Russia Analytical Report, Sept. 9-16, 2019

This Week’s Highlights:

  • It would be desirable for the Russian top leadership to openly proclaim the “struggle for peace”—prevention of war between nuclear powers—one of the important objectives of the Russian foreign policy and back it up with “peace initiatives” designed to revive a rational fear of war among the elites and societies in great powers and normalize and improve relations between them, write Sergei Karaganov and Dmitry Suslov of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics.
  • Americans still don’t know what they don’t know about Russian interference, The Washington Post editorial board writes. The slow drip of revelations points to a mess of problems in how the federal government communicates with its on-the-ground partners in charge of running elections; leaders at the Capitol and in state capitals can’t protect the next election if they do not know what went wrong last time, and citizens cannot hold representatives accountable for shortcomings if the shortcomings are hushed up, the editorial board argues.
  • The near-identical results of St. Petersburg gubernatorial runners up showed that, for the first time in the history of the city, without any major external factors, we have seen clearly expressed protest voting, writes Anton Mukhin, and any positive result for the opposition is a noteworthy victory. Meanwhile, Ilya Shepelin, a journalist for Russian independent television channel Dozhd, argues that the only real victory in politics is when power changes hands; pro-government deputies still hold a simple majority, and nobody knows how the “opposition candidates” elected on Navalny’s recommendation will behave.
  • Rising complexity is neither a justification for discarding arms control arrangements nor an excuse for inaction in agreeing new measures; the return to great power competition makes multilateral engagement on nuclear stability, transparency and predictability more essential, over 100 members of the European Leadership Network’s network of political, diplomatic and military figures write in group statement on nuclear arms control.
  • “If Naftogaz can invest the further damages it is seeking [from Gazprom] in domestic gas production, that could make Ukraine a gas-exporting country over the medium to longer term,” says Timothy Ash, a senior emerging markets sovereign strategist, in a Financial Times article. However, “[c]onceding too readily to Naftogaz would be a humiliation for Russia,” warns analyst Florence Cahill. “Gazprom plays a very special geopolitical role. It is effectively a tool through which Russia exercises its foreign policy. Any insult or embarrassment to Gazprom is an affront to [President Vladimir] Putin’s leadership.”
  • Though some sanctions were meant to split Russia’s economic elite from the Kremlin, they have pushed sanctioned individuals closer to the Russian government—which has become the largest creditor in the country, with 70 percent of all bank loans in Russia last year provided by state-run banks, write Thomas Grove and Alan Cullison of the Wall Street Journal.

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

Nuclear security:

  • No significant commentary.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant commentary.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant commentary.

New Cold War/saber rattling:

  • No significant commentary.

NATO-Russia relations:

  • No significant commentary.

Missile defense:

  • No significant commentary.

Nuclear arms control:

“The New Understanding and Ways to Strengthen Multilateral Strategic Stability,” Sergei Karaganov and Dmitry Suslov, Higher School of Economics (Moscow), September 2019. In this report, published with support from Russia’s Foreign Ministry and State Duma Committee on International Affairs, the authors—the dean of HSE’s international affairs department and the deputy director of HSE’s Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies, respectively—describe a May situational analysis intended as a starting-off point for a much longer discussion among American, Chinese and Russian experts. While noting that there was much disagreement and confusion among the experts involved in the analysis, the authors write:

  • “The main reason for the crisis [in strategic stability] … lies in fundamental changes in the military-strategic landscape, which make the previous understanding of strategic stability obsolete, and renders traditional arms limitation mechanisms ineffective or even senseless.”
  • “Many non-nuclear weapons … have de facto acquired strategic properties; the frontier between nuclear and non-nuclear strategic weapons has increasingly blurred. This increases the risk of nuclear escalation in a non-nuclear conflict and war by mistake, and makes it practically impossible to calculate the strategic balance and identify weapons subject to limitation.”
  • “Emergence of a ‘nuclear multipolarity’ … undermines the logic of bilateral Russian-U.S. nuclear arms control.”
  • “The main factors that impair strategic stability and increase the risk of war between nuclear powers” include: a “dangerous decline of competence and responsibility among members of many elites … [and] an assumption that peace will never end, as well as dwindling public resistance to militaristic policies; the U.S. confrontation with Russia and China…; the risk of war, including nuclear war, if cyber-attacks are directed against satellites, missile attack early warning systems or critical infrastructure…; a possible deployment near Russia and China of high-precision weapons capable of destroying nuclear facilities and reaching the target within a short time; use of nuclear weapons by third parties against each other, the disappearance of the “nuclear taboo” and further proliferation of nuclear weapons.”
  • “At the same time, there are also factors that strengthen strategic stability and reduce the risk of intentional war between nuclear powers and of arms race.”
  • “It has become much more difficult to control escalation and prevent military clashes between nuclear powers. The overall state of strategic stability has become much more complex and less manageable, more susceptible to various accidents and influences by non-nuclear factor[s] and third parties. On the whole, the risk of nuclear war and mankind[‘s] annihilation has increased even though no one has any intention to start it.”
  • “In the new situation, strategic stability should reflect the ability of nuclear powers to prevent military clashes, including non-nuclear and unintended ones. This will require not just military, but mainly political and international political measures, including the lessening of confrontation between nuclear powers and restoration of trust which seems to have gone completely.”
  • “There is the need to introduce a new term, ‘multilateral strategic stability,’ meaning such a state of relations between nuclear powers which enables them to prevent any military clash between them, including intentional and unintentional ones, because any such clash may develop into a global nuclear war.”
  • “Top priority measures to strengthen international / multilateral strategic stability” include: “Strengthening channels of military-to-military communication; strengthening multilateral and bilateral transparency and predictability regimes … without any arms limitation commitments; strengthening dialogues between Russia and the U.S and between China and the U.S. on their nuclear doctrines and military strategies, [and] further deepening the Russia-China strategic dialogue; developing rules of military conduct in areas that are most prone to military clashes, such as information and communication technologies, high-precision non-nuclear weapons, outer space, [and] artificial intelligence, as well as rules and codes of conduct in regional conflicts; developing measures and codes of conduct (de-escalation) in the event of a military clash between nuclear powers; extending the New START for a new term as a temporary measure designed to keep its nuclear arms transparency measures, and considering the possibility of preserving these measures if quantitative limitations are lifted.”
  • “Russia, the U.S., and China … [must] acknowledge the inadmissibility of any military clash with each other and the importance of de-escalating and ending it within the shortest time possible if it occurs.”
  • “It would be desirable for the Russian top leadership to openly proclaim the ‘struggle for peace’—prevention of war between nuclear powers—one of important objectives of the Russian foreign policy and back it up with ‘peace initiatives’ designed to revive a rational fear of war among the elites and societies in great powers and normalize and improve relations between them.”

“Group Statement on Nuclear Arms Control,” over 100 members of the European Leadership Network’s network of political, diplomatic and military figures, 09.12.19: The group recommends that:

  • “Russian and U.S. governments should comply with existing commitments, maintain existing tools, and develop new approaches to deal with a more complex future. This includes the continuation of the INF Treaty’s core objectives (mutual nuclear restraint in Europe and no deployment of intermediate range delivery systems), implementation and extension of New START (with provisions for transparency), and intensification of existing talks on strategic stability to reduce the risks of miscommunication and miscalculation.”
  • “Moscow and Washington acknowledge their special responsibilities as the states with the largest nuclear arsenals and, through their resumed strategic stability talks, consider new constraints on nuclear competition and measures to preserve nuclear stability.”
  • “U.S.-Russia talks should focus on the classes and postures of nuclear weapons and delivery systems—strategic and non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed—and of technologies with potential strategic nuclear effect that are particularly dangerous or destabilizing.”
  • “Governments across the Euro-Atlantic region, home to over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons and four nuclear weapon states, should step up engagement and develop concrete proposals to reduce nuclear risks. The deteriorating relationship between Russia and the West and breakdown of nuclear arms control fundamentally affects European security.”
  • “China and other nuclear weapons states should promote work on strategic stability. Multilateral efforts should be made to find effective mechanisms to engage nuclear-armed states not party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
  • “World leaders should accept that: nuclear stability will become so entwined with new technologies that states must collaborate if nuclear risks are to be reduced [and t]he potential for disruption by non-state actors is unacceptably high; rising complexity is neither a justification for discarding arms control arrangements nor an excuse for inaction in agreeing new measures; the return to great power competition makes multilateral engagement on nuclear stability, transparency and predictability more essential.”

“Outlines for Future Conventional Arms Control in Europe: A Sub-Regional Regime in the Baltics,” Evgeny Buzhinskiy and Oleg Shakirov, European Leadership Network, 09.03.19: The authors, chairman of the executive board and a consultant for PIR Center, write:

  • “[S]teps to ensure military stability [between Russia and NATO] are not only possible, but are also mutually beneficial. … [B]oth Russia and NATO countries express concerns about the possible quick build-up of forces by the other side. These risks are perceived by both sides to be particularly high in the Baltic region.”
  • “Russia considers the movement of NATO military infrastructure to its borders as one of the main external military dangers. On the NATO side, states in the Baltic region have similar concerns about the possibility of Russia’s rapid movement of forces into the region. With this in mind, it is likely that Russia and the NATO countries concerned might be interested in a conventional arms control regime that could help prevent a destabilizing build-up of strength along the contact line.”
  • “Both sides would commit to lowering considerably the intensity of military activity in the region, strictly limiting movements of forces and assets towards the line of contact between Russia and NATO. Implementation of this regime would be followed by further stabilizing measures.”
  • “[A] framework of confidence- and security-building measures to manage naval activity in the Baltic Sea … would include prior notification of certain naval activities. The objective of these steps would be to create a security environment in the Baltic region based on cooperation and mutual confidence. Going forward … due consideration could be given to the possible extension of such measures to other regions of Europe where tensions are high.”


  • No significant commentary.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant commentary.

Cyber security:

  • No significant commentary.

Elections interference:

“We Still Don’t Know What Happened in the 2016 Election,” Editorial Board, The Washington Post, 09.12.19: The news outlet’s editorial board writes:

  • “It took three years for Rep. Stephanie Murphy … to find out that Russian actors had hacked into her state’s voting systems ahead of the 2016 presidential election. First she was unaware the Kremlin had penetrated any counties, then she heard it was two and now new intelligence suggests four jurisdictions might have been breached. The public has even less information than she does—because … she is not allowed to share much of what she learns.”
  • “Murphy’s experience of finding out about Russian interference mirrors the country’s. … Americans still don’t know what they don’t know about Russian interference. The slow drip of revelations points to a mess of problems in how the federal government communicates with its on-the-ground partners in charge of running elections.”
  • “Murphy now has the names of at least some of the compromised counties in her state, only because she and her colleagues read special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report and demanded a briefing. But she has been barred from sharing those names with her constituents. … Leaders at the Capitol and in state capitals can’t protect the next election if they do not know what went wrong last time, and citizens cannot hold representatives accountable for shortcomings if the shortcomings are hushed up.”
  • “Murphy has introduced a bipartisan bill ensuring that Congress, state leaders and affected voters learn of significant intrusions into election systems. Legislators should pass it as a first step in rethinking reporting requirements throughout the government. Doing something about foreign meddling will be impossible unless those responsible for fighting back can say something about it.”

Energy exports from CIS:

“Energy Spheres of Influence,” Sarah Ladislaw and Nikos Tsafos, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 09.13.19: The authors, the senior vice president, director and senior fellow, of the CSIS energy and national security program and a senior fellow in the program, write:

  • “The world is experiencing a new era of competition for greater geographic and economic power … Energy is poised to play an important role in this upheaval and will be affected by these changes. … So far, the United States has grappled with these questions by pursuing ‘energy dominance’ … But other global powers, like China and Russia, pose strong competition for this U.S. strategy.”
  • “Influence is a multifaceted and often nebulous concept; energy is visible, tangible and hence often acts as a proxy for influence … For Russia, energy is one of two strategic commodities, along with arms, that enable it to court other countries; and it is energy that is providing a foundation for its expansion into the Arctic. Recent years also have seen a significant expansion of Russian state-owned investment in energy projects overseas, particularly through Rosneft.”
  • “The foreign and energy policy communities have made broad assumptions and assertions about but have not adequately investigated (1) the role energy plays in the contemporary competition for influence among the United States, China and Russia in specific regions of the world; (2) whether any one country or groups of countries might be able to exert preponderant influence over a specific type of energy or fuel; and (3) the implications for U.S. foreign policy objectives and global energy security.”
  • “Competition and the struggle for influence are likely to be hallmarks of the global energy landscape for the future but that does not mean shared interests and principles of energy security have disappeared. These are massive technological and geostrategic considerations that the energy security community has not coherently addressed but it must do so sooner rather than later.”

“The Era of the Gas Mega-Players,” Nikos Tsafos, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 09.10.19: The author, a senior fellow in the CSIS energy and national security program, writes:

  • “Within 10 years, three exporters will tower over the global gas world: Russia, the United States, and Qatar. Other exporters … will remain big players, but their influence will be regional, not global. New entrants will emerge, and existing players will expand their presence, but no country will match the big three in scale, growth and reach.”
  • “These profound changes will rewire the gas system, making it more integrated and competitive. But the system may also allow these mega-players the opportunity to exercise market power, using levers at their disposal to influence prices and flows. Geopolitics might also weigh heavily as a possible driver of behavior or source of friction. The gas world will thus be pulled in three directions: more integration and competition, more efforts to exercise market power and more geopolitics complementing and complicating market forces. The big question is which of these three competing forces will have a greater say in this new gas era.”

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant commentary.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

“Bolton Was Trump’s Best Match, Until He Wasn’t,” Ivo H. Daalder and I. M. Destler, Foreign Affairs, 09.11.19: The authors, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Saul I. Stern Professor of Civic Engagement at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, write:

  • “Bolton was perhaps substantively and temperamentally the most suited to help Trump pursue his ‘America first’ foreign policy. … Bolton’s core style—rushing to decisions, excluding advisers with dissenting views—may have brought short-run results, but over time it was a recipe for policy disaster.
  • Trump’s original choice for national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, had been his campaign’s most senior adviser on national security policy. … He had extreme views on the threat of Islamic terrorism, questionable relationships with foreign entities and governments and a rosy view of Russia. … Before Flynn could do much more than hire a few people … he was embroiled in controversy centering on his contacts with the Russian ambassador after the election.”
  • “Bolton understood that Trump didn’t want structured meetings and detailed briefings. He set out to streamline the NSC staff by eliminating positions dealing with such issues as cybersecurity and global pandemics. … The new tone was set within weeks of his coming to the White House, when Bolton decided not to convene a single meeting of the NSC principals prior to Trump’s historic Singapore Summit meeting with … Kim Jong Un … or before the president met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.”
  • “He had long seen arms control, international agreements, the United Nations and other multilateral institutions as unacceptable constraints on U.S. power and sovereignty. Now he moved quickly to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and the Reagan-era treaty eliminating intermediate-range nuclear forces.”
  • “Bolton was an ideologue who thought he knew the answers, excluded those who disagreed, and destroyed relationships and institutions that took his predecessors decades to build. To the extent his tenure served the president, it came at great cost to the nation.”

“Why US Foes Around the World Will Welcome Bolton’s Departure, and Why They Shouldn’t Get Too Excited,” Rick Noack, The Washington Post, 09.11.19: The author, a foreign affairs reporter for the news outlet writes:

  • “The departure of … hawkish national security adviser John Bolton was expected to be widely welcomed by U.S. foes abroad on Wednesday, in an indication of how much they perceived him to stand between their interests and what they hope to be those of Trump.”
  • “Bolton wasn’t exactly welcomed in Moscow either. Before joining the administration, he rushed to the support of U.S. allies in Europe … saying that ‘we will not let Russia push the U.S. or its allies around.’ … As the United States threatened to withdraw from a key nuclear arms pact with Russia last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin implicitly accused Bolton of a provocation face-to-face.”
  • “Bolton was a key force behind U.S. threats at the time to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing Russian violations of it. … As recently as this month, Bolton traveled through eastern and central Europe in a trip that was widely viewed as an attempt to bind a region previously under Soviet control and still dependent on Moscow closer to the West.”
  • “Bolton is unlikely to be missed in Moscow. But in remarks on Wednesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said he did not expect the departure to result in immediate improvements in U.S.-Russian ties.”

“Some World Hot Spots See Possible Openings in Bolton Firing,” Associated Press, 09.12.19: The news agency writes:

  • “Bolton never minced words on Russia, once saying Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election was ‘a true act of war.’ He also supported the Ukrainian government in its fight against pro-Russian separatists. And he called for tougher sanctions on Russia, even as Trump sought a better relationship with President Vladimir Putin.”
  • “Perhaps tongue-in-cheek, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that Bolton’s resignation is ‘Americans’ business that we are not going to meddle with.’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists that while he found Bolton ‘a very good companion,’ he also had ‘an abrupt style, relying on use of force.’”
  • “Without Bolton, Trump will continue his outreach to Russia.”

“When bringing a Cold War spy in from the cold shook all of Moscow,” Will Englund, The Washington Post, 09.11.19: The author, an editor on the newspaper’s foreign desk and a former Moscow correspondent, compares the latest U.S.-Russia spy intrigue—in which “an agent [was] spirited off to the United States by the CIA in 2017 but never acknowledged by either side until this week”—with the 1978 defection of high-ranking Soviet diplomat Arkady Shevchenko:

  • “As news spread of the 2017 CIA exfiltration … the Russian media cast suspicion on Oleg Smolenkov, a former diplomat who more recently worked in the administration of President Vladimir Putin. This mid-level bureaucrat disappeared with his wife and three children while on vacation in Montenegro. Russia at first opened a murder investigation, but dropped it when information came to light that the family was alive and living in Virginia—under their own names. So, for quite some time, the Russians have known that this former Kremlin insider was living in the United States, and there has been no fuss up to now.”
  • “Some Russian commentators have suggested that the identification of this bureaucrat by the Kommersant newspaper, quickly followed by other news sites, has more to do with Kremlin infighting than anything else. Smolenkov had worked as a diplomat in Washington for the then-Russian ambassador, Yuri Ushakov, then worked for him as an aide when Ushakov joined the Russian cabinet. From there, he went with Ushakov to the Kremlin, where Ushakov today is a foreign policy adviser to Putin. ‘Of course Ushakov is a target,’ said [Svetlana] Chervonnaya, the former U.S. and Canada analyst in Moscow. ‘But why after so many years? It looks a little bit crazy.’ How, she asked, could a top adviser to a top adviser disappear and hardly make any waves? ‘Something is missing in this story,’ she said.”
  • “Alexei Venediktov, editor in chief at the Ekho Moskvy radio station, asked on the air why the suspected agent would buy a house in the United States under his own name if he were such a high-ranking spy. … And yet that’s exactly what Shevchenko did, after he emerged from six months in hiding after his defection in 1978. … [E]ven though the KGB knew where to find him, he didn’t expect an immediate assassination attempt. It wouldn’t be good, he said, for the Soviet image to kill the former No. 2 diplomat at the United Nations.”

“Was This Man the Prized U.S. Asset in the Kremlin?” Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, 09.11.19: The author, a columnist and veteran Russia watcher, also writes about alleged spy Oleg Smolenkov, who had likely “hitched his wagon to the star of Yuri Ushakov, a senior diplomat who now serves as Putin’s foreign policy aide”:

  • “If Russian media have correctly figured out the asset’s identity—and there are good reasons to believe they have—the ability of the U.S. government to understand what’s going on inside the Kremlin is pretty weak. That doesn’t mean, however, that U.S. intelligence is flying blind when it comes to Russian plots and schemes.”
  • “Ushakov, 72, is certainly an important official who helps Putin work on his official foreign policy agenda and prepares him for major summits and visits. He is, however, a career diplomat with no trace of intelligence affiliation or tell-tale gaps on his bio. If Putin planned a major intelligence operation to disrupt the U.S. 2016 election, none of these plans would have gone through Ushakov, and he probably wouldn’t be privy to any of them.”
  • “If Smolenkov was a spy, he could have delivered important insights about Russia’s foreign policy thinking and planning to U.S. intelligence. But if he was the source for the U.S. intelligence community’s certainty that Putin personally orchestrated a covert interference campaign, that certainty rests on a weak foundation. Smolenkov served the wrong boss in the Kremlin to get reliable information about such ventures.”
  • “Putin has reasons to celebrate if the New York Times report [linked below] that the high-level spy’s evacuation ‘blinded’ the CIA to Russian plans for further election meddling and the identification of Smolenkov as that spy are both correct. … I think, however, that no champagne bottles will pop open: The disclosures about Russia’s military intelligence operation [in Robert Mueller’s indictment] were potentially more damaging, which could indicate the U.S. has better assets on the ground than reports suggest.”

“C.I.A. Informant Extracted From Russia Had Sent Secrets to U.S. for Decades,” Julian E. Barnes, Adam Goldman and David E. Sanger, The New York Times, 09.09.19: The authors, all journalists writing for the newspaper, write about the CIA asset exfiltrated from Russia in 2017 without identifying the person:

  • “The informant's information was so delicate, and the need to protect the source's identity so important, that the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, kept information from the operative out of President Barack Obama's daily brief in 2016. Instead, Mr. Brennan sent separate intelligence reports, many based on the source's information, in special sealed envelopes to the Oval Office.”
  • “The information itself was so important and potentially contentious in 2016 that top C.I.A. officials ordered a full review of the informant's record, according to people briefed on the matter. Officials reviewed information the source had provided years earlier to ensure that it had proved accurate.”
  • “Even though the review passed muster, the source's rejection of the C.I.A.'s initial offer of exfiltration prompted doubts among some counterintelligence officials. They wondered whether the informant had been turned and had become a double agent, secretly betraying his American handlers. That would almost certainly mean that some of the information the informant provided about the Russian interference campaign or Mr. Putin's intentions would have been inaccurate.”
  • “Some operatives had other reasons to suspect the source could be a double agent, according to two former officials, but they declined to explain further. Other current and former officials who acknowledged the doubts said they were put to rest when the source agreed to be extracted after the C.I.A. asked a second time.”
  • “The decision to extract the informant was driven ‘in part’ because of concerns that Mr. Trump and his administration had mishandled delicate intelligence, CNN reported. But former intelligence officials said there was no public evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source, and other current American officials insisted that media scrutiny of the agency's sources alone was the impetus for the extraction.”

“About That Russian ‘Spy,’” Kimberley Strassel, Wall Street Journal, 09.12.19: The author, a columnist and editorial board member at the newspaper, writes of the recent U.S.-Russian spy scandal:

  • “Since the start of the Trump-Russia collusion fantasy, we’ve seen a pattern: On the eve of any report or fact that might undermine that narrative, the forces behind the FBI investigation leak a ‘bombshell’ claim designed to further justify their actions. Bear this in mind when reading the new desperate—and highly irresponsible—reports about that supposed ‘high-value’ Russian spy.”
  • “There’s a reason this story is appearing now, and therefore a reason to doubt its full accuracy. … [H]ere we are on the eve of a Justice Department inspector general’s report that may well render a dim view of the FBI’s decision to obtain surveillance warrants against U.S. citizens based on opposition research from the rival political campaign. And suddenly, the very same reporters and media outlets that brought us those collusion doozies are reporting (based, again, on anonymous ‘former’ officials) that actually the U.S. intelligence community had far more than just a dossier! It had a supersecret Russian spy! Of course it knew what it was doing!”
  • “It’s possible the reports contain an element of truth… Yet the cynical decision to leak this information has already had grave consequences. Within a day, reporters were outside the D.C. home of a man assumed to be the source—in possession of his name, history and background. Western sources whose covers are blown go on to write books. Russian sources who defect or who are exposed as spies end up poisoned or dead.”
  • “Which means the CIA and the Justice Department have an obligation. First, to set the record straight about this source—to the extent they can. Second, to make clear that they are prioritizing a leak investigation—to track down, charge and send to jail those who helped to expose (in their own words) a vital Russian asset. Especially because this leak wasn’t done with any useful purpose. It was done with the craven and cowardly goal of shifting a political narrative.”

“We’re in a geopolitical recession. Trump isn’t the cause, he’s a symptom,” Ian Bremmer, The Washington Post, 09.10.19: The author, a political scientist and president of the Eurasia Group consultancy, writes:

  • “You might think American companies should be spending lots of money … thanks to the most industry-friendly administration in a generation. … So why is business investment declining for the first time since early 2016?”
  • “Today's true worry is a geopolitical recession, a storm forming for nearly a decade. The Pax Americana phase of history, when many assumed the United States would indefinitely stand astride the narrow world like a colossus, has given way to a G-Zero world, one where the old Group of Seven table no longer defines the world's balance of political or economic power, and one in which economic benefits don't flow as readily toward America.”
  • “The sources of angst vary from country to country, but at root is inequality—of wealth, resources and opportunity. Both within individual countries and among them, there is suspicion that some have more than others for reasons neither natural nor fair. This reality has given rise to politicians willing to use bitter divisions for political gain. These are serious, structural problems that won't soon be resolved. They will be exacerbated when climate change and access to new technologies further widen wealth and opportunity divides. And now global economic growth is slowing, compounding these tensions.”
  • “[T]he biggest driver of near-term uncertainty in today's global economy: The U.S.-China trade war has destabilized the world's most important bilateral economic relationship. … China's current administration, which is likely to last far longer than Trump's, has done more to bring the two governments to this moment of confrontation than anyone in Washington has … [and] Beijing's latest effort to combine technology with social control … will outlast whatever trade war is currently being waged with the United States.”
  • “A geopolitical recession makes crises more likely. What if cyberattacks between Russia and the United States escalate into damage to each country's critical infrastructure? What if an accident in the Persian Gulf or the South China Sea sends local powers stumbling into a shooting war? What if Venezuela's regime collapses? Sound far-fetched? So did the Arab Spring uprisings, Syria's civil war, Russia's lunge into Ukraine, the Brexit vote, and election surprises in the United States, France, Italy, Mexico and Brazil.”
  • “The reluctance to invest can, of course, make anxiety over possible recession a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the prospect of contraction in the world's largest economy then stokes fear of a global slowdown. Trump isn't helping, but this will remain a challenge for the next president, whomever [sic] that may be and whenever that person arrives.”

II. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

“Truth and No Consequences in Russia,” The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal, 09.12.19: The newspaper’s editorial board writes:

  • “Moscow keeps assassinating (or trying to) opponents of Vladimir Putin ’s regime in Western Europe. The latest case, according to U.S. officials, is the murder in a Berlin park on Aug. 23 of [Zelimkhan Khangoshvili,] a Georgian who fought against Russia in a Chechen uprising. So why does the West seem to want to let Mr. Putin get away with it?”
  • “[T]he West’s resolve is faltering. The Salisbury attack triggered a welcome moment of unity as Britain, the U.S. and other European allies simultaneously expelled Russian diplomats in retaliation for the attack. Yet more recently leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron and President Trump want to bring Mr. Putin in from the cold.”
  • “Excluding Mr. Putin from such gatherings [as the G7 and the Council of Europe] was a well-considered move to punish his adventurism by denying him the global prestige and legitimacy he craves. He hasn’t done anything to earn the recent thaw.”
  • “The idea of a Russia fully integrated into the West is a dream that goes back centuries. But a marauding Russia that annexes neighbors and murders with impunity on foreign soil remains more of a threat than a reliable political and economic partner.”

“India and Russia: Connecting Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific,” Sharanya Rajiv, The Moscow Times, 09.10.19. The author, a senior program coordinator and research assistant at Carnegie India, writes of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit this month to Vladivostok where Russia and India “announced a slew of bilateral deals” ranging “from expanding cooperation in military technology and civil nuclear energy—for which Russia is India’s foremost partner—to hydrocarbons, mining and space, among other areas”:

  • “Most significantly, the countries signed a joint statement that recognized Greater Eurasia and the ‘regions of the Indian and Pacific Oceans’ as forming part of a common space and agreed to intensify consultations on complementarities between their respective integration initiatives. … [T]hree processes are underway that are important to mention.”
  • “The first is a mutual recognition of converging interests in the Indo-Pacific region. … [Moscow] considers regional states, particularly those in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to be the central elements in regional integration and cooperation processes. This, in turn, does not stand in opposition to India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific, which is premised on inclusiveness, openness and ASEAN’s centrality and unity.”
  • “The second process has a longer history—cooperation in their shared extended neighborhood in the Eurasian continent. … India is working alongside Moscow in initiatives across the continent. These range from transport corridors, particularly the long-delayed International North-South Transport Corridor which became partly operational last year, to regional organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization—which India was admitted into in 2017 with Moscow’s support.” 
  • “Finally, the Russian Far East will now serve as a crucial point linking the continental and maritime geographies. In Vladivostok, India unveiled its ‘Act Far East Policy’ and announced a $1 billion line of credit for development projects in the region, while both sides signed an agreement to develop a Vladivostok-Chennai sea route, which can become India’s springboard in the Northeast Asian market.”
  • “[T]his does not indicate that Russia will turn away from China nor [sic] that India will turn away from the West. … What it does indicate is that India and Russia are expanding their foreign policy options.”

China-Russia: Allied or Aligned?

  • No significant commentary.


“Courtroom Contest Over Crimea Energy Assets,” Yuri Bender, Financial Times, 09.12.19: The author, a journalist, writes:

  • “While the past five years have seen fierce military battles for territory on the steppe of Donbass, another contest of great significance for Ukraine has played out in Europe’s courtrooms. … Ukrainian lawyers have successfully defended their country’s industrial assets from Russian counterparts in a series of arbitrations.”
  • “One of the biggest losers in the annexation was Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state-owned energy company, which lost control of offshore and onshore gasfields to Russia. It decided in 2015 to pursue claims against Gazprom, Russia’s state energy monopoly. … Naftogaz estimates the value of group assets expropriated by Russia in Crimea at around $5 billion plus interest. … Rather than asking the court to rule on the status of Crimea under international law, Mr. Byelousov [an attorney for Naftogaz] argued that ‘Russia is liable for any and all losses to Ukrainian and foreign investors [resulting] from the annexation of Crimea, since Russia assumed physical and effective control and jurisdiction over Crimea by formally annexing and admitting it’ into its territory.”
  • “If Naftogaz can invest the further damages it is seeking in domestic gas production, ‘this could make Ukraine a gas-exporting country over the medium to longer term,’ says Timothy Ash, senior emerging markets sovereign strategist at Bluebay Asset Management. Other Ukrainian companies have joined the fray to claim damages relating to assets seized by Russia in Crimea. … While Russia has refused to participate in arbitrations for many BIT claims relating to Crimea, because it did not recognise the tribunals’ jurisdictions, this stance could be changing.”
  • “‘Conceding too readily to Naftogaz would be a humiliation for Russia,’ warns [analyst Florence] Cahill. ‘Gazprom plays a very special geopolitical role. It is effectively a tool through which Russia exercises its foreign policy. Any insult or embarrassment to Gazprom is an affront to [president Vladimir] Putin’s leadership.’”
  • Continued purchases of Russian fuel by Ukraine’s state enterprises give Moscow influence over Ukrainian elites, whose dependence on Russia can leave them compromised, and leverage in future deals over assets, trade and territory.”

“‘A Post-Soviet ‘War and Peace’: What Tolstoy’s Masterwork Explains About Putin’s Foreign Policy,” Michael Kimmage, Foreign Affairs, 09.10.19: The author, a professor of history at the Catholic University of America, writes about the perennial Russian dilemma of elites’ admiration for the West versus a Russian “authenticity”:

  • “Napoleon (like Putin after him) wanted to construct his own international order. To that end, he crossed into Russian territory uninvited, beginning a bloody and unnecessary war that ended with Russian troops in Paris. Putin’s annexation of Crimea hardly measures up. And yet contained in the pages of Tolstoy’s nineteenth-century novel is a premonition of Russia’s current, conflicted relationship with the West … in particular with the United States.”
  • “[T]he Russia of 1805 … [was] riven by inequality. If the peasants and aristocrats in Tsar Alexander I’s vast empire are all in some sense Russian, they are Russians apart. … [T]he world Tolstoy describes has a number of clear parallels with the present. Although Putin’s Russia harbors no aristocracy and no peasantry, it is once again a highly unequal society.”
  • “The comparison can help explain what happened after 2014—when Russia again found itself in opposition to the West. The United States and Europe responded to Russia’s annexation of Crimea by imposing sanctions on Moscow and attempting to isolate Russia internationally. Such measures … reinforced binary thinking in Russia. Putin invented a boogeyman West—and the West furnished some of the raw material for his caricature. An us-versus-them frame is the price the United States and Europe have paid for economic sanctions, which have so far elicited more defiance than submission from Russians.”
  • “[E]fforts to sequester the country have backfired, insofar as they appear to stigmatize not only Putin’s government but all of Russia. The more Russia sees itself confronted with a binary choice—authenticity or Western rejection—the more an escalatory conflict acquires the aura of a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
  • “What, then, are the lessons from Tolstoy’s time that can be applied to the present? … Western governments risk fueling the binary thinking that undergirds Putin’s rule—for example, by cheerleading civil society as the alternative to Putin’s regime, thus confusing internal Russian politics with outside Western interests. A more astute cultural diplomacy would subvert binaries by emphasizing the countless links between Russia and the West in music, dance, art, religion, architecture, cinema, and, of course, literature. … A viable Western approach to Russia is one that tries not to subdue or subsume Moscow but to promote Russia as a country at ease with itself and with the West.”

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • No significant commentary.

III. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

“US Sanctions Tighten Putin’s Circle, Extend Kremlin’s Reach,” Thomas Grove and Alan Cullison, Wall Street Journal, 09.11.19: The authors, reporters for the news outlet, write:

  • “When U.S. sanctions forced Western banks to call in more than $200 million in loans from Oleg Deripaska’s automobile manufacturer last year, the Russian tycoon turned to a deep-pocketed backer to bail him out: the Kremlin. … Though some sanctions were meant to split Russia’s economic elite from the Kremlin, they have pushed sanctioned individuals closer to the Russian government—which has become the largest creditor in the country. … The Kremlin’s growing role in the economy is part of a longer-running trend under President Vladimir Putin, who vastly expanded state ownership of industries in his 20-year reign, and often appointed longtime allies as managers.”
  • “Western banks now tend to edge away from lending to Russian corporations of any kind, fearing that the complications are too great. That has pushed Russian companies closer to native banks, the largest of which are state-run. Even unsanctioned state-owned companies have joined in the trend. … Of all bank loans in Russia last year, 70 percent were provided by state-run banks, up from around 64 percent in 2016, according to data from Fitch. … Government funding of the banking system more than doubled to 8.44 billion rubles in 2018 from 3.55 billion rubles in 2016. … Deripaska calls the government’s growing reach into the economy through loans and credit deals ‘soft nationalization.’”
  • “[Daniel Fried, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state] said sanctions against individuals and their companies and broader ones against sectors of the Russian economy have shaved more than 1 percent off Russia’s annual economic growth, which the International Monetary Fund has forecast this year to be 1.2 percent. Real incomes, meanwhile, have declined steadily in recent years, fueling discontent with Mr. Putin’s rule.”
  • “Although U.S. sanctions targeted Russian state-run banks, the government is awash in cash from oil and metals revenues, and the Russian central bank has more than $500 billion—one-third of the country’s GDP—in currency reserves and gold, according to central bank data.”

 “Regional Rehearsal: Kremlin’s Electoral Plans Look Set for Rethink,” Andrey Pertsev, Carnegie Moscow Center, 09.10.19: The author, a journalist with Kommersant, writes:

  • “Ahead of regional elections across Russia on September 8, the authorities took into account the trend of protest voting seen last year, when state-backed candidates lost gubernatorial elections in four different regions. … There were no major disasters for the ruling United Russia party in elections for regional legislative assemblies either, with two notable exceptions: the Khabarovsk region and Moscow.”
  • “[W]hat happened in Khabarovsk, which was one of the regions to elect a non-United Russia governor last year, shows that once the opposition wins one election, people become much more willing to vote for it again. For the first time in the history of Russian elections, the ruling party has completely lost control of one of the regions.”
  • “After last year’s gubernatorial election, Moscow resolved to punish the rebellious region, and stripped Khabarovsk of its status as capital of the Far Eastern Federal District. But this only provoked its inhabitants. … [H]ostile actions by Moscow against the regional authorities in Khabarovsk could only ignite protests in a strategically important border region. At the same time, it’s clear that the center is unlikely to willingly reconcile itself to the fact of a parallel power vertical.”
  • “The other sensation of the recent elections were those for the Moscow city parliament. … opposition candidates won in twenty out of forty-five municipal districts … In nineteen … districts, the winning candidate was the one whom opposition leader Alexei Navalny urged protesters to back, using tactical voting. Yet despite the opposition’s success, the mayor’s office has retained control over the city parliament.”
  • “The outcome of these elections … throws into question plans to reduce the proportion of seats in the State Duma allocated by party list voting in favor of more single-mandate districts ahead of elections to the federal parliament in 2021. It appears that when faced with a strong protest mood like in Khabarovsk, or heavily mobilized protests amid a low turnout like in Moscow, these maneuvers don’t help.”

“Vladimir Putin’s Party Just Lost an Election—Even After Blocking Opponents From the Ballot,” Vladimir Kara-Murza, The Washington Post, 09.11.19: The author, chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom and vice president of the Free Russia Foundation, writes:

  • “It is difficult to challenge an authoritarian system through an election it fully controls. Yet Muscovites managed to do just that on Sunday [Sept. 8], sharply reducing the presence of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party in the city legislature; sending many of its top candidates to humiliating defeats; and delivering the biggest electoral shock in the Russian capital since the Democratic Russia bloc wiped out the Communist Party in the 1990 city council election.”
  • “The Kremlin faced the possibility of a strong opposition presence in a city that has shaped Russian politics for a century. Historical parallels must have looked uncomfortable too: in many post-Communist states, from Serbia to Georgia, opposition victories in capital cities preceded change on the national level.”
  • “It was not possible to present a real alternative or create genuine competition in the 2019 Moscow election. So opposition activist Alexei Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation proposed a tactic they referred to as ‘smart voting.’ The idea was to humiliate pro-regime candidates by backing placeholders from other registered parties who were placed on the ballot to create the semblance of choice.”
  • “Of the 45 seats in the Moscow Duma, 20 were won by opponents of pro-government candidates. The beneficiaries include the liberal Yabloko party, which is returning to the legislature after a decade’s absence. … While United Russia maintains a thin majority of seats, it has lost in terms of votes cast—about 586,000 votes to 578,000—to candidates backed by its opponents.”
  • “The Moscow result should be an eye-opener for anyone who still believes the myth of the ruling party’s ‘popularity.’ Even in the absence of genuine alternative on the ballot, voters backed literally anyone—as long as it was not the candidate from United Russia. For better or worse, Russian politics is made in Moscow. … [T]he capital has already rejected Putin’s party. It is only a matter of time before the country follows suit.”

“St. Petersburg Embraces Protest Voting in Local Elections,” Anton Mukhin, Carnegie Moscow Center, 09.11.19: The author, a contributor to a St. Petersburg-based magazine, writes:

  • “A proper assessment of the election for governor of … St. Petersburg on Sept. 8 requires a look back to the previous election in 2014, when Georgy Poltavchenko was elected. It’s an important comparison, because the scenarios for both campaigns were identical.”
  • “Both Poltavchenko and his successor Alexander Beglov … belong to the same ilk of old-school officials. … Like Poltavchenko before him, Beglov ran a boring campaign against three rival candidates selected by a careful filtration process … Everything progressed in a dull and orderly way until [rival candidate Vladimir] Bortko suddenly withdrew his candidacy during a televised debate with just a week to go until the election.”
  • “A boring campaign, bloodless rivals, a lack of fatal mistakes that could have enraged voters: it seemed that Beglov was on track to repeat the triumphant result of Poltavchenko … Nor was there any real mood of protest in the city.”
  • “When 99.26 percent of the vote had been counted, Beglov had 64.46 percent, Tikhonova had 16.85 percent, and Amosov had 16.01 percent. … The near-identical results of Amosov and Tikhonova show once again that people were following the tactic of voting for anyone except Beglov … For the first time in the history of the city, without any major external factors … we have seen clearly expressed protest voting. … Unlike the predetermined gubernatorial election, the municipal elections elicited real interest from the opposition.”
  • “Overall, the final picture was the same as in the previous elections in 2014, which ended in the total defeat of all opposition candidates. But candidates representing Yabloko, A Just Russia and those backed by Navalny did win half the seats on Vasilyevsky Island, one of the city’s central districts. In addition, several municipal councils have come under the control of A Just Russia and the Party of Growth in other districts. Starting as they did with practically nothing … any positive result for the opposition is a noteworthy victory.”

“Muscovites Did Not Buy the Kremlin’s Lies, But Putin Can Rule Without Their Support,” Ilya Shepelin, The Moscow Times, 09.11.19: The author, a journalist for Russian independent television channel Dozhd, writes:

  • “Up until 1993, Moscow had been home to a bustling and noisy parliament … When tanks opened fire on the Moscow White House in October 1993, [Moscow Mayor Yury] Luzhkov took advantage of the havoc to strike a deal with President Boris Yeltsin and dissolve the bothersome city council.”
  • “A new quiet and submissive Moscow City Duma was established in its place. Now, instead of 450 deputies, just 35 people (later bumped up a bit to today's figure of 45) held elected posts … The ambiguity and lack of purpose surrounding the Moscow City Duma made it completely uninteresting to voters.”
  • “This summer, however, the authorities themselves managed to reignite Muscovites’ interest in the Moscow City Duma. … Every time the authorities acted with greater brutality, it was as if they were urging previously apolitical citizens to become interested in what was happening and sympathize with the opposition. … Opposition leader Alexei Navalny … deserves credit for the results in the Moscow elections. He and his supporters were barred from taking part, so he drew up a list of eligible candidates and called on people to vote for the ‘bad ones’ rather than the ‘very bad ones.’”
  • “Capturing 44 percent of the seats also cannot truly be called a victory. This is, first, because pro-government deputies still hold a simple majority, meaning that they can easily make any decision or pass any law they choose. Second, nobody knows how the ‘opposition candidates’ elected on Navalny’s recommendation will behave.”
  • “The only real victory in politics is when power changes hands. That did not happen in this case, but protestors did achieve a victory of sorts against government propaganda. Attempts to mislead the public failed, with the result that pro-government candidates lost to even the lackluster opponents who were allowed to run. That is the good news. The bad news is that when the authorities are able to bar certain candidates from running, arrest protestors and put them in jail, propaganda is not that important.”

“How the Moscow Protests Reveal a Schism in Russia’s Middle Class,” Andrei Kolesnikov, Carnegie Moscow Center, 09.13.19: The author, a senior fellow and the chair of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center, writes:

  • “As of 2017, Russia’s middle class accounted for 15 percent of the population … The middle class tends to be in the twenty-four-to-thirty-nine age range: people who have lived a little, are making money and are responsible for themselves, their work and/or family.”
  • “The exchange of freedom for petrodollar-fueled economic growth that took place at the start of the 2000s due to external market conditions and the end of the post-Soviet transition created a specific kind of middle class: … one that was more likely to demand haute cuisine and the services of a sommelier than liberty, equality and fraternity. … The middle class of the early 2000s was conformist: it had something to lose, in addition to its shackles, and actually those shackles didn’t seem to be such a significant impediment to improving their quality of life.”
  • “Those who took to the streets in protest in the winter of 2011–2012 represented all age groups, genders and income groups. But at the center of it all was the middle class … But there is another middle class, too, born out of something very different than the market economy: from the state’s slant toward security and sovereignty, dirigisme and economic intervention.”
  • “This is the giant army of state officials and public sector workers. … The class of people working not just directly for the state but also for state corporations and banks and private structures whose existence … depends entirely on connections with the state and officialdom … The state feeds them well, and under the criteria for income and consumer behavior, officials, public sector workers and the siloviki undoubtedly belong to the middle class.”
  • “These two warring middle classes within one social stratum are divided only by their different perceptions of what should be the source of income: the state or the private sector—and of course the small matter of differing visions of how the country should be run, and what its future should be.”

“The State and the Human Body in Putin’s Russia: The Biopolitics of Authoritarian Revanche, Part I,” Sergei Medvedev, PONARS/Jordan Center, 09.12.19. The author, a professor of political science at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, writes:

  • “Over the past decade, one of the key aspects of Russian politics has been the increased interference of the state in the private lives of the population. All sorts of controls have been applied about sexuality, reproduction, retirement, eating and drinking, hygiene, smoking, using obscene words, using the Internet, U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans, and sharing information about homosexuality. The various streams of disallowance—not all of them unusual within the practice of statehood—have been accompanied by Russian state policies promoting marriage, constraining abortion rights, and promoting a certain kind of public morality. Russia’s new law about pensions and retirement age has a distinct biopolitical essence (directly affecting the human body) in that it encourages productivity by an aging population to offset a declining demography and labor market.”
  • “In the Putin era, privacy has been broken due to the state claiming sovereign right to lifestyles and life itself. In a sense, having the ‘vertical of power’ inside the human body is a logical continuation of the Kremlin’s drive for authoritarian sovereignty. What do these physical-life-regulating policies tell us about the state of Russian society and the nature of the political regime? The supposition is that the Kremlin’s uses of biopolitics aim to ‘normalize’ segments of society, change national discourses, test and discipline elites, increase birth rates and worker productivity and, essentially, construct the ideal individual, well-integrated into a like-minded community.”

Defense and aerospace:

“Anticipating a New Russian Military Doctrine in 2020: What It Might Contain and Why It Matters,” Dara Massicot, War on the Rocks, 09.09.19: The author, a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, speculates about the “evolution of Russian military thinking, planning and development:

  • “Although Russian officials have not announced that an updated doctrine is in the works, there are several reasons why unveiling one in 2020 makes sense[:] … 2020 has long been a benchmark year for Russian military planners, Russian threat perceptions have hardened with respect to the United States, and Russia appears to be entering a cycle of updating several national security strategy documents.”
  • “In general, the language and structure of Russia’s military doctrines tend to be stable from one version to the next. However, small changes are often significant.”
  • The author anticipates “nine things to look for in the new doctrine”; they are:
    • “A continued emphasis on non-military methods before and during military conflict”;
    • “The strategy of active defense”;
    • “The strategy of limited action” (i.e., a “way of conducting war and operations with limited goals, with the deliberate spread of military actions on strictly defined territories, using only a part of military potential and only certain groups of armed forces, selectively striking a certain number of selected objects, targets and groups of troops,” as in Syria);
    • “Congested battlefields and the growing role of private military companies”;
    • “The uneasy future of arms control”;
    • “No major revisions to declared nuclear-use policy”;
    • “The importance of emerging classes of weapons, combat robotics and artificial intelligence”;
    • “Coded barbs against U.S. focus on great power competition”;
    • “The United States would probably not be upgraded into the ‘military threat’ category.”

“Strategic Russian Strategic Decision-Making in a Nordic Crisis,” Russian Military Reform/The Marshall Center, Dmitry Gorenburg, 09.11.19: The author, a senior research scientist at CNA, writes:

  • “This policy brief examines how Russian strategic culture operates in the distinct geographic and geopolitical environment of the Nordic region. This analysis is based on a model of Russian decision-making in crisis situations that describes Russian leaders as prospect theory players who take greater risks to prevent anticipated defeats than they do to pursue potential opportunities. They seek to prevent foreign policy defeats that could translate into a loss of power in the region, a loss of great power status or, in some cases, political defeats at home.”
  • “Russia’s strategic objectives in the Nordic region are thus focused primarily on maintaining the status quo rather than changing the strategic environment or expanding Russian influence in a significant way. The primary objective is simply to maintain Russian influence in the region. Russia is also working to prevent the formal admission of Sweden and Finland to … NATO and to deter Sweden and Finland from joining NATO in fighting against Russia in the event of a conflict.”
  • “We can expect Russia to act cautiously in the Nordic region because it is not facing a loss situation. Russian leaders will tend to pursue their goals through nonmilitary means and will be careful to avoid unintended escalation. The one exception to their preference for non-escalation would occur in the event of an attack on Russian territory, which would create a loss situation for Russia and therefore allow for a robust defense and/or counterattack.”

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • No significant commentary.