Russia in Review, Feb. 17-24, 2023

5 Things to Know

  1. China’s “peace plan” for Ukraine, vague on how peace can be attained, sends clear signals that Beijing’s support for Moscow is neither univocal nor limitless. The very first of the plan’s 12 points declares, in a clear acknowledgement of the Ukrainian state’s fundamental rights, that the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld.” In a nod to Moscow, the “Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis” avoids describing the war as a war and opposes “unilateral sanctions.” At the same time, the paper asserts that the “threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed” in a thinly-veiled reprimand of the Russian leadership’s regular rattling of the nuclear saber since the beginning of the invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. Putin did not inform Xi about his plans for the invasion when the two met on Feb. 4, 2022, to agree that the Russian-Chinese relationship had “no limits.” China has since dropped the “no limits” phrase from its official communications, according to FT’s James Kynge.   
  2. “Our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided and we will not tire,” Biden said in Poland one day after visiting Kyiv to meet the Ukrainian leadership. In his Feb. 21 speech at Warsaw’s Royal Castle, Biden said one of the aims of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago was to attain the Finlandization of NATO. “Instead he got … the NATOization of Finland—and Sweden,” the U.S. president said. While seeking to convince Putin of NATO’s cohesion and its continued support for Ukraine, Biden sought to assure the Russian people that “the United States and the nations of Europe do not seek to control or destroy Russia.”
  3. Putin announced the suspension of Russia’s participation in New START and ordered his government agencies to be ready to conduct a nuclear test in case the U.S. carries one out. In his address to parliament on Feb. 21, Putin cited what he claimed was the U.S.’s and NATO’s desire “to inflict a strategic defeat on us and get into our nuclear facilities” among the reasons for the suspension. Joe Biden said the suspension (which the treaty’s language does not provide for), was a “big mistake,” while Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the U.S. would be willing to negotiate a new treaty with Russia, as did Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. The suspension can be reversed, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, noting that Russia will continue to honor the treaty’s quantitative ceilings and to participate in the Russian-U.S. arrangement for notification about upcoming launches of ICBMs and SLBMs.
  4. Putin has gamed out using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine only to conclude that even a limited strike would do nothing to benefit Russia, two people close to the Kremlin told FT. “He has no reason to press the button. What is the point of bombing Ukraine? You detonate a tactical nuke on Zaporizhzhia,” one former Russian official told the newspaper. “Everything is totally irradiated, you can’t go in there, and it’s supposedly Russia anyway, so what was the point?”  
  5. People in the West and Global South disagree on whether war has made Russia stronger or weaker. When asked if the Russian-Ukrainian war made them think that Russia is stronger or weaker than they previously thought, some 63% of Indians opted for the former. Some 44% of Turks, 40% of Chinese and 30% of Russians also held that view, according to the results of polls conducted for ECFR and the University of Oxford in December-January. The share of those in India, Turkey, China and Russia who think that Russia is weaker than they previously thought was 12%, 20%, 14% and 26%, respectively. In contrast, 42% of Americans, 49% of Britons, and 39% of EU residents said the war made them think Russia is weaker than they previously thought.


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


Nuclear security and safety:

  • China’s Foreign Ministry on Feb. 24 unveiled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.” The 12-point paper says China opposes armed attacks against nuclear power plants or other peaceful nuclear facilities, and calls on all parties to comply with international law, including the Convention on Nuclear Safety and resolutely avoid man-made nuclear accidents. (RM, 02.24.23)
  • In an apparent reference to the Russian army’s occupation of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia NPP, the Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party told the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 18 that China opposed “attacks on nuclear power stations.” (FT, 02.18.23)
  • Russia has brought more troops to the Zaporizhzhia NPP and has blocked the IAEA from conducting a scheduled rotation of its inspectors at the facility, Ukrainian authorities said Feb. 20. (NYT, 02.20.23)
  • IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said, "The nuclear safety and security situation at the Zaporizhzhia NPP continues to be fragile and potentially dangerous,” as the IAEA published a report that details the events since Russian military action began. The report concludes with the message that "the current situation is untenable and the best action that can be taken to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities is an end to the armed conflict.”(WNN, 02.24.23)
  • The risk of a disaster at a nuclear power plant in Ukraine due to fighting or the loss of external power remains high despite the threat having fallen from the headlines, the head of Germany's Federal Office for Radiation Protection Inge Paulini said. (DPA, 02.18.23)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • Inspectors from the IAEA are in Tehran for negotiations and verification. Last week, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said it was discussing the results of recent verification activities with Iran after Bloomberg News reported that the agency had detected uranium enriched to 84% purity, which is close to weapons grade. (Reuters, 02.22.23)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • The U.S. has formally concluded that Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine, Vice President Kamala Harris told the Munich Security Conference (MSC), vowing that those who had perpetrated crimes and their superiors “will be held to account.” (FT, 02.18.23)
  • Speaking at the MSC, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that “winning the peace” would require rebuilding “the international order,” which would involve holding Russia to account for its actions. (FT, 02.18.23)
  • Eurojust, the European judicial authority, has established a new center to investigate crimes committed in Russia's aggression in Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 02.23.23)
  • Human Rights Watch on Feb. 21 accused Russia of committing a "war crime" with a missile attack that killed some 60 fleeing civilians at the Kramatorsk train station in April 2022. (MT/AFP, 02.21.23)
  • Thousands of Ukrainian immigrants living in the U.S. are at imminent risk of losing their legal status because they entered the country in a brief window during which the U.S. government didn't have a long-term plan in place to receive them. (WSJ, 02.18.23)
  • Ukraine’s finance ministry received €31 billion by December 2022 of the €64 billion promised by Western countries after Russia launched its full-scale attack last February, research by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy has found. The ministry said it projected a deficit of $38 billion for this year, lower than in 2022. (FT, 02.21.23)
  • The U.S. is readying an additional $10 billion in economic assistance to Ukraine in the coming weeks. (Reuters, 02.23.23)
  • Grain exports from Ukraine have slowed markedly in recent weeks. Now, with tensions high ahead of the first anniversary of the invasion, some traders are worried Russia won't extend the grain deal, which is due to expire on March 19. (WSJ, 02.22.23)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

The Harvard Russia-Ukraine War Task Force has released a Report Card including a dozen indicators that shed light on the outcomes and cost of one year of war in Ukraine, which will be updated weekly.

  • Russian troops managed to break through Ukrainian defenses near the eastern town of Kreminna on Feb. 21 but were pushed back, a senior Ukrainian official said the following day. Then on Feb. 23 Ukrainian forces repelled scores of Russian attacks in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, Kyiv said. In its assessment of the battlefield dynamics in the Bakhmut area as of Feb. 23, Ukraine’s OSINT Telegram channel DeepStateUA acknowledged the loss of Berkhivka and Yahidne settlements in the Donetsk region to Russian forces. At the same time, the channel said Russian attacks on that region’s Vuhledar and Maryinka did not result in the seizure of the either. Ukrainian forces remained in Maryinka as of Feb. 24, according to DeepStateUA. Wagner PMC also claimed control of the region’s Berkhivka on Feb. 24 , but no confirmation of this by the Ukrainian side could be found. (RM, 02.24.23, Reuters, 02.22.23, RFE/RL, 02.23.23) 
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed Feb. 24 to do everything to defeat Russia this year. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said his army was gearing up for a counteroffensive. (MT/AFP, 02.24.23)
  • Kyiv is casting an anxious eye on Russian threats via Belarus and Moldova that officials say pose minimal immediate risks but cannot be ignored. This week, Ukraine deployed more troops to its border with Moldova, and the Ukrainian military has in recent months increased military drills near its border with Belarus. Moldova's government has this week dismissed an accusation by Russia's defense ministry that Ukraine is planning to invade the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdnistia. (NYT, 02.22.23, Guardian, 02.24.23)
  • Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Feb. 24 vowed that Russia would be victorious in its war against Ukraine, saying that Moscow is ready to fight up to the Polish border to counter alleged “threats” against it. (MT/AFP, 02.24.23)
  • Kremlin-linked businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a co-founder and owner of the Wagner mercenary group, says his units have started to receive ammunition after he accused the Russian Defense Ministry of treason by holding back supplies for artillery and missile-launchers. (RFE/RL, 02.23.23)
    • According to pro-Russian commander Alexander Khodakovsky, Wagner's units in Ukraine were not denied ammunition. Rather, after enjoying a greater rate of supplies, Wagner units are now supplied at same rate as everyone else. That is insufficient and Russian units' attempts to attack at Vuhledar showed it, according to Khodakovsky. (RM, 02.23.23)
    • Senior figures in Russia’s military shared some of Prigozhin’s disdain for Shoigu and Gerasimov, according to a person close to him and a senior Ukrainian official. Most prominent among them were Sergei Surovikin. (FT, 02.24.23)
  • According to a Feb. 22 video statement by Col. Gen. Mikhail Teplinsky that he was not removed from the post of the commander of the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV), though he no longer serves in the command structure of the so-called Special Military Operation (SVO). It was Teplinsky's disagreements with Gerasimov over use of the VDV in the SVO that led to his removal from the SVO, according to the BBC. In his video, Teplinsky asks to be reinstated as part of the SVO command. (RM, 02.22.23)
  • The Pentagon announced another $2 billion in long-term military support for Ukraine. The package includes HIMARS, 155-mm artillery rounds, munitions for laser-guided rocket systems as well as a number of types of unmanned aircraft, including CyberLux K8 quadcopter drones, Switchblade 600 drones, Altius-600 drones and Jump 20 drones. The package also includes other systems to counter Russian attack drones, electronic warfare-detection equipment, mine-clearing equipment and communications-support equipment, the Pentagon said. (WSJ, 02.24.23)
    • "No, I support Ukraine," U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said when CNN asked him about a measure to halt further aid. "I don't support a blank check, though. We spent $100 billion here; we want to win. I think the actions that President Biden has taken are a bit too late." (WP, 02.24.23)
  • Germany said it would increase the number of Leopard 2A6 tanks it would send from 14 to 18. Sweden said Feb. 24 it will send 10 Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, and Poland on Feb. 24 said the first of 14 Polish Leopard 2s pledged to Kyiv had arrived in Ukraine. On Feb. 23, the Finnish Defense Ministry announced it would be sending Ukraine three Leopard 2 tanks suitable for mine clearing. (FT, 02.24.23, FT, 02.23.23)
  • British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that more than 10,000 Ukrainian troops had come through Britain for training in the past six months, with the aim of an additional 20,000 this year. (WP, 02.23.23)
  • In ramping up military support for Ukraine, Western officials are mindful anything less than a crushing defeat for Russia risks failing to deal with the problem. “We need to ask ourselves: How do we want to this end up? Do we want to end up in a situation when Putin will survive and he will have more time?” says an EU foreign minister. “Something like the lull between the first and second world war.” (FT, 02.23.23)
  • Polls conducted for the European Council on Foreign Relations and University of Oxford in December-January revealed 38% of people polled in the EU, 44% in the U.K. and 34% in the U.S. agree that their countries should help Ukraine win. In China, a plurality of those asked (42%) agree that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine needs to stop as soon as possible, even if it means Ukraine giving up control of some territory to Russia. This desire to end the war soon is even stronger in Turkey (48%) and India (54%), according to ECFR’s analysis of the polls. (RM, 02.24.23)
  • Over 15,000 Russian soldiers have been confirmed killed in Ukraine since the start of the Kremlin’s invasion, according to independent Mediazona news website and the BBC Russian service. Among the 15,136 dead servicemen identified by the investigation are more than 1,800 officers of the Russian Armed Forces, 199 of whom were in the rank of lieutenant colonel or above. They also included 1,214 reservists drafted during the autumn mobilization. (MT, 02.23.23)

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

  • As Ukraine marked the first anniversary of the invasion, the U.K. and U.S. announced new measures against hundreds of groups and individuals including Russian banks and defense companies, while the EU is preparing its own sanctions hitting Moscow’s war economy. Japan is also readying a new package of sanctions against Moscow prime minister Fumio Kishida told reporters ahead of the virtual G-7 summit. (FT, 02.24.23, FT, 02.08.23)
    • The White House said U.S. sanctions would target more than 200 entities and people. The Russian banks targeted by the U.S. Treasury in a new round of sanctions include Credit Bank of Moscow, Lanta Bank, Metallurgical Investment Bank, MTS Bank, Novosibirsk Social Commercial Bank, Bank Saint Petersburg, Bank Primorye, SDM-Bank, Ural Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Bank Uralsib and Bank Zenit Public. The Treasury also imposed sanctions on entities in the Russian metals and mining sector. The U.S. said the Departments of Commerce and Treasury will also target nearly 90 Russian and third-country companies, including some in China, that officials say have engaged in sanctions evasion and so-called backfilling activities in support of Russia's defense sector. (FT, 02.24.23, WSJ, 02.24.23)
    • The U.K. imposed sanctions on senior executives at Russian state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom, the country’s two largest defense groups, and four banks including MTS. The British measures also included a ban on exports of aircraft parts, radio equipment and electronic components to Russia that can be used by the military industry. (FT, 02.24.23, RFE/RL, 02.24.23)
    • In Brussels, EU ambassadors were seeking on Feb. 24 to finalize the bloc’s 10th round of sanctions on Russia, a package set to include curbs on exports of electronic components used in Russian systems including drones, missiles and helicopters. The EU also wants to ban the transit via Russia of goods and technology that could be adapted for military use. (FT, 02.24.23)
  • The G-7 is set to create a new tool to coordinate their enforcement of existing sanctions on Russia, an effort to tighten the screws and improve compliance, according to people familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg, 02.22.23)
  • The U.S. will impose a 200% tariff on all imports of Russian-made aluminum, as well as aluminum products made with metal smelted or cast in the country, in a move on March 10, that could ripple through global manufacturing supply chains. (Bloomberg, 02.24.23)
  • The U.S. is seeking to seize six luxury properties valued at $75 million in New York and Florida tied to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. (Bloomberg, 02.24.23)
  • A brokerage for wealthy Russians that accounted for more than two-thirds of all the trading through the tiny island of Guernsey was shut down by regulators concerned about its links to a sanctioned bank. ITI Trade Ltd. offered a gateway to trading on the Moscow stock exchange and booked annual volumes of around £53 billion ($63.7 billion) in the year ending March 2022. (Bloomberg, 02.24.23)
  • The EU and its allies are investigating a surge in exports to economies in Russia’s vicinity as they seek to prevent companies from evading Western sanctions imposed on Moscow. (FT, 02.23.23)
  • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said alongside U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that it was “not true that products such as electronics . . . used in the defense industry are exported by us to Russia.” (FT, 02.20.23)
  • Dutch giant brewer Heineken said Feb. 22 that it still planned to exit Russia after a media report accusing it of "breaking a promise" to leave over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 02.22.23)
  • Philip Morris International has admitted it would “rather keep” its business in Russia than sell on stringent Kremlin terms, highlighting the challenges for companies trying to leave the country without taking a huge financial hit. (FT, 02.22.23)
  • Wintershall Dea is looking for a way to sue Moscow after the Kremlin expropriated the German company’s business in Russia and wiped €2 billion off its accounts. (FT, 02.23.23)
  • Billions of dollars are accumulating in Moscow beyond the reach of its foreign owners. At a press conference this month, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina declined to disclose how much money is in special non-resident bank accounts, but Interfax reported in November these accounts hold more than $3.7 billion. (Bloomberg, 02.23.23)
  • Western sanctions have failed to derail Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and destabilize its economy, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, trumping what he said were major economic achievements despite attempts to cut the country out of global markets and supply chains. Russia’s gross domestic product fell by just 2.1% in 2022, boosted by soaring prices for its energy exports that helped offset much of the blow from the sanctions. (FT, 02.21.23)
  • Bloomberg Economics calculates that by 2026, Russia’s economy will be 8%—or $190 billion—smaller than it would otherwise have been, as a result of war and sanctions. (Bloomberg, 02.24.23)
  • The 23 Russian billionaires who ranked among the world’s 500 wealthiest people had a combined net worth of $339 billion on Feb. 23, 2022, the day before Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine. A year later, with the conflict anything but resolved, Russia’s rich and powerful have lost $67 billion from their collective fortunes, a 20% drop that’s more than four times as large as the rest of those on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. (Bloomberg, 02.24.23)
  • Sanctions-hit Russian warlord Prigozhin, who has been accused of human rights abuses around the world, was able to pass U.K. anti-money laundering checks by submitting a utility bill in the name of his 81-year-old mother. (FT, 02.23.23)
  • The Dutch government ordered about 10 Russian diplomats to leave the country, saying Moscow has been using diplomatic cover for espionage. The cabinet will also temporarily shut the consulate-general in Saint Petersburg. (Bloomberg, 02.18.23)
  • The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has suspended with immediate effect the Russian Union of Journalists over its action since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its role in illegally annexed Ukrainian territories. (RFE/RL, 02.22.23)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • China’s Foreign Ministry on Feb. 24 unveiled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.” The 12-point document asserts that “the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld.” "All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually de-escalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive cease-fire," the proposal said. In a nod to Moscow, the paper avoided describing the war as a war and opposes “unilateral sanctions.” (RM, 02.23.23, WP, 02.24.23, FT, 02.24.23)
    • Zelensky gave qualified support Feb. 24 for China’s new pronouncements about the war in his country, saying Beijing’s interest is “not bad” and might be useful in isolating Russia. (AP, 02.24.23)
    • Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukraine's presidency, dismissed the proposal and tweeted that "any 'peace plan' with cease-fire only … and continued occupation of territory isn't about peace, but about freezing the war, defeat, next stages of genocide." He reiterated the Ukrainian position that Russian forces should withdraw to the 1991 borders. (WP, 02.24.23)
    • Russia’s Foreign Ministry welcomed China’s peace plan Feb. 24, and said it remains open to political and diplomatic efforts. Reacting to the Chinese position paper, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that “Russia is open to achieving the goals of the special military operation via political & diplomatic means.” (Twitter, 02.24.23, AP, 02.24.23)
    • U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan pointed to the importance of the national sovereignty mentioned in Beijing's proposals for resolving the situation in Ukraine. "Well my first reaction to it is they could stop at point one, which is respect the sovereignty of all nations," he told CNN in an interview. (TASS, 02.24.23)
    • NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Beijing simply "doesn't have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine." (MT/AFP, 02.23.23)
    • “We will look at the principles, of course, but we will look at them against the backdrop that China has taken sides,” said Ursula von der Leyen, EU commission president. “It is not a peace plan.” (FT, 02.24.23)
    • German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “We very much welcome any constructive proposal bringing us closer to a fair and just peace.” He called for Beijing to engage with Kyiv as well as Moscow. (FT, 02.24.23)
      • The existence of the 12-point plan was disclosed by the director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Part Wang Yi at the MSC on Feb. 18. He said at the time that China “was not directly concerned in the conflict, but was not standing idly by.” (FT, 02.18.23) Wang’s disclosure was followed by the following developments:
        • “During an in-depth exchange of views on the Ukrainian issue with Putin, Wang appreciated Russia’s reaffirmation of its willingness to solve problems through dialogue and negotiations,” said China’s statement from the Putin-Wang meeting in Moscow which took place after Wang’s participation in MSC. (FT, 02.23.23)
        • Blinken said the West would be skeptical of a Chinese peace initiative that called for an immediate ceasefire. “He [Putin] will never negotiate the territory that he’s seized and meanwhile he’ll use the time to rest, to refit, to rearm and to reattack,” he warned. (FT, 02.18.23)
        • German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said of the Chinese proposal that “we have to exploit every chance for peace.” (FT, 02.18.23)
        • Any peace that entails the surrender of Ukraine to invading Russian forces "cannot be a real peace" but the supply of military planes to Ukraine "is not on the table," Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said after talks in Kyiv with Zelensky. (Reuters, 02.21.23)
  • "It has been nearly a year since the crisis in Ukraine escalated across the board," Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said at a conference on global security in Beijing. "China is deeply concerned that the conflict is intensifying and even getting out of control." Qin urged the "countries concerned to stop adding fuel to the fire as soon as possible, to stop shifting the blame to China." (MT/AFP, 02.21.23)
  • The United States is ready for talks on Ukraine only on the basis of formula proposed by Zelensky, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said. (TASS, 02.24.23)
  • In February 2022, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko called Zelensky to invite delegation of officials to Minsk to negotiate an end to the war that Russia had launched just three days earlier. Zelensky was incensed at the invitation to another negotiation—recalling talks over the conflict in Ukraine's east, known as "Minsk 1" and "Minsk 2," that took place in the Belarusian capital in 2014 and 2015—in which Kyiv was forced to make concessions to the Kremlin under the threat of battlefield losses. "There will be no Minsk," Zelensky said. "There will be no Minsk 3." (WP, 02.22.23)

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

  • U.S. President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Feb. 20, announcing $500 million in new military aid. “He thought he could outlast us. I don’t think he’s thinking that right now,” Biden said of Putin while in Kyiv. The trip to Ukraine is the first by an American president in nearly 15 years. Zelensky said he and Biden discussed the issue of long-range weapons. (FT, 02.20.23,, 02.20.23)
    • “We did notify the Russians that President Biden will be travelling to Kyiv,” Biden’s NSA Jack Sullivan said. “We did so some hours before his departure for deconfliction purposes, and because of the sensitive nature of those communications I won’t get into how they responded or what the precise nature of our message was, but I can confirm that we provided that notice.” The U.S. informed Moscow to avoid any misunderstanding or misjudgment between the two nuclear-armed powers, according to accounts from Washington. (The Guardian, 02.20.23)
    • The head of the FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, stressed that the Russian side did not provide the United States with any security guarantees for Biden as he visited Kyiv the day before. According to Bortnikov, the United States informed the Russian side about Biden's upcoming visit through diplomatic channels, but Moscow did not guarantee the security of the U.S. president. (Versiya, 02.21.23)
    • Russia unsuccessfully tested its nuclear-capable “invincible” missile during Biden’s visit to Ukraine this week, CNN reported Feb. 21, citing two unnamed U.S. officials. (MT/AFP, 02.22.23)
  • “Our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided, and we will not tire,” Biden told an audience in Poland one day after visiting Kyiv. In his Feb. 21 speech, Biden said one of the aims that Putin pursued with his invasion of Ukraine a year ago was to attain the Finlandization of NATO. “Instead he got he got the NATOization of Finland—and Sweden,” the U.S. president said. At the same time Biden sought to ensure the Russian people with his speech that “the United States and the nations of Europe do not seek to control or destroy Russia.” (RM, 02.21.23)
    • While in Warsaw, Biden met NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and the heads of Eastern European countries in a bid to shore up support for Kyiv. (AFP, 02.22.23, Reuters, 02.22.23)
  • Speaking to a joint session of the Russian parliament and Kremlin officials, Putin presented the war in Ukraine as an existential struggle against the West. "The Western elite make no secret of their goal, which is, I quote, 'Russia’s strategic defeat.' What does this mean to us? This means they plan to finish us once and for all." (NPR, 02.21.23,, 02.21.23)
  • U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris told the MSC that “no nation is safe” in a world where “one country can violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another.” Nearly 50 lawmakers from the House and Senate, split almost evenly among Democrats and Republicans, attended the MSC. Most wanted to reassure Western allies that the new Republican-led House still largely supports Zelensky. (WP, 02.18.23, FT, 02.19.23)
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said it would be everybody’s problem if “the law of the strongest prevailed in international relations.” (FT, 02.19.23)
  • French President Emmanuel Macron called at the MSC for an ''intensification'' of Western support for Ukraine, but, unlike other leaders addressing the conference, he also underscored that peace negotiations were the ultimate goal. (NYT, 02.18.23)
  • British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said at the MSC that NATO allies should finalize a security guarantee for Ukraine when the alliance’s leaders meet at a summit in July. The West must give Ukrainian armed forces the "advanced, NATO-standard capabilities" needed to banish Russian troops from its land,” he said. (Bloomberg, 02.18.23)
  • Stoltenberg told the MSC that Putin “is planning for more war, new offensives.” “What is happening in Europe today could happen in east Asia tomorrow. The war in Ukraine demonstrates that security is not regional, it is global,” Stoltenberg said. (FT, 02.18.23)
  • There was palpable frustration at the MSC among some leaders from African and South American nations that the war in Ukraine was consuming the time, money and attention of the West at the expense of other pressing problems. (FT, 02.19.23)
  • Europe is indirectly at war with Russia because of its military support for Ukraine, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in in his annual state of the nation speech, predicting fighting in Ukraine may continue for years. (Bloomberg, 02.18.23)
  • Addressing a Belfer Center event at the Harvard Kennedy School on Feb. 22, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he was confident that Ukraine would be admitted into NATO. Kuleba backtracked on remarks he made in December that Russia must face an international war crimes tribunal before Ukraine would agree to start any peace talks. “My present position” is that a tribunal is “not a prerequisite for the beginning of any diplomatic effort,” he said in response to a question about his current stance. (Harvard Gazette, 02.23.23, Belfer Center, 02.23.23)
  • The prime minister of Sweden has warned against delinking his country’s NATO membership bid from Finland’s, after the alliance acknowledged for the first time that the two might have to join separately owing to Turkey’s obstruction. (FT, 02.19.23)
  • Hungarian lawmakers will vote on the NATO bids by Finland and Sweden in early March. (AFP, 02.22.23)
  • “The idea was never for hundreds of thousands of people to die. It’s all gone horribly wrong,” a former senior Russian official says of the Kremlin’s intentions at the time the invasion was being launched. “He [Putin] tells people close to him, ‘It turns out we were completely unprepared. The army is a mess. Our industry is a mess. But it’s good that we found out about it this way, rather than when NATO invades us,’” the former official adds. (FT, 02.23.23)
    • Dissenting voices in the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, and Russia’s general staff attempted to raise doubts ahead of the invasion. (FT, 02.23.23)
    • One part of the Kremlin’s invasion plan involved Viktor Yanukovych delivering a video message conferring legitimacy on Viktor Medvedchuk—and anointing him to rule Ukraine with Russia’s backing. (FT, 02.23.23)
  • Some 63% of Indians polled for a study by the European Council on Foreign Relations and the University of Oxford in December-January said that the Russian-Ukrainian war made them think that Russia is stronger than they previously thought. Some 44% of Turks, 40% of Chinese and 30% of Russians also held that view. In contrast, 42% of Americans and 49% of Britons and 39% of EU residents said the war made them think that Russia is weaker than they previously thought. The share of those in India, Turkey, China and Russia who said they think that Russia is weaker than they previously thought was 12%, 20%, 14% and 26%, respectively. (RM, 02.24.23)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Putin and Wang vowed to strengthen ties between their two countries despite “pressure from the international community” ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “We are prepared to maintain our strategic focus and determination alongside Russia,” Wang said as he met Putin on Feb. 22. “China-Russia relations have withstood pressure from the international community and are developing in a very stable manner against the backdrop of a very complex, changing international situation,” Wang told Putin. Putin said he’s waiting for his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to visit Russia. Cooperation between Russia and China is “very important for stabilizing the international situation,” Putin told Wang. Russia and China are reaching “new milestones” including in trade, which may grow to $200 billion sooner than their goal of 2024, Putin said. (Bloomberg, 02.22.23, FT, 02.22.23)
    • Xi is preparing to visit Moscow for a summit with Putin in the coming months, according to people familiar with the plan. Xi could visit in April or in early May, they said, when Russia celebrates its World War II victory over Germany. (WSJ, 02.21.23)
    • Patrushev told Wang in Moscow on Feb. 21 that Russia would support China on Taiwan as well as on Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. (FT, 02.22.23)
  • Harris told the MSC: “Any steps by China to provide lethal support to Russia would only reward aggression, continue the killing and further undermine a rules-based order.” During their meeting at the MSC, Blinken warned Wang against helping Russia evade sanctions. Then Blinken told a Ukraine-focused panel at the MSC after meeting Wang, "We've made clear to our Chinese counterparts … that we would view any provision of military assistance or evading sanctions as a very serious problem." (FT, 02.18.23, WSJ, 02.18.23, Bloomberg, 02.18.23)
    • U.S. and European officials said Beijing wouldn’t necessarily provide advanced weapons, but would likely backfill what Russian forces have lost on the battlefield in Ukraine, such as ammunition, or have been unable to produce because of sanctions, such as electronics. (WSJ, 02.22.23)
    • China’s government probably approved of Chinese firms providing Russia non-lethal, “dual-use” support for its war in Ukraine, Blinken said Feb. 23. (Bloomberg, 02.24.23)
    • A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, didn’t respond directly when asked whether China would supply lethal support for Russia’s war effort. “It is a known fact that NATO countries including the U.S. are the biggest source of weaponry for the battlefield in Ukraine, yet they keep claiming that China may be supplying weapons to Russia,” said Wang. Wang was then asked Feb. 24 about a report in Der Spiegel that Beijing is negotiating to send Russia armed drones. He answered by saying: “China has always taken a cautious and responsible approach to military exports, and does not offer any arms sales to conflict zones or parties involved in wars.” (Bloomberg, 02.24.23, WSJ, 02.22.23)
    • Chinese Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dai Bing told the General Assembly on Feb. 23 that one year into the Ukraine war "brutal facts offer an ample proof that sending weapons will not bring peace." (Reuters, 02.23.23)
  • The navies of Russia, China and South Africa will conduct exercises including simulating air attacks on ships and liberating hostages from pirates in 10 days of exercises off the African country’s coast. The participants will also fire artillery in the maneuvers, the “active portion” of which will take place Feb. 25-27. (Bloomberg, 02.22.23)
  • China’s Ministry of Natural Resources has recently issued new regulations on map content, which require the addition of old Chinese names to the current Russian-pronounced geographical names of eight places along the Russian-Chinese border, according to David Cowhig’s Feb. 23 blog post. (MT/AFP, 02.23.23)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • In his address to the parliament on Feb. 21, Putin said Russia will suspend its participation in New START and ordered his government agencies to be ready to conduct a nuclear test in case the U.S. carries out one. The U.S. and NATO “want to inflict a strategic defeat on us and get into our nuclear facilities. In this regard, I am compelled to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms,” he said. He also said that the share of the latest systems in Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces is more than 91%. (RM, 02.22.23)
    • Following Putin’s address, both chambers of the Russian parliament passed a bill on suspension even though New START doesn’t allow either side to suspend its participation in the treaty. While suspending its participation in New START, Russia will honor its quantitative ceilings and will continue to participate in the Russian-U.S. arrangement for notification about upcoming launches of ICBMs and SLBMs, Russia’s foreign ministry said.  (RM, 02.22.23)
      • Kommersant’s report that Putin’s speech had been amended the night before his address indicates that the Russian leader may have himself inserted language on the suspension of New START, according to ex-Kremlin speechwriter Abbas Gallyamov. That the language on suspension was separated from the rest of Putin’s remarks on external policies can serve as evidence that Putin himself inserted it. (RM, 02.24.23)
    • Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev wrote on his Telegram account in reference to Putin’s announcement that Russia was suspending its participation in the New START treaty: “If the United States wants to defeat Russia, then we have the right to defend ourselves with any weapon, including nuclear ones. ... The suspension (for the time being) of New START is tied to this. Let the out-of-touch elites in the U.S. think about what they have achieved. We will also observe the reaction of other nuclear powers—NATO members: France and Britain.” (RM, 02.23.23)
    • Biden said in Warsaw Putin had made a “big mistake” in suspending New START. (Bloomberg, 02.22.23) 
  • Blinken told reporters in Athens that the Russian leader's decision "is both really unfortunate and very irresponsible." He also said he would be willing to negotiate a new treaty that was “clearly in the security interests of our country” and, he added, “in the security interests of Russia.” (NYT, 02.22.23, WSJ, 02.21.23)
  • The United States is prepared for talks on New START with Russia “tomorrow,” U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said. "The U.S. and Moscow have responsibilities to the world to keep our nuclear arsenal safe and secure, and we should do our jobs," Nuland said. "The U.S. has been ready to go back to the table to ensure implementation of New START from the very beginning," she stressed. (TASS, 02.24.23)
    • Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, added that Putin’s decision was “demolishing the security system that was built after the end of the Cold War.” (FT, 02.21.23)
    • NATO will closely monitor what Russia does with its nuclear weapons, Stoltenberg said. “A world without nuclear arms control agreements risks leading to more nuclear weapons,” he said. (Bloomberg, 02.23.23)
  • Putin on Feb. 23 said that Moscow will “put our focus on strengthening the nuclear triad.” “This year, the first Sarmat missile system launchers with the new heavy missile will be put on combat duty. We will continue full production of the Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic systems and begin mass deployment of Tsirkon sea-launched hypersonic missiles,” Putin said.  “With the Borei-A nuclear-powered submarine Emperor Alexander III becoming operational in the Navy, the share of modern weapons and equipment in the naval strategic nuclear forces will reach 100%,” he said. (The Hill, 02.22.23)
  • According to two people close to the Kremlin, Putin has already gamed out the possibility of using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine and has come to the conclusion that even a limited strike would do nothing to benefit Russia. “He has no reason to press the button. What is the point of bombing Ukraine? You detonate a tactical nuke on Zaporizhzhia,” says a former Russian official. “Everything is totally irradiated, you can’t go in there, and it’s supposedly Russia anyway, so what was the point?” (FT, 02.23.23)
  • China’s Foreign Ministry on Feb. 24 unveiled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.” The 12-point paper says: “Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought. The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed. Nuclear proliferation must be prevented and nuclear crisis avoided. China opposes the research, development and use of chemical and biological weapons by any country under any circumstances.” (RM, 02.23.23)
  • The latest Western intelligence assessments have underscored Beijing’s growing concern over Putin’s threatened use of nuclear force, Western officials said. Those worries represented the only area of common ground with Western envoys regarding Russia in the Munich meetings. China is intent on letting western powers know that China stands firmly against the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, according to Chinese official sources and commentators. (WSJ, 02.22.23, FT, 02.23.23)
  • Several senior Chinese officials have told FT that Putin did not inform Xi about his plans for a full invasion of Ukraine when the two met in early February last year, and issued a communique describing their ties as having “no limits.” China has since dropped the “no limits” phrase from its official communications and Wang did not use it during his visit to Moscow, according to FT editor James Kynge. (FT, 02.23.23)
  • U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called out Russian threats about its possible use of nuclear weapons. "We have heard implicit threats to use nuclear weapons. The so-called tactical use of nuclear weapons is utterly unacceptable. It is high time to step back from the brink," Guterres told the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on Feb. 22. (Reuters, 02.22.23)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security:

  • Alphabet Inc.'s Mandiant cybersecurity group said it had responded to fewer ransomware intrusions in 2022—a 15% decrease from 2021. CrowdStrike Holdings Inc., another U.S. cybersecurity firm, said it saw a drop in average ransom-demand amounts, from $5.7 million in 2021 to $4.1 million in 2022, a decline the company attributed to disruption of major ransomware gangs, including arrests, and a decline in crypto values. Ransomware payments are generally made using cryptocurrency. (WSJ, 02.21.23)
  • Accounts pushing Kremlin propaganda are using Twitter's new paid verification system to appear more prominently on the global platform, another sign that Elon Musk's takeover is accelerating the spread of politically charged misinformation, a nonprofit research group has found. Most of the dozen such accounts identified by Reset were created last year during the first phase of the war in Ukraine.  (WP, 02.22.23)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • At least 23 million barrels of Russian crude and additional volumes of refined fuels have been transferred from one tanker to another in the Bay of Lakonikos since the start of this year, according to tanker tracking by Bloomberg. Greek authorities say their scope to intervene is limited because the activity is happening outside of a six-mile limit to the country’s territorial waters in the area. (Bloomberg, 02.23.23)
  • Kazakhstan’s state-run pipeline operator applied to export oil to Germany via the Druzhba link, as Berlin seeks to replace Russian crude deliveries. (Bloomberg, 02.22.23)
  • EIA’s Fatih Birol said that while the EU had largely avoided a full-blown energy crisis following Russia’s weaponization of gas supplies, which had once sparked fears of widespread shortages and blackouts, next winter could prove a greater challenge if the continent suffered colder weather. Birol has warned that Russia could cut the remaining 20% of prewar gas supplies it still sends to Europe through pipelines via Ukraine and Turkey. (FT, 02.22.23)
  • Dutch intelligence authorities have warned of Russian attempts to sabotage its North Sea energy infrastructure and told operators to be on their guard. (FT, 02.20.23)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador on Feb. 21 over what it called “Washington’s expanding involvement” in the war in Ukraine, the Interfax news agency reported. (MT/AFP, 02.21.23)
  • Putin gave Biden a $12,000 pen and decorative writing set at their first presidential summit in Geneva in 2021. The writing set was the most expensive gift Biden received from a foreign leader that year. The White House said at the time that Biden had given Putin a pair of his trademark aviator sunglasses and a glass sculpture of an American bison. (Bloomberg, 02.23.23)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Speaking at a state-organized concert marking the Defender of the Fatherland Day holiday, Putin said, “I've just been hearing from the highest military command that at this very moment there is an ongoing fight on our historical lands, for our people. It is led by similarly brave fighters like the ones standing beside us here right now,” he said, flanked by Russian soldiers. (MT/AFP, 02.22.23)
  • In his address to the parliament, Putin said that Russia will hold a presidential election as scheduled in 2024, but did not say whether he would run. He also took aim at Russia’s oligarchs in his Moscow speech, the majority of whom privately oppose the war but have refrained from speaking out for fear of reprisals. “No ordinary citizens felt sorry for those who lost their foreign assets and invested in yachts and palaces,” Putin said. “We will not settle scores with those who take a step aside and turn their back on their Motherland. Let this be on their conscience, let them live with this—they will have to live with it,” Putin said. (FT, 02.21.23, FT, 02.21.23) Quite a few previews of Putin's speech predicted he'd crack down on dissenters. Instead Putin claimed that "we will not settle scores with those who take a step aside." A clear attempt to woo back IT and other valuable emigres.1
  • Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny published a 15-point plan outlining his view of Russia’s future in the postwar era, predicting Russia’s “military defeat” and outlining his plans to transform Russia into a parliamentary republic. (MT, 02.21.23)
  • Volker Turk, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, was "concerned by continued detention of opposition politician and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza since April 2022," his office said in a tweet. (MT/AFP, 02.22.23) 
  • The Russian government on Feb. 19 blocked access to the popular independent news site The Bell. (AFP, 02.20.23)
  • A court in Russia's Far East has again extended the forced detention in a psychiatric clinic of a Yakut shaman who became known across the country for his attempts to march to Moscow to drive Putin out of the Kremlin. (RFE/RL, 02.22.23)
  • The legislature in the Siberian region of Novosibirsk has voted to end the practice of holding direct mayoral elections in the regional capital as well as in the adjacent scientific research center of Koltsovo, Interfax reported on Feb. 20. (MT, 02.21.23)

Defense and aerospace:

  • An uncrewed Russian Soyuz capsule took off early Feb. 24 from Kazakhstan for the International Space Station to eventually bring home three astronauts whose return vehicle was damaged by a tiny meteoroid. (MT/AFP, 02.24.23)
  • See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • No significant developments.


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Indian officials hosting G-20 finance chiefs this week are seeking to avoid using the word “war” in any joint statement when referring to Russia’s war in Ukraine, a person familiar with the matter said. (Bloomberg, 02.21.23)
    • France is insisting that the G-20 finance chiefs find “strong” words to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. “Don’t make any mistake,” he said. “Either we stick to the Bali communique or France will oppose any communique of the finance ministers. I cannot be clearer.” (Bloomberg, 02.24.23)
  • More than 200 Russian weapons ranging from tanks to air-defense systems and ammunition were on show Feb. 20 at the IDEX exhibition in Abu Dhabi, the region’s biggest defense and security fair, according to the manufacturers. (Bloomberg, 02.20.23)
  • Afghanistan's Taliban-led administration has set up a consortium of companies, including some in Russia, Iran and Pakistan, to create an investment plan focusing on power, mining and infrastructure. (Reuters, 02.22.23)
  • Government forces and Russian allies in the Central African Republic have abused civilians, and Russian operatives have hampered peacekeeping operations there, U.N. rights expert Yao Agbetse said Feb. 20. (AFP, 02.20.23)
  • The U.S. has shared intelligence with authorities in Chad that the head of Russian paramilitary company Wagner Group is working with Chadian rebels to destabilize the government and potentially kill the president of the Central African nation. (WSJ, 02.23.23)


  • Addressing a Belfer Center event at the Harvard Kennedy School on Feb. 22, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine has made mistakes, like allowing oligarchs and corruption to flourish, overlooking the readiness of Ukraine’s armed forces and allowing Russia to periodically get involved in domestic politics. “But whatever flaws we have, one thing has always made us fundamentally different from Russia. The core of the Ukrainian project has always been freedom,” he said. (Harvard Gazette, 02.23.23)
  • Western officials privately expressed disappointment that Zelensky wasn't delivering on his campaign against corruption. In the U.S., aid packages to Ukraine had drawn broad bipartisan support, but future packages must pass both the Senate, led by Democrats, and the House, where Republicans now have a slim majority. Some Republicans are opposed to spending taxpayer dollars in Ukraine, citing concern about corruption and arguing that the money could be better spent domestically. (WSJ, 02.22.23)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke of Washington’s “deep concern” that Moscow was working to destabilize Moldova and overthrow the government of the eastern European nation. Speaking after a meeting with Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Munich, Blinken said the U.S. was alarmed by “some of the plotting that we’ve seen coming from Russia to try to destabilize the government.” Sandu said on Feb. 22 that at a meeting the previous day in Warsaw she invited Biden to "revisit" her country. (FT, 02.18.23, RFE/RL, 02.23.23)
    • Demonstrators took to the streets of the Moldovan capital of Chișinău on Feb. 19, demanding the removal of Sandu. (FT, 02.19.23)
    • Moldova’s foreign minister Nicu Popescu told FT that oligarch Ilan Șor was spreading social unrest with Moscow’s backing in a bid to topple Moldova’s pro-Western government. (FT, 02.22.23)
  • A previously unreported Kremlin strategy document purports to lay out in detail Russia’s plans to absorb neighboring Belarus by 2030, U.S. and European media reported Feb. 21. The 2021 Russian presidential administration paper spells out Minsk’s political, military, defense, humanitarian, trade and economic integration with Moscow as part of a so-called “Union State,” according to Yahoo News. (MT/AFP, 02.21.23)
  • The Belarusian parliament's lower chamber, the House of Representatives, approved the second and final reading of a bill on Feb. 21 that envisages the death penalty for high treason for civil servants and members of the military. (RFE/RL, 02.21.23)
  • Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said some progress had been made toward peace between the two Caucasus nations during trilateral talks with Blinken, but they made clear that much work still needed to be done. The Armenian leader brought up the issue of "Azerbaijan's illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor and the resulting humanitarian, environmental and energy crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh." (RFE/RL, 02.18.23)
  • The U.N.'s top court has ordered Azerbaijan to allow free passage through the Lachin Corridor. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in favor of Yerevan's appeal to the court last month to unblock Armenians' only land route to the territory. It has been blocked since mid-December by Azerbaijani protesters claiming to be environmental activists and seemingly acting with official Azerbaijani support. (RFE/RL, 02.22.23)
  • Billionaire Ruben Vardanian, a former Russian citizen of Armenian descent, has been removed from the post of prime minister in Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh's leader, Arayik Harutiunian offered the prime minister's post to Nagorno-Karabakh's de facto prosecutor general, Gurgen Nersisian. (RFE/RL, 02.23.23)
  • Jailed former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has alleged a widening plot by officials and others to "murder" him and appealed via social media for his country and the world to prevent "this criminal corporation" from carrying out "their evil intentions." (RFE/RL, 02.22.23)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • A Russian oligarch, while in the Kremlin on Feb. 24, 2022, asked Lavrov how Putin could have planned such an enormous invasion in such a tiny circle. “He has three advisers,” Lavrov replied, according to the oligarch. “Ivan the Terrible. Peter the Great. And Catherine the Great.” (FT, 02.23.23)
  • “He’s of sound mind. He’s reasonable. He’s not crazy. But nobody can be an expert on everything. They need to be honest with him and they are not,” another longtime Putin confidant says. “The management system is a huge problem. It creates big gaps in his knowledge and the quality of the information he gets is poor.” (FT, 02.23.23)
  • “Putin started doubting victory because he realized the generals can’t be trusted. So he started seeking out other opinions,” a person close to Prigozhin said. “If Shoigu goes, we win. Shoigu is our biggest enemy, not the Ukrainians.” (FT, 02.24.23)
  • “If the sanctioning coalition was much stronger than expected, then so was the target,” says Nicholas Mulder, a Cornell professor who’s written a book about sanctions as a weapon of statecraft. (Bloomberg, 02.24.23)



  1. Here and elsewhere italicized text represents contextual commentary by RM staff.