Russia in Review, Aug. 5-12, 2022

6 Things to Know

  1. Russia and Ukraine remained engaged in what appeared to be a game of nuclear brinkmanship this week, repeatedly accusing each other of carrying out strikes on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is controlled by Russian forces but operated by Ukrainian specialists. Parts of the facility had been "seriously damaged" and one of its reactors was forced to shut down due to the strikes, according to the operator of Ukrainian NPPs. The strikes continued even after IAEA’s Rafael Rossi warned that attacks on Europe’s largest nuclear plant were “suicidal.” A U.N. Security Council meeting that was convened on Aug. 11  to resolve the crisis failed to do so and Russia subsequently rejected a proposal for demilitarization of the area.
  2. Russia recruited enough volunteers to fight in Ukraine to form 40 battalions, a new army corps: Russian authorities’ efforts to recruit volunteers to fight in Ukraine to compensate for significant losses of active-service combat personnel there have yielded enough willing individuals to form 40 battalions, Kommersant reported. Some of these volunteer units, which are being formed in individual regions and which include prisoners pardoned in exchange for consent to fight, are likely to be included in a newly-formed 3rd Army Corps, according to British intelligence.
  3. U.S. commits to the largest military aid package to Ukraine to date: Washington will send $1 billion in additional military aid to Kyiv, including ammunition for HIMARS and anti-armor systems, in what would become the largest single drawdown since the start of the war, FT reported Aug. 8. In a separate development, 26 Western countries pledged $1.55 billion in cash, equipment and training to Ukraine during a donor conference on Aug. 11.
  4. Support for joining Russia is tepid in occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson: Russian authorities have secretly polled residents of the occupied territories in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions to find that only about 30% of these residents support integrating their regions with Russia. An equal share of respondents opposed this idea, Meduza reported Aug. 6. Nevertheless, the pro-Russia administration in the Kherson region issued a decree on Aug. 8 providing for a referendum on joining Russia. Meanwhile, Russian and Ukrainian forces are reportedly gearing up for major combat in that southern region.
  5. The Bank of Russia expects Russia’s economic output to start growing in 2024: The bank’s base scenario, which it updated on Aug. 11, provides for the Russian economy’s contraction in 2022 (GDP is to decline by 4-6%) and in 2023 (GDP is to decline by 1-4%), but then a return to growth at a rate of 1.5-2.5% in 2024. Inflation will decrease to 5-7% in 2023, according to this scenario.
  6. China’s exports to Russia are almost back to pre-invasion levels. They grew by more than a third in July, reaching $6.7 billion, according to Chinese customs statistics cited by Bloomberg. Russia's exports to China, which grew sharply in May-June, remained almost at June’s level at $10 billion. Russia was also the single largest source of crude oil supply to China in May and June, according to the IEA.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • Energoatom, the Ukrainian operator of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, said Aug. 6 that parts of the facility had been "seriously damaged" by military strikes and one of its reactors was forced to shut down. The Aug. 5 strikes had damaged a station containing nitrogen and oxygen and an auxiliary building at the NPP in southern Ukraine, Energoatom said. Then shelling of the plant on Aug. 6 damaged radiation sensors after striking close to a storage facility for spent fuel, Energoatom said. Energoatom then said on Aug. 11 the plant was shelled again, blaming Russian forces. (MT/AFP, 08.07.22, FT, 08.07.22, RFE/RL, 08.11.22)
    • The strikes underline "the very real risk of a nuclear disaster," said director general of IAEA Rafal Rossi following the Aug. 5 strikes. He then warned on Aug. 8 that any attack on a nuclear plant was "suicidal." (MT/AFP, 08.07.22, WSJ, 08.08.22)
    • U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres again called for an immediate end to military activity near the plant. (RFE/RL, 08.11.22)
  • The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on Aug. 11 to discuss the situation involving the Zaporizhzhia NPP. The meeting was called by Russia.
    • Mariano Grossi said the situation at the plant had deteriorated and was "very alarming … military actions near such a large nuclear facility could lead to very serious consequences."
    • Vassily Nebenzya, for Russia, accused Ukrainian armed forces of shelling the plant using heavy artillery, calling the strikes "a direct threat to the nuclear security of the plant."
    • Sergiy Kyslytsy, for Ukraine, accused Russia of "staged shelling of the nuclear power plant" and said Russia had decided to "go for broke" after realizing their plan was "collapsing like a house of cards" and so had called the Security Council meeting.   
    • Bonnie Jenkins, U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, called on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine’s territory, to cease all military operations at or near Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and to return full control of the Zaporizhzhia facility to Ukraine. Jenkins supported the idea of an IAEA mission to Ukraine. (WNN, 08.12.22, MT/AFP , 08.12.22)
  • European leaders should be wary of “possible incidents” at nuclear power plants in their countries, Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev said Aug 12. (MT/AFP , 08.12.22)
  • Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi said was Ukraine preparing plans to evacuate civilians from towns around the Zaporizhzhia NPP in case fighting in the area and Russian restrictions on personnel cause a radiation leak. (WSJ, 08.12.22)
  • Russia has rejected calls from the U.N. for a demilitarized zone around the Zaporizhzhia NPP. Nebenzya said on Aug. 12 that Moscow must “protect” the plant. A withdrawal of its troops would make the facility “vulnerable … to provocations and terrorist attacks,” he claimed. (The Guardian, 08.12.22)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • The self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic is negotiating with North Korea on cooperation in reconstruction. Head of the DPR Denis Pushilin said “negotiations are already underway so that builders, including from North Korea, can also come in teams directly to the restoration of territories in the DPR.” (Meduza, 08.09.22)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • The U.S. is ready to "quickly conclude a deal" to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement on the basis of proposals put forward on Aug. 8 by the EU, a State Department spokesperson said. Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov said on Aug. 7 there were "three or four issues" left to be resolved. "We stand five minutes or five seconds from the finish line," Ulyanov said on sidelines of the talks. (RFE/RL, 08.08.22)    
  • A Russian rocket successfully launched an Iranian satellite into space on Aug. 9 amid accusations that Moscow might use it to improve its surveillance of military targets in Ukraine. Iran plans to build three more Khayyam-type satellites jointly with Russia, Iran's Minister of Communications and Information Technology said. (RFE/RL, 08.07.22, TASS, 08.11.22, RFE/RL, 08.09.22)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • The Bellingcat investigation team and The Insider have identified the Russian soldier who was filmed torturing and killing a Ukrainian prisoner of war as Ochur-Suge Mongush of Tuva. (Meduza, 08.06.22)
  • Amnesty International said on Aug. 7 it "deeply regrets the distress and anger" caused by a report accusing Ukraine of exposing civilians to Russian fire. A report by The Guardian’s Luke Harding from Kyiv, a veteran reporter on Eastern Europe, confirmed some aspects of the Amnesty report. (RFE/RL, 08.08.22, BNE, 08.08.22)
  • The first grain-carrying ship to set sail from Ukraine since the Russian invasion is stranded off the coast of Turkey after the initial buyer of the cargo refused delivery. (FT, 08.09.22)
  • Ukraine announced on Aug. 7 that a second caravan of ships carrying grain has left the country's ports. (RFE/RL, 08.07.22)
  • Two more bulkers loaded with grain departed from Ukrainian ports on Aug. 12 consistent with the Istanbul initiative for food exportation from Ukraine. (Interfax, 08.11.22)
  • The Russian government has sent more than 10 billion rubles so far this year from its reserve fund to the separatist regions in Ukraine for temporary accommodation centers and the payment of lifting refugees from Ukraine. (BBC, 08.12.22)
  • Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine's eastern region of Donetsk have set Aug. 15 as the date for the trial of five foreigners accused of joining Ukrainian armed forces as mercenaries. (RFE/RL, 08.12.22)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • Director of Russia’s CAST think-tank Ruslan Pukhov said: “Another point that the special military operation has showed is that at the moment the [Russian] airborne troops, roughly speaking, are bad ersatz infantry. Because their aluminum infantry fighting vehicles are generally easily hit, and they have fewer other weapons than motorized infantry. (PRISP/CAST, 08.04.22)
  • An adviser to the Ukrainian president has thanked North Macedonia for military aid, saying his country will “never forget” the help from the small Western Balkan nation. On Aug. 3, Russia said it considered North Macedonia's donation of T-72 tanks to Ukraine "a major mistake.” (RFE/RL, 08.07.22)
  • The U.S. will send $1 billion in additional military aid to Ukraine, the largest single drawdown since the start of the war. The latest package will include additional ammunition for high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS), tens of thousands of rounds of artillery and mortar ammunition, anti-armor systems and armored medical treatment vehicles.  Including this package, the U.S. has now given approximately $9.8 billion in security aid to Ukraine since President Joe Biden took office. (FT, 08.08.22)
  • The U.S. says it will provide $89 million to Ukraine for removing land mines put in place by Russian forces. (RFE/RL, 08.10.22)
  • Twenty-six Western countries committed more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.55 billion) in cash, equipment and training on Aug. 11 during a donor conference to boost Ukraine's military capabilities in its war against Russia. (RFE/RL, 08.11.22)
  • CBS removed its documentary "Arming Ukraine" about the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine. The film cited the words of Jonas Oman, the head of the Lithuanian organization Blue Yellow, which has been helping the Ukrainian army since 2014. Oman said that, according to his calculations, only 30-40% of military aid to Ukraine reaches the front.  (Meduza, 08.08.22)    
  • The Ukrainian special services said they “neutralized” the sabotage and reconnaissance group of Russia’s GRU, which was preparing the murders of Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate Kirill Budanov, as well as a well-known Ukrainian activist. (Meduza, 08.08.22)    
  • Information about the creation of volunteer battalions "Kronstadt," "Neva" and "Pavlovsk" in St. Petersburg appeared on Aug. 4. According to Kommersant's estimates, more than 40 such units have already been created in at least two dozen regions of Russia. (Kommersant, 08.08.22)    
  • Britain says Russia has "almost certainly established a major new ground forces formation" that could include "volunteer" battalions to support its Ukrainian invasion. British Defense Intelligence on Aug. 10 described the new formation as the "3rd Army Corps" and said it was based out of Mulino, in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast east of Moscow. (RFE/RL, 08.10.22)
  • Russia’s Rossiya-1 channel showed an excerpt from Nikita Mikhalkov's TV program, where he talks about the "heroic" death of prisoner Konstantin Tulinov in the Donbas. “In February 2023, he could have been released. But in the spring of 2022, he filed a petition with a request to send him to the front, to the Donbas,” says Mikhalkov. (Istories, 08.08.22)    
  • Some 27 pieces of Russian military equipment inspected in Ukraine by RUSI/Reuters contained 450 unique microelectronic components made in the U.S., Europe and East Asia. The vast majority of these components have been made by U.S. companies, according to this joint investigation. (RUSI, 08.08.22)
  • ''We have reached a situation of parity'' in the war in eastern Ukraine, said Yuriy Bereza, the commander of the Dnipro-1 unit in Ukraine's National Guard, which is fighting outside the eastern city of Sloviansk. Bereza credited the appearance on the battlefield, beginning about a month ago, of American-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems with quieting Russia's artillery. (NYT, 08.09.22)
  • “The Russians are taking a tremendous number of casualties on the other side of the equation,” said Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s top policy official. “I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians are probably taking 70 or 80,000 casualties in less than six months.” (FP, 08.08.22)
    • With 500 Russian troops killed or wounded every day, according to the latest estimate by American intelligence and military officials, Russia's war effort has decelerated to a grinding slog, officials in the Biden administration say. (NYT, 08.12.22)
    • More than 5,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the invasion, according to a tally of confirmed deaths updated this week by independent Russian media outlet iStories. (MT/AFP , 08.12.22)
  • A Russian air base on Crimea suffered massive destruction from several explosions on Aug. 9. The Russian Navy's Saky Air Base near the village of Novofedorivka lost at least nine military aircraft. Unidentified Ukrainian officials have told U.S. media that their armed forces were responsible for the explosions but did not give further details. (RFE/RL, 08.11.22)
    • A NATO official declined to elaborate on the incident only to say that no weapons provided by the West were used in any assault. NYT and WP reported that Ukrainian special forces, working alongside Ukrainian partisans, were behind the assaults. (FT, 08.11.22)
    • A senior Ukrainian official put the toll at 60 dead and 100 wounded in a series of explosions that destroyed several Russian warplanes in a Moscow-controlled region. (NYT, 08.12.22)
  • Ukraine is building forces outside Kherson, even as larger battles continue in the eastern region of Donbas. Zelensky has for weeks repeatedly outlined his goal of retaking Kherson, and Ukrainian troops have openly targeted local bridges and other infrastructure the Russians are using to supply and reinforce the area. (WSJ, 08.11.22)
  • Zelensky has called on officials to stop talking to reporters about military tactics against Russia, and a top Defense Ministry official said an investigation had been opened into the leaks. (RFE/RL, 08.12.22)

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

  • Putin has signed a decree that bans investors from so-called "unfriendly countries" from selling shares in certain strategic enterprises until the end of the year. According to the decree, signed on Aug. 5, the ban also applies to stakes in banks and in the Sakhakin-1 oil and gas development in Russia's Far East. (RFE/RL, 08.06.22)
    • Italian company Enel and Finnish company Fortum, which decided to leave the Russian market, could not sell their assets. The deals were frozen due to the decree signed by Putin on Aug. 5. (Meduza, 08.09.22)
  • Patreon, a web service which allows authors and artists to distribute their work on a paid subscription, has become unavailable in Russia. (Meduza, 08.07.22)
  • The U.S. has obtained a warrant to seize an Airbus jet owned by Russian oligarch Andrei Skoch, the Justice Department says. Skoch has been designated for sanctions since 2018 for alleged "long-standing ties to Russian organized criminal groups." (RFE/RL, 08.09.22)
  • The Kremlin has lashed out at European critics including leaders of EU states and besieged Ukraine over their calls for all Russians to be banned from the West. The sharp response follows encouragement by the Finnish and Estonian prime ministers for a ban on visas to Russians. Zelensky this week urged the West to ban all Russians to discourage Moscow from trying to annex more territory. (RFE/RL, 08.09.22)
  • Pet food manufacturer Purina has halted the production and sale of cat and dog food in Russia due to logistical difficulties caused by sanctions. (Meduza, 08.09.22)
  • Lawmakers in Latvia have designated Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, citing Moscow’s ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, its military activities in Syria and several high-profile cases of poisoning of Kremlin-critics. (RFE/RL, 08.11.22)
  • Estonia plans to bar Russian citizens with Schengen visas that were issued by the Baltic state from entering the country because of Russia's ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 08.11.22)
  • The fourth largest producer of coffee in the world, the German Tchibo GmbH, has left Russia. The Russian entity, which Tchibo has divested from, will continue to supply Tchibo and Davidoff coffee until the end of the year, but then it will be forced to develop a new brand. (Meduza, 08.12.22)
  • Germany’s ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder is suing the Bundestag to restore the parliamentary privileges it stripped him of in May after he refused to distance himself from Putin over the Ukraine war. (FT, 08.12.22)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • Peskov said there are no negotiations with the Ukrainian side and Russia's military operation would continue until its goals are achieved. He said a summit between Zelensky and Putin could only take place after negotiations. (WSJ, 08.08.22)
  • Zelensky has said that if Moscow holds referendums on joining Russia in occupied areas of his country, there could be no talks with Ukraine or its international allies. Yevgeny Balitsky, the Moscow-appointed head of Ukraine's southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, has officially ordered a local referendum on the possibility of the province joining the Russian Federation. (RFE/RL, 08.08.22, RFE/RL, 08.08.22)    
  • In a poll by the International Republican Institute, nearly two-thirds (64%) of Ukrainian respondents said that as a result of the war, Ukraine will maintain all territories within its internationally recognized borders as defined in 1991, including the Crimean and Donbas regions, an increase from 53% in April. (Newsweek, 08.12.22)

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

  • Biden signed measures on Aug. 9 approving the expansion of NATO to include Sweden and Finland, an effort to bolster the Western alliance after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. (NYT, 08.09.22)
  • The U.S. will conduct more military exercises with Baltic nations such as Latvia, and look to provide increased training, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Aug. 10. (RFE/RL, 08.10.22)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Biden, according to a senior U.S. official, personally told President Xi Jinping that if China entered the war in Ukraine on Russia’s side, Beijing would be risking access to its two most important export markets—the United States and the European Union. (NYT, 08.01.22.)
  • Chinese exports to Russia are back near levels seen before the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia bought $6.7 billion of goods in July from China, an increase of more than a third from the previous month and up by more than an annual 20%. By contrast, its imports from Russia—which surged in March-May—rose only slightly last month after a drop in June, according to data from China’s customs authority. (Bloomberg, 08.08.22)
  • Russia was the single largest source of crude oil supply to China in May and June. China accounted for 35% of Russia's crude oil exports, while Russia accounted for about 20% of China's crude oil imports. Russian exports to India increased to a new record level of 975,000 bpd in July, according to the IEA. (Interfax, 08.11.22)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • Senior U.S. officials still believe that Putin is quite prepared to consider using a small nuclear weapon against Ukraine if he sees his army facing certain defeat. (NYT, 08.01.22)
  • Moscow said it won't support the resumption of inspections of its nuclear arsenal under New START because of travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. On Aug. 1, Biden said in a statement that he was "ready to expeditiously negotiate a new arms control framework" that would replace the New START accord. Sergei Ryabkov, a Russian deputy foreign minister, said in an email to WSJ on Aug. 5 that his country hasn't received a proposal from the U.S. asking to resume talks on a follow-on to New START. (WSJ, 08.09.22)
  • Classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought in a search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Aug. 8, according to people familiar with the investigation. (WP, 08.12.22)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • At the end of July, the Sparta II merchant ship arrived in Russia from Syria, apparently carrying at least 11 pieces of military equipment. The ship belongs to Oboronlogistics, a company controlled by the Russian Defense Ministry, which is under U.S. sanctions. (Meduza, 08.11.22)

Cyber security:

  • No significant developments.

Energy exports from CIS:

  • The EU has called on member states to cut natural-gas use by 15% under a new plan intended to prepare the bloc for a possible halt in Russian supplies. (RFE/RL, 08.08.22)     
  • The Druzhba [Friendship] pipeline has resumed the transfer of oil to Slovakia and Hungary following the MOL Group’s payment to Ukraine for the Russian oil transit. Russian oil flows to the Czech Republic through the Druzhba pipeline resumed in the evening of Aug. 12.  (BNE, 08.11.22, Reuters, 08.12.22)
  • Moldovagaz will not be able to make the upfront payment for the gas delivered by Gazprom in August at the end of this month, the head of the Moldovan gas transport and distribution company announced. (BNE, 08.11.22)
  • Western sanctions have had “limited impact” on Russian oil output since the start of the war in Ukraine, the IEA said, as it raised its forecast for Russian crude production into 2023. Moscow’s exports of crude and oil products to Europe, the U.S., Japan and Korea had fallen by nearly 2.2 million barrels a day since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but the rerouting of flows to countries including India, China and Turkey had mitigated financial losses for the Kremlin. Russian oil production in July was only 310,000 b/d below prewar levels, a fall of less than 3%, while total oil exports were down about 580,000 b/d, according to the IEA’s latest monthly oil report. As a result, Russia would have generated $19 billion in oil export revenues last month, and $21 billion in June, the IEA’s data showed. (FT, 08.11.22)
  • Russian oil production rose in July, the IEA said in a report. Total crude oil, condensates and NGLs production by Russia rose 25,000 bpd to 11.09 million bpd and was down just 310,000 bpd from its level prior to the events in Ukraine, according to IEA. (Interfax, 08.11.22)
  • Kazakhstan is expected to sell some of its crude oil through Azerbaijan's biggest oil pipeline from September, as the nation seeks alternatives to a route Russia threatened to shut. (Reuters, 08.12.22)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • Russia confirmed Aug. 11 for the first time that negotiations between Washington and Moscow on a prisoner exchange are underway, after the U.S. proposed a deal to release WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American prisoner, Paul Whelan. The Russian Foreign Ministry said talks are underway via a channel set up by Biden and Putin when they met in Geneva in June last year.  (WP, 08.11.22)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • The Russian economy shrank 4% from April through June compared with a year earlier, the Russian statistics agency said Aug. 14. The Bank of Russia’s base scenario, updated on Aug. 11, provides for the Russian economy to continue to contract in 2022 (GDP will decline by 4-6%) and in 2023 (GDP will decline by 1-4%), but then return to growth at a rate of 1.5-2.5% in 2024. Inflation will decrease to 5-7% in 2023, according to the scenario. (RM, 08.12.22, NYT, 08.12.22)
  • From January to June 2022, almost 2.5 million passports were issued in Russia—the most over the past three years. (Meduza, 08.11.22)
  • An analysis of archive footage from polling stations in Russia recorded during parliamentary elections last year suggests over 17 million ballots were cast fraudulently, independent media outlet Meduza reported Aug. 12. (MT/AFP , 08.12.22)
  • Post-Soviet reformer Anatoly Chubais, who left Russia following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, has reportedly been discharged from a hospital in Italy where he was being treated for a rare immunity disorder. (RFE/RL, 08.07.22)
  • Russian authorities have blocked or deleted some 138,000 websites since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, the country’s prosecutor general said Aug. 8. (MT/AFP, 08.08.22)    
  • A court in Moscow has placed TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova under house arrest on a charge of distributing false information about Russia’s armed forces. (RFE/RL, 08.11.22)
  • Russian authorities have blocked the main social media account for police watchdog OVD-Info over its coverage of the ongoing Russian war on Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 08.12.22)

Defense and aerospace:

  • One of Alexei Navalny’s colleagues has released the results of their open-source investigation into Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko. According to the investigation, Krivoruchko used to own an apartment in Miami, Florida, and one of his two daughters is a U.S. citizen. (RM, 08.11.22)
  • See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Putin signed a decree Aug. 12 that allows FSB officers to count one day of service as two days of service—a bonus that means earlier pensions and other financial gains—for the time an officer is deployed on the Russia-Ukraine border. (MT/AFP , 08.12.22)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Six Western officials told FT that they were concerned about the pledge made on Aug. 5 by the Turkish and Russian leaders to expand their cooperation on trade and energy after a meeting in Sochi. U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo met Turkish officials and Istanbul bankers in June to warn them not to become a conduit for illicit Russian money.  During their meeting in Sochi, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Putin agreed to increase trade, including energy, and to facilitate the unimpeded export of Russia’s grain, fertilizer and raw materials per the Istanbul agreement. According to the joint press statement on the meeting, the two leaders also called for the preservation of Syria’s political unity and territorial integrity and “reaffirmed their determination to act in coordination and solidarity in the fight against all terrorist organizations.” In addition, they agreed on payment in rubles for trade in natural gas and five Turkish banks have adopted Russia’s Mir payments system, Erdogan said after the meeting. Ugur Gurses, a former Turkish central banker, said the use of the ruble in Russian-Turkish trade would be limited out of Turkish companies’ fear of secondary sanctions. The next meeting of the Turkey-Russia High Level Cooperation Council will take place on Turkish soil, according to the statement. (RM, 08.11.22, FT, 08.06.22, Bloomberg, 08.06.22, Al Monitor, 08.10.22)
    • There are reports that Russia is seeking Turkish help in providing ''subsystems'' for its weapons, which can no longer source Western components directly. (NYT, 08.11.22)
  • After Vadim Krasikov was found guilty in December of killing former Chechen fighter Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Berlin, the German foreign intelligence service argued against targeting the FSB to keep open lines of communication between the two services, according to German officials. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Germany has expelled a further 40 "diplomats" but still allows at least 100 Russian spies to operate out of its embassy. (WP, 08.05.22)
  • The reelection of Arkady Dvorkovich as president of international chess federation FIDE was "clearly very good news and a very significant victory," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. (MT/AFP, 08.07.22)
  • Wizz Air is to restart flights to Moscow through its Abu Dhabi joint venture, drawing warnings that a return to Russia risks reputational damage for the European low-cost airline. (FT, 08.09.22)
  • Putin and Israeli President Isaac Herzog discussed the strained relations between their countries and the situation of the Jewish Agency in Russia in a phone call on Aug. 9. The Jewish Agency has started making preparations for its possible closure in Russia, The Jerusalem Post reported. (RFE/RL, 08.09.22, MT/AFP, 08.11.22)
  • A German military reserve officer has gone on trial on charges of spying for Russia in the western German city of Dusseldorf. The trial of 65-year-old Ralf Goelert, who allegedly passed sensitive information to the Russian foreign intelligence service from 2014 until 2020, opened on Aug. 11. (RFE/RL, 08.11.22)
  • Moscow has rejected a plan by Kyiv to have Switzerland represent Ukraine's interests in Russia, saying it no longer considers Switzerland a neutral country. (RFE/RL, 08.11.22)
  • RT Online, the television network's Arabic-language page on Facebook, saw a 187% spike in engagements during the first month of the war. On these sites, Russia's war is falsely portrayed as a just cause against a fascist regime in Ukraine. (NYT, 08.08.22)
  • Italy’s center-right alliance has pledged to maintain support for Ukraine’s struggle against Russia and deepen integration with the EU, if it comes to power in the next elections. (FT,  08.12.22)
  • More than 260 teams from 35 countries will take part in the International Army Games to be held in twelve states on Aug. 13-27, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Pavel Popov said at a briefing for foreign military attaches. This year, 12 countries, including Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, Vietnam, Iran, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, Russia and Uzbekistan, will host the games. (TASS, 08.11.22)
  • The 2022 Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF) will feature more than 230 films from 65 countries. (TASS, 08.11.22)


  • A March survey by the pollster Rating showed that 76% of Ukrainians consider Ukrainian their native tongue, up from 57% in 2012. (WSJ, 08.06.22)
  • Two interlocutors close to the Kremlin told Meduza that in mid-July, a closed sociological survey was conducted in the occupied territories of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions about whether local residents want to join Russia. According to its results, about 30% were in favor of joining and the same number (under the conditions of occupation) spoke in favor of keeping the regions within Ukraine. (Meduza, 08.06.22)
    • The Russian-installed head of the occupied part of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region signed a decree Aug. 8 providing for a referendum on joining Russia, in the latest sign that Moscow is moving ahead with its plans to annex seized Ukrainian territory. (The Guardian, 08.08.22)
  • The Moscow-appointed deputy mayor of the occupied Ukrainian city of Nova Kakhovka, Vitaliy Efymenko, has been detained on criminal charges. (RFE/RL, 08.09.22)
  • Ukraine's overseas creditors on Aug. 10 backed its request for a two-year freeze on payments on almost $20 billion in international bonds. (RFE/RL, 08.10.22)
  • Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitri Medvedev visited the occupied part of Luhansk Oblast where he held a security meeting on behalf of Putin. Also in attendance were Prosecutor General of Russia Igor Krasnov, First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Sergey Kiriyenko, Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Head of the Ministry of Construction Irek Faizullin, FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov and Head of the Investigative Committee Aleksandr Bastrykin. (Yahoo, 08.11.22)
  • Before the war, the Ukrainian government's budget was roughly balanced. Now, tax revenues only cover around 40% of government spending. War costs are more than 60% of the budget The government needs about $5 billion a month to cover nonmilitary spending. (WSJ, 08.12.22)
  • McDonald's will reopen some of its locations in Ukraine, roughly six months after Russia's invasion of the country caused the fast-food chain to pause its operations there. (WSJ, 08.11.22)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • The Kazakhstan-based Nazarbaev Fund has filed a lawsuit against a U.S.-based investigative journalism outlet that runs the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, for libel, claiming a report about Nursultan Nazarbaev’s multibillion-dollar wealth damaged its reputation. (RFE/RL, 08.06.22)
  • A U.S. Central Command-sponsored military exercise has kicked off in Tajikistan. The U.S., Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan will take part in a six-day command-post exercise, while Tajikistan and the U.S. will conduct a five-day bilateral field-training component of the exercise at the Fakhrabad Training Center. (RFE/RL, 08.10.22)
  • The Uzbek Embassy in Moscow has warned the Central Asian nation's citizens residing in Russia of serious repercussions for joining Russia's ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 08.10.22)
  • On the second anniversary of the disputed presidential election in Belarus, exiled opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, whom many consider the winner of the August 2020 vote, has named an interim government of the country. (RFE/RL, 08.09.22)
  • Belarus' air force is holding exercises on its territory and at a military training base in Russia, the Belarusian Defense Ministry said Aug. 9. (RFE/RL, 08.09.22)
  • In a statement delivered to the OSCE Special Permanent Council in Vienna, U.S. mission Chargé d’Affaires Courtney Austrian said that “the United States expresses its deep concern over the reports of intensive fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh, including casualties and the loss of life.” (RFE/RL, 08.09.22)
  • Citing increased drug trafficking and other illegal cross-border activities, Russian border guards controlling Armenia’s frontier with Iran have set up checkpoints along several roads in the country’s southern Syunik Province. (RFE/RL, 08.09.22)
  • All along the road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, there are billboards erected by the Russian peacekeeping mission there: “Where there are Russians, there is peace.” But after recent escalations in tensions here, many Karabakh Armenians are doubting those promises. An outbreak of violence in early August saw two Armenian soldiers killed, at least 19 injured and allowed Azerbaijan to take a strategic height just north of that road. (Eurasianet/MT, 08.11.22)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • “Many of us made a mistake,” said Mikko Hautala, Finland’s envoy to Washington who once shared a sauna with the Russian president. “I think most of us simply concluded that this is a kind of nostalgia politics. But I think most of us didn’t see or didn’t want to conclude that this [Russian] obsession with history was actually a blueprint for war.” (FP, 08.09.22)