Russia in Review, April 12-19, 2024

2 (and 1/2) Things to Know

  1. The combination of manpower and ammunition shortages has continued to adversely impact the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s (ZSU) fortunes this week, with commander-in-chief Oleskandr Syrskyi acknowledging that “the situation on the eastern front has significantly worsened.” ZSU has been incrementally ceding territory even in the absence of a major Russian offensive, which chief of Ukraine's military intelligence Kyrylo Budanov now expects to begin in June and whose aim will be capturing all of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In the past month, Ukrainian forces have re-gained 1 square mile of their country’s territory, while Russian forces have gained 31 square miles in that time, according to the April 16 issue of the Belfer Center’s Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. 
    1. While Ukraine’s shortage of manpower is to be addressed by Ukraine’s law on mobilization that Volodymyr Zelensky signed on April 16, its shortage of ammunition would be at least partially remedied if the U.S. Congress passes a package of foreign aid that includes $60.8 billion for Ukraine. The House is to vote on the package on April 20 so that the Senate can take it up next week. If, however, the Ukraine aid doesn’t make it through Congress, there will be “a very real risk that the Ukrainians could lose on the battlefield by the end of 2024,” in the view of CIA director William Burns.  
  2. Russia’s GDP is to grow 3.2% in 2024, exceeding the forecasted growth rates for the U.S. (2.7%), the U.K. (0.5%), Germany (0.2%) and France (0.7%), according to IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook cited by NBC. While outperforming these Western economies, Russia will lag behind China and India in terms of economic growth (4.6% and 6.8%, respectively).


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin told the IAEA that Russia plans to restart the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeast Ukraine. In recent months, IAEA has received technical reports from its small team of inspectors at the plant suggesting Russia is looking to bring at least one reactor at Zaporizhzhia back into operation. (Bloomberg, 04.13.24)
  • Recent drone attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have raised the risk of a nuclear accident to a new level, IAEA head Rafael Grossi warned on April 15, calling on the U.N. Security Council to do everything in its power to minimize the risk. (RFE/RL, 04.16.24)
  • Energoatom and Holtec signed an agreement to push ahead the deployment of Holtec's small modular reactors (SMRs) in Ukraine "and to support unimpeded reactor operations through a successfully deployed used fuel storage facility." (WNN, 04.18.24)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said Russia’s arms trade with North Korea breaches international sanctions and Washington will seek ways to watch for violations after Moscow vetoed a measure to keep alive a monitoring panel. (Bloomberg, 04.16.24)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • On April 16, Putin warned of the risk of a “catastrophic” escalation in the Middle East as he urged restraint in a phone call with Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi. Putin “expressed hope that all parties will show reasonable restraint and will not allow a new round of confrontation, fraught with catastrophic consequences for the entire region,” according to a Kremlin statement published April 16. Raisi said Iran had no interest in a further escalation of tensions following its “limited” attack on Israel in response to a strike on its diplomatic mission in Syria, according to the Kremlin statement. An already tense situation in the Middle East grew even more precarious last weekend after Iran and its allies launched a barrage of over 300 missiles and drones against Israel, which said it managed to destroy 99% of the projectiles with air defense systems. (Bloomberg, 04.16.24, MT/AFP, 04.16.24)
    • "We are counting on the regional states to solve the existing problems with political and diplomatic means," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Moscow expressed "extreme concern over the latest dangerous escalation in the region." (MT/AFP, 04.14.24)
    • Russian Permanent Representative to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzya claimed at an April 14 U.N. Security Council (UNSC) meeting that Iran conducted the April 13 strikes in response to the UNSC’s inaction following Israel’s April 1 strike against IRGC officials. (ISW, 04.15.24)
  • On April 19, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia has made clear to Israel that Iran "does not want escalation.” His comments came after explosions echoed over the city of Isfahan in central Iran on April 19 in what sources described as an Israeli attack. Tehran played down the incident and indicated it had no plans for retaliation—a response that appeared gauged toward averting region-wide war. (Reuters, 04.19.24, AFP, 04.19.24)
  • Last March, a Russian arms maker invited a delegation of Iranians to a VIP shopping tour of its weapons factories. The 17 visitors toured a plant that makes products long coveted by Tehran: advanced Russian air defense systems for shooting down enemy planes. The factory, NPP Start, in the city of Yekaterinburg, is under U.S. sanctions. Among its wares are mobile launchers and other components for antiaircraft batteries - including Russia's S-400, which military analysts assess to be capable of detecting and destroying stealth fighter jets flown by Israel and the United States. (WP, 04.16.24)
  • The president of the European Council announced early April 18 that new European sanctions would be imposed on Iran’s drone and missile programs as punishment for last weekend’s attack on Israel. “It’s a clear signal that we want to send,” the president, Charles Michel, said, emerging after midnight from a meeting of leaders of the European Union’s member states in Brussels. “We need to isolate Iran.” (NYT, 04.18.24)
  • The militaries of the United States, Britain, France and others stepped in to help Israel defend against the fusillade of more than 300 Iranian drones and missiles, nearly all of which were intercepted. A similar number of aerial weapons are fired at Ukraine on a weekly basis, its officials say, with many of the drones in those attacks designed by Iran and now produced by Russia. (NYT, 04.16.24)
    • On April 15, reporters asked White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby why the United States and allies had shot down Iranian drones over Israel but not Ukraine. “Two different conflicts, different airspace, different threat picture. And the President has been clear since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine that the United States is not going to be involved in that, that conflict in a combat role,” Kirby said. (Defense One, 04.15.24)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • Ukrainian and Western officials see Russia’s escalated bombardment of Ukraine’s No. 2 city Kharkiv as a way to force the evacuation of civilians. The city — whose pre-war population was about 1.5 million — has come under regular attack since Russia’s invasion began in 2022. Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov believes his city is at risk of becoming "a second Aleppo" if left without help to obtain air defense systems, (Bloomberg, 04.16.24, Kyiv Independent, 04.16.24)
  • Ukraine said on April 16 it had identified almost 37,000 people who have not been accounted for since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022. Ukraine's human rights commissioner Dmytro Lubinets said the figure includes children, civilians and military personnel, and the true number “may be much higher.” (RFE/RL, 04.16.24)
  • The head of the National Police of Ukraine, Ivan Vyhovsky, said that together with the German police, the Ukrainian authorities managed to establish the whereabouts in Germany of 161 children whom Ukrainian authorities thought to have been forcibly taken to the Russian Federation, Belarus, as well as to the occupied territories. (Istories, 04.18.24)
  • Russia and Ukraine negotiated for two months with Turkey on a deal to ensure the safety of shipping in the Black Sea and reached agreement on a text that was to be announced by Ankara but Kyiv suddenly pulled out, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters. (Reuters, 04.15.24)
  • For military strikes on civilian targets see the next section.

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

  • In the past month, Russian forces have gained 31 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 1 square mile, according to the April 16, 2024, issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 04.16.24)
  • On April 13, Ukrainian commander-in-chief Oleksandr Syrskyi wrote on Telegram during a visit to the eastern Donetsk region that “the situation on the eastern front has significantly worsened in recent days.” “Despite significant losses, the enemy is increasing his efforts by using new units on armored vehicles, thanks to which he periodically achieves tactical gains,” the general said. The three most critical challenges for Ukraine have been evident for months: a lack of ammunition, a shortage of well-trained troops and dwindling air defenses. (FT, 04.13.24, NYT, 04.16.24)
    • Presently, Russia’s main effort is focused around the mining city of Chasiv Yar, which sits atop a hill just 15km west of Bakhmut. Yuriy Fedorenko, commander of Ukraine’s “Achilles” drone battalion said losing the town would allow Russian troops “fire control” of the nearby strategic cities of Kostyantynivka, Druzhkivka and Kramatorsk and give them a foothold from which they could launch attacks. (FT, 04.13.24)
      • Russia's top leadership has ordered the military to capture Chasiv Yar in time for the May 9 commemoration of the Soviet contribution to victory in World War II, Syrskyi said. (RFE/RL, 04.14.24)
    • Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, chief of Ukraine's military intelligence service, the GUR, told WP that Russia will launch a big offensive starting in June to try to capture all of Donetsk and Luhansk, the two provinces known as the Donbas region, which Russia has claimed but doesn't control. The Russians will then focus on the November elections in the United States and the aftermath, he said. Budanov stated that Ukrainian forces are preparing to repel a future Russian major offensive expected in late May or the beginning of June, but noted that this will be “catastrophically difficult” without Western military assistance. (ISW, 04.15.24, WP, 04.17.24) GUR has earlier estimated that the offensive could begin in late May-early June.*
    • Ukraine is moving its best units from one place on the front line to another. Battalions from the 3rd Assault Brigade, one of the army's most powerful units, fought around Bakhmut last year, was sent into Avdiivka as defenses collapsed, then redeployed to near Kupyansk in the north. (WSJ, 04.17.24)
  • On April 13, the online war monitor DeepState said Kremlin troops have captured Bohdanivka, a village within miles of their next key target in the Donetsk region. (Bloomberg, 04.13.24)
  • On April 14, Russian shelling killed four people in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, authorities said. Donetsk region Gov. Vadym Filashkin said attacks late April 14 against the mining town of Siversk, which is flanked by Russian forces, had led to the deaths. (MT/AFP, 04.15.24)
  • On April 15, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized that continued shortages in air defense systems and artillery are preventing Ukraine from effectively defending itself against Russian strikes and ground assaults. Zelenskyy noted that Ukrainian forces were only able to destroy the first seven of the 11 Russian missiles launched against the Trypilska Thermal Power Plant on April 11 before running out of air defense missiles, allowing the remaining four missiles to destroy the plant. (ISW, 04.16.24)
  • On April 16, Zelenskyy signed a new mobilization law, codifying a difficult but critical decision in Ukraine’s efforts to stabilize its force generation apparatus and adequately prepare the Ukrainian fighting force both defensively and offensively. The new mobilization law, which the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada adopted on April 11, lowers the Ukrainian draft age from 27 to 25 years of age, cancels the status of “limited suitability” for military service and requires citizens living abroad to register for military service in Ukraine. (ISW, 04.16.24)
  • The military balance favors Russia. Its forces have a significant advantage in manpower and a 7-to-1 advantage in firepower, according to Ukrainian assessments Most Ukrainian combat brigades are at least 50% undermanned, according to military officials. (WSJ, 04.19.24)
    • Commander of Ukrainian forces in the east, Gen. Yuri Sodol, addressed lawmakers last week ahead of the passage of the mobilization bill, saying that a squad of eight to 10 soldiers is typically tasked with defending 100 meters of land, but Ukraine cannot always field full squads. “If there are only two soldiers, they can defend 20 meters of the front,” he said. “Immediately, the question arises: Who will cover the remaining 80 meters?” (NYT, 04.16.24)
    • The Romanian authorities say more than 6,000 men have turned up on their side of the Tysa River, since Russia’s invasion. That thousands of Ukrainian men have chosen to risk swimming across the Tysa River highlights the challenge for Zelenskyy as he seeks to mobilize new troops. The bodies of 22 men have washed up on both banks. (NYT, 04.13.24)
    • Prices for help in illegally crossing the border of Ukraine into Romania have risen to as much as $10,000 today from $2,000 per person soon after the invasion. Smuggling a backpack of cigarettes, in contrast, pays as little as $200. (NYT, 04.13.24)
    • As of April 1, the Kyiv police received more than 5,000 requests from territorial recruitment centers to search for those who are up for military service.  (, 04.18.24)
    • In the Chernihiv region, law enforcement officers detained a 37-year-old man who, together with employees of the territorial recruitment and social support center from another region, “helped” men liable for military service in being found unfit for service for $1,600. (Ukrainska Pravda, 04.15.24)
  • On April 16, drones belonging to the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) have destroyed a military radar installation in Russia's Bryansk region. (RFE/RL, 04.16.24)
    • The best of Ukraine’s new drone models has a range of 3,000km, able to reach Siberia. (The Economist, 04.18.24)
  • On April 17, a Russian missile attack on the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv killed at least 13 people, reports Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko. Another 60 people were injured. (Meduza, 04.17.24)
  • On April 17, Russia’s S-400 Triumph and S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems were destroyed at the military airfield in Crimea’s Dzhankoy. (, 04.17.24)
  • On April 17, drones of the GUR attacked the Kazan Aviation Plant named after S.P. Gorbunov, which produces and repairs military aircraft, including Tu-22M and Tu-160M bombers, sources in the Ukrainian special services reported. (, 04.17.24)
  • On April 17, the GUR targeted Russian aviation assets in the Republic of Mordovia, the Republic of Tatarstan and Samara Oblast. (ISW, 04.17.24)
  • On April 18, Russian shelling killed two people in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region. (MT/AFP, 04.18.24)
  • As of April 18, Russian forces made relatively significant tactical advances northwest of Avdiivka, reaching the outskirts of Ocheretyne and entering Kalynove. More aggressive Russian tactics are reportedly facilitating attritional Russian gains toward Chasiv Yar and around Avdiivka amid degraded Ukrainian defensive capabilities. (ISW, 04.18.24)
  • On April 18, Ukraine’s OSINT group reported in its Telegram channel that the Russian forces advanced near Novokalynove in the Donetsk region  and Ivanovka. (RM, 04.19.24)
  • On April 19, the Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed to have shot down a Russian Tu-22M3 long-range nuclear capable bomber over Stavropolsy Krai, the war’s first, with a missile fired by an S-200 air defense system, reported. According to Ukraine’s military intelligence, however, the bomber was brought down 300 km away from Ukraine in an operation by this intelligence agency. According to Russian sources, including the Fighter-Bomber Telegram channel, the bomber spiraled down, killing two out of the four-strong crew and crashed because ones of its engines failed, catching fire. (RM, 04.19.24)
  • On April 19, Ukrainian authorities announced that Russian aerial attacks had killed at least nine people in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Most of the casualties were in the city of Synelnykove. In the regional center, Dnipro, a five-story residential building in the downtown area caught fire after it was hit by fragments from a downed Russian missile. (RFE/RL, 04.19.24)
  • Zelenskyy has decreed to fire the head of the State Security Department Taras Grebennikov and Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Alexey Solovyov. (Ukrainska Pravda, 04.15.24)
  • Brig. Gen. Gennadiy Shapovalov became the new commander of ZSU’s Operational Command "South." Brig. Gen. Volodymyr Shvedyuk was appointed commander of ZSU’s operational command "West." (, 04.15.24,, 04.16.24)
  • The general rule is that Ukrainian army brigades build the first line of fortifications. Engineering forces, local authorities and occasionally local businesses take care of the rest. The outer line, about 30km back, is the sturdiest, built in relative calm with diggers and reinforced concrete. (The Economist, 04.18.24)
  • Russia is preparing to enlist more contract soldiers as it presses its invasion of Ukraine, aiming to avoid at least for now another mass call-up that could undermine popular support for the war. With as many as 30,000 new recruits a month, Russia could reinforce army ranks by 300,000 this year, said Ruslan Pukhov, head of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies think tank. (Bloomberg, 04.18.24)
  • According to the latest update, there were 50,471 names on the list of Russian military servicemen identified as killed in the Ukraine war. The list is researched and compiled by BBC and Media Zone on the basis of information available in open sources. (RM, 04.18.24)
    • A memorial to Russian sailors killed during the war in Ukraine appears to show that 19 sailors were killed in the sinking of the Moskva battleship, according to photos shared by pro-war bloggers and analyzed by independent media. (MT/AFP, 04.18.24)
  • Russian sources claimed that the Russian military command fired Lt. Gen. Arkady Marzoev, commander of the Russian 18th Combined Arms Army (Southern Military District [SMD]) that has been fighting near Krynky, Kherson Oblast, as well as the commander of the 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army [CAA], SMD) that has been fighting near Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. (ISW, 04.14.24)
  • Poland has arrested a man on suspicion of assisting with a Russian plot to assassinate Zelenskyy, the prosecutor’s office said on April 18. (Bloomberg, 04.18.24)
  • A Russian-installed official in Ukraine’s occupied Zaporizhzhia region has survived an assassination attempt at his workplace, his colleague said April 16. Anton Yakimenko sits on Zaporizhzhia’s Moscow-backed Yakimivka district council and is a member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. (MT/AFP, 04.16.24)
  • A court in Moscow on April 18 sent to pretrial detention a Russian man suspected of being involved in the attempted murder of a former officer of Ukraine's Security Service (SBU), according to local media reports. Vladimir Golovchenko is the second suspect arrested in the case. Former SBU officer Vasily (Vasyl) Prozorov, who in 2019 defected to Moscow, survived the car bombing in Moscow last week. Russian authorities said the assassination attempt was organized by the SBU. (RFE/RL, 04.19.24)
  • Russia arrested four people April 17, accusing them of sending money to Ukrainian armed forces and planning to join Kyiv's ranks, and separately placed an exiled feminist on its wanted list. (MT/AFP, 04.17.24)

Military aid to Ukraine:

  • The House voted 316-941 to advance Speaker Mike Johnson's $95 billion foreign aid and weapons package, which includes $60.8 billion for Ukraine, on April 19, with most Democrats backing the Republican leader to help move the measure past a procedural hurdle. Passage of the rule, which establishes the ground rules for the consideration of four bills related to Ukraine, Israel, the Indo-Pacific including Taiwan and the TikTok app, sets the stage for a final House vote on April 20.2 If the package is passed by the House on that day, the Senate will then take it up soon as next week. The Ukraine funds include $10 billion in a forgivable loan and $14 billion in direct assistance for Ukraine’s military and $30 billion to be spent on the broad Ukraine war effort. Some of that money would help the U.S. replenish its weapons inventory to make up for what has been sent to Ukraine. A total of $8 million is allocated for an inspector general to watch how the money is spent. The bill also has a requirement for the Biden administration to send more American-made missiles known as long-range ATACMS to Kyiv and it allows the confiscation of Russian dollar assets. (Bloomberg, 04.18.24, NYT, 04.18.24, WSJ, 04.19.24, WSJ, 04.19.24, WSJ, 04.19.24)
    • Johnson will need to rely on support from Democrats not only to win passage of the funding for Kyiv, but also to prevail on a procedural vote needed to bring the package to the floor. (NYT, 04.18.24)
    • Earlier this week his plan to hold votes on funding for Ukraine and Israel faced a growing threat as members of his Republican party revived a bid to remove him from office. Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie on April 16 said he would join Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, another firebrand Republican and Donald Trump ally, in pushing forward a “motion to vacate” Johnson from the speakership. (FT, 04.17.24. Bloomberg, 04.18.24)
      • If Greene were to pull the trigger, Johnson would be relying on Democrats to bail him out, given he would need the support of the majority of the House to remain Speaker. Last year, Democrats failed to come to McCarthy’s defense. But a lot of bad blood had built up between McCarthy and House Democrats over several years, while there have been fewer Democratic objections to Johnson during his tenure as Speaker. (FT, 04.19.24)
  • Some lawmakers who favored moving ahead with aid for Ukraine and Israel were discussing an alternative path involving a petition that would force the leader's hand, if a majority of members signed on. A successful petition would push the aid through without forcing Johnson to take the politically tenuous step of scheduling a bill on Ukraine aid for a vote himself. Still, the petition maneuver rarely works and was last used in 2015. (WSJ, 04.17.24)
  • Johnson met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago on April 12. Trump, who has repeatedly railed against providing more aid to Ukraine, did not fully back Johnson's effort to provide additional U.S. military assistance to the nation, saying that the two had discussed the issue and that he believed they might find common ground in offering aid ''in the form of a loan.” (NYT, 04.14.24)
    • On April 18, Trump posted a long statement to his Truth Social platform calling on Europe to contribute more, but without clearly stating whether he was opposed or in favor of the new funding bills. “Why isn’t Europe giving more money to help Ukraine?” he wrote. “Why is it that the United States is over $100 billion into the Ukraine war more than Europe, and we have an ocean between us as separation!” (FT, 04.19.24)
  • U.S. President Joe Biden urged the House to immediately take up Senate-passed supplemental funding for Ukraine and Israel on April 15 as he hosted Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala in the Oval Office. “As the Czech Republic remembers, Russia won’t stop at Ukraine,” he said. Biden also wrote in a commentary for WSJ: “Now is not the time to abandon our friends.” (Ukrainska Pravda, 04.15.24, RFE/RL, 04.16.24, WSJ, 04.17.24)
    • With the future of U.S. aid uncertain, and European countries unable to significantly increase assistance quickly, Ukraine's prospects for turning the tables on Russia are fading. "Without this aid, we'll have no chance of winning," Zelenskyy told PBS in an interview aired April 16. Russian artillery can fire 10 shells for every one of Ukraine's, he said. "Can we stand like this? No," he said. "Whatever we do, with these numbers, they will push us back every day." (WSJ, 04.18.24)   
    • When asked what the ratio of fire between a Ukrainian brigade in the east and the Russians currently was, and commander of that brigade Vladislav delivered a grim assessment. “On the good days, between 10- and 20-to-1,” he said, “and on the bad days, it almost feels like they have an unlimited supply.” (FP, 04.17.24)
    • “We in Ukraine know very well the horror of similar attacks,” Zelenskyy said in a video post on April 14, in which he condemned Iran’s attack on Israel, but also urged Western leaders to provide Kyiv with the same military assistance they had just deployed to help Israel. “Words do not stop drones and intercept missiles,” Zelenskyy fumed in the video. “Only tangible assistance does.” (FT, 04.17.24)
  • “With the boost that would come from military assistance, both practically and psychologically, Ukrainians are entirely capable of holding their own through 2024 and puncturing Putin’s arrogant view that time is on his side,” CIA Director William Burns said on April 18. But if that doesn’t make it through Congress, “the picture is a lot more dire,” he continued. “There is a very real risk that the Ukrainians could lose on the battlefield by the end of 2024, or at least put Putin in a position where he could essentially dictate the terms of a political settlement.” (Politico, 04.18.24)
  • On April 17, Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. C.Q. Brown told lawmakers that Ukraine’s “hard-fought gains can be lost without our support,” while Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also warned that if the supplemental is delayed, allies and partners “will question whether or not … we are a reliable partner.” “Ukraine right now is facing some dire battlefield conditions,” Brown told the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee. (Bloomberg, 04.17.24, Politico, 04.18.24)
  • U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said: “I think it is important to note the context that we have an entirely different relationship with Ukraine and Israel in that our relationship with Israel goes back decades and – in terms of a security partnership. ... Israel is a major non-NATO ally of the United States. Ukraine is just in a different position in that we did not have that kind of agreement with them prior to the immediate months before this conflict.” (, 04.16.24)
  • Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda discussed the war in Ukraine and a conflict in the Middle East during their two-and-half hour meeting at Trump Tower on April 17 in New York. (Bloomberg, 04.18.24)
    • A person close to Zelenskyy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, said the Ukrainian president appreciated that the Trump administration was the first to give lethal aid to Ukraine — something the Obama administration had not done. This person said that several people close to Trump who are ardent supporters of Ukraine have pushed a similar message to what Zelenskyy has said publicly. (WP, 04.17.24)
  • Ukraine will receive another Patriot missile defense system plus ammunition from Germany, equipment the nation needs urgently to boost protection from Russian missile attacks following several heavy strikes on its power grid. “It’s a true manifestation of support of Ukraine,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Telegram, praising German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for the aid, which was announced on Saturday. “I urge all other partner country leaders to follow suit,” Zelenskyy said. (Bloomberg, 04.13.24)
    • Germany has written to dozens of countries including Gulf Arab states to plead for more air defense systems for Ukraine, saying Kyiv needed urgent help to protect its cities, troops and critical infrastructure from the “murderous onslaught” of Russian missiles. In a letter to other NATO members, a copy of which was obtained by the Financial Times and confirmed by Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock and defense minister Boris Pistorius said they were launching a global initiative aimed at plugging the gaps in Ukraine’s air defenses. (FT, 04.18.24)
  • European capitals have rebuffed demands from Kyiv to send their air defense systems to Ukraine. Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, said this week it was “inconceivable” that Western countries could not provide seven extra Patriot batteries to Ukraine, given that they had about 100 in their arsenal they could spare. Ukraine is in talks with Poland and Spain for a Patriot battery from each and with Romania on the French-Italian SAMP/T. (FT, 04.13.24)
    • Kuleba, on April 15, again called for Kyiv's Western allies to "urgently" deliver desperately needed additional air-defense systems, weapons, and ammunition. (RFE/RL, 04.15.24)
  • Denmark has become the first country to purchase weapons for the Armed Forces of Ukraine from Ukrainian manufacturers, spending $28.5 million.  (, 04.18.24)
  • Latvia is preparing to make its first shipment of drones to Ukraine as a coalition of countries aims to provide a million unmanned aerial vehicles to Kyiv. (Bloomberg, 04.16.24)

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

  • On April 10, Daleep Singh, U.S. deputy national security adviser for international economics, declared that the Biden administration now wanted to make use of interest income on frozen Russian assets in order to “maximize the impact of these revenues, both current and future, for the benefit of Ukraine today.” Six days later, David Cameron, Britain’s foreign secretary, announced his support, too: “There is an emerging consensus that the interest on those assets can be used.” (The Economist, 04.18.24)
  • Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, has poured cold water on U.S.-backed proposals to use more than €260 billion of frozen Russian assets to finance Ukraine’s war effort, warning they risked breaking international law. Speaking at an event in Washington on April 17 shortly, Lagarde said they were raising serious concerns among lawyers — including in the U.S. administration. “I have seen four different schemes or proposals to circumvent what many other jurists or lawyers — including in some administrations in this country — regard as a very serious legal obstacle that can be construed as a violation of the legal international order.” (FT, 04.18.24)
  • The U.S. and the U.K. have launched a crackdown on trades in Russian metals in a move designed to limit Moscow’s export revenue and restrict its ability to fund the war in Ukraine. The action, announced by the two countries on Friday, marks an aggressive effort by the allies to damage Russia’s income — but could disrupt trading at exchanges, including the London Metal Exchange and Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The action will affect trade in aluminum, nickel and copper. Officials said Russia had made $40 billion from sales of the metals over the past two years while it has been fighting in Ukraine. (FT, 04.13.24)
    • U.S. and U.K. sanctions on Russian metals will cement China as Moscow’s buyer of last resort for key commodities and enhance Shanghai’s role as a venue to set prices for materials crucial to the global economy. (Bloomberg, 04.15.24)
    • Rusal may lose 1.5 million tons of exports due to the U.S. and U.K. sanctions imposed at the end of last week, according to Kommersant’s interlocutors familiar with the internal analysis conducted by the aluminum company. (Kommersant, 04.16.24)
    • Aluminum, which is used in cans, airplanes and buildings, surged as much as 9.4 % on April 15. (FT, 04.16.24)
  • On April 15, the U.S. imposed sanctions on 12 Belarusian entities and 10 individuals over their alleged support for Russia's war on Ukraine. Among the entities targeted are a machine tool-building firm, a company that sells control systems for the Belarusian armed forces, and a company that produces radio communication equipment. (RFE/RL, 04.15.24)
  • Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International recently posted dozens of advertisements for Russia-based jobs indicating ambitious plans to grow in the country, in apparent contradiction to its official pledge to exit the market. The bank said it expected to be ordered by the European Central Bank to speed up its withdrawal from Russia. (FT, 04.16.24, FT, 04.18.24)
  • The Kremlin denounced the seizure in France of a villa allegedly owned by Russian businessman Artur Ocheretny, the new partner of President Vladimir Putin's ex-wife. The property, in the southwestern coastal town of Anglet, was seized in December 2023 as part of an investigation into money laundering, prosecutors said April 17. (MT/AFP, 04.18.24)
  • Switzerland’s parliament rejected a proposal for the government to join a U.S.-led sanctions task force against Russia. (Bloomberg, 04.17.24)
  • Sales of new superyachts (yachts over 100 feet long) fell 17% last year, according to the new SuperYacht Times' State of Yachting report. There were 203 sales of new superyachts in 2023, down from 245 in 2022 and down from the record 313 in 2021. The main reason for the large superyacht drop is due to the fact that rich buyers from Russia are dropping out of the market following the Ukraine invasion by the country in 2022, according to the report. (NBC, 04.17.24)

For sanctions on the energy sector, please see section “Energy exports from CIS” below.

Ukraine-related negotiations: 

  • People’s Republic of China (PRC) President and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Xi Jinping met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on April 16 and proposed prerequisites for the end of the war in Ukraine in a manner that suggests that Xi is continuing to posture himself as a neutral mediator in the war despite increasing reports of China’s support for the Russian war effort. During a meeting with Scholz in Beijing, Xi proposed four tenets to “restore peace” in Ukraine — prioritizing peace and stability and “refrain from seeking selfish gain,” “avoid adding fuel to the fire,” creating the conditions for peace, and reducing the negative impact on the global economy and stability of global industry supply chains. Xi’s language is fairly neutral and does not explicitly come down on one side or the other, which is generally consistent with Xi’s reticence to make the Sino-Russian partnership as deep as Putin desires, partially in order to maintain access to Western markets Xi and other Chinese officials have additionally refrained from calling the war in Ukraine a war. (ISW, 04.16.24)
    • "China is willing to maintain close contacts with all interested sides, including Germany, on this issue. China believes that any conflict should be resolved through diplomacy and political talks. The only solution to the Ukrainian crisis can only be found at the negotiating table," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lin Jian said when asked whether Beijing supports a peace conference on Ukraine without Russia. (TASS, 04.17.24)
  • “We have said that we are ready for talks, but contrary to the Istanbul story, we will not announce any pauses in fighting for the duration of talks. The process must continue," Sergei Lavrov said. Lavrov emphasized that the situation on the ground had changed significantly. "These realities need to be taken into account. When I say 'realities,' I mean not only the line of engagement and military positions but also the amendments to our Constitution that concern our four new regions, which are our primordial lands. This should be clear to everyone," he added. (TASS, 04.19.24)
  • Security guarantees on Ukraine in the [2022 draft] Istanbul agreement did not cover Crimea and Donbas, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. According to Lavrov, this meant that Crimea and Donbas "cannot be touched."(TASS, 04.19.24)
  • Reports from Bucha began to make headlines in early April 2022, but the two sides continued to work around the clock on a treaty that Putin and Zelenskyy were supposed to sign during a summit to be held in the not-too-distant future, according to Samuel Charap and Sergey Radchenko. (FA, 04.16.24)
  • While two-thirds of Ukrainians still think the war should end with Ukraine regaining control of Russian-occupied Donbas and Crimea, the number who believe Kyiv will be forced to make territorial concessions has risen to 19 %, up from 6 % in May 2022. (FT, 04.19.24)

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

  • Top diplomats from the G-7 countries leveled one of their strongest warnings yet against China, cautioning Beijing to stop helping Russia wage its war against Ukraine. “We’ve made very clear to China — and many other countries have as well — that they should not be supplying Russia with weapons for use in its aggression against Ukraine,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Capri April 19 after a meeting of the G-7 foreign ministers. “It’s allowing Russia to continue the aggression against Ukraine and it’s also helping Russia overall rebuild its defense forces and defense capacity,” he said. (Bloomberg, 04.19.24)
    • Blinken will travel to China next week to meet with senior Chinese officials amid heightening tensions over trade, China’s alignment with Russia and Beijing’s aggressive moves against the Philippines in the South China Sea. (Politico, 04.17.24)
  • Biden wrote in a commentary for WSJ: “If Russia triumphs, Mr. Putin's forces will move closer than ever to our North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies. "An attack on one is an attack on all" means that if Mr. Putin invades a NATO ally, we will come to its aid—as our NATO allies did for us after the Sept. 11 attacks. We should surge support to Ukraine now, to stop Mr. Putin from encroaching on our NATO allies and ensure that he doesn't draw U.S. troops into a future war in Europe.” (WSJ, 04.17.24)
  • The threat against U.S. elections by Russia and other foreign powers is far greater today than it was in 2020, Senator Mark Warner, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said. Adversarial countries have become more adept at spreading disinformation, Americans are more vulnerable to propaganda, communication between the government and social media companies has become more difficult and artificial intelligence is giving foreign powers new abilities, according to Warner. (NYT, 04.16.24)
  • The security of nearly 1 billion people across Europe and North America is under threat from Russian attempts to target the extensive vulnerabilities of underwater infrastructure including windfarms, pipelines and power cables, V Adm Didier Maleterre, the deputy commander of NATO’s Allied Maritime Command (Marcom), said. (Guardian, 04.16.24)
  • Russia's Foreign Ministry has been drawing up plans to try to weaken its Western adversaries, including the United States, and leverage the Ukraine war to forge a global order free from what it sees as American dominance, according to a secret Foreign Ministry document. In a classified addendum to Russia's official — and public — "Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation," the ministry calls for an "offensive information campaign" and other measures spanning "the military-political, economic and trade and informational psychological spheres" against a "coalition of unfriendly countries" led by the United States." (WP, 04.17.24)
  • Germany is looking at buying four additional Patriot missile-defense systems at a cost of as much as €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) on top of the four Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government ordered in March. (Bloomberg, 04.19.24)
  • A Danish ferry was forced to change course earlier on April 19 to avoid colliding with a Russian warship outside the coast of Denmark. (Bloomberg, 04.19.24)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • China’s exports to Russia slumped in March, the first year-on-year decline since mid-2022, amid growing U.S. threats of reprisal against Beijing if goods aid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. China’s exports to Russia fell almost 16% in March from a year earlier, according to Chinese customs data. (Bloomberg, 04.16.24)
  • China has begun disguising imported Russian copper wire as scrap metal to avoid taxes and the impacts of Western sanctions. (MT/AFP, 04.15.24)
  • U.S. President Joe Biden wrote in a commentary for WSJ: “Vladimir Putin is ramping up his onslaught with help from his friends. China is providing Russia with microelectronics and other equipment that is critical for defense production. Iran is sending hundreds of drones; North Korea is providing artillery and ballistic missiles. Ukraine, facing ammunition shortfalls, is losing hold of territory it had regained.” (WSJ, 04.17.24)
  • The U.S. has accused China of providing Russia with cruise missile and drone engines and machine tools for ballistic missiles. In disclosing previously classified intelligence, senior U.S. officials said Chinese and Russian groups were working to jointly produce drones inside Russia. They said China had also supplied 90 % of chips imported by Russia last year which were being used to make tanks, missiles and aircraft. The officials added China was also helping Russia to improve its satellite and other space-based capabilities to help prosecute its war in Ukraine, and Beijing was also providing satellite imagery. While there is no evidence China is providing lethal assistance, people familiar with the U.S. intelligence assessment characterized the aid as just as significant, saying that without the imports, Russia’s military industrial base would struggle. (FT, 04.13.24, Bloomberg, 04.14.24)
  • Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Chen Wenqing will take part in the 12th International Meeting of High Representatives in charge of Security Issues. The conference will take place from April 23 to 25 in St. Petersburg. (TASS, 04.19.24)
  • Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations invited BRICS member countries to test their equipment at the Arctic exercises due in Russia in 2025, director of the ministry's international department, Oleg Kuznetsov, told TASS. (TASS, 04.17.24)
  • About 7,000 Chinese students are currently attending Moscow State University, rector Viktor Sadovnichy said. The rector said earlier that overall, there are more than 11,000 foreign students attending the university. (TASS, 04.18.24)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • Last year, Ukraine’s Sociological Group Rating completed a large-scale study  that found that two-fifths of respondents in Ukraine saw a high risk of nuclear weapon use. Almost an equal proportion assessed the risk as moderate, while 14% perceived no such risk, according to Rating. (RM, 04.17.24)


  • Russian authorities have arrested a dual Tajik–Russian national in connection with the March 22 terrorist attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue on the outskirts of Moscow that left 144 people dead. The suspect, identified only by his surname, Ashurov, has been placed under arrest for illegally registering two foreign nationals at his residence, a court in the city of Tver said on April 16. (RFE/RL, 04.17.24)
  • Tajik adherents of the Islamic State — especially within its affiliate in Afghanistan known as the Islamic State Khorasan Province (I.S.K.P), or ISIS-K — have taken increasingly high-profile roles in a string of recent terrorist attacks. Over the last year alone, Tajiks have been involved in assaults in Russia, Iran and Turkey, as well as foiled plots in Europe. ISIS-K is believed to have several thousand soldiers, with Tajiks constituting more than half, experts said. “They have become key to I.S.K.P.’s externally focused campaign as it seeks to gain attention and more recruits,” said Edward Lemon, an international relations professor at Texas A&M University who specializes in Russia, Tajikistan and terrorism. (NYT, 04.18.24) See RM’s “Jihadists from Ex-Soviet Central Asia: Where Are They? Why Did They Radicalize? What Next?” (2018), co-authored by Edward Lemon, here.
  • A Tajik citizen has been deported from Poland on suspicion of "terrorist activities" and links to the Islamic State group. The man, whose identity was not disclosed, was "a member of the terrorist organization Islamic State," the Polish security agency said on April 16. The man has been involved in terrorist activities for several years" and had links to members of Islamic State-Khorasan, the group that claimed the March 22 attack at the concert hall. The suspect was deported last week. (RFE/RL, 04.16.24)
  • Fielded on February 6–26, 2024, a Levada/Chicago Council poll found Russians between the ages of 18–34 consider international terrorism to be the most dangerous threat to Russia’s national interests, even more so than the war in Ukraine. Seven in 10 young Russians consider international terrorism to be a very dangerous threat to Russia’s national interests (69%)—more than the percentage of those who say the same about the war in Ukraine (50%). (Chicago Council, 04.15.24)

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security/AI: 

  • In January, an alert citizen in Muleshoe, Tex., was driving by a park and noticed that a water tower was overflowing. Authorities soon determined the system that controlled the city's water supply had been hacked. In two hours, tens of thousands of gallons of water had flown into the street and drain pipes. The hackers posted a video online of the town's water-control systems and a nearby town being manipulated, showing how they reset the controls. In the video on the messaging platform Telegram, they called themselves Cyber Army of Russia Reborn. The hack may be the first disruption of U.S. water system by Russia (WP, 04.17.24)
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX has begun a crackdown on users who are connecting to its Starlink high-speed internet service from countries where it hasn’t been authorized—taking steps to close an expanding black market for the company’s satellite kits highlighted by a recent Wall Street Journal investigation. The Journal tracked Starlink devices to Russian soldiers fighting on the front line in Ukraine and to Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces,  (WSJ, 04.18.24)
  • Russia is working to undermine U.S. support for Ukraine ahead of the 2024 election, while Chinese influence campaigns aim to divide Americans and undercut their faith in democracy, according to new research from Microsoft Corp. But both countries’ persistent efforts to shape American politics through propaganda and cyberattacks have been less pronounced during this year’s election cycle than they were in 2016 and 2020, the company said in a report. (Bloomberg, 04.17.24)
  • Telegram founder Pavel Durov said he fled Russia over Kremlin pressure to share Ukrainian pro-democracy protesters’ personal data in 2013 in a rare interview with U.S. right-wing journalist Tucker Carlson. (MT/AFP, 04.17.24)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Russia’s seaborne crude exports soared to an 11-month high in the second week of April, with flows from all major ports near peak levels. The jump in flows, combined with higher Urals crude prices, boosted Moscow’s oil earnings. The gross value of crude exports rose to $2.15 billion in the seven days to April 14 from $1.82 billion previously. Four-week average income added about $170 million to $1.92 billion a week. (Bloomberg, 04.16.24)
  • When Vice President Harris met privately with Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Munich Security Conference in February, she told the Ukrainian leader something he didn't want to hear: Refrain from attacking Russian oil refineries. The request irritated Zelenskyy, but in subsequent weeks, Washington reinforced the warning in multiple conversations with Kyiv. Instead of acquiescing to the U.S. requests, however, Ukraine doubled down on the strategy, striking a range of Russian facilities, including an April 2 attack on Russia's third-largest refinery 800 miles from the font. (WP, 04.15.24)
    • One European official, requesting anonymity to speak candidly, called the Biden administration’s comments about the oil refineries “perverse.”  “It is perverse to tell a party at war not to attack the war machine of the aggressor party while also not delivering military aid to help the victim protect its own infrastructure, residential buildings, maternity wards, and kindergartens,” the official said. (The Hill, 04.14.24)
  • Ukraine is ignoring American advice to call off the drone strikes on Russian energy facilities. “Detective,” an intelligence officer responsible for part of the program, says he has not received instructions to dial down operations. Yes, there has been a switch away from aiming at oil infrastructure in the past week, but it is probably temporary. (The Economist, 04.18.24)
  • Russian oil producer Bashneft has installed anti-drone nets to protect key facilities at its refineries from potential Ukrainian attack, the head of the republic of Bashkortostan, where the company is based, was quoted as saying on April 19. (Reuters, 04.19.24)

Climate change:

  • Glaciers on Russia's Far East Kamchatka Peninsula have shrunk by over a third since the mid-20th century. (MT/AFP, 04.18.24)

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • The U.S. blocked a draft resolution on April 18 that would have allowed the U.N. General Assembly to vote on allowing a Palestinian state to become a full member state of the U.N.  The U.S. was the only nation in the 15-member U.N. Security Council to vote against the resolution. Twelve—including Russia, China, France, and Japan—voted in favor, while two—the U.K. and Switzerland—abstained. (Time, 04.19.24)
  • The door is open to the Western countries for discussing Eurasian security, but they need to "behave themselves " and not bring the U.S. likes and dislikes with them to complement the agenda, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russian media. (TASS, 04.19.24)
  • The U.S. ambassador to Russia visited Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter who has been in custody in Moscow awaiting trial for more than a year, as negotiations continue behind closed doors to secure the American's release. "Despite the continued wait for the start of his trial, Evan remains in good spirits, buoyed by the continued messages of support," the embassy said in a message posted on the social media platform X, adding the hashtag that journalism is not a crime. (WSJ, 04.19.24)
  • The Memorial human rights groups says that a court in Russia's western city of Oryol ordered Russian-American citizen Ilya Startsev to pay 400,000 rubles ($4,240) on a charge of financing an extremist group. On April 17, the court found Startsev guilty of sending 7,000 rubles ($74) to the late opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). (RFE/RL, 04.18.24)
  • Russell Bentley, a U.S. national, has died in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk in Ukraine, Margarita Simonyan, the head of Russia's state media outlet RT, wrote on Telegram on April 19. Simonyan said Bentley had been "fighting there for our guys." (RFE/RL, 04.19.24)


II. Russia’s domestic policies 

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Russia’s economy is expected to grow 3.2% in 2024, the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook, exceeding the forecast growth rates for the U.S. (2.7%), the U.K. (0.5%), Germany (0.2%) and France (0.7%), according to NBC. While outperforming these Western economies, Russia will lag behind China and India in terms of economic growth (4.6% and 6.8%, respectively). Russia received one of the biggest upgrades in IMF’s April outlook, with its growth now projected 0.6 percentage points higher than previously expected, according to FT. Global economic output is likely to expand 3.2% in 2024, IMF said, up from an October forecast for 2.9% growth. (WSJ, 04.16.24, FT, 04.16.24) See Table 1 below.
  • Russia saw a 10% drop in marriages last year despite state efforts to encourage citizens to start families, according to official data cited by the broadcaster RTVI. Around 950,000 marriages were registered in 2023 compared to 1.05 million the previous year, the outlet said. (MT/AFP, 04.18.24)
  • Russia has banned the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties as “undesirable” organizations, the Justice Ministry said on April 17. (MT/AFP, 04.17.24)
  • In 2023, almost five times more Russians were sentenced for “fakes” about the army than a year earlier, when this law came into force. The judge sent seven of the 65 convicted to compulsory treatment in a psychiatric hospital. 50 people have been convicted of “discrediting” the armed forces, and three people will be convicted in 2022, according to data newly published by the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of Russia for 2023. In 2023, almost 500 cases against “foreign agents” were brought to the courts - 1.6 times more than in all previous years, reaching 478 in 2023. (Istories, 04.17.24)
  • In 2023, the courts in Russia heard about 200 administrative cases for “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships and (or) preferences and gender reassignment” (Article 6.21 of the Administrative Code) - this is nine times more than in 2022. (Istories, 04.17.24)
  • A Moscow court has ordered the arrest in absentia of exiled journalist Mikhail Zygar for spreading “false information” about the Russian military, state media reported April 16. (MT/AFP, 04.16.24)
  • Moscow theater director Yevgenia Berkovich and playwright Svetlana Petriichuk will face trial in a Russian military court after prosecutors affirmed charges of justifying terrorism, lawyer Sergei Badamshin said on April 19. The two women were arrested in May 2023 following the production of the play Finist The Brave Falcon. (RFE/RL, 04.19.24)
    • Russia’s state financial watchdog Rosfinmonitoring on April 15 added Berkovich and Petriychuk to its list of "terrorists and extremists." (MT/AFP, 04.15.24)
  • The Supreme Court of Russia’s republic of Bashkortostan has rejected activist Fayil Alsynov’s appeal against a prison sentence on charges of “inciting interethnic hatred,” his lawyer Ilnur Suyundukov announced April 18. Alsynov, a prominent indigenous rights defender from Turkic-majority Bashkortostan, was sentenced to four years in a penal colony in January on charges linked to his role in protests against illegal gold-mining works in the republic’s southeast. (MT/AFP, 04.18.24)
  • Since 2006, there has been an increase in the share of positive assessments of the role of Vladimir Lenin in the history of the country - from 40% (in 2006) to 67% (in 2024). Today, the majority of Russians believe that Lenin played a positive role in the history of their country (according to the sum of the answers “entirely positive” and “rather positive”). (Levada, 04.16.24)
  • Students at the Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU) in Moscow have launched a petition against the naming of the institution’s Ivan Ilyin Higher Political School, which was created in July 2023. The center’s namesake, 20th-century philosopher Ivan Ilyin, defended the actions of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and advocated for the return of a tsarist autocracy in Russia. (Meduza, 04.15.24)
  • Russian officials face various restrictions on their ability to travel abroad, the Kremlin said April 19 after a Reuters report linked the limits to fears that foreign powers could attempt to gain access to state secrets. (MT/AFP, 04.19.24)
  • Television remains the main source of news for Russians – in March 2024, two-thirds of Russians (65%) noted television as the main source for receiving news. 38%, 28% and 24% of respondents, respectively, most often learn information about events in the country and the world from social networks, online publications and Telegram channels. (Levada, 04.18.24)

Defense and aerospace:

  • In recent months, top Russian officials, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, have claimed record numbers, reporting to Putin that the military-industrial complex has quadrupled production of armored vehicles, quintupled the supply of tanks and boosted manufacturing of drones and artillery shells by nearly 17 times. Russia probably can sustain its onslaught in Ukraine for at least the next two years, analysts say. (WP, 04.19.24)
  • A Russian insider source claimed that Russian officials are preparing to redeploy some former Wagner Group elements serving in Africa Corps to Belgorod Oblast. The insider source claimed on April 15 that the Kremlin believes that Russian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Lt. Gen. Andrei Averyanov failed to meet the Kremlin’s deadlines to develop the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD)-controlled Africa Corps. (ISW, 04.15.24) 
  • Putin signed a decree appointing Major General and commander of the Akhmat special forces unit Apti Alaudinov as deputy head of the Main Directorate for Military-Political Work of the Ministry of Defense. (Istories, 04.17.24)
  • In 2023, Russia issued a record of 3,000 visas to Nepalese citizens. In February, the American television channel CNN reported that Russia allegedly recruited 14,000-15,000 Nepalese to send to the war with Ukraine. (Media Zona, 04.19.24)
  • Authorities in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Chechnya will train Palestinian refugees from Gaza to work at a factory that assembles assault vehicles used by Chechen fighters in Ukraine, according to local state-run media. (MT/AFP, 04.18.24)
  •  See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement, justice and emergencies:

  • In 2023, the number of Russian military personnel convicted under criminal charges almost doubled, reaching 7,713, according to data newly published by the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of Russia for that year. The number of those convicted specifically for crimes related to military service (desertion, failure to comply with orders, etc.) increased threefold, reaching 4,409. Also, the number of military personnel convicted of murder increased the most—nine times compared to the previous year, reaching 98. (Istories, 04.17.24)
  • In 2023, the number of people in Russia convicted of crimes related to sexualized violence increased, according to data newly published by the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of Russia for 2023. In 2023, there were 8.2% more people convicted of such crimes than in the previous year, reaching 8,228. (Istories, 04.17.24)
  • In 2023, 39 people were convicted of treason in Russia, according to data newly published by the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of Russia for 2023. This is the maximum over the last nine years and 2.5 times more than in 2022. The number of people convicted of espionage has also increased - nine people received sentences for this, while in 2022, only one person received this sentence. (Istories, 04.17.24)
  • An eminent Russian physicist who worked to develop the country's hypersonic capabilities was convicted of treason and sentenced to seven years in prison on April 18, the latest in a string of top Russian scientists to be accused of crimes against the state as the Kremlin becomes increasingly paranoid about its sensitive programs. Alexander Kuranov, 76, who was tried in secret, will serve time in a maximum-security prison and was fined 100,000 rubles, around $1,000, Daria Lebedeva, a spokeswoman for the court system in Russia's second largest city, St. Petersburg, said. (WSJ, 04.19.24)
  • The Supreme Court of Russia overturned the decision in the case of Valery Golubkin, a 72-year-old professor at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Aerohydromechanics at MIPT, who is accused of treason. TASS reports this with reference to the press service of the court. As Mediazona notes, the court overturned the decision of the First Court of Appeal, and the case was sent for retrial to the same authority. (Istories, 04.17.24)
  • An employee of the Russian Defense Ministry’s military-themed park outside Moscow has been arrested on treason charges, the BBC Russian service reported April 18. Nikolai Martynov, 26, worked as an engineer at Patriot Park. (MT/AFP, 04.18.24)
  • The Russian parliament’s upper chamber, the Federation Council, on April 17 voted to appoint Irina Podnosova, who in 1975 graduated from the Leningrad State University's law school along with Putin, to the post of chairwoman of the Supreme Court (RFE/RL, 04.17.24)
  • The record for the amount of bribes set in the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) by ex-Col. Dmitry Zakharchenko has been allegedly broken by more than 200%, according to Kommersant. Georgy Satyukov of MVD’s the Bureau of Special Technical Events allegedly received bribes in cryptocurrency worth a total of more than 5 billion rubles ($53 million) from Alexey Ivanov (Bilyuchenko), the system administrator of the crypto exchange World Exchange Services, for protection, according to Kommersant. Satyukov and his ex-colleague, who acted as an intermediary, have managed to escape Russia and now may be in Dubai, where one of them has an apartment in the eight-hundred-meter Burj Khalifa tower, according to Kommersant. (RM, 04.17.24)
  • Parts of Russia and neighboring Kazakhstan are battling their worst floods in about 80 years after unexpectedly high temperatures melted an unusual amount of snow that had accumulated on and around the Ural Mountains. Russia has evacuated more than 30,000 people in Kurgan and Orenburg since early April. (Bloomberg, 04.19.24)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

Russia’s external policies and relations with “far abroad” countries:

  • Bavarian police have arrested and accused two men of being Russian secret agents planning to bomb industrial and military sites in Germany to disrupt the delivery of aid to Ukraine.  The two German-Russian nationals – Dieter S, 39, and Alexander J, 37 – had been in communication with Russia’s military intelligence agency (GRU) to plan acts of sabotage on German soil, said the federal prosecutor.  The arrested suspects are alleged to have scouted targets that included the U.S. military base at Grafenwöhr, Bavaria, where Ukrainian soldiers are being trained to use M1 Abrams tanks. (FT, 04.18.24) Germany now holds two suspected Russian agents and one convicted Russian agent. That increases opportunity for exchange of persons held by the U.S. and its allies on one side, and Russia on the other. It also, however, increases the risk of Russia seizing more German citizens to try to exchange them for its agents.
  • Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced April 19 that the Polish authorities have arrested the person who ordered March 12 hammer attack on Leonid Volkov, the former chairman of Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation in Lithuania. According to Tusk, the detainee is a “Belarusian working for the Russians” who “ordered two Poles to murder Navalny’s associate.” (Meduza, 04.19.24)
    • Russia’s Insider was able to identify the criminal who threatened Russian economist and activist Maxim Mironov and his wife in Argentina. He turned out to be Polish citizen Grzegorz Dashkowski. The Insider passed this information to Polish law enforcement officers and Dashkowski was arrested. Thanks to this arrest, law enforcement officers, through curator Dashkowski, found other Polish criminals who attacked Volkov. (Insider, 04.19.24)
  • Serbia is expected to sign the largest weapons deal in its modern history with France, in a sign how Russia’s war in Ukraine is prompting one of Moscow’s closest allies to diversify its arms purchases. Belgrade is planning a €3 billion order for a dozen French Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation, marking a long-term commitment to the west after decades of relying on Russian aircraft. (FT, 04.14.24)
  • Una Titz, an analyst at the Amadeu Antonio foundation who researches the far right and links to Moscow, said the Alternative for Germany’s (AfD) tone on Russia and Europe began to shift in 2018, when Russian officials invited some AfD members to observe elections. Since then, there have been many AfD delegations to Russia. One member of Parliament even wanted to open an office in Moscow but backed away after remonstrations from fellow lawmakers. (NYT, 04.19.24)
  • Croatians are voting in a tight general election called by President Zoran Milanović, who has stoked fears in European capitals about another EU and NATO member state adopting a more Russia-friendly stance. Milanović, a left-wing politician formerly affiliated with the Social Democratic party, dissolved the Croatian parliament and triggered April 17’s snap vote — and has taken the unusual step of campaigning to move to the more powerful post of prime minister. Centre-right Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has depicted the flamboyant president as a Russian stooge, while Milanović has hit back at the premier over allegations of corruption. (FT, 04.17.24)
  • Russia, but not Putin, will be invited to the French ceremony in June to mark 80 years since the World War II D-Day landings, organizers said April 16. In June, France marks the 80th anniversary of the 1944 Normandy landings. A host of world leaders are expected to attend, including Biden. (MT/AFP, 04.16.24)


  • Some 500 defense industry enterprises are operating in Ukraine, employing almost 300,000 people to produce shells, mortars, armored vehicles, anti-tank weaponry, electronic warfare systems, drones and other munitions, according to Zelenskyy. (NYT, 04.16.24)
  • Imports from Ukraine to China reached $1.48 billion (+21.9%). As a result, Chinese-Ukrainian trade turnover increased by 30.2% to $2.26 billion over the reporting period. At the same time, the volume of trade between the two countries in March amounted to $762.91 million, rising by 9.2% compared to February. (TASS, 04.18.24)
  • One of the largest private Western investors in Ukraine has claimed that corrupt officials in the country’s security services and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration are trying to extort tens of millions of euros from him. Arnulf Damerau, an Anglo-German businessman and a former adviser to Glencore, told the Financial Times he was being blackmailed by a clique of senior Ukrainian officials. (FT, 04.18.24)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • The Group of Seven (G7) nations have called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to remain “fully committed” to the peace process as the group’s foreign ministers issued a communique after their meeting in Capri, Italy, on April 19. (RFE/RL, 04.19.24)
  • Armenia has agreed to return four abandoned border villages that it has controlled since the early 1990s to Azerbaijan as the initial step in defining the frontier between the two bitter South Caucasus rivals, the countries said in identical statements on April 19. (RFE/RL, 04.19.24)
  • A preliminary agreement has been reached in Brussels on providing nonlethal assistance to Armenia from the European Peace Facility (EPF), according to a diplomatic document obtained by RFE/RL. The document, obtained on April 17 from diplomatic sources in Brussels, shows that the European Union plans to allocate 10 million euros ($10.6 million) to Armenia. (RFE/RL, 04.18.24)
  • Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov officially confirmed on April 17 that Russian peacekeeping forces began their anticipated withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, as Russian sources largely blamed Armenian leadership for Azerbaijan’s seizure of Nagorno-Karabakh amid Armenia’s continued efforts to distance itself from political and security relations with Russia. (ISW, 04.17.24)
  • Georgia's Parliament voted April 17 to advance deeply contentious legislation aimed at cracking down on "foreign agents" — an echo of a similar law in Russia that has been used to crush political dissent. In Georgia, the bill has sparked huge street protests and drawn condemnation, including from President Salome Zourabichvili, who is not a member of the Georgian Dream political party, which controls Parliament and the government. (WP, 04.17.24)
  • Uzbekistan has intensified measures against "religious extremism" and "terrorism" recently, raiding the homes of suspected extremists, warning parents against sending children to Islamic schools abroad, and preventing imams from leaving the country. The tough actions by Uzbek officials come on the heels of the terrorist attack that killed 144 people at the Crocus music venue near Moscow. (RFE/RL, 04.14.24)
  • Russia’s Novosibirsk region has banned migrants from working as taxi drivers and selling beverages and tobacco, according to a decree signed by Governor Andrei Travnikov on April 15. (MT/AFP, 04.15.24)
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on several EU countries and Turkey to refrain from sending Tajik dissidents taking shelter in their countries back to Tajikistan. (RFE/RL, 04.16.24)
  • Thailand will sign a permanent bilateral visa waiver agreement with Kazakhstan next week. (Bloomberg, 04.18.24)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • "Ukraine cannot hold the present lines now without the rapid resumption" of American help, Fred Kagan wrote. (ISW, 04.16.24)
  • Former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried said of the U.S. government’s reluctance to supply certain weaponry to Ukraine due to concerns about escalation with Russia. “That fear of escalation often needs to be tempered by faith in deterrence...We feel that we’ve learned some lessons over the past two and a half years. We were hesitant on sending other weapons systems. We have done so and we have not seen an escalation … now it is the moment for the U.S. and the Germans to join the British and the French in sending those long-range missiles to Ukraine.” (The Hill, 04.14.24)
  • "We are short of everything," said one Ukrainian company commander operating around the embattled city of Chasiv Yar. (WSJ, 04.18.24) Makes one recall an estimate regarding Russia’s war resources made in 2022 by an American strategist: “They are running low on everything.”
  • “If one side can shoot and the other side can’t shoot back, the side that can’t shoot back loses,” Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli said of the Ukraine war. (NYT, 04.16.24)
  • Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, chief of Ukraine's military intelligence service, the GUR, told WP that Putin made a "strategic mistake" in launching the war, he said. "But Russians recover fast, and that's a fact that you should keep in mind. They have proved that dozens of times. We should not underestimate this characteristic." (WP, 04.17.24)
  • "What we're witnessing right now is blitzkrieg drone warfare," said Andrew Coté, chief of staff at BRINC Drones, a Seattle-based drone company sending equipment to Ukraine. (WP, 04.14.24)
    • “Drones can effectively destroy military equipment, tanks,” said Viktor Nazarov, an adviser to the former Ukrainian top general, Valeryi Zaluzhnyi. “But you cannot destroy defensive lines with drones.” (NYT, 04.16.24)
  • “Our public line is all about Israel’s right to defend itself,” said one senior European official. “But internally, there is a growing tension about support for Israel versus Ukraine. The Middle East is going to be volatile forever. But if Ukraine loses to Russia, that would be a step change for Europe and NATO. Where do our strategic priorities really lie?” (FT, 04.17.24)
  • Stephen Kotkin wrote: “Avoiding either a global war or capitulation in East Asia must be the top U.S. strategic priority. In this light, too, an indefinite attritional war in Ukraine appears to defy strategic logic no less than capitulation there ... Ukraine needs an enduring armistice that abjures recognition of Russian annexations or compromises on its sovereign right to join international bodies such as the EU or NATO.” (“Ukraine, Russia, China and the World” in Brands, Hal, ed. “War in Ukraine: Conflict, Strategy, and the Return of a Fractured World,” JHU Press, 2024) 
  • Professor at Peking University Feng Yujun wrote: “In combination, these four factors make Russia’s eventual defeat inevitable. In time it will be forced to withdraw from all occupied Ukrainian territories, including Crimea. Its nuclear capability is no guarantee of success. Didn’t a nuclear-armed America withdraw from Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan?” (The Economist, 04.11.24)


Useful tables:

Table 1:

 January 2024 outlook’s GDP forecast by IMFApril 2024 outlook’s GDP forecast by IMF





United States





United Kingdom

























Source: World Economic Outlook Projections (IMF)


  1. More Democrats than Republicans voted to advance the aid package, with 165 Democrats supporting the procedural step. Fifty-five Republicans defied Johnson. (Bloomberg, 04.19.24)
  2. The four pieces of the package will be stitched together and sent to the Senate as an amendment to that chamber’s foreign aid supplemental, which passed in February. This maneuver will allow the Senate to skip one big procedural vote—cloture on the motion to proceed—cutting down on days of floor time. (Roll Call, 04.19.24)
  3. Estimate taken from the IMF’s October 2023 World Economic Outlook.


The cutoff for reports summarized in this product was 11:00 am East Coast time on the day it was distributed.

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

Photo by Forasfilm shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.