Russia in Review, April 28-May 5, 2023

6 Things to Know

  1. Russia accused Ukraine on May 3 of trying to assassinate President Vladimir Putin by targeting his residence in the Kremlin with two drones and blamed the U.S., saying it “dictated” the strikes, the BBC and NYT reportKyiv and Washington vehemently denied any responsibility. U.S.-based drone experts told Reuters that the UAVs would have had to evade extensive defenses in and around Moscow, suggesting they may have been manually controlled and launched from inside Russia. While some analysts said the incident might have been a false-flag attack staged by Moscow, others suggested it could be a performative gesture by Ukraine, striking at a preeminent symbol of Russian state power, per WaPo. Now, notes the NYT, the question is whether Russia will use the incident to justify more, even deadlier strikes against Ukraine. Moscow has said it "reserves the right to take retaliatory measures wherever and whenever is deemed necessary,” with senior officials raising the specter of tactical nuclear weapons use, according to MT.
  2. Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, says his country's military is “reaching the finish line” in preparations for its long-awaited counteroffensive and that commanders would decide “how, where and when,” the NYT writes. In preparation, each side is stepping up attacks on the other’s supply lines and logistics hubs, analysts at GZERO Daily point out, with numerous attacks this week on rail lines, oil refineries and fuel depots in both countries. For the moment, NYT reports from southeastern Ukraine, the country’s forces are stalled not by ferocious Russian attacks but by viscous Ukrainian mud. In Russia, meanwhile, authorities have ramped up their GPS suppression measures following a slew of drone attacks in recent weeks and at least 21 cities have canceled their May 9 Victory Day parades, some of them citing “security concerns,” MT and Meduza write.
  3. Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Russia's Wagner Group mercenary force, dramatically announced May 5 that his forces would pull out of Bakhmut, which they have fought for since summer, Reuters reports. In an obscenity-laced video diatribe posted online the day before, surrounded by dozens of corpses, Prigozhin lambasted Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov for failing to provide adequate ammunition supplies. While U.S. officials have downplayed Bakhmut's strategic value and, according to one U.S. official, privately advised the Ukrainians to withdraw in January, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told WaPo the city is important because it "keeps a large number of Russian troops tied up and prevents them from breaking through our country in different directions.”
  4. The Vatican on May 3 confirmed the existence of its behind-the-scenes peace mission to try to end the war in Ukraine, according to AP. After meetings in Hungary over the weekend, Pope Francis said he was willing to act as an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine and hoped to help arrange the return of Ukrainian children forcibly sent to Russia, the WSJ reports. But U.S. intelligence chief Avril Haines said May 4 that Putin is unlikely to offer any concessions to advance peace talks: "Even as Putin may be scaling back his near-term ambitions, the prospect for Russian concessions to advance negotiations this year will be low unless domestic political vulnerabilities alter his thinking," Haines told senators, per AFP. She added that "Putin most likely calculates that time works in his favor and that prolonging the war may be his best remaining pathway to eventually securing Russia's strategic interests in Ukraine."
  5. As Ukraine's Western allies are preparing fresh measures, per Bloomberg, to tackle Russian sanctions circumvention, an FT investigation has found that a Russian spy network has managed to obtain sensitive technology from EU companies, even after U.S. sanctions imposed in March 2022. FT reports that the “Serniya network” has acquired at least $900,000 worth of materials since the Ukraine war started, including microchips, mostly from EU companies, and its clients have included Russian intelligence and defense agencies. Meanwhile, existing restrictions have fueled the rise of little-known companies that now play a major role as owners of shipping vessels and purveyors of Russian gold, FT and Bloomberg report.
  6. South Africa has reportedly been attempting to dissuade Putin from attending the BRICS summit it is hosting in August over fears that it would be compelled to arrest him on the ICC warrant issued in March, MT writes. Citing sources in the country's government, South Africa's Sunday Times said that a special government commission established by President Cyril Ramaposa had concluded that the country would have no choice but to arrest Putin if he sets foot on South African soil. Burkina Faso's interim President Ibrahim Traore, meanwhile, said on May 4 that Russia had become a key strategic ally and a major supplier of military equipment.



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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • The U.N. atomic energy agency is racing to prevent the war in Ukraine from endangering the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, as fighting nearby intensifies. Artillery fire and explosions now ring out nearly every day at the six-reactor facility occupied by Russian forces. Each side accuses the other of shelling across a two-mile-wide bend in the Dnipro River that separates the plant from a Ukrainian-held shore. Both deny doing so. (WSJ, 04.29.23)
    • On the roofs of several reactors, Russian forces have built sandbag fighting positions, the first indications that Moscow is planning to use the nuclear reactors as defensive positions, the British defense ministry said April 27. (WSJ, 04.29.23)
  • Record-high water levels could overwhelm the major Nova Kakhovka dam near Kherson in southern Ukraine and damage parts of the ZNPP, a Rosenergoatom official told TASS on May 4. (Reuters, 05.04.23)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • Russian intelligence officials assisted Iran in discovering that a former Iranian deputy minister executed in January had been a British mole and had revealed the existence of a clandestine Iranian nuclear weapons program, according to two Iranian sources with links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Iran has said Alireza Akbari also disclosed the identity and activities of over 100 officials, most significantly Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the chief nuclear scientist whom Israel reportedly assassinated in 2020. Britain has not publicly acknowledged that Akbari, who became a British citizen in 2012, was its spy. (NYT, 05.01.23)
  • Iran has seized a second oil tanker in a week, the U.S. Navy said on May 3, increasing tensions in one of the world’s key shipping lanes as Tehran steps up retaliation for the US seizure of a cargo of its crude. The US has targeted Iran’s oil exports since reimposing sanctions in 2018 after withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Tehran. (FT, 05.03.23)

Leaks of US intelligence assessments:

  • The recent leaks have created friction between Ukraine and the United States. Washington’s inability to protect sensitive information could lead to Kyiv sharing less of it, some Ukrainian officials have privately indicated. Some of the disclosures in the documents are from signals intelligence, indicating that the U.S. is spying on top Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky. Asked if that had strained trust between the countries, Zelensky said, “I cannot risk our state.” He indicated that airing his private feelings wasn’t worth the potential harm to U.S. support for Ukraine’s war effort. (WP, 05.02.23)
    • o Zelensky said he has not had any conversations with the White House about the leaks, which included grim U.S. assessments about Ukraine’s war with Russia. The leak was “unprofitable for us,” Zelensky said. “It is not beneficial to the reputation of the White House, and I believe it is not beneficial to the reputation of the United States.” (WP, 05.02.23)
    • Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the leaks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba during a call in April after news of the leak broke, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter. (WP, 05.02.23)
  • A magistrate judge in Worcester, Mass., did not rule last week on whether to release Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old Air National Guardsman accused of releasing the classified documents, to his parents before his trial. (NYT, 05.01.23)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • Zelensky vowed to hold Russia accountable after a barrage of cruise missiles killed more than two dozen people last week. “Anyone who prepares such missile attacks cannot but know that he will be an accomplice [to] murder,” he said April 29. “Not only those who give orders but all of you, you are all terrorists and murderers and you must all be punished.” (WSJ, 04.30.23)
  • Russian shelling killed 23 people in and near the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson on May 3, hitting a hypermarket, a railway station and residential buildings, the regional governor said. The attack injured at least 48 people. “The world needs to see and know this,” Zelensky said on Twitter, in a post that included graphic photographs of the victims. (Reuters, 05.03.23, FT, 05.03.23)
  • Russian drones attacked Kyiv on the evening of May 4, the fourth assault in as many days subjecting residents to spasms of gunfire and explosions; at least one drone was shot down. (Reuters, 05.04.23)
  • Russian strikes May 1 reportedly killed a 14-year-old boy in the northern Chernihiv region and two men in the eastern city of Pavlohrad, injuring at least 34 people. Residences, shops and schools were also reportedly damaged. Air raid sirens were activated in the early hours in Kyiv and at least five other Ukrainian regions far from the front lines. (WSJ, 05.01.23)
  • Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, denied illegally transferring thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia in an interview with Vice News. Lvova-Belova called allegations that she is a war criminal a joke. (WP, 05.02.23)
  • Russia on May 5 ordered the evacuation of families with children and of the elderly from Russian-held frontline areas in southern Ukraine because of an increase in shelling from the Ukrainian side. (AFP/MT, 05.05.23)
  • Since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, the killings of 14 journalists and media workers have been confirmed there, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. The most recent was the Ukrainian journalist Bogdan Bitik, who was shot and killed May 3 while working with the Italian daily La Repubblica. (NYT, 05.02.23)
  • A leaked internal review commissioned by Amnesty International is said to have concluded there were significant shortcomings in a controversial August report prepared by the rights group that accused Ukraine of illegally endangering citizens by placing armed forces in civilian areas. (Guardian, 04.28.23)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said May 1 that the military was “reaching the finish line” in preparations for its long-awaited counteroffensive and that commanders would decide “how, where and when.” (NYT, 05.01.23)
  • U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said May 4 that, "even if Ukraine's counteroffensive is not fully successful, the Russians are unlikely to be able to mount a significant offensive operation this year" because their forces in Ukraine are so degraded. To sustain even a modest offensive campaign, Putin would have to order a mandatory mobilization of army recruits as well as secure significant ammunition supplies from other countries, beyond what Russia gets from Iran, she told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (AFP/MT, 05.04.23)
    • "Putin probably has scaled back his immediate ambitions to consolidating control of the occupied territory in eastern and southern Ukraine, and ensuring that Ukraine will never become a NATO ally," Haines said. (AFP/MT, 05.04.23)
    • Haines said Moscow's losses are such that its military requires "years of rebuilding." With a weakened conventional military force, Moscow will become more reliant on nuclear, cyber and space capabilities for deterrence, she said. But she added it was "very unlikely" that Moscow would use nuclear weapons in the conflict. (AFP/MT, 05.04.23)
  • In preparation for Ukraine's large-scale counteroffensive, probably in multiple regions, each side is stepping up attacks on the other’s supply lines and logistics hubs, signaling that the next phase in this war is drawing closer. The Russian army replaced its top-ranking general in charge of logistics on April 30. Alexei Kuzmenkov, formerly of the National Guard, took the place of Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev.  (GZERO Daily, 05.02.23, AFP/MT, 04.30.23)
    • Two drones struck four fuel tanks at an oil depot in Crimea on April 29, according to Russian-installed officials in the region. A Ukrainian military spokeswoman said it was crucial to target Russia’s logistical capacity ahead of the counteroffensive. (WSJ, 04.29.23, NYT, 04.30.23)
    • Russia launched another barrage of missiles at cities across Ukraine on May 1, seeking to erode Ukrainian air defenses. One of the cities targeted was Pavlohrad, a logistics hub near Dnipro; the principal targets, according to Russian authorities, were railway infrastructure and fuel depots. (WSJ, 05.01.23, GZERO Daily, 05.02.23)
    • Explosions on May 1 and 2 derailed two freight trains in Bryansk, a Russian border region about 35 miles from Ukraine. Bryansk has seen acts of sabotage since Russia invaded Ukraine. The first train was reportedly carrying oil products and timber. (BBC, 05.01.23, AFP/MT, 05.02.23)
    • Fuel depots were targeted in both countries on May 3, according to local officials and media reports: One in Ukraine's central Kirovohrad region was hit by a drone strike; another caught fire in the Russian village of Volna, close to the bridge to Crimea. (FT, 05.03.23, MT, 05.03.23)
    • At least two Russian oil refineries were also attacked by drones late May 3, with product storage facilities set ablaze at the Ilsky refinery, one of the largest in southern Russia, near the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, and another fire at a refinery in the Rostov region. Both blazes were extinguished relatively quickly. (Reuters, 05.04.23, Meduza, 05.04.23)
  • Dozens of explosions were reported in Ukraine and near Russian-occupied Crimea early on May 3, as both sides stepped up air attacks. (FT, 05.03.23)
  • For the moment, Ukraine’s forces are stalled not by ferocious Russian attacks but by viscous Ukrainian mud. It jams weapons and steals boots from soldiers’ feet. Wheels and treads spin and spin, digging military vehicles deeper into the mire. “Until the weather improves, there will be no counteroffensive,” said a lieutenant with the 43rd Separate Artillery Brigade. “The vehicles will get stuck and then what will we do if the shooting starts?” (NYT, 05.01.23)
  • Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said in an interview published May 2 that "Russian casualties, killed and wounded," have totaled "maybe 200 plus thousand, maybe 250,000, a large number" and they have been replaced with 200,000-300,000 mobilized reservists. "So there’s still around 200,000 Russian troops—poorly led, not well trained, poorly equipped, not well sustained—in Russian-occupied Ukraine," Milley told Foreign Affairs. (FA, 05.02.23)
  • A newly declassified estimate from the Biden administration says Russian forces have suffered more than 20,000 fatalities in recent months as they've battled to take Bakhmut in the Donbas. Half of the fatalities were mercenaries hired by the Wagner private military group, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. Overall there have been more than 100,000 Russian casualties, including the fatalities, since December, according to the White House. Kirby declined to provide an estimate of Ukrainian casualties. (FT, 05.01.23)
    • Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov on May 2 described Washington’s latest estimate of Russia’s losses as “spun out of thin air.” “Washington doesn’t have the opportunity to give any correct numbers. They don’t have such data,” he said. (AP/WP, 05.02.23)
    • While there are no official figures available for Wagner’s war losses, independent Russian journalists have documented more than 1,000 Wagner graves and seven “Wagner cemeteries” in Russia and occupied Ukraine. (MT, 04.30.23)
  • Both sides have cited gains in recent days in Bakhmut, though the claims could not be verified. The fighting there, which began last summer, continues to draw in enormous resources on both sides. (NYT, 05.01.23)
    • U.S. officials have downplayed the city’s strategic value. Privately, they also advised the Ukrainians to withdraw in January, according to one U.S. official. Kyiv, meanwhile, has amplified Bakhmut’s importance. “It really keeps a large number of Russian troops tied up and prevents them from breaking through our country in different directions,” Zelensky said in an interview with The Post on May 1. “That is why all the military believe that this is a very important point and that a large number of enemy troops are destroyed there.” (WP, 05.02.23)
  • Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Russia's Wagner Group mercenary force, dramatically announced May 5 that his forces would pull out of Bakhmut on May 10, making good on an earlier threat. He cited ammunition shortages and heavy losses as the main reasons. A day earlier Prigozhin had appeared in an online video, surrounded by dozens of corpses he said were freshly killed Wagner fighters, yelling and swearing at Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov for failing to provide adequate ammunition supplies. He has had a long-running feud with the two officials. (Reuters, 05.05.23, RM, 05.05.23, RFE/RL, 04.29.23)
    • Vladimir Pastukhov, a political analyst, said Prigozhin's behavior looked like an attempt to pin blame for Russia's setbacks and losses in Ukraine on Shoigu: “He and Shoigu are playing a zero-sum game in which there cannot be two winners… Someone will have to answer for the mountain of corpses. And that moment is approaching." (Reuters, 05.05.23)
    • Military analyst Rob Lee wrote May 4 that Prigozhin’s complaints about insufficient ammunition supplies may stem from rationing by the Defense Ministry before Ukraine’s counteroffensive: “The MoD has to defend the whole front but Prigozhin only cares about taking Bakhmut. Wagner and Prigozhin have always represented a unity of command problem in this war. Putin likes to use competing factions as a way to maintain power but that is very damaging in a military operation.” (RM, 05.05.23)
  • The EU announced fresh plans to ramp up the large-scale production of ammunition, seeking both to benefit Ukraine and to improve the bloc’s geopolitical credentials. Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, wants to use at least €1 billion ($1.1 billion) to fund the Act in Support of Ammunition Production, or ASAP, with the goal of providing Ukraine with ammunition and replenishing the stocks in member countries. (AP, 05.03.23)
  • The U.S. is sending Ukraine about $300 million in additional military aid, including an enormous number of artillery rounds, howitzers, air-to-ground rockets and ammunition, U.S. officials said May 2. Celeste Wallander, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said last week that the U.S. has committed more than $36 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. (AP/WP, 05.02.23, RM, 05.02.23)
  • Ukraine’s largest weapons maker, Ukroboronprom, says it has delivered more than eight times the weapons to Ukraine’s military in the past year than the one before. To avoid Russian attacks and boost production, Ukroboronprom and other local defense companies have spread manufacturing across Ukraine and set up shop in neighboring countries. (WSJ, 05.01.23)
  • Conflict Armament Research, a UK-based organization that investigates weapons’ components, has established that the Shahed-136 drones sold to Russia by Iran are powered by an engine based on German technology illicitly acquired by Iran almost 20 years ago. (CNN, 04.28.23)

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

  • The U.S. on May 5 again extended a sanctions carve-out that permits financial institutions to process transactions related to Russian energy sales, this time until Nov. 1. (WSJ, 05.05.23)
  • Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the U.N. on May 5 failed to authorize any new ships under a deal allowing safe Black Sea exports of Ukraine grain, which Moscow has threatened to quit on May 18 over obstacles to its own grain and fertilizer exports. Daily inspections of previously authorized ships continue. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said April 29 that Moscow had not seen any progress toward meeting its demands. (Reuters, 05.05.23, NYT, 05.01.23)
  • A Russian spy network has acquired sensitive technology from EU companies to fuel the war in Ukraine even after a US-led crackdown. The smuggling ring has managed to obtain machine tools from Germany and Finland despite US sanctions imposed in March 2022, a Financial Times investigation has found. Clients of the “Serniya network” have included Russia’s FSB, Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), defense conglomerate Rostec, Defense Ministry and Rosatom. Documentation and interviews reveal that Moscow-based Trading House Treydtuls has acquired $900,000 of materials since the Ukraine war started, including microchips and items for industrial manufacturing, mostly from the EU. (FT, 05.02.23)
  • The U.S., Europe and other key allies of Ukraine are preparing fresh penalties against Russia. A key goal is to close loopholes in existing penalties and tackle overall sanctions circumvention, according to people familiar with the matter. Proposals on the table include banning many goods from transiting through Russia and targeting vessels that switch off navigation systems. The plans will be unveiled around a G-7 summit later this month. (Bloomberg, 05.03.23)
    • The U.S. and Japan are preparing their own packages, the people said. Canada is working on measures relating to human rights, including the alleged abduction of Ukrainian children, and penalties on Russia’s defense industry. (Bloomberg, 05.03.23)
  • With Russian gold shut out of Western markets, little-known companies are stepping in to help the country’s bullion find new buyers. (Bloomberg, 05.02.23)
  • From the rundown Neptune Magnet Mall in Mumbai, a giant of international oil shipping has emerged over the past 18 months, seemingly from nowhere. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the company has bought more oil tankers than anyone else, elevating itself from an unknown Indian shipping business into one of the world’s largest vessel owners. (FT, 05.04.23)
  • Washington on May 3 allowed Chinese airlines to boost their weekly round-trip flights to the U.S. from eight to 12, matching the number that US carriers have to China. The small concession to Beijing comes as the two countries struggle to stabilize their turbulent relationship. The agreement had been bogged down in a dispute related to Chinese carriers’ ability to fly over Russia, giving them a cost advantage over US airlines, which have been banned from doing so by Moscow due to the Ukraine war. (FT, 05.03.23, FT, 04.29.23)
  • Scarred by Russia’s suspension of gas exports, Germany is trying to overhaul its raw materials strategy—with an eye to beefing up the state's role in securing critical supplies. Data show how dependent European countries have become on a small group of suppliers; for example, the EU in 2021 got 98% of its nickel oxide from Russia. (FT, 04.30.23)
  • Match Group, owner of the popular dating app Tinder, has said it will quit Russia by June 30, citing the need to protect human rights. (Reuters, 05.02.23)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • U.S. intelligence chief Avril Haines said on May 4 that whatever the outcome of Ukraine's offensive, Putin is unlikely to offer any concessions to advance peace talks: "Even as Putin may be scaling back his near-term ambitions, the prospect for Russian concessions to advance negotiations this year will be low unless domestic political vulnerabilities alter his thinking," Haines said, adding that "Putin most likely calculates that time works in his favor and that prolonging the war may be his best remaining pathway to eventually securing Russia's strategic interests in Ukraine." (AFP/MT, 05.04.23)
  • Pope Francis said April 30 he was willing to act as an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine and referred briefly to the Vatican’s involvement in talks that are underway but “not public yet.” The pope also said he hoped to help arrange the return of Ukrainian children forcibly sent to Russia. (WSJ, 04.30.23)
    • The Holy See’s No. 2 official, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on May 3 confirmed the existence of a Vatican peace “mission” to try to end the war. (AP, 05.03.23)
    • During a three-day weekend visit to Budapest, Francis held private meetings with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has maintained relations with Moscow, as well as with the former foreign envoy of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has strongly supported the war. Francis also greeted some of the 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees in the country during a public prayer service. (AP, 05.03.23, AP, 04.29.23)
  • U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on a visit to Brazil that she encouraged the government to include Ukraine in any attempt to negotiate an end to the war. She was referring to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's comments calling on the West to stop arming Ukraine to allow peace talks to start. (Reuters, 05.04.23)
  • During a May 4 meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said China is "willing to maintain communication and coordination with Russia to make tangible contributions to the political settlement of the crisis" in Ukraine. (Reuters, 05.05.23)
  • See also "China-Russia: Allied or aligned?" section below.

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

  • Russia accused Ukraine on May 3 of trying to assassinate President Vladimir Putin by targeting his residence in the Kremlin with two drones in an overnight attack. Putin's spokesman Dmitri Peskov claimed the following day that the U.S. bore responsibility because it “dictated” Ukrainian strikes inside Russia. Both Ukraine and the U.S. vehemently denied any responsibility. “Whatever it was, it didn’t involve us,” White House spokesman John Kirby said. “We are not attacking either Putin or Moscow, we are fighting on our own territory, we are defending our villages and cities. We do not have enough weapons even for that,” President Zelensky said on May 3 at a summit of Northern European countries in Finland. (BBC, 05.03.22, NYT, 05.04.23, WP, 05.03.23)
    • Here’s what we know so far about what happened: Videos verified by The New York Times showed two explosions 15 minutes apart above the Kremlin, shortly before 2:30 a.m. on May 3. In videos verified by The Washington Post, the first drone appears to hit the dome of the Kremlin Senate, a building within the fortress that houses Putin’s office, causing an eruption of flames; the second drone appears to explode over the Senate dome. Two people are visible on the roof during the second explosion. The blasts appeared to be caused by the drones, but it was unclear whether the drones exploded as planned or were shot down. The Kremlin said the president was not in the Kremlin at the time and here were no casualties or serious damage. (NYT, 05.04.23, WP, 05.03.23)
    • While some analysts said the incident might have been a false-flag attack staged by Russia, others suggested it could be a performative gesture by Ukraine, striking at a preeminent symbol of Russian state power. Now the question is whether Russia will use the incident to justify more and even deadlier strikes against Ukraine. A Ukrainian official told the BBC the reported incident indicated Russia could be "preparing a large-scale terrorist provocation" in Ukraine. (WP, 05.03.23, NYT, 05.03.23, BBC, 05.03.22)
    • The Kremlin said it regarded the incident "as a planned terrorist act and an assassination attempt on the president" and Russia "reserves the right to take retaliatory measures wherever and whenever is deemed necessary,” a position reiterated in an unusually length statement by the Defense Ministry. (BBC, 05.03.22, NYT, 05.04.23)
    • At least one high-profile Russian official explicitly called on the Kremlin to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, while another hinted at such a move. Russia’s former space chief Dmitry Rogozin, now a military advisor on the frontlines in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, called tactical nuclear weapons a “great equalizer for the moments when there is a clear discrepancy in the enemy’s favor” and said Russia could avoid a significant number of casualties by using such weapons against Kyiv preemptively. State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin on May 3 claimed the “terrorist attack” had been orchestrated by Zelensky personally: “There can be no negotiations… We will be demanding the use of weapons that can stop and destroy the terrorist regime in Kyiv,” Volodin wrote on Telegram. (MT, 05.04.23, RM, 05.04.23)
    • The drones probably evaded extensive defenses in and around Moscow, suggesting they might have been launched from inside Russia, U.S.-based drones experts said. Moscow has been very concerned about protecting the Kremlin from drones since at least 2015 when it began using electronic countermeasures to automatically direct them away by "spoofing" GPS locations. Dana Goward, president of the non-profit Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, said the sophisticated defense devices could mean that the type of drone used "was likely not using GPS but was either manually controlled—suggesting a nearby launch—or just pointed and set upon a path, kamikaze style." (Reuters, 05.05.23)
    • Whatever the provenance of the two drones, one thing was clear: The Russian government wanted the world to know about them. About 12 hours after the explosions, the Kremlin issued a rare statement saying that it had foiled an “attempt on the life of the president.” This time, the Russian government’s publicity was made all the more notable by the fact that reports on social media of explosive sounds in central Moscow early on May 3 had attracted little attention before the Kremlin’s statement. (NYT, 05.03.23, NYT, 05.04.23)
  • Zelensky arrived on a surprise visit to Helsinki on May 3 to meet Nordic leaders, a rare trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. Presidential spokesman Serhiy Nykyforov said the meeting's focus was on coordinating military aid to Kyiv and furthering Ukraine’s “European and Euro-Atlantic integration.” (FT, 05.03.23)
    • Two heads of state and seven foreign ministers from a group of Kyiv’s European backers—four Nordic and three Baltic countries—visited Ukraine on April 28 to express support. (AP, 04.28.23)
  • Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said May 2 that Denmark will reduce its military presence in Iraq starting in early 2024 and instead focus on the Baltic countries, offering NATO a battalion to defend the region. He also said Denmark will donate military equipment and financial support to Ukraine worth 1.7 billion Danish crowns ($250 million). (Reuters, 05.02.23)
  • Zelensky, speaking in The Hague after visiting the International Court of Justice, said Putin must be brought to justice over the war and that Kyiv would work to create a new tribunal for this purpose. (Reuters, 05.04.23)
  • NATO is planning to open a liaison office in Tokyo, the first of its kind in Asia, Nikkei Asia has learned from Japanese and NATO officials. The station would allow the military alliance to conduct periodic consultations with Japan and key partners in the region, such as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, as China emerges as a new challenge, alongside NATO's traditional focus on Russia. Asked about the Nikkei report, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said the alliance would not go into details of NATO allies' ongoing deliberations. (Nikkei, 05.03.23, Reuters, 05.03.23)
    • NATO and Japan will also upgrade their cooperation, aiming to sign an Individually Tailored Partnership Program before the NATO Summit in Lithuania on July 11-12. (Nikkei, 05.03.23)
  • Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia on May 3 laid out in stark terms the challenge of rebuilding bridges among the U.N. Security Council’s 15 members, citing a deep-seated divide and “trust deficit.” He blamed what he called the “treacherous activities of our former Western partners,” adding that Ukraine “has been relegated to a pawn in the geopolitical confrontation between Russia and the West.” (AP, 05.03.23)
  • Foreign ministers of Russia, China and India gathered in Goa on May 4 to discuss regional security matters along with their counterparts from other member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a union of nations seen as a counterweight to Western influence in Eurasia. (Reuters, 05.04.23)
    • The expansion of the group to include Iran and Belarus was one of the main items on the agenda. They are expected to be inducted into the SCO at its July summit meeting in New Delhi, an Indian foreign ministry official said; Kuwait, Myanmar, the UAE and Maldives are likely to be granted the status of dialogue partners ahead of full membership. (Reuters, 05.04.23)
    • Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are expected to attend the July summit in person. Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on May 4 assured his Russian and Indian counterparts of deepening bilateral ties, promising that "coordination and cooperation" will only grow stronger, in a show of solidarity with two of China's biggest neighbors. (Reuters, 05.04.23, Reuters, 05.05.23)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • China said May 2 that it did not endorse describing the Ukraine conflict as “aggression by the Russian Federation” though it voted last week in favor of a U.N. resolution that used the phrase. “China’s position on the Ukraine issue has not changed,” Beijing’s permanent U.N. mission said in an email, adding that China's vote was on the entire text and wasn’t an endorsement of that paragraph. (SCMP, 05.04.23)
  • Senior Chinese diplomat Li Hui wrote in 2016 that China needs a “powerful Russia.” Now the man tasked by Beijing to bring Kyiv and Moscow to the negotiating table is raising eyebrows in Ukraine and among its Western allies who are already skeptical about China's claims to be a neutral peace broker. (NBC, 05.01.23)
    • Li’s deep knowledge of Russia “should not necessarily be seen as working in favor of Russia,” said Zeno Leoni of King’s College London. He will “understand where mediation is possible and where not between Russia and Ukraine.” (NBC, 05.01.23)
  • Russia accounted for 18.4% of China’s crude oil imports in March—and Saudi Arabia made up 17%—according to Chinese customs data. (WSJ, 04.29.23)
  • Trips to Russia from China in the first quarter of 2023 increased by 460%, according to FSB border-crossing data reported by RBC on May 3, though the 84,200 visits are still below the pre-pandemic figures of 113,800 in January-March 2020. (MT, 05.03.23)
  • Russia last week signed an agreement with China to strengthen cooperation in the Arctic. (Politico, 05.03.23)
  • See also "Great Power rivalry" section above.

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms control:

  • No significant developments.


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus on May 3 in a bid to boost cooperation between the two allies, state media reported. Along with Russia, Iran has been a main backer of Assad’s government since an uprising turned into a full-blown war in March 2011 and has played an instrumental role in turning the tide in his favor. The last visit by an Iranian president to Syria was in 2010. (AP, 05.03.22)

Cyber security/AI:

  • Hacker sabotage has disrupted several public services in Dallas, closing courts and knocking emergency services websites offline, officials said on May 4. The ransomware operation behind the Dallas hack is called Royal, according to two security researchers familiar with the incident. U.S. officials tie the group to the Conti gang of cybercriminals, who in turn have been alleged to operate out of Russia and maintain links to Russian intelligence. (Reuters, 05.04.23)
    • Cybersecurity news site Bleeping Computer, which disclosed the Royal connection earlier, said the hackers hijacked Dallas city printers to print out their ransom notes. (Reuters, 05.04.23)
  • Britain’s intelligence agencies will step up efforts to “identify and disrupt” overseas fraudsters and curb financial scams, which are estimated to cost the UK about £7 billion a year. In its most recent annual review, the National Cyber Security Center identified Russia, China, Iran and North Korea as the four big state actors that posed an “acute cyber threat” to Britain. (FT, 05.02.23)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Russia’s oil exports jumped above 4 million barrels a day last week, offering no sign that Moscow has delivered on its threat to cut output, according to tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. Oil traders say Russia keeps pumping and exporting huge volumes of oil to maximize income for its beleaguered economy—crude that has added to a global surplus. That—together with concerns that the Federal Reserve’s campaign of higher interest rates is slowing the economy and curbing energy demand—caused oil prices to tumble this week. (Bloomberg, 05.02.23, WSJ, 05.04.23)
  • Pakistan is poised to import oil from Russia, with the first order expected to be unloaded in May, in a move that promises to save the cash-strapped country money but also raises several questions and challenges. A government official, who requested anonymity, said Islamabad aimed to buy Russian oil at $50 a barrel. Experts were skeptical that Pakistan could secure such a discount. (FT, 05.03.23)
  • A new investigation about the Nord Stream pipeline explosions was released May 3 by four Nordic state broadcasters, based in part on intercepted radio messages. Among the report’s newer findings: Several Russian military ships were observed close to the pipelines in the days before the gas links between Russia and Europe were blown up last year, including a tugboat capable of launching and rescuing mini-submarines. The report said the ships had turned off their transponders. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia wanted Western countries to publish the evidence, dismissing suggestions that Russian ships could have been involved in the attack. (FT, 05.03.23, RFE/RL, 05.03.23)
  • Gas production in Russia decreased by 10% to 180 billion cubic meters this year mostly from Gazprom’s declining capacities, the Kommersant business daily reported on May 3, citing an unnamed source familiar with the data. (MT, 05.03.23)

Climate change:

  • A gathering of representatives from 40 nations in Berlin is providing insights ahead of the next U.N. climate summit in Dubai later this year: After facing staunch resistance to calls for a fossil fuel phase-out, Germany and the EU are aiming to unite the world around goals to triple the use of renewable energy sources. (Axios, 05.03.23)

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • President Biden on May 3 marked World Press Freedom Day by acknowledging two American journalists detained abroad, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been behind bars on espionage charges in Russia for more than a month. The administration has labeled Gershkovich “wrongfully detained.” Biden and others called for his release over the weekend, during the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Biden met privately with Gershkovich’s family, who attended the April 29 event. (The Hill, 05.03.23, WSJ, 04.30.23)
    • Secretary of State Antony Blinken said May 3 that the U.S. is “intensely engaged” in seeking the release of Gershkovich: “I wish I could say … there was a clear way forward. We don’t have that in this moment, but it’s something that we’re working every single day,” he said. (WSJ, 05.03.23)
    • A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, spoke May 2 at a U.N. event honoring the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day. The Times and other news organizations have taken a stand against Russia’s detention of Gershkovich, who was previously employed by The Times. (NYT, 05.02.23)
  • U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave his most full-throated support for aiding Ukraine in its war against Russia, in a heated exchange with a Russian news agency reporter in Jerusalem. “I vote for aid for Ukraine, I support aid for Ukraine,” McCarthy said. “I do not support what your country has done to Ukraine, I do not support your killing of the children either.” (Bloomberg, 05.01.23)
  • More than 60 Russian nationals are wanted by the FBI, sought for their alleged involvement in an eclectic mix of crimes and schemes ranging from manipulating US elections to smuggling quantum computers. Among the most recent additions to the list is Natalia Burlinova, a political scientist who runs a Moscow-based public diplomacy program, which the US Justice Department sees as part of "a years-long effort to influence the opinions of future leaders in the United States on behalf of the Russian government"; Burlinova has linked the charges to an “atmosphere of spy-phobia and Russo-phobia.” (Euronews, 04.28.23, RM, 04.28.23)

II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Russia placed 164th out of 180 countries included in the annual press freedom rankings published by Reporters Without Borders on May 3. This was a nine-point drop from last year amid what RSF called a “final purge” of the media landscape enabled by the war in Ukraine. (MT, 05.03.23)
  • The Kremlin has issued guidelines for Russia’s state media on how to cover Ukraine's impending counteroffensive, Meduza reported May 2, citing an unnamed source close to the Kremlin. The guidelines—which recommend emphasizing the fact that Ukraine is being armed by NATO, while discouraging any suggestion that Kyiv is underprepared—appear aimed at giving Moscow the chance to spin any outcome of the expected counterattack positively. (MT, 05.02.23)
    • The Kremlin has apparently also told state media to avoid mentioning how much of the national budget has been earmarked for restoring infrastructure in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, fearing the sums could spark public resentment. In addition, the Kremlin has requested that "less fuss” be made over this year’s preparations for the annual May 9 holiday marking victory in WWII. (MT, 05.02.23)
  • Holes and inconsistencies have emerged in the story that Nikolai Peskov, son of Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, served on the frontlines in Ukraine with the Wagner mercenary group, leading one analyst to say it could backfire as the Kremlin seeks to motivate ordinary Russians to enlist to fight ahead of a Ukrainian counterattack. (MT, 04.28.23)
  • Companies linked to Mikhail Fridman, the Russian billionaire seeking relief from EU sanctions, have supplied uniforms and equipment to the Russian military and insured equipment used by Russia’s National Guard to fight in Ukraine, according to a joint investigation by U.S.-funded media outlets Current Time and Radio Svoboda Ukraine. (MT, 05.02.23)
  • Already Russia's dominant lender, state-owned Sberbank has become one of the country's leading technology players, taking on an increasingly important role as sanctions and exiting rivals create gaps only a handful of firms can fill. (Reuters, 05.04.23)
  • The Bank of Russia forecast on April 28 that the economy will grow as much as 2% this year as the impact of sanctions fades, with GDP reaching pre-war levels by the end of 2024, far earlier than many economists had forecast. (Bloomberg, 05.03.23)
  • Russia’s energy revenues are close to exceeding their target level in the face of the oil price cap imposed by the G-7 and EU partners, helping the government stabilize the budget even as military spending has surged. (Bloomberg, 05.03.23)
  • Russia is likely to resume buying foreign currency for its reserves as soon as this month. (Bloomberg, 05.01.23)
  • Russia’s central bank left its key interest rate unchanged, at 7.5%, for the fifth straight policy meeting April 28, and repeated its warning that it may tighten policy if the war in Ukraine threatens to drive inflation higher. (WSJ, 04.28.23)
  • At least three popular Russian bloggers have been accused of tax evasion since last year, while dozens more are reportedly under investigation. After years of turning a blind eye to the growing wealth of some bloggers who command a wide audience, Russian authorities may now be targeting them as they seek additional revenue to plug a widening hole in the state budget. (RFE/RL, 05.03.23)

Defense and aerospace:

  • “Right now it is necessary to double the production of high-precision weapons in the shortest possible time,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told top military brass in a May 2 meeting, focusing, in part, on the state-owned Tactical Missiles Corporation. (AP/WP, 05.02.23)
  • Since September, the Russian Defense Ministry has been recruiting inmates from prisons in at least 25 different regions of the country to serve in the Russian military in Ukraine, according to an investigation by the BBC Russian service published on May 3. (MT, 05.03.23)
  • Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Chechnya, has said he is considering creating a private army that could potentially fight anywhere around the world to protect "oppressed peoples." (MT, 05.01.23)
  • The first deputy chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, Alexei Zhuravlev, called for Russia to increase the duration of military service. Zhuravlev himself is not believed to have served in either the Soviet or the Russian army. (MT, 05.01.23)
  • See also section on "Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts" above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • At least 21 Russian cities have canceled their May 9 Victory Day parades, according to the independent outlet Vyorstka. Officials in some cities, including Kaluga, Ryazan, Oryol, Saratov, Lipetsk, Yelets and Tyumen cited “security concerns” as the reason. (Meduza, 05.04.23)
  • Russian authorities have ramped up their GPS suppression measures following a slew of drone attacks in recent weeks. Since April, “strong” interference has been observed in at least 15 regions across Russia, according to data from, which tracks satellite communication based on radio messages from civilian aircraft. (MT, 05.05.23)
  • A total of 47 Russian regions have introduced bans on using drones as of May 4, RBC reports. The majority of them have done so since late October 2022, when the Kremlin introduced martial law in the four Ukrainian regions it purported to annex. (RM, 05.04.23)
  • A court in Tula has sentenced two Russian men to 3 1/2 years in prison each for their alleged involvement in a car bombing in August that killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of Kremlin-linked far-right ideologue Alexander Dugin. (RFE/RL, 05.03.23)
  • The suspect in the cafe bombing that killed a prominent Russian pro-war blogger said she did not know that she was carrying explosives and that she is being denied access to lawyers one month after her arrest on terrorism charges. Daria Trepova, 26, was detained after a bomb planted inside a gilded bust she allegedly presented to blogger Vladlen Tatarsky exploded during an event in St. Petersburg, killing Tatarsky and injuring 40 others. (MT, 05.03.23)
  • Hundreds of Russian men have faced criminal charges for becoming war refuseniks since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. Some dodge the draft, while those already serving desert or refuse orders to redeploy on the bloody, chaotic battlefields of Ukraine. (NYT, 04.30.23)
  • Other court action for opposing war in Ukraine:
    • A jailed Russian anti-war activist’s disabled teenage son is being kept in “prison conditions” in juvenile detention, news site Holod reported May 2, citing a friend of the family. Natalia Filonova, 61, is awaiting trial in Buryatia on charges of assaulting police with a ballpoint pen. (MT, 05.02.23)
    • Siberian journalist Maria Ponomarenko, sentenced to six years in prison in February on a charge of discrediting Russia's armed forces, says she will be transferred to a remote location far from her native Altai region, which is a violation of her two children's right to regularly visit their mother. (RFE/RL, 05.03.23)
    • A court in Siberia convicted a 65-year-old lawyer over social media posts condemning the war in Ukraine and punished her on April 28 with a fine of 1 million rubles (over $12,400), even though both she and the prosecution asked for a prison sentence. (AP, 04.29.23)
  • The European Court of Human Rights on May 2 said Russia must compensate several prisoners belonging to an informal caste of "outcasts" who are subject to abuse and ostracization behind bars. (AFP/MT, 05.02.23)

III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • South Africa has been attempting to dissuade Putin from attending the BRICS summit it is hosting in August over fears that it would be compelled to arrest him on the ICC warrant issued in March. Citing sources in the country's government, South Africa's Sunday Times said that a special government commission established by President Cyril Ramaposa had concluded that the country would have no choice but to arrest Putin if he sets foot on South African soil. (MT, 05.01.23)
  • Burkina Faso's interim President Ibrahim Traore on May 4 said Russia had become a key strategic ally but denied that Russian mercenaries were supporting Burkinabe forces in their fight against Islamist armed groups. In a rare televised interview, Traore said Russia was a major supplier of military equipment and would remain so, without giving further details. "I am satisfied with the cooperation with Russia. It's frank," he said. (Reuters, 05.04.23)
  • The FSB recorded a 17% increase in visits to Russia by foreign nationals in January-March 2023 compared with the same period last year, up from 2.78 million to 3.27 million, the RBC news website reported on May 3. EU citizens made 11.8% more visits at 113,900, with Latvians, Lithuanians, Finns, Estonians and Poles traveling to Russia the most, while other European nationals visited Russia less often than before. (MT, 05.03.23)
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said May 2 that "nothing good awaits" Russian-Polish ties and accused Polish authorities of having "their minds captured by Russophobia." Poland has been one of Kyiv's staunchest allies against Moscow. (MT, 05.02.23)
    • Russia on May 2 summoned the Polish Embassy's charge d'affaires Jacek Sladewski after Poland on April 29 closed a school run by the Russian Embassy in Warsaw. (MT, 05.02.23)
    • Twitter has restricted the English-language account of former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for a post he made arguing that Poland "should not exist." (MT, 05.02.23)
  • After years of increasingly brazen Russian intelligence operations on German soil, Berlin is now belatedly undertaking a subdued but growing counterintelligence effort. (NYT, 05.02.23)
  • Italy is second only to Germany when it comes to businesses’ dependency on Russia. A new FT film looks at the government of Giorgia Meloni and whether she is likely to maintain her country’s support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion. (FT, 05.01.23)
  • Russia has evacuated more than 200 of its diplomats and other Russian nationals from Sudan as fighting between the country's army chief and paramilitaries entered its third week, state media reported May 2. (MT, 05.02.23)
  • Problems in Russia are mounting for French food retail group Auchan and its owners, the Mulliez family. French financial prosecutors are investigating Auchan’s Russian subsidiary over allegations that employees committed fraud and bribery in a scheme to enrich themselves. The family also owns sporting goods supplier Decathlon and DIY retailer Leroy Merlin. (FT, 04.30.23)


  • Russia on May 5 announced the full restoration of rail traffic on the controversial Crimean Bridge, which had been closed and under repair since it was badly damaged in an explosion in October. (MT, 05.05.23)
  • A scuffle broke out between members of the Russian and Ukrainian delegations at a meeting in Ankara after a Russian delegate grabbed the Ukrainian flag out of the hands of Verkhovna Rada deputy Oleksandr Marikovsky. (Meduza, 05.04.23)
  • Visits from Ukraine to Russia in the first quarter of 2023 plummeted from 769,000 to 55,500, according to FSB border-crossing data reported by RBC on May 3. (MT, 05.03.23)
  • See also other sections above.

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Azerbaijan and Armenia made significant progress toward addressing difficult issues at "intensive and constructive" U.S.-hosted talks this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on May 4. Blinken met with the two countries' foreign ministers in an effort to ease friction between the rivals. (RFE/RL, 05.04.23, Reuters, 05.01.23)
    • Russia on May 2 responded to the U.S.-hosted peace talks, saying there was "no alternative" to a deal that Moscow signed with the two warring countries in 2020. "For the moment, there is no other legal basis that would help a resolution. There is no alternative to these trilateral documents," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. (AFP/MT, 05.02.23)
  • The ex-Soviet Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan accounted for the highest number of visits by foreigners to Russia in the first three months of 2023, with year-on-year increases of 50%-80%, RBC reported on May 3, citing FSB border-crossing data. (MT, 05.03.23)
  • The border authority in Belarus has begun setting up temporary checkpoints at its land borders with Russia to screen arrivals from its neighbor, the independent news outlet Zerkalo reported on May 5, citing official sources. (MT, 05.05.23)
  • A court in Minsk has sentenced Raman Pratasevich, a journalist who was detained in Belarus in 2021 after the commercial flight he was on was forced to land in Minsk, to eight years in prison on charges linked to his reporting. The court also sentenced Pratasevich's two co-defendants, Stsyapan Putsila and Yan Rudzik, who were tried in absentia, to 20 and 19 years in prison, respectively. (RFE/RL, 05.03.23)
  • Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev began a visit to Germany on May 2 less than a year after his government used lethal force to crack down on protests in the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan, and just a few days after his country approved a new constitution allowing him to stay in power until at least 2040. (RFE/RL, 05.03.23)
    • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged support for Tashkent’s bid to join the WTO and accelerate the signing of an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU during their May 3 meeting in Berlin. (RFE/RL, 05.03.23)
    • According to preliminary results, 90% of voters in Uzbekistan backed constitutional changes that will allow President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to seek two more seven-year terms. (Axios, 05.01.23)

Quotable and notable

  • Moty Cristal, chief executive of an Israeli negotiation-strategy consulting firm who taught negotiating tactics at Skolkovo Business School in Moscow, comments on Russia’s negotiating strategies, which include trying to gain an edge by quickly going to extremes: “In the West, you’re applauded if you achieve a win-win,” he said. “In Russia, winning—by definition—means defeating the other side.” (WSJ, 04.29.23)