. and its allies are growing worldwide, and Congress has an obligation to rearm to meet them.

“Israel Could Win This Gaza Battle and Lose the War,” Stephen M. Walt, FP, 10.09.23.

  • No one knows for certain where this crisis is headed or what the long-term impact will be, but here are some tentative conclusions.
    • First, this latest tragedy confirms the bankruptcy of U.S. policy toward the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
    • Second, this new bloodletting is yet another sad reminder that in international politics, power matters more than justice. 
  • Where will it lead? It’s hard to say. The smart move for all the parties would be to start with a rapid return to the status quo ante: Hamas would cease its rocket attacks, withdraw immediately from any areas it has seized, offer to return the Israelis it has captured without demanding they be exchanged for Hamas members in Israel’s custody, and both sides would agree to a cease-fire. And then the United States and others would launch a serious, evenhanded, and sustained push for a just and meaningful peace. But that is not going to happen: After all, when was the last time any of these parties did something smart or farsighted?
  • Instead, Israel will go to great lengths to deny Hamas even the appearance of a tactical success, and it may even try to expel Hamas from Gaza once and for all. The U.S. government will stand firmly behind whatever Israel decides to do. Voices calling for moderation will be ignored, and the cycle of vengeance, suffering, and injustice will continue. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“What Friends Owe Friends: Why Washington Should Restrain Israeli Military Action in Gaza—and Preserve a Path to Peace,” Richard Haass, FA, 10.15.23.

  • [I]f attempting a negotiation in the near term would be futile or worse, U.S. diplomacy must still begin the work of building a context for negotiation. A political track involving Israel and Palestinians remains essential. Without it, further normalization between Israel and its Arab neighbors will prove difficult, since Saudi Arabia is more likely now than previously to condition normalization on Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. More important, Israel cannot remain a secure, prosperous, democratic and Jewish state unless there is, before too long, a Palestinian state alongside it. The indefinite continuation of the status quo—what might be called a one-state nonsolution—threatens all those attributes. 
  • The United States should urge Israel, first in private, then in public if necessary, to orient its policy around building the context for a viable Palestinian partner to emerge over time. By contrast, Israeli policy has in recent years seemed intent on undermining the Palestinian Authority so as to be able to say there is no partner for peace. The aim should be to demonstrate that what Hamas offers is a dead end—but also, just as important, that there is a better alternative for those willing to reject violence and accept Israel. That would mean putting sharp limits on settlement activity in the West Bank; articulating final-status principles that would include a Palestinian state; and specifying stringent but still reasonable conditions that the Palestinians could meet to achieve that aim.
  • Getting there would require a willingness on Washington’s part to take an active hand in the process and to state U.S. views publicly, even if it means distancing the United States from Israeli policy. U.S. officials will need to speak directly and honestly to their Israeli counterparts. 

“Israel’s Intelligence Failure Is a Wake-Up Call for NATO,” Jack Detsch and Rishi Iyengar, FP, 10.14.23.

  • For NATO, which is doubling down on artificial intelligence, cyberdefense, and new technology that can connect alliance commanders in Belgium with shooters on the eastern flank border with Russia, the [Hamas] attacks [on Israel] were a wake-up call. 
  • “There was no warning,” [Adm. Rob Bauer, chairman of the NATO military committee] said in an interview on Thursday in between NATO defense ministerial meetings. “What does it mean if you trust automation or trust capabilities, autonomous systems or AI, or the combination of it all in such a way, and still everybody was surprised?”
  • And at a time when NATO is trying to help supercharge the trans-Atlantic defense industry to produce more ammunition and smart bombs—and seal itself off from Russian disinformation and cyberattacks—Hamas’s attacks, which breached the Israeli border wall at nearly two dozen points with car bombs and explosive-wielding motorcyclists, left some in the alliance worried about leaning too far in on artificial intelligence. 

“The Roots and Consequences of Hamas' Strategy,” Daniel Sobelman, NI, 10.14.23.

  • That the current war in the Gaza Strip poses a clear existential threat to Hamas and potentially to the entire Palestinian cause is abundantly clear. But the current conflict, Israel’s pronounced intent to wipe Hamas off the face of the earth … will have profound long-term implications for any actor with a stake in the postwar balance of power and regional order in the Middle East. Israel’s purpose and identity as a viable country for and protector of the Jewish people are at stake. But the vital interests of the entire Iranian camp in the Middle East … are also hanging in the balance. 
  • Warning that the Palestinians had between two to three years before Israel’s right-wing government increased the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank to two million, the Beirut-based Al-Aruri [Salih al-Aruri, Hamas’s second-in-command,] said [in a recent interview] that there is currently a regional “interest that there be a regional war…there are parties who are extremely active in this regard, and who are discussing this.” Al-Aruri concluded that if war broke out, “Israel would be dealt a defeat that is unprecedented in its history. We are certain of this. And it will be subjected to new realities. Its standing, the way in which it is viewed by the world…their own belief in themselves…and also those in the region who have hopes that Israel will serve as a guarantor and protector—all of this will change.” 
  • One week after Hamas dealt Israel what its leaders are already calling the worst catastrophe inflicted upon Jewish civilians since the Holocaust, Al-Aruri’s words ring … prescient … In order to disprove his prediction, Israel will engage in actions and behaviors that will likely clash with its enemies’ vital interests, thereby increasing the likelihood that the current war will become far broader. Already now, they are on the cusp of a regional war. Whichever way things develop, the regional repercussions will be formative. In more than one way, this could very well change not only the Middle East … but Israel itself. 

“War and Myth,” Fyodor Lukyanov, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 10.11.23. Clues from Russian Views. 

  • The Hamas attack on Israel, incredible in its audacity and cruelty ... took everyone by surprise.
  • Whatever happens next, the psychological effect has been achieved—Israel's reputation as a "security machine" has suffered enormous damage.
  • It is significant that the outright barbarity displayed by Hamas did not put the movement into the position of a universally recognized pariah. ... [T]he reaction of the outside world is different from that observed in the case of ISIS.
  • The Karabakh phenomenon was repeated here. Those who believed that stalemate could be maintained forever lost to those who believed that systematic, careful preparation and surprise could blow up the status quo.
  • Both Washington and Moscow are now focused on the Ukrainian theater of operations. But the United States cannot afford to distance itself from the Israeli misfortune ... [whereas] Russia can afford somewhat greater freedom of action.
  • There is no reason to assume that anyone would need mediation and peacekeeping right now ... For now, we can only talk about rescuing our own citizens and citizens of friendly countries. But at the next stage we will be talking about the “new Middle East,” because everyone understands that the old one [Middle East] will no longer exist. And that’s when Russia, as a country interested not in the sphere of influence there [in this region], but exclusively in stability, must make every effort to establish it [the new Middle East].

“Why did Israel’s worst nightmare come true?” Nikolay Kozhanov and Fyodor Lukyanov, Russia in Global Politics, 10.16.23. Clues from Russian Views. 

  • The ties between Hamas and Iran have always existed, but the dynamics of these ties have changed over the past twenty years. … Likely … Tehran knew about the preparation of some kind of action. … [However, the conflict that is unfolding] does not coincide with the interests of Iran, although it does not always contradict them.
  • In the short term, of course, Iran has gained [more than it has lost]. The most important…was the failure…of the so-called “Abraham Accords.” … [Iran was concerned about] Saudi Arabia’s security cooperation with Israel and the United States. … [With Abraham Accords, Iran] would get a stronger Saudi Arabia… and Israeli eyes and ears may appear at its borders.
  • [However] after the efforts…to stabilize its relations with its Persian Gulf neighbors and to establish relations with both the United States and Europe, Iran does not need [further development of the conflict and destabilization]. … We are likely to see… an increase in the risks [of these dynamics], as Iran cannot stand aside [from the conflict]. … With the Abraham Accords, the inflow of financial assistance to Hamas and Palestine in general has decreased significantly. … Hamas was suddenly prepared for very complex operations. This just proves that Iran [was involved].
  • Any country in the Arab world that now tries to flirt with Israel…is doomed to receive the status of a renegade and an outcast. … [For now] the Middle East is still trying to [only respond] with statements. But I think a lot will be determined by how the [Israeli] ground operation goes if it starts.
  • Russia should adhere to the position that has already taken: calls for peace [and] an end to the conflict. … Joining any of the camps will not benefit Moscow in the context of the overall foreign policy situation. … [If Iran refrains from direct conflict with Israel], there will not be a need for support from Russia.
    • Russian-Israeli relations are quite complicated at the moment, but still, Israel does not supply Ukraine with weapons. There is a certain amount of gratitude from Moscow. … As for direct interaction with Iran, there will be more diplomatic than practical military support - in case [of Western] pressure on Tehran. … The Iranians have already come close to obtaining nuclear weapons. Russian experts are talking about months to create a bomb. Americans have recently announced almost two or three weeks.
    • Even in the conditions of the [war in Ukraine] and Russian distraction on it, Iran’s allies will not like the emergence of full-fledged nuclear weapons in its hands.

Nuclear security and safety:

  • No significant developments.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

“The Orient Express: North Korea’s Clandestine Supply Route to Russia,” James Byrne, Joseph Byrne and Gary Somerville, RUSI, 10.16.23. 

  • Dozens of high-resolution satellite images taken in recent months reveal that Russia has likely begun shipping North Korean munitions at scale, opening a new supply route that could have profound consequences for the war in Ukraine and international security dynamics in East Asia. 
  • Having prepared for a massive conventional war with South Korea for decades, North Korea’s supplying of significant quantities of munitions to Moscow will have profound consequences for the war in Ukraine. For the Russians, a major North Korean supply line will alleviate shortages of munitions … and enable the Russian armed forces to feed their frontline troops as they try to repel a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Ukraine and its supporters will also have to contend with this new reality, potentially escalating their support by providing additional quantities of weapons and munitions to Ukraine's defenders. 
  • But the impact will be felt much further than the battlefield in Ukraine. The sale of such quantities of munitions will fill the coffers of the cash-strapped regime in Pyongyang, which has traditionally used the proceeds of arms deliveries to develop its own nuclear and ballistic missile program in violation of U.N. sanctions. Moreover, in addition to the pecuniary benefits, North Korea may seek other assistance from Russia in return for its support, including the provision of missile and other advanced military technologies. 
  • As a result, North Korea’s agreements with Moscow will also cause significant alarm in Japan and South Korea, countries already on the sharp end of Pyongyang’s ongoing provocations. Confronted with a strengthening alliance between North Korea and Russia, Tokyo and Seoul might explore additional avenues to offset the North Korean threat while extending further support to Ukraine’s efforts to oust Russian forces from its territory.
  • However, Pyongyang’s decision to deliver munitions at scale once again underscores the grave threat that North Korea poses to international security, this time feeding a conflagration on European soil that has already cost the lives of tens of thousands of Ukrainians and consumed tens of billions of dollars in Western military support. 

“Does the non-proliferation regime have a future?” Andrei Kortunov, RIAC, 10.11.23. Clues from Russian Views.

  • Is a nuclear arms race inevitable on the Korean Peninsula? Will the idea of denuclearization of the peninsula finally have to be shelved ...? Indeed, the geopolitical and military-strategic situation in the region looks more than serious, and it continues to become more complicated. Nevertheless, not all hope is lost.
  • Changes ... in the format of future negotiations with Pyongyang are needed ... Sooner or later we will have to return to some version of the six-party mechanism.
  • Any new negotiation process with Pyongyang must be based primarily on the immediate interests, concerns and priorities of North Korea itself. In exchange, one could count on Pyongyang's behavior to be more consistent with that of a “responsible nuclear weapons owner.”
  • The goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula remains very important, but preserving peace in Northeast Asia today and tomorrow is even more important. Only if all countries in the region feel that the threat of a major military conflict has passed will Northeast Asia be able to avoid a new round of the arms race and gradually return to the issue of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

“Rebuilding Ukraine’s Economy Starts Now,” Ralph Clem, Erik Herron and Matthew Lantzy, War on the Rocks, 10.12.23. 

  • In the view of some skeptics, the task of restoring and expanding Ukraine’s economy is so daunting as to be a fool’s errand. For others, domestic considerations have made assistance to Ukraine a lightning rod when it comes to funding the U.S. government writ large, causing near paralysis in American political institutions. Despite this dysfunction, major steps have already been taken to shore up Kyiv’s rebuilding efforts. Significantly, the most recent tranche of U.S. aid to Ukraine, announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his visit to Kyiv on Sept. 6, 2023, included substantial humanitarian, rule of law, anti-corruption, and demining funding, all of which relate to rebuilding. Further, the appointment of a U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine’s Economic Recovery represents an important signal that the Biden administration is committed to the rebuilding effort. 
  • Now, new sources of funding should be considered as well, such as more foreign direct investment, Russian asset seizures, the restoration of commodity exports, and much-needed research and development assistance. Addressing these issues will stimulate and expand business activity, helping Ukraine to achieve the degree of economic growth it requires to bolster its military capacity. 
  • Public opinion polling shows that 84 percent of Ukrainians want to continue the war against Russia until all of their occupied territory is retaken. If the demonstrated willingness of Ukrainians to fight, which has been consistently underrated by many Western observers, is any guide for economic recovery, U.S. and allied support can make a vital difference. With just over half of Americans still backing continued aid to Ukraine, raising awareness of the humanitarian and economic dimension is key. Explaining both the scope of the damage, and Ukraine’s success in reversing it, could help to galvanize support for more aid, which in turn will yield real dividends for U.S. and European security.

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

“Ukraine, Allies Push to Avoid Stalemate as Headwinds Grow,” James Marson and Laurence Norman, WSJ, 10.13.23. 

  • Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia hasn’t achieved the decisive breakthrough that Kyiv and its backers had hoped for. Now the challenge for both is to sustain what momentum Ukraine has built and prevent the war from becoming a stalemate.
    • Ukrainian officers and Western officials say the transport hub of Tokmak could be a realistic target for the coming weeks, although it is beyond another line of significant Russian defenses. Even without taking that city, cutting it off would complicate Russian military supplies in the south as the main railway line runs through it.
    • Moscow is unlikely to be able to mount a significant winter offensive, according to Western officials and analysts. 
  • Battlefield obstacles are compounded by threats to political, military and financial support from the West. Neither side has managed significant territorial gains in a year … Political ructions in the U.S. are raising doubts about the durability of aid from Kyiv’s most important supporter … Israel’s response to Hamas’s attack could also divert U.S. money, military equipment and attention away from Ukraine.
  • Still, Kyiv’s army is grinding forward in the south and east. Ukrainian forces are puncturing Russian defenses, destroying tanks and artillery guns. They have forced Russia to withdraw the bulk of its Black Sea Fleet from occupied Crimea. And they are fending off a Russian counterattack in the north.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has given no indication that he is prepared for talks other than to accept a Ukrainian capitulation to Russian control. 
  • European officials … are discussing whether the West could provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs for a fresh push in the early summer of next year. If that succeeds, officials hope Ukraine could seek serious negotiations to end the war with Russia from a position of strength.
  • Even if there is a breakthrough, Ukrainian soldiers acknowledge that it may be hard to exploit. The counteroffensive has taken a heavy toll in losses of troops and armored vehicles, and morale has suffered … The Russians are worn down too, Ukrainian soldiers said, and their counterattacks are having little success. 

“Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, Oct. 15, 2023,” ISW, 10.15.23.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin may be trying to temper expectations of significant Russian advances around Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast. Putin claimed in an interview on Russian state television on October 15 that Russian forces are conducting an “active defense” in the Avdiivka, Kupyansk, and Zaporizhia directions. Putin’s characterization of Russian offensive operations near Avdiivka as an “active defense,” instead of “active combat operations” as Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya claimed on October 13, or discussing Russian operations as an “offensive” as some milbloggers have, may be an attempt to temper expectations of significant Russian advances...Russian forces are unlikely to make significant breakthroughs or cut off Ukrainian forces in the settlement in the near term, and potential advances at scale would likely require a significant and protracted commitment of personnel and materiel.
  • The Russian information space writ large is also metering its initial optimism about the prospects of Russian offensive operations around Avdiivka. Russian milbloggers initially reported maximalist and unverifiable claims of Russian advances over 10km, likely exaggerated the degree of Russian successes near Avdiivka during initial offensive operations, and expressed optimism for rapid Russian advances. Some Russian milbloggers have since acknowledged difficulties in the Russian advance near Avdiivka and noted that Russian forces decreased their pace of offensive operations around the settlement.[6] Russian milbloggers have also begun to claim that intense and attritional fighting is ongoing around Avdiivka.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations aimed at encircling Avdiivka on October 15 but have yet to make further gains amid a likely decreasing tempo of Russian operations in the area. 

“Now Russia is fighting to gain territory in the east of Ukraine. The battle for Avdiivka,” The Economist, 10.14.23.

  • Whether or not Avdiivka falls to the Russians, it is still likely to have a negative effect on the continuing Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south. Progress there has slowed since the liberation of Robotyne in August. Western officials are skeptical that the front lines will now change much before winter sets in. If Ukraine needs to strengthen the Avdiivka front, it may have to reassign some of the forces that are fighting to the south of Orikhiv. That would further reduce the chances of a breakthrough before winter arrives. 

“Ukraine’s Defense: A Whole-of-Society Effort Demanding Additional Support,” Jake Steckler, Belfer Center, October 2023. 

  • While the Armed Forces of Ukraine have exceeded early expectations, the counteroffensive has been slower than expected and is suffering great equipment losses. The war may persist for years to come — a reconnaissance scout in the Territorial Defense Force named Vitaly, exasperated, expressed to me that he expects to still be fighting two years from now. Ukraine cannot continue to make the decisive push it needs to end Russia’s occupation without a whole-of-society effort. 
  • For Ukraine to maintain its defense and decisively thwart Russia’s invasion, it will take steadfast commitments from Western allies providing both state-of-the-art equipment and basic warfighting needs, local industry leaders and factory workers readying equipment for the frontlines and developing innovative technologies, and civilian volunteers tirelessly filling in the remaining gaps. 

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

  • No significant developments.

Ukraine-related negotiations: 

“The Israel-Gaza War Means Hard Choices for Ukraine,” Ross Douthat, NYT, 10.14.23. 

  • Adding Middle Eastern turmoil to the equation automatically changes the calculus of our Ukraine policy—and that calculus was already telling against the permanently hawkish position. 
  • Which means, in turn, that not only Joe Biden’s administration but the Ukrainians themselves have an incentive to seek some kind of cease-fire now, while their military position is still stable and the aid money is still flowing … The alternative is for Kyiv to gamble on several fronts. 
  • A counterpoint is that Russia can look at the same landscape, see its potential advantages, and simply refuse to deal … And if you imagine Moscow, Tehran and Beijing all working in direct concert, plotting to maximize pressure on America, that’s what you would expect. But the alliance of interests between our enemies is looser than that. … Vladimir Putin survived one bizarre coup, but he can’t count on internal loyalty; he is likely to want a triumphant re-election show in 2024; the Russian economy being fully absorbed into China’s sphere of influence is not in Russia’s long-term interests; and a war of attrition could turn suddenly against the Russians, too. 
  • When the Ukrainians made surprising territorial gains last autumn, there was a reasonable case for escalating our support, in the hopes that Russia could be forced into a peace deal in which Ukraine recovered almost all its territory. But the last 10 months of war have barely shifted the front lines, and Russia’s wartime economy looks more resilient than either Washington or Kyiv hoped. The strategy for full Ukrainian victory now is attrition, time and hope— but while wars of attrition can end suddenly and unexpectedly when one side finally falters, there’s no guarantee that the Ukrainian side won’t be the one to collapse. 
  • Maybe those interests don’t create enough ground for negotiation; I’m not privy to our back channels with Moscow. But if the Biden administration isn’t talking urgently through those back channels, if it isn’t looking for a path to an armistice, it’s badly misreading the challenges ahead. 

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

“Has Support for Ukraine Peaked? Some Fear So. The war in the Middle East, anxiety about the commitment of the U.S., and divisions in Europe are worrying Kyiv that aid from the West may wane,” Steven Erlanger, NYT, 10.14.23. 

  • The new run for the White House by former President Donald J. Trump is shaking confidence that Washington will continue large-scale support for Ukraine. But the concern, Europeans say, is larger than Mr. Trump and extends to much of his Republican Party, which has made cutting support for Ukraine a litmus test of conservative credibility.
  • European vows to supply one million artillery shells to Ukraine by March are falling short, with countries supplying only 250,000 shells from stocks — a little more than one month of Ukraine’s current rate of fire — and factories still gearing up for more production.
  • Adm. Rob Bauer, who is the chairman of the NATO Military Committee, said “We started to give away from half-full or lower warehouses in Europe” to aid Ukraine, “and therefore the bottom of the barrel is now visible.”
  • Even before the outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East, a senior NATO official said that the mood about Ukraine was gloomy. 
  • Malcolm Chalmers, the deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based defense research institution, said a key issue now is Ukrainian will and resources in what has become a war of attrition. “It’s not really about us anymore, it’s about them,” he said. “The issue is Ukrainian resilience.”
  • Ukrainians will quietly admit to difficulties with morale as the war grinds on, but they see no option other than to continue the fight, whatever happens in the West.
  • There remains confusion about any end goal that does not foresee Ukraine pushing all Russian troops out of sovereign Ukraine, or any clear path to negotiations with a Russia that shows no interest in talking.
    • As Gabrielius Landsbergis, the foreign minister of Lithuania, said at the Warsaw security forum, the mantra “as long as it takes” fails to define “it,” let alone “long.” For him, “it” should mean driving the invading Russians out of all of Ukraine, including Crimea, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014.

“Russia Will Survive a Defeat in Ukraine. It’s Time to Prepare for What Comes Next. . We need to figure out how to harness its power to American purposes in the global arena,” Thomas Graham, Politico,

  • Despite some Western pundits’ breathless predictions, the chances of Russia’s breaking up as a consequence of the war are negligible. Unlike the Soviet Union in its agony, Russia is held together by powerful centripetal forces, including patriotism and xenophobia, supply chains and critical infrastructure, not to mention the powerful security services that want to draw on the resources of the entire country. … [T]he country remains overwhelmingly ethnic Russian, and countries that are ethnically homogenous rarely, if ever, break up from internal causes.
  • Likewise, defeat in Ukraine might exacerbate domestic tensions, but it will not spark a democratic breakthrough … The Kremlin has eviscerated the democratic opposition in the past few years, imprisoning its leaders or driving them into exile and systematically dismantling its country-wide political networks.
  • Barring extraordinary developments, post-conflict Russia, with or without Vladimir Putin at the helm, is most likely to be some recognizable version of its historical self, authoritarian in domestic structure, expansionist in impulse, economically and technologically lagging, yet determined to play the role of a great power. This Russia will be a U.S. rival, as it has been since the United States emerged as a global power at the very end of the 19th century, with clashing geopolitical ambitions and an opposing worldview. And this Russia will still matter. 
  • Three issues will dominate U.S. relations with Russia in the years ahead: Strategic stability, European security and China.
  • No matter what happens in Ukraine, the United States is not about to rid itself of Russia. Even when seemingly weak, Russia has an uncanny ability to make its presence felt on the global stage, and opportunities to do so will multiply as the U.S.-led world order comes under increasing stress and slowly gives way to a new one in which power will be more diffused.
  • In this emerging order, the challenge for the United States is not to defeat Russia … but rather to skillfully exploit relations with a rival to construct a new global equilibrium that advances American interests. To do that, the United States needs to see Russia plainly and without sentiment. Getting Russia right, as so often in the past, still remains critical to America’s future.

“The Age of Great-Power Distraction. What Crises in the Middle East and Elsewhere Reveal About the Global Order,” Michael Kimmage and Hanna Notte, FA, 10.12.23.

  • Today’s great powers—China, Europe, Russia and the United States—will undoubtedly have a role to play in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. … The notion that great-power competition defines geopolitics has come back into vogue after it fell into obscurity at the close of the Cold War. 
  • For all four current great powers, the sense that this competition orients them has become foundational … Russia’s war against Ukraine, for instance, can easily be interpreted as a traditional example of great-power competition. … Both Russia and Western states are drumming up global support for what they regard as an existential struggle between values and regime type. 
  • Long a central arena for great-power competition, the Middle East may represent something new. The civil war in Syria, which began in 2011, was a harbinger. A single country became the site of multiple battlefields contested by myriad adversaries … There is a risk that Israel’s new war with Hamas could expand into a similarly unwieldy conflagration, engulfing neighbors such as Lebanon and Syria.
  • There should be no nostalgia for past ages of great-power competition. They have never been orderly.
  • But the current cocktail of competition and distraction poses a different problem, one the world is ill prepared to tackle. Tension now emanates from two separate and often overlapping sources: the collision of great powers’ ambitions in Europe, the Middle East and Asia as well as the great powers’ paralysis and passivity outside of a few hot spots. 
  • Great-power distraction invites considerable long-term risk. It invites revisionism and aggressive risk-taking by other actors. Azerbaijan is anything but a superpower: its population is some ten million people. And yet it has been able to act with impunity in Nagorno-Karabakh. Hamas is not a state at all, but it was emboldened to attack a country with world-class military and international partners, the United States among them. 
  • As tensions in the Middle East boil over, great-power competition—classically understood—cannot be the world’s sole focal point and means of analysis. This is not an era of strengthening international order. … It is a moment of anarchically fragmenting power, an age of great-power distraction.

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

“Putin and Xi Are More Divided Than Ever. And More United,” Minxin Pei, Bloomberg, 10.15.23. 

  • This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit China for the first time since he and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a “no limits” friendship between their nations in February 2022, just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Signs of strain in that partnership are increasingly obvious. But they’re more likely to bring the two sides closer than to drive them apart.
  • Putin’s unprovoked aggression and its geopolitical aftershocks have also exposed more fundamental fissures between the two countries. As a rising power closing in on the US, China prefers to grow its influence patiently and methodically. In contrast, a Russia caught in irreversible decline sees a quick confrontation as the only way to secure its great-power status. ... China’s long-term strategic objective is to weaken the Western alliance or, at a minimum, to secure Europe’s neutrality in the Sino-US rivalry. Putin has effectively rendered this goal unachievable for the foreseeable future.
  • Yet, even though the costs of the Sino-Russian alignment have so far outweighed its benefits for China, Xi is not about to cut his losses by abandoning Putin now..... China’s new strategic imperative is to keep Russia in the game as long as possible. Indeed, the weaker Russia becomes, the more incentive China will have to prop it up. The alternative scenario — a China standing alone against the US and its allies — is one Xi will do everything possible to avoid.
  • At least for the coming decade, the Sino-Russian strategic partnership will likely endure. The West would be wise not to waste effort on trying to break it apart. Its priority should instead be to avoid a direct military conflict with either adversary through a combination of deterrence and diplomacy. 
  • The wisest thing the US could do is encourage each [Moscow and Beijing] to fear that the other could sell out to the West if the price is right. 

“Interview with China’s Media Corporation,” Vladimir Putin, Clues from Russian Views.

  • [Russo-Chinese relations] have been developing neatly and calmly for two decades.
    • The Russian and Chinese sides proceeded primarily from their national interests.
    • Goodwill has always been at the core. This is how we solved the issues of border demarcation.”
  • Russia now ranks first among Chinese partners in the supply of energy to China in value terms.
  • China became Russia's first trading partner in terms of trade turnover, and Russia gradually rose to the sixth place among Chinese trade and economic partners.
    • [When asked if the trade turnover will reach $200 billion this year]: I have no doubt about it. Over the previous period, our turnover grew by 32 percent.
  • One Belt, One Road” [BRI] …[is] timely and well developing… [it is] based on an attempt to unite the capabilities of many countries to achieve common development goals.
    • Two-thirds of the world's population…are involved in the implementation.
    • We do not see…[China’s] attempt to crush someone…we see… a desire to cooperate.
    • The main advantage [of the BRI] is that no one imposes anything on anyone… [rather] an opportunity is given. If there are any difficulties, compromises are sought and always found.
  • The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) [for] the construction of Greater Eurasia fully coincides with the Chinese ideas…
  • [Talking about the concept of the rules-based world order]: No one has ever written [and coordinated the rules]. If no one has seen these rules, it means that those who talk about them come up with [them]…in a way that benefits them. That's the colonial approach.
  • President Xi Jinping calls me his friend, and I call him my friend. [Objectively] he is one of the world’s most renowned leaders.
    • He assesses the situation, analyzes and looks to the future. This distinguishes a real-world leader from people we call “temporary workers,” who come "for five minutes" to show off on the international platform.
    • He is a thorough, calm…and a reliable partner. If we agree on something with him, we can be sure that our agreements will be implemented on both sides.
  • We are grateful to our Chinese friends for thinking about how to stop this crisis [in Ukraine].
  • The main thesis of this Declaration of Independence is that Ukraine is a neutral state … The non-aligned nature of Ukraine is extremely important for us.
    • It is impossible to build the security of some states by undermining the security of others. The security for all should be the same.
  • The special military operation by Russia is not the beginning of the war. It is an attempt to stop it.
  • One of the key points is to ensure equal security for all, and Russia has the right to it, just like any other state. If we believe that NATO enlargement to Ukraine poses a threat to us, we ask that this be heard.
  • We have never objected to [bringing the conflict to a peaceful end].
    • We agreed in Istanbul that we are ready for this while ensuring Russia's legitimate security interests. But as soon as our troops withdrew from the capital of Ukraine, the Ukrainian side immediately [discarded these agreements]. They announced that they would seek…victory on the battlefield, a strategic defeat of Russia.
    • Active hostilities, the so-called counteroffensive, have begun. It [Ukraine’s counteroffensive] has been going on since June 4. There are no results yet. There are only huge losses…one to eight approximately.

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

“America’s Strategic Posture. The Final Report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States,” Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, October 2023.5

  • The United States faces a strategic challenge requiring urgent action. Given current threat trajectories, our nation will soon encounter a fundamentally different global setting than it has ever experienced: we will face a world where two nations possess nuclear arsenals on par with our own. In addition, the risk of conflict with these two nuclear peers is increasing. It is an existential challenge for which the United States is ill-prepared, unless its leaders make decisions now to adjust the U.S. strategic posture. 
  • The evidence demonstrates that the U.S.-led international order and the values it upholds are at risk from the Chinese and Russian authoritarian regimes. The risk of military conflict with those major powers has grown and carries the potential for nuclear war. 
  • We find that the United States lacks a comprehensive strategy to address the looming two-nuclear-peer threat environment and lacks the force structure such a strategy will require. 


  • To achieve the most effective strategy for stability in light of the 2027-2035 threat environment, the Commission identifies three necessary changes:
    • The objectives of U.S. strategy must include effective deterrence and defeat of simultaneous Russian and Chinese aggression in Europe and Asia using conventional forces. 
    • The size and composition of the nuclear force must account for the possibility of combined aggression from Russia and China. U.S. strategy should no longer treat China’s nuclear forces as a “lesser included” threat. The United States needs a nuclear posture capable of simultaneously deterring both countries.


  • In the context of a strategic posture deploying both conventional and nuclear capability, the Commission believes the traditional role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense strategy remains valid and of continuing importance: deterrence of adversaries; assurance of Allies; achieving  U.S. objectives should deterrence fail; and hedging against adverse events.
  • The Commission recommends fully and urgently executing the U.S. nuclear modernization Program of Record.
  • The current modernization program should be supplemented to ensure U.S. nuclear strategy remains effective in a two-nuclear-peer environment. 
  •   The U.S. strategic nuclear force posture should be modified to:
    • Address the larger number of targets due to the growing Chinese nuclear threat.
    • Address the possibility that China will field large-scale, counterforce-capable missile forces that pose a threat to U.S. strategic nuclear forces on par with the threat Russia poses to those forces today.
    • Assure the United States continues to avoid reliance on executing Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launch under attack to retain an effective deterrent.
    • Account for advances in Russian and Chinese integrated air and missile defenses (IAMD).
  •   The U.S. theater nuclear force posture should be urgently modified to:
    • Provide the President a range of militarily effective nuclear response options to deter  or counter Russian or Chinese limited nuclear use in theater.
    • Address the need for  U.S. theater nuclear forces deployed or based in the Asia-Pacific theater.
    • Compensate for any shortfall in U.S. and allied non-nuclear capabilities in a sequential or simultaneous two-theater conflict against Russia and China.
    • Address advances in Russian and Chinese IAMD.


  • The Commission recommends the DOD and DOE/NNSA strategic infrastructure be expanded to have sufficient capacity to:
    • Meet the capability and schedule requirements of the current nuclear modernization POR and the requirements of the force posture modifications recommended by the Commission in time to address the two-peer threat.
    • Provide an effective hedge against four forms of risk: technical failure of a warhead or delivery system, programmatic delays, operational loss of delivery systems, and further deterioration of the geopolitical environment.
    • Flex to respond to emerging requirements in a timely fashion.


The Commission recommends:

  • The United States urgently deploy a more resilient space architecture and adopt a strategy that includes both offensive and defensive elements to ensure U.S. access to and operations in space.
  • The United States and its Allies take steps to ensure they are at the cutting edge of emerging technologies – such as big data analytics, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence (AI) – to avoid strategic surprise and potentially enhance the U.S. strategic posture.
  • The United States prioritize funding and accelerate long-range non-nuclear precision strike programs to meet the operational need and in greater quantities than currently planned.
  • The United States develop and field homeland IAMD that can deter and defeat coercive attacks by Russia and China, and determine the capabilities needed to stay ahead of the  North Korean threat.
  • The Secretary of Defense direct research, development, test and evaluation into advanced IAMD capabilities leveraging all domains, including land, sea, air, and space. These activities should focus on sensor architectures.
  • The Secretary of Defense and the Military Departments transfer operations and sustainment responsibility for missile defense to the appropriate Military Departments by Oct. 1, 2024. This will allow the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to focus on research, development, prototyping and testing.


  • The Commission believes it is in the U.S. national interest to maintain, strengthen, and when appropriate, expand its network of alliances and partnerships. 


  • The Commission believes it is of paramount importance for the United States to work to reduce strategic risks. This involves activities and programs across the U.S. government, including in nonproliferation and arms control, as well as maintaining strong, viable, and resilient military forces.
  • The Commission recommends that the United States continue to explore nuclear arms control opportunities and conduct research into potential verification technologies in order to support or enable future negotiations in the U.S. national interest that seek to limit all nuclear weapon types, should the geopolitical environment change.
  • Where formal nuclear arms control agreements are not possible, the Commission recommends pursuing nuclear risk reduction measures to increase predictability and reduce uncertainty and the chances for misperception and miscalculation.

“Strategic Posture Commission Report Calls for Broad Nuclear Buildup,” Hans Kristensen, Matt Korda, Eliana Johns, Mackenzie Knight, FAS, 10.12.23. 

  • In contrast to the Biden administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, the Congressionally-mandated Strategic Posture Commission report is a full-throated embrace of a U.S. nuclear build-up.
    • It includes recommendations for the United States to prepare to increase its number of deployed warheads, as well as increasing its production of bombers, air-launched cruise missiles, ballistic missile submarines, non-strategic nuclear forces, and warhead production capacity.
    • It also calls for the United States to deploy multiple warheads on land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and consider adding road-mobile ICBMs to its arsenal
      • The only thing that appears to have prevented the Commission from recommending an immediate increase of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile is that the weapons production complex currently does not have the capacity to do so.
  • The Commission’s embrace of a U.S. nuclear buildup ignores the consequences of a likely arms race with Russia and China (in fact, the Commission doesn’t even consider this or suggest other steps than a buildup to try to address the problem).
    • If the United States responds to the Chinese buildup by increasing its own deployed warheads and launchers, Russia would most likely respond by increasing its deployed warheads and launchers. That would increase the nuclear threat against the United States and its allies.
    • China, who has already decided that it needs more nuclear weapons to stand up to the existing U.S. force level (and those of Russia and India), might well respond to the U.S and Russian increases by increasing its own arsenal even further. That would put the United States back to where it started, feeling insufficient and facing increased nuclear threats.
  • Overall, the Commission suggests that current U.S. nuclear strategy is basically sound, but just needs to be backed up with additional weapons and industrial capacity. However, by not including recommendations to modify presidential nuclear employment guidance –– or even considering such an adjustment, which could reshape U.S. force posture to allow for decreased emphasis on counterforce targeting –– the Commission has limited its own flexibility to recommend any options other than simply adding more weapons.
  • From our perspective, the recommendations included in the Commission report are likely to exacerbate the arms race, further constrict the window for engaging with Russia and China on arms control, and redirect funding away from more proximate priorities. At the very least, before embarking on this overambitious wish list the United States must address any outstanding recommendations from the Government Accountability Office to fix its planning and budgeting processes, otherwise it risks overloading the assembly line even more.  In addition, the United States could consider how modified presidential employment guidance might enable a posture that relies on fewer nuclear weapons, and adjust accordingly.

“Russia, nuclear threats, and nuclear signaling,” Steven Pifer, Brookings, 10.13.23.

  • Since Russia’s all-out assault on Ukraine in 2022, Putin and others have rattled the nuclear saber … in a bid to dissuade Kyiv from resisting and the West from supporting that resistance.
  • Those nuclear threats have had limited success. They have not prompted Ukraine’s surrender and … they did not stop the arms flow. … The cacophony of Russian voices has produced nuclear signals that are confusing, contradictory and increasingly dismissed as bluff. That should please neither the Kremlin nor the West.
    • Putin’s nuclear threats peaked in September 2022, as Russia’s army faltered on the battlefield. 
    • [Later that fall] [w]ith Ukrainians continuing to fight … and Western arms continuing to flow, the threats were not working. Moreover, they did not go down well with audiences important to Moscow, such as Beijing. Putin, the Foreign Ministry, and Lavrov acted to lower the nuclear rhetoric. 
    • However, others in Moscow seemed not to have received last fall’s memo about toning down the threats. 
      • In June, Sergey Karaganov, honorary chair of a Russian think tank, argued that Russia should use nuclear threats and, if the West failed to back down, “we will have to hit [with nuclear weapons] a group of targets in a number of countries.” 
        • In what almost certainly was a planned question at last Thursday’s Valdai Discussion Club, Karaganov put his argument to Putin. The Russian president ... used the opportunity to soberly take the high road. Putin said current Russian nuclear doctrine required no change, and he doubted “anyone in their right mind would consider using nuclear weapons against Russia.”
  • Moscow has done a poor job drawing red lines, spelling out consequences, and making them stick. That includes its nuclear threats. The Kremlin cannot be happy with the assessment taking hold in the West that Russian red lines amount to little more than bluff. … The United States and NATO should take no pleasure in this. After all, it is in their interest that, if Moscow wants to send a serious nuclear signal, it is clear and understandable. The costs of misinterpretation or miscalculation could prove catastrophic.

“No Good Reason for Nuclear Testing,” John Erath, Arms Control Center, 10.11.23.

  • On Oct. 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia would consider revoking its ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and turned the matter over to the Duma for further action. 
  • Previous threats that assistance to Ukraine could lead Russia to employ nuclear weapons had only partial success in restraining Western governments. Moscow knows that the moratorium on nuclear testing is important in many NATO capitals and hopes that it can gain leverage. Putin is also aware that some in Washington have suggested that the U.S. might test again and that this would be unpopular in Europe, therefore the issue of nuclear testing could be the long-sought means of dividing NATO. 
  • The answer for the Biden administration, and other NATO governments, is not to overreact. Any suggestion that nuclear testing should resume is a serious matter and should be met with firm assurances that there is no reason for any such step. Raising fears of nuclear war and unconstrained arms races would play into Putin’s hand and reinforce the behavior that Western leaders should discourage. The worst response would be to imply that, should Russia conduct a nuclear test, the U.S. would follow suit. Instead, the Biden administration should resubmit the CTBT to the Senate for ratification, even though current politics rule out a favorable vote. Taking this step would underline the difference between the U.S. and Russia and signal that further attempts at nuclear blackmail will not succeed. 


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security/AI: 

“The Path to AI Arms Control. America and China Must Work Together to Avert Catastrophe,” Henry A. Kissinger and Graham Allison, FA, 10.13.23.

  • [W]e have concluded that the prospects that the unconstrained advance of AI will create catastrophic consequences for the United States and the world are so compelling that leaders in governments must act now. … As leaders make these choices, lessons learned in the nuclear era can inform their decisions. 
    • As duopolists, both the United States and the Soviet Union had an interest in preventing the rapid spread of this technology to other states that could threaten them.
    • Both Washington and Moscow recognized that if nuclear technology fell into the hands of rogue actors or terrorists within their own borders, it could be used to threaten them, and so each developed robust security systems for their own arsenals.
    • Once the arsenals of their nuclear weapons reached a level at which neither could attack the other without triggering a response that would destroy itself, they discovered the paradoxical stability of mutual assured destruction (MAD).
  • The challenges presented by AI today are not simply a second chapter of the nuclear age. ... The differences between AI and nuclear weapons are at least as significant as the similarities. ... To adapt lessons from nuclear history to address the current challenge, it is essential to recognize the salient differences between AI and nuclear weapons.
    • First, … private entrepreneurs, technologists and companies are driving advances in AI.
    • Second, AI is digital. Nuclear weapons were difficult to produce, requiring a complex infrastructure ... AI represents a distinctly different challenge. Its major evolutions occur in the minds of human beings. Its applicability evolves in laboratories, and its deployment is difficult to observe. 
    • Third, AI is advancing and spreading at a speed that makes lengthy negotiations impossible.
  • Even … while the United States is still creating its own framework for governing AI at home, it is not too early to begin serious conversations with the world’s only other AI superpower. … Biden and Xi should ... meet in the near future for a private conversation about AI arms control.
    • Each leader should discuss how he personally assesses the risks posed by AI.
    • They should create an advisory group consisting of U.S. and Chinese AI scientists.
    • U.S. and Chinese discussions and actions on this agenda will form only part of the emerging global conversation on AI, including the AI Safety Summit.
    • These initiatives should be complemented by dialogue between scientists of various countries.
    • Formal governmental negotiations should seek to establish an international framework, along with an international agency comparable to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
  • If Biden, Xi and other world leaders act now to face the challenges posed by AI as squarely as their predecessors did in addressing nuclear threats in earlier decades, will they be as successful? Looking at the larger canvas of history and growing polarization today, it is difficult to be optimistic. Nonetheless, the incandescent fact that we have now marked 78 years of peace among the nuclear powers should serve to inspire everyone to master the revolutionary, inescapable challenges of our AI future.

“Our AI Future: Hopes and Hurdles Ahead,” A Conversation With Eric Schmidt, moderated by Graham Allison at Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics,

  • AI in geopolitics
    • Schmidt applied the term “Innovation power” to describe the correlation between geopolitical strength and innovation. “Innovation power” will overtake soft power, playing a defining role in international geopolitics in the future.
      • “Future national security issues will be determined by how quickly you can innovate against the solution.”
    • The US should change its surveillance system by replacing the current model (“a very small number of extremely exquisite surveillance systems”) with a more resilient system that increases the number of systems by relying on “an awful lot of cheap satellites.” 
      • “It’s an awful lot more defensible because it’s very hard for the opponent in the war game to shoot down all of your surveillance systems over and over again.”
      • “I believe the future of national security is a very large number of distributed systems.”
      • Governments globally will have to spearhead regulations concerning AI. 
  • China
    • Even though China is “a couple of years behind” the US, China has the potential to surpass the US in the AI realm.
    • "They're going to win" the race. "They're fully capable, and they're on their way."
      • Some hurdles to Chinese superiority in this field include a lack of access to the most advanced chips for AI systems and a need for a greater amount of Chinese language data to train these systems. 
        • Graham Allison – who moderated the event -  mentioned that another issue is trying to keep the AI models in line with the political agenda of the CCP rather than allowing them free reign of thought.
  • Ukraine
    • A lot of new war technology is being invented in Ukraine, especially with drones.
      • Drone innovation has emerged as an innovative response to the World War I style warfare that persists. 
        • Today, underground bunkers with drone video feeds are typical.
      • The cheapest drones they are making cost about 6,000 dollars and can carry a 50kg explosive payload. Drones, like the Predator drone, usually cost about $30-50 million dollars.
      • Ukraine will have many cutting-edge military technologies post-war, especially thanks to this UAV production. 
    • Gaza and Russian war are a wake-up call for those who are naïve about how nation-states act.
  • Military strategy 
    • A new race could occur because of the new AI technologies.
    • The US will shortly face ethical dilemmas regarding the utilization of AI in military operations, including its deployment and defense strategies. While present US military regulations mandate human intervention and supervision, it's conceivable that in the future, an AI system could autonomously determine and strike targets.
    • AI-enabled war is incredibly fast, and severely limits or removes human interaction altogether: “You have to move very, very quickly. We don’t have time for a human in the loop.” 
    • Unlike the four-year-long nuclear advantage the US had from 1945-1949, AI changes so fast. Who has an advantage will change rapidly. 
  • Psychological warfare
    • What should the US due to protect itself from psychological warfare? 
      • We have lost the psychological war. 
        • “With a single computer, you can build an entire ecosystem, an entire set of worlds, and everyone’s narrative can all be different, but they can have an underlying manipulation theme — this is all possible today. It’s already out there,”
      • Thus, “Elections in 2024 are going to be an unmitigated disaster,” first in India and then the US.
      • The only solution is for the Social Media companies to come together to make recommendations to address disinformation and misinformation.

“How AI could help—or hurt—internet freedom,” Editorial Board, WP, 10.16.23. 

  • The United States and like-minded allies should champion their approach around the world - incorporating AI and the internet into their democracy assistance efforts as well as bringing their joint influence to bear in international forums. China and Russia have had substantial success in guiding the United Nations' convention on cybercrime toward overreach; the United States and its friends shouldn't let that happen on AI.
  • Democratic leaders in the internet's early days generally assumed the web would enhance freedom around the world, and they didn't do enough to fight for it. The good news amid the bad about AI is that now, with a new technology ascendant, there's an opportunity to get things right this time.

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:

“Russia Is Still Paying the Price of Its Imperialism,” Christopher A. Hartwell and Paul Vaaler, NI, 10.14.23. 

  • President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has come at huge economic costs. By conservative estimates, the Russian economy has taken a US$67 billion annual hit as a result of war expenses and the effects of economic sanctions. In the early stages of the invasion, some analysts put the costs even higher, at $900 million per day.
  • These war costs show no sign of abating. The newly released Russian government budget for 2024 calls for a 70% defense expenditure increase, an astonishing reallocation of precious resources for a war that some observers expected to last a week at most.
  • Despite the toll of war and sanctions, the Russian economy has not collapsed and seems to have proven somewhat resilient against being shut out of global value chains.
  • Vladimir Putin’s handling of the economy since the early 2000s has been based on a similar pyramid scheme, we would argue. A combination of aggressive foreign borrowing and natural resource exports have financed foreign wars and domestic repression in territories of Russia’s near abroad: These have included conflicts in Chechnya and Georgia in the 2000s; Crimea and the Donbas in the 2010s; and the rest of Ukraine in the 2020s. Until this current round of aggression toward Ukraine, the outcome of these conflicts appeared to favor Russia, with its seemingly strong central government, military and economy.
  • However, Russia may now be at an inflection point. Historically, when Russia’s military was successful, it was able to finance both its war machine and industrialization.
  • Yet even past military success put the regime on very shaky ground that allowed small setbacks to threaten its foundation. Military reversals such as the stunning loss to Japan in 1905 or even the costs associated with pacifying troublesome territories such as in the Caucasus created more difficulties and risk for Russian bond markets and its economy. Indeed, unrest, armed rebellion and serf revolts in the far reaches of the empire raised Russian bond yields by approximately 1%. This risk was much higher than if such unrest occurred even in St. Petersburg or Moscow.
  • And perhaps most importantly, in Ukraine the cost of empire during czarist times was the largest, with each rebellion or bout of unrest in Ukraine raising Russian yields by between 3% and 3.5%.With its newest defense budget going “all in” on its already faltering invasion of Ukraine, Russia appears to have learned none of the lessons of its past. Then as now, Ukraine and Ukrainian defiance constituted a grave threat to Russian territorial ambitions. In 2024, that defiance just might prove too determined and too costly for an increasingly fragile Russian economy. And as in 1917, the consequences could be far beyond the control of the modern-day czar in the Kremlin.

“Russia’s 2024 Budget Shows It’s Planning for a Long War in Ukraine,” Pavel Luzin and Alexandra, Carnegie Endowment, 10.11.23. Clues from Russian Views.

  • The Russian government has announced its proposed budget for 2024. For the first time in modern history, the country is set to spend 6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on the military, and defense spending will exceed social spending. The war against Ukraine and the West is not only the Kremlin’s biggest priority; it is now also the main driver of Russia’s economic growth.
  • The record defense spending shows that the Kremlin has no intention of ending its war against Ukraine anytime soon: on the contrary. Even if the fighting becomes less intense or the conflict becomes frozen, the money will go toward replenishing Russia’s depleted military arsenals. Likewise, it has enough cash to fund an escalation such as the imposition of martial law or full mobilization.
  • By staking everything on rising military expenditure, the Kremlin is forcing the economy into the snare of perpetual war. On the one hand, that means it will be increasingly difficult for the state to continue financing the fighting in Ukraine without causing living standards to deteriorate. On the other, if there is a reduction in military spending, it will inevitably lead to a significant structural shock that will take considerable time to overcome. Either way, it will be ordinary Russians who pay the price 

Defense and aerospace:

  •  See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • No significant developments.


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

Russia’s general foreign policy and relations with “far abroad” countries:

  • No significant developments.


"The 'Murky' Morality of Opposition to US Support for Ukraine: A Response," Mariana Budjeryn, Just Security, 10.10.23. 

  • Stephen Walt's recent commentary, "The Morality of Ukraine's War is Very Murky," in Foreign Policy calls into question the received wisdom about the morality of the war in Ukraine. Walt cautions against a black-and-white portrayal of bad Russia versus good Ukraine and argues that intrinsic reasons to support Ukraine — just because it's a democracy, even if imperfect, and just because it's fighting a just, defensive war — compelling though they are, are insufficient to determine the morality of choices regarding this war, including the unqualified Western military support of Ukraine.
  • Instead, he says decision-makers should assess the prospects of Ukraine's success and consider the costs of producing it, namely human lives. He concludes that: 
  1. Ukraine's chances of prevailing are poor, as evidenced by what he calls the "disappointing (even disastrous)" Ukrainian counteroffensive, and
  2.  under these circumstances, continued Western arms shipments to Ukraine would only prolong the unwinnable war and cost more Ukrainian lives. 
  • To support his argument, Walt draws parallels with the United States in Afghanistan. For all the blood and treasure poured into the fight over two decades, the United States could not vanquish the Taliban and, in the end, withdrew, but not before more lives, U.S. and Afghan, were lost unnecessarily.
  • Walt … is a prominent scholar working in a realist tradition of international relations and a colleague at the Harvard Kennedy School. There is no cause to doubt the genuineness of his concern for Ukrainian lives. But his argument about the morality of the war in Ukraine, though more balanced than the "very murky" title suggests, is nevertheless deeply flawed.
  • In his concern for Ukrainian lives, Walt remains impervious to Ukrainians' own interests and ability to assess their options. True, the total number of losses have not been made public. But anyone driving through the Ukrainian countryside will pass cemeteries brimming with dozens of fresh graves, and anyone walking in a Ukrainian city will encounter dozens of amputees. Civilians live under constant air raid sirens and missile strikes. No one in Ukraine has been untouched by this war, no one is oblivious to its costs. Ukrainians did not choose this war. But it is up to Ukrainians to determine when to end it and how to relate their costs to their stakes.

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

“After Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan eyes a strategic strip of Armenia,” Francesca Ebel, WP,

  • [Armenia’s] Meghri sits at a strategic crossroads that regional powers, including Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey and Russia, are competing to access — prompting fears it could soon be at the center of a new war. Located just north of the Aras River and the Iranian border, Meghri is hemmed in by Azerbaijani territory. .. 
  • Azerbaijan calls Meghri, and the rest of Armenia's Syunik province, the Zangezur corridor. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and other officials have described opening this corridor as a top objective — one that is now in direct focus following Baku's recapture of the long-disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Zangezur corridor is a broken link in a longer, potentially highly lucrative east-west route called the "Middle Corridor" that would connect China and Central Asian countries to Turkey via Azerbaijan.
  • Betrayed by Moscow, which failed to prevent Azerbaijan's military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia now wants full control of the route. And it no longer wants Moscow's security forces involved.
  • Azerbaijan, meanwhile, is pressuring Yerevan for unfettered access to the corridor, aiming to reopen the old Soviet railroad from Baku to Nakhchivan, as well as a highway for cars. It has already begun constructing infrastructure in preparation for the route. Aliyev has signaled that Baku would use force to seize the corridor if the 2020 deal is not upheld. "We will implement the Zangezur corridor, whether Armenia wants it or not," he said in 2021.
  • Turkey and Russia, which would benefit from expanding transport links crossing Armenian territory, have backed Aliyev's plans. Russia, especially, wants this southern route to circumvent Western sanctions. Moscow has been using Azerbaijan to continue selling oil despite import bans and a price cap regime coordinated by the Group of Seven nations. But Iran, a powerful ally of Armenia and its only friendly neighbor, has strongly opposed the project, averse to any alterations to its border with Armenia. The proposed plan would hinder, if not disconnect, free trade and traffic between the two countries. It could also reduce profits from Iran's gas contracts with Turkey and Azerbaijan.

“Long-Standing Ties Between Armenia and Russia Are Fraying Fast,” Alexander Atasuntsev, Carnegie Endowment, 10.13.23. 

  • The 24 hours of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh in September that resulted in the capitulation of Karabakh Armenian defense forces to Baku revealed that Azerbaijan was more wary of Western sanctions than Russian military might. Despite being formally allied within the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Yerevan will no longer be seeking security guarantees from Moscow.
  • The failure of Russia’s peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh—which now looks likely to be wrapped up—puts into question its entire military presence in Armenia. Since the 1990s, that presence has been based on an alignment of interests between Moscow and Yerevan. Now these interests are rapidly diverging.
  • Without security guarantees or arms supplies, there is little reason for Armenia to remain in the CSTO military alliance. 
  • In the past, Russia has blocked imports of goods to punish countries like Moldova and Georgia that it sees as pursuing a pro-Western course. But the tactic has never met with much success. If anything, it has had the opposite effect: Moldova received European Union candidate status in 2022, and Georgia could receive it later this year. It can’t be ruled out that Armenia will follow in their footsteps.

“The Pathways to Peace Are Getting Darker,” Dahlia Scheindlin, NYT, 10.13.23. 

  • Like many Israelis right now, I’m inconsolable. I’ve watched for days as the pain over lost lives and hostages accumulates. This is hell, and the days ahead will be worse. But this moment is excruciating for me for another reason. In those frantic first hours on Saturday as the events unfolded, I feared they could spell the final failure of what I view as my life’s work — a commitment to peace, justice, equality and a reduction of political violence.
  • Lately the whole notion of solving conflicts, containing violence through international rules and institutions, the international system itself, appears wholly inadequate to the task of protecting people and preventing wars. One could be forgiven for asking, what international system?
    • The Armenians feel betrayed by the international community for its near-complete inaction in the face of Azerbaijan’s punishing, nine-month blockade on Nagorno-Karabakh since December, which left 120,000 people — mostly civilians — lacking enough food, medicine or fuel.
    • Azerbaijan, too, was frustrated for nearly 30 years by the impotence of international law as seven additional areas of its sovereign territory conquered by Armenia during the 1990s war over Nagorno-Karabakh remained under control of Armenians.
  • Israel has scoffed at international law for decades by expanding settlements, annexing territory conquered in war, and suffocating the civilian population in Gaza through a 16-year blockade.
  • Countries that don’t like international courts — including the United States — largely ignore them. Vladimir Putin will probably avoid prosecution for his invasion of Ukraine.
  • Hamas certainly had no concern for international prosecution or for the fate of the liberal rules-based world order when it slaughtered over 1,300 Israelis.
  • Much of the world will view Israel’s unfolding and brutal retaliation — so far, more than 400 Palestinian children have been killed, according to the Palestinian health ministry — as justified.
  • As the old peace paradigms collapse, those of us working on new approaches toward partnership-based peace (including a group called “A Land for All,” where I am a board member), rather than the hard partition that stokes us-or-them competition, generate new energy. Political peace may be light-years away, but these rare sparks of optimism are the fuel that will carry us there.
  • I’ve been asking Armenians about Israel’s role in arming Azerbaijan. I expected anger, but more often people were baffled, or simply deeply disappointed by Israel’s lack of solidarity for a people with a shared history of persecution, genocide, commitment to survival and national rebirth. Faced with the purity of their moral logic, my realpolitik cynicism seemed to slip away. Solidarity and its attendant qualities — morality, empathy, protection of civilians, historical justice — matter for all people.

“Russia in the Post-Soviet Space: Trying To Save Face,” Mikhail Vinogradov, Russia.Post, 10.11.23. 

  • The outcome of the 2023 Nagorno-Karabakh war shows why the Russian presence in the countries of the former USSR should be rethought. 
    • The first reason is purely formal. Russia never took on obligations to maintain the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, and therefore had neither military/political, nor legal grounds to maintain the status quo in the region. This explanation is also appropriate from the standpoint of the principle of the inviolability of borders, which Russia had adhered to from 1992 to 2008, after which it recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, followed by the incorporation of Crimea into Russia in 2014.
    • The second reason is political and, perhaps, partly emotional. Russia has not forgiven Armenia for the “color revolution” of 2018 and the rise to power of Nikol Pashinyan. The logic of official Russian propaganda contrasts “good” Armenia with “bad” Pashinyan. However, the Armenian prime minister has been in office for more than five years, during which time Moscow and Yerevan, when necessary, found a common language. On May 9, 2023, when the Russian side very insistently invited the leaders of post-Soviet countries to attend the Victory Day parade on Red Square (coming after drone strikes on the Kremlin at the end of April), Pashinyan responded and attended. This stood in contrast to Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev, who refused to come, citing preparations for the 100th anniversary of Heydar Aliyev, his father and predecessor.
    • The third and most convincing reason is resources. Despite the partial restoration of Soviet aesthetics and semi-official nostalgia for the lands that were “abandoned” in 1991, the concentration on the Russia-Ukraine conflict has deprived Moscow of resources to play an active role across the rest of the post-Soviet space.
  • Russia is currently unable to conduct an active foreign policy in the post-Soviet space outside Ukraine, while it is neither psychologically nor politically possible to publicly acknowledge a shrinking of its ambitions to influence events in its backyard



  1. Integrated Air and Missile Defense.
  2. According to MT, Putin called Netanyahu on Oct. 16 to brief him on several talks with leaders from the region and the Palestinian Authority and to express “his sincere condolences to the families and friends of the deceased Israelis," the Kremlin said.
  3. This article was adapted from the author’s new book, “Getting Russia Right,” published this month by Polity.
  4. Summarized and translated by RM student associate Mikael Pir-Budagyan.
  5. Commissioners: Madelyn R. Creedon (Chair), Jon L. Kyl (Vice Chair), Marshall S. Billingslea, Rose E. Gottemoeller, Rebeccah L. Heinrichs, Robert M. Scher, Gloria C. Duffy, Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, John E. Hyten, Matthew H. Kroenig, Leonor A. Tomero and Franklin C. Miller.
  6. Summarized by by RM student associate Conor Cunningham.
  7. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned a small group of U.S. lawmakers earlier this month that his department is tracking the possibility that Azerbaijan could soon invade Armenia, according to two people familiar with the conversation, according to Politico. In an Oct. 3 phone call, lawmakers pressed Blinken on possible measures against Ilham Aliyev in response to his country’s invasion of the Nagorno-Karabakh region in September, the people said, who were granted anonymity to discuss the sensitive call, according to Politico.

The cutoff for reports summarized in this product was 12:00pm 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 RM editorial policy.

Slider photo by geralt free for use under the Pixabay Content License.