Russia in Review, Feb. 2-9, 2024

5 Things to Know

  1. Vladimir Putin granted a two-hour interview to Tucker Carlson to urge the U.S. to “make an  agreement” with Russia on Ukraine. However, while claiming that “we are ready for this dialogue,” the Russian autocrat gave no indication that Moscow is open to abandoning at least one of its maximalist goals of using force against Ukraine, the latter’s “denazification.” “We haven't achieved our aims yet, because one of them is denazification,” Putin said of his “special military operation.” Moreover, while insisting that Russia will not send troops to NATO countries unless attacked by them and accusing the alliance of “scaring everyone” with warnings of Russian nuclear strikes, Putin could not help rattling his nuclear saber yet again. This time, he warned that a deployment of NATO troops to Ukraine “would certainly bring humanity on the brink of a very serious, global conflict.” In the 2-hour interview Putin also identified three outcomes that eventually led him to conclude that rapprochement with the U.S. was unattainable, that “we weren't welcome” in the West. These included the U.S. refusal to admit Russia into NATO while also expanding east; U.S. refusal to end what he saw as America’s support for separatists in Russia’s North Caucasus; and U.S. refusal to pursue joint missile defense with Russia while continuing to develop its own BMD system.
  2. On Feb. 8, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy replaced Valerii Zaluzhnyi with Oleksandr Syrskyi as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (ZSU). Zelenskyy outlined problems in the military that Syrskyi will need to address, including disparity between the overall number of military servicemen and the number of servicemen participating in actual combat. Zelenskyy also called for “a different approach to mobilization and recruitment,” two issues over which he has had disagreements with Syrskyi’s predecessor. In the first comments on priorities since his appointment, Syrskyi himself vowed to improve the rotation of troops at the frontlines and to focus on the “introduction of new technical solutions and the scaling of successful experience,” including drones, according Bloomberg. Syrskyi—who is seen as a close ally of Zelenskyy and is considered more accessible by some U.S. commanders than Zaluzhnyi was—has been credited with the successful defense of Kyiv in Spring 2022 and recapturing territory in the east and south in Fall 2022. However, his reputation among the Ukrainian servicemen is far from stellar, with some describing him as a “butcher” for his willingness to sacrifice soldiers during the defense of Bakhmut in 2022-2023. 
  3. In the past month, Russian forces have captured 64 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 0 square miles, according to the Feb. 6, 2024, issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. This week, Russians have penetrated the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka from the north and south in a development acknowledged by Ukrainian OSINT project DeepState. The Russians are also closing in around Kupyansk, a town in the Kharkiv region that Ukrainian forces retook in 2022, according to WSJ. Russian forces plan to retake more territory in that eastern region, having amassed more than 40,000 troops and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles near Kupyansk for that purpose, according to NYT.
  4. On Feb. 8, the Democratic-controlled Senate cleared a critical hurdle toward passing a $95 billion national security-focused bill aimed at fortifying Ukraine, Israel and other allies. Most of the proposal's funding—about $60 billion—is intended to help Ukraine as it fights off Russia's invasion. The vote was 67-32, clearing the 60-vote bar needed to advance most legislation in the chamber, according to WSJ. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) has said that he would allow an amendment process, which is something Republican senators said they intend to engage in, suggesting to trim funds that pay public servants in Kyiv, according to WSJ. Of the $60 billion intended for Ukraine, nearly $8 billion is intended to provide direct budget support for Ukraine. The largest portion, $19.9 billion, would replenish inventory levels of Defense Department weaponry that were emptied to help Ukraine's military, according to WSJ. However, even if the bill ultimately clears the Senate, it faces an even tougher road in the Republican-controlled House, according to WSJ. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R) has declined to say whether he would bring the Senate-passed national-security package onto the floor, but Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) has already threatened to try to oust Johnson as speaker if he advances more money for Ukraine, according to WSJ.
  5. If Congress doesn't approve new funding for Ukraine, U.S. equipment won't suddenly stop, but slowly expire, according to NYT. ''Ukraine could effectively hold for some part of this year'' without more American military aid, Michael Kofman, an expert on the Russian military, told NYT. Western officials and experts predict it would be at least a couple months before the lack of renewed aid has a widespread impact, according to NYT. By next month, Ukraine could struggle to conduct local counterattacks, and by early summer, its military might have difficulty rebuffing Russian assaults, the officials and analysts said to this newspaper.

NB: Next week’s Russia in Review will appear on Thursday, Feb. 15, instead of Friday, Feb. 16, because of the U.S. Presidents' Day holiday.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant remains fragile amid worrying recent staff cuts enacted by Russian authorities occupying the facility, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi said in Kyiv. “This huge facility used to have around 12,000 staff. Now, this has been reduced to between 2,000 and 3,000, which is quite a steep reduction in the number of people working there,” Grossi said. “To man, to operate these very sophisticated big installations you need a certain number of people performing different specific functions.” (AP, 02.06.24)
  • According to the Kremlin’s translation of Vladimir Putin’s remarks at a meeting with Alexander Lukashenko on Jan. 29 Putin said: “The construction of a Belarusian nuclear power plant was completed in 2023 with Russia’s direct participation. This, of course, is very serious progress. Not only that a station has been built, but, as we always say, an industry is being created. And in this sense, Belarus, of course, has become a nuclear power; this is a serious step forward in the development of the economy and scientific sphere, as well as in technology.” (, 01.29.24)  While Kremlin’s translators translated this designation as “nuclear power,” in reality, Putin referred to Belarus as an “atomnaya derzhava,” which we would translate as “atomic power.” (Russians refer to nuclear power plants as atomic electric station, not nuclear electric station or nuclear power plants.)*
  • Dzerzhinsky Division, an elite National Guard unit based in the outskirts of Moscow, has launched a training course for operators of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). National Guard troops provide pro-forces to all major nuclear sites in Russia. (D. Kovchegin’s Russian Nuclear Security Update, 02.05.24)
  • The Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant of Rosatom’s TVEL and the Egyptian Atomic Energy Organization (EAEA) signed contract documents for the supply of low-enriched nuclear fuel components to Egypt for its ETRR-2 reactor to Egypt. (Rosatom, 02.08.24)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • Russia has fired North Korean ballistic missiles against Ukraine at least nine times, according to a U.S. diplomat. Robert Wood, the U.S. Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs in the U.N., made the accusation on Feb. 6 at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Ukraine. (Business Insider, 02.08.24)

  • Russia has allowed the release of millions of dollars in frozen North Korean assets and may be helping its isolated ally with access to international banking networks, according to American-allied intelligence officials. Russia has allowed the release of $9 million out of $30 million in frozen North Korean assets deposited in a Russian financial institution, according to the intelligence officials, money that they say the impoverished North will use to buy crude oil. The White House said last month that it had evidence that North Korea had provided ballistic missiles to Russia, and that the North was seeking military hardware in return. Pyongyang also appears to have shipped up to 2.5 million rounds of ammunition. (NYT, 02.06.24)
  • A group of Russian tourists arrived in Pyongyang on Feb. 9, AFP reporters saw, the first known foreign tour group to visit nuclear-armed North Korea since before pandemic-linked border closures. (MT/AFP, 02.09.24)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • Russian authorities are reportedly paying Iran roughly $4.5 billion per year to import Iranian Shahed drones to use in Ukraine. (ISW, 02.06.24)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • A court in the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People's Republic” has sentenced 33 Ukrainian military personnel to terms ranging from 27 to 29 years in a “strict regime” prison colony. (Meduza, 02.07.24)
  • Russia and Ukraine on Feb. 8 exchanged 100 prisoners of war each after mediation efforts by the United Arab Emirates. The Russian Defense Ministry said the exchange was conducted under a "100-to-100" formula and mentioned the U.A.E.'s "humanitarian mediation." (RFE/RL, 02.09.24)
  • A European partner provided the Patriot interceptor that hit the Russian Ilyushin-76 cargo plane on Jan. 24, according to American officials briefed on the incident. American officials have not confirmed the identities of the passengers, but they said it appeared probable that at least some of them were Ukrainian prisoners. (NYT, 02.08.24)

    • Ukrainian prisoners of war were not on board the Russian Il-76 transport plane that crashed near the border with Ukraine last month, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, told the Ukrainian news outlet Babel. (MT/AFP, 02.09.24)

  • President Vladimir V. Putin and other senior Russian officials should be investigated for war crimes after the destruction in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol killed thousands of civilians, Human Rights Watch and several other organizations said Feb. 8 at the end of a two-year investigation. (NYT, 02.08.24)
  • EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell arrived in Kyiv on Feb. 6 as Russian missile strikes continued to claim victims among Ukrainian civilians, killing a 2-month old baby boy on Feb. 6 in Kharkiv region. Kyiv, which largely depends on Western military and financial support, has said it expects a 4.5 billion-euro ($4.84 billion) disbursement from the EU next month after the 27-member bloc last week approved a four-year, 50 billion-euro ($54 billion) facility for Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 02.06.24)
  • The French government summoned Russia’s ambassador for talks on Feb. 5 over the killing of two French citizens working for nongovernmental organizations in Ukraine. (AP, 02.05.24)
  • At the end of January, Ukraine exported 12 million tons of products - this is a record figure since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Russia. (, 02.05.24)
  • During his interview of Vladimir Putin, which was recorded on Feb. 6 and aired on Feb.8, Tucker did not ask a single question about Russia’s attacks on civilian areas or critical infrastructure in Ukraine, which have killed thousands. (WP, 02.8.24)
  • For military strikes on civilian targets see the next section.

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • On Feb. 8 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy removed commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (ZSU) Valerii Zaluzhnyi in the most significant shake-up of the country's leadership since the full-scale Russian invasion began nearly two years ago. "Today we talked openly about what needs to change in the army. Urgent changes," Zelenskyy said of his meeting with Zaluzhnyi. According to Zelenskyy he and Zaluzhnyi openly discussed today what changes the army needs.  He added that the change wasn't about names or politics: "It's about the management of the armed forces." Zelenskyy outlined several problems he saw in the military that he said needed to be addressed. Out of nearly a million Ukrainians who had been called into the armed forces, he said, only a tiny fraction were actually fighting on the front line. "We need a different approach, in particular, to rotation," he said. "A different approach to mobilization and recruitment. All of this will give more respect to the soldier. And it will return clarity to the war." The president offered General Zaluzhnyi to continue being part of the Ukrainian state team, and added that he would be grateful for his consent (WSJ, 02.08.24,, 02.08.24)
    • Zelenskyy said he has appointed commander of ZSU’s ground forces Oleksandr Syrskyi to replace Zaluzhnyi. Announcing Syrskyi's new role, Zelenskyy called him "the most experienced Ukrainian commander. Syrskyi is seen as a close ally of Zelenskyy. Ukrainian media is reporting that Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Pavlyuk will become the new commander of the Ground Forces instead of Syrskyi, while Zelenskyy has appointed Maj. Gen. Anatoliy Barhylevych as the new chief of the General Staff. (Meduza, 02.09.24,, 02.09.24, WSJ, 02.08.24, RFE/RL, 02.08.24, FT, 02.08.24)
    • Syrskyi weighed in on his priorities on Feb. 9. “The introduction of new technical solutions and the scaling of successful experience,” including drones and radio-electronic technology, “is one of the future vectors of building victory in our war of liberation,” Syrskyi said in his first comments since the appointment. He also said he plans to improve the troop rotation at the frontlines. Other priorities, he said, include solving issues related to logistics and troop rotations. Ukraine’s military leadership, he said, must “be aware of the needs at the front and monitor the situation in every area.” (Bloomberg, 02.09.24, Meduza, 02.09.24, WP, 02.09.24)
      • Syrskyi has been credited with helping lead the successful defense of Kyiv and counteroffensive in eastern Kharkiv. However, Syrskyi has also been criticized by his own soldiers for his Soviet-style leadership and the refusal to retreat during the battle of Bakhmut, a fight that saw precious ammunition expended, thousands of troops lost and experienced brigades decimated. The decision to name Syrskyi as Zaluzhnyi's replacement is expected to be an unpopular one among Ukraine's troops because of the battle of Bakhmut. Trained in Soviet military academies, Syrskyi was heavily involved in the fighting in the eastern Donetsk region, following Moscow's covert invasion in 2014.  (WP, 02.08.24, WSJ, 02.08.24, FT, 02.08.24)[1]
      • News of Syrskyi’s appointment on Feb. 8 caused uproar among the ranks of Ukraine’s military, with many soldiers expressing their dismay in private chat groups and publicly on social media. (FT, 02.09.24)
        • “Very bad decision,” a Ukrainian military captain told NatSec Daily.  Another person knowledgeable of Syrskyi’s operations added that Ukrainian troops have given Syrskyi a gruesome nickname: “Butcher.” The captain confirmed that the nickname has stuck, as has “General 200” — which stands for 200 dead on the battlefield.” (Politico, 02.08.24)
        •  “General Syrskyi’s leadership is bankrupt, his presence or orders coming from his name are demoralizing, and he undermines trust in the command in general,” a Ukrainian military officer posted on X. “His relentless pursuit of tactical gains constantly depletes our valuable human resources, resulting in tactical advances such as capturing tree lines or small villages, with no operational goals in mind.” A Ukrainian soldier also tweeted a message in a group chat of veterans of the Bakhmut fight: “We’re all fucked.” (Politico, 02.08.24)
    • In his statement on Telegram on Feb. 8, Zaluzhnyi said that a decision had been made "about the need to change approaches and strategy." "The tasks of 2022 are different from the tasks of 2024," he said. "Therefore, everyone must change and adapt to new realities as well." On Feb. 9 Zelenskyy awarded Zaluzhnyi and Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov the titles of the Hero of Ukraine. (WSJ, 02.08.24, Meduza, 02.09.24)
    • The decision to dismiss Zaluzhnyi was made for several reasons, according to advisor to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Mykhailo Podolyak. The decision is motivated by the need to review the tactics of actions, which did not fully achieve the desired result last year, to prevent stagnation on the front line, which negatively affects public sentiment," Podolyak wrote. Podolyak stated that Ukraine’s leadership expects Syrskyi, the newly-appointed chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, to conduct an "audit" of soldiers, because out of the 1 million mobilized soldiers, only 300,000 persons participated in combat. (, 04.08.24, Ukrainska Pravda, 02.09.24)
    • Two Ukrainian officials said Zelenskyy’s government had been planning on dismissing the general all along, and only backed off briefly after the news was leaked and generated backlash from some Ukrainian political leaders and soldiers. (NYT, 08.02.24, ISW, 02.05.24)
      • On Feb. 4 Zelenskyy stated that Ukraine needs to replace a “series of state leaders” across the Ukrainian government who are “not just in a single sector” such as the Ukrainian military.” “Definitely a reset, a new beginning is necessary,” Zelenskyy told Italy’s Rai News. “I have something serious in mind, which is not about a single person but about the direction of the country’s leadership,” he said when asked whether he would dismiss Zaluzhnyi. He did not specify who else he would replace. (FT, 02.05.24)
      • Last week Zelenskyy met Zaluzhnyi in a bid to mend ties, but the talks grew heated over the contentious issue of mobilization. Zelenskyy has questioned the need to conscript 500,000 new troops, which Zaluzhnyi allegedly called for, a figure the general later denied having floated. The people said that Zelenskyy had offered Zaluzhnyi other jobs, such as leading the country’s National Security and Defense Council or the role of ambassador in the UK, but Zaluzhnyi declined them. (FT, 02.05.24)
    • When asked if the Pentagon had made contact with the new Ukrainian military chief, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon's press secretary, said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III had not spoken to General Syrskyi. ''One thing that won't change,'' he added, ''is our continued support for Ukraine in their efforts to defend themselves against Russian aggression.'' (NYT, 02.09.24)
      • Syrskyi is considered more accessible to some U.S. commanders. He built rapport with Gen. Christopher Cavoli, who as head of the U.S. European Command oversaw much of the Pentagon’s effort to train and equip Ukraine’s army. Meanwhile, during Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive, Cavoli could not reach Zaluzhnyi for weeks. (WP, 02.01.24)
    • The Kremlin dismissed the Ukrainian leadership change as inconsequential. “We don’t believe this is a factor that can change the course of the special military operation,” Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told journalists, using Moscow’s phrase for the war. “It will continue until all of its goals are achieved.” (NYT, 02.09.24)
  • In the past month, Russian forces have captured 64 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have  re-gained 0 square miles, according to the 02.06.24 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 02.06.24)
    • This week Russians have penetrated the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka from the north and south, and are seeking to cut off its main supply line. As of Feb. 8, in the north of Avdiivka, Donetsk region, Russians were moving within the city along Independence and Sapronov streets, writes the Ukrainian OSINT project DeepState.  DeepState’s map, which it updated in the afternoon of Feb. 8, shows Russian forces positioned on the southwestern outskirts of Avdiivka, attempting to advance in the western and northern directions. The Russians are also closing in around Kupyansk. Moscow has amassed more than 40,000 troops and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles near this town as part of what Ukrainian military commanders said is an intensifying bid to retake territory in Kharkiv region. (NYT, 02.05.24, WSJ, 02.07.24, WSJ, 02.07.24, Istories, 02.08.24, FT, 02.09.24)
  • A Feb. 3 Ukrainian strike left a total of 28 people dead in Ukraine’s Russian-controlled Luhansk region. Alexey Poteleshchenko, the Moscow-backed emergency situations minister, was among the victims of a Ukrainian attack on a bakery in the city of Lysychansk, Kremlin-backed leader Leonid Pasechnik said on Feb. 5 on Telegram. Two members of the local parliament were also killed in the blast, Russia’s state-run Tass news service reported, citing the Luhansk authorities. (Bloomberg, 02.05.24,, 02.05.24)
  • On Feb. 3 a drone attacked the LUKOIL-Volgogradneftepererabotka plant in the Krasnoarmeysky district in the south of Volgograd at about 04:49 Moscow time, local portal V1 reported. (Istories, 02.03.24)
  • On Feb. 4 Russian forces were reported to have made confirmed advances near Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Marinka amid continued positional engagements along the entire frontline. (ISW, 02.04.24)
  • On Feb. 4 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the frontline near Robotyne, Zaporizhia Oblast and the Ukrainian Eastern Air Command in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast on Februa (ISW, 02.04.24)
  • On Feb. 5 Russian forces shelled the southern city of Kherson and the northeastern region of Sumy, killing five Ukrainian civilians (RFE/RL, 02.05.24)
  • On Feb. 5 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy submitted to his country's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, draft laws to extend martial law and the military mobilization in the country as Russia's full-scale invasion nears the two-year mark. (RFE/RL, 02.05.24)
  • On Feb. 6 Vitaliy Barabash, head of the town of Avdiivka’s military administration said some parts of the eastern Ukrainian town are in a "critical" condition as they fight off Russian shelling and incursions (MT/AFP, 02.06.24)
  • On Feb. 6 Zelenskyy was reported to have instructed the Cabinet of Ministers and the General Staff to create within the structure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine the Forces of Unmanned Systems as a separate entity, according to the president's decree. (, 02.06.24)
  • On Feb. 7 Russia fired 64 missiles and drones at Ukraine. Air Defense Forces shot down 44 targets, according to Zaluzhnyi.
  • (, 02.07.24)
  • On Feb. 7 Russia launched one of its biggest missile and drone strikes on Ukraine this year, hitting targets in Kyiv and in western regions. At least four people were killed and more than 30 were injured in the capital after an 18-story residential building was set ablaze by a strike in the Holosiivskiy district in southern Kyiv, the Interior Ministry said. Ukraine’s Air Force said the barrage consisted of 44 missiles and 20 drones, most of which were shot down. Russia has intensified strikes since the end of last year as Ukraine struggles to secure crucial military and financial aid and grapples with a shortage of artillery and manpower along the 1,500-kilometer front line. (Bloomberg, 02.07.24)
  • On Feb. 7 Ukraine’s parliament gave preliminary approval for a controversial bill on mobilization, designed to help replenish the country’s war-battered armed forces. The government’s proposal received 243 votes in a first reading, clearing a threshold of 226, lawmaker Yaroslav Zheleznyak said on Telegram on Feb. 7. The legislation must be approved in a second and final reading and secure the signature of Zelenskiy before it becomes law. (Bloomberg, 02.07.24)
    • In interviews across the front line in recent days, nearly a dozen soldiers and commanders told The Washington Post that personnel deficits were their most critical problem now, as Russia has regained the offensive initiative on the battlefield and is stepping up its attacks. One battalion commander in a mechanized brigade fighting in eastern Ukraine said that his unit currently has fewer than 40 infantry troops - the soldiers deployed in front-line trenches who hold off Russian assaults. A fully equipped battalion would have more than 200, the commander said. (WP, 02.09.24)
  • On Feb. 7 Russia’s Defense Ministry reported that the city of Belgorod was attacked by rockets from a RM-70 Vampire multiple rocket launcher On Feb. 8 at least five people were injured after the village of Rzhevka, in the Belgorod region’s Shebekinsky district, came under fire, reported governor Vyacheslav Gladkov. The village is located near Russia’s border with Ukraine. (Meduza, 02.08.24)
  • On Feb. 8 Ukraine says its air defenses said shot down 11 out of 17 drones launched by Russia at four regions -- Mykolayiv, Odesa, Vinnytsya, and Dnipropetrovsk -- early on Feb. 8, but regional authorities reported that the attack caused damage to infrastructure. (RFE/RL, 02.08.24)
  • On Feb, 8 at least six civilians in southwestern Russia’s Belgorod region have been wounded in Ukrainian shelling, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. (MT/AFP, 02.08.24)
  • On Feb. 9 The Russian Armed Forces attacked Ukrainian territory with drones. Ukraine’s Air Force Command reported that Russia launched 16 drones, 10 of which were successfully intercepted over Ukraine’s Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Kharkiv regions. (Meduza, 02.09.24)
  • On Feb. 9 two people were killed in Russian shelling of Ukraine's southern Kherson region regional Governor Oleksandr Prokudin wrote on Telegram. Earlier, Ukrainian air defense reported that it shot down 10 out of the 16 drones that Russia launched at three regions -- Mykolayiv, Kherson, and Kharkiv -- on Feb. 9. (RFE/RL, 02.09.24)
  • On Feb. 9 Russia shot down 19 Ukrainian drones over four different regions and the Black Sea, the Russian Defense Ministry said. It said air defense systems intercepted and destroyed drones over the Kursk, Bryansk, Oryol and Krasnodar regions. (MT/AFP, 02.09.24)
  • Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated that Russian forces currently have 17 regiments, 16 battalions, and two regiment-battalion level tactical detachments in reserve. Mashovets stated that there are about 60,000-62,000 total Russian personnel in reserve units, but Russian forces have only equipped about 20,000 tactical and operational-tactical level reserve personnel with weapons and equipment (ISW, 02.04.24)
  • Western officials and military experts have warned that without U.S. assistance, a cascading collapse along the front is a real possibility later this year. It would still be at least a couple of months before the lack of renewed aid has a widespread impact, they say. But without it, they add, it’s hard to see how Ukraine will be able to maintain its current positions on the battlefield. By next month, Ukraine could struggle to conduct local counterattacks, and by early summer, its military might have difficulty rebuffing Russian assaults, the officials and analysts say. (NYT, 02.09.24)
  • Russian forces are outshooting Ukrainians by about 10 Russian shells to every one they fire, a Ukrainian security official said. . Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko stated on Feb. 5 that Russian forces intensified their rate of artillery strikes by nearly 25% over the last week and shelled Ukraine over 1,500 times, targeting over 570 settlements. (ISW, 02.05.24, WSJ, 02.07.24)
    • Because the Ukrainians are critically short of ammunition they cannot afford to fire at only one or two advancing enemy soldiers, so the Russians have adapted and often move in small numbers to their most forward positions. They try to amass enough soldiers to storm a Ukrainian trench and overwhelm the defenders. (NYT, 02.04.24)

  • From a production rate of about 5,000 drones a month last summer, Ukraine by the end of last year had reached 50,000 a month, according to Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. (WSJ, 02.07.24)
  • January saw 3,000 verified FPV drone strikes in the Russia-Ukraine war. (The Economist, 02.08.24)
  • Citing Ukrainian and Russian sources, Istories claimed Feb. 8 that The Russian military began using Starlink terminals in the occupied territories of Ukraine. On Feb. 6, volunteers helping the Russian military Ekaterina and Valentina Kornienko from the Donetsk region published a video showing Chinese DJI drones and boxes with the inscription Starlink. American military analyst Samuel Bendett notes that these are boxes for Starlink terminals, according to Istories. (RM, 02.09.24)

Military aid to Ukraine:

  • On Feb. 8 the Democratic-controlled Senate cleared a critical hurdle toward passing a $95 billion national security-focused bill aimed at fortifying Ukraine, Israel and other allies, voting to move to debate an issue that has divided Republicans for months. The vote was 67-32, clearing the 60-vote bar needed to advance most legislation in the chamber. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has said that he would allow a free and open amendment process, a step that can begin in earnest once the Senate formally takes up the legislation. (WSJ, 02.08.24)
    • Most of the proposal's funding—about $60 billion—is intended to help Ukraine as it fights off Russia's invasion. The  largest portion, $19.9 billion, would replenish inventory levels of Defense Department weaponry that were emptied to help Ukraine's military. Of that total, $13.8 billion would enable Ukraine to purchase U.S. weapons and munitions. A separate $14.8 billion would pay for U.S. support such as military training. Nearly $8 billion would provide direct budget support for Ukraine to keep its government running. (WSJ, 02.08.24)
    • Republicans have indicated that they would like amendment votes related to a House-passed border-security bill called H.R. 2, as well as to trim funds that pay the salaries of doctors, teachers and government employees in Kyiv. (WSJ, 02.08.24)
    • Even if the bill ultimately clears the Senate, it faces an even tougher road in the Republican-controlled House. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) has tried to keep his options open, declining on Feb. 7 to say whether he would bring a Senate-passed national-security package onto the floor. While Johnson has said that defending Ukraine is important, he faces opposition from the same forces that are challenging McConnell. (WSJ, 02.08.24)
    • An earlier bipartisan deal – that Republican and Democrat Senators had negotiated and that that tied funding for Ukraine, Israel and the US’s Indo-Pacific allies to stricter controls at the US-Mexico border collapsed this week under the weight of opposition from Donald Trump who wrote “This Bill is a great gift to the Democrats, and a Death Wish for The Republican Party” on social media on Feb. 5. Prior to the failure of that deal House Speaker Mike Johnson predicted that it would be “dead on arrival” in the Republican-controlled House. (NYT, 02.05.24, FT, 02.08.24, FT, 02.06.24)
      • The Biden administration remains confident that it can win congressional approval for aid to Kyiv, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said after that earlier deal was torpedoed. Sullivan said ''Walking away from Ukraine at this moment, at this time, would be fundamentally wrong from the point of view of our basic national security in the United States and for our NATO allies, as well,'' he said on Feb. 7. ''And we think we will continue to win that argument. U.S. President Joe Biden a day earlier blamed Donald Trump for sinking the bipartisan bill. Biden said during a fundraiser in New York City on Feb. 7 that Putin “is on the balls of his heels.” “And what are we doing? Stepping back?” Biden added. (Bloomberg, 02.07.24, Bloomberg, 02.07.24, NYT, 02.08.24)
      • Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk hit out at Republican senators for blocking a compromise bill that would have unlocked badly needed funding for Ukraine. “Shame on you,” he wrote. (Bloomberg, 02.08.24)
  • U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink said on Feb. 9 that a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers led by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Turner (Republican-Ohio), has arrived in Kyiv. According to Brink, the delegation includes Reps. French Hill (Republican-Arkansas), Jason Crow (Democrat-Colorado) and Abigail Spanberger (Democrat-Virginia). (RFE/RL, 02.09.24)
  • If Congress doesn't approve new funding for Ukraine, U.S. equipment won't suddenly stop, but slowly expire. Past appropriations budgeted for munitions that are only starting to be shipped, such as Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs. “Ukraine's army would not suddenly be overwhelmed, analysts say, but the degradation of its forces would be inexorable. European nations lack American-level stockpiles of weapons and ammunition, and would be unlikely to fill the gap, military analysts say. ''Ukraine could effectively hold for some part of this year'' without more American military aid, Michael Kofman, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said in a telephone interview. ''But over time there would be no prospect to rebuild the military, and they will start to lose slowly.'' (NYT, 02.08.24, WSJ, 02.07.24)
  • Ukraine faces a critical gap in western artillery ammunition needed to withstand Russian attacks, officials have warned “This is really as grave as we have been portraying it,” a U.S. defense official said, noting that the U.S. had run out of money to fund new weapons contracts for Ukraine or funds that would allow the Pentagon to take inventory from its stockpiles and replenish those stocks. “It is a desperate situation on the front lines for the Ukrainians, far worse than they are letting on,” said a senior NATO diplomat.(FT, 02.09.24)
  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will chair the Ramstein format contact group meeting scheduled for Feb. 14 in Brussels, states Patrick Ryder, U.S. Department of Defense spokesman. (, 02.09.24)
  • Canada’s political consensus on supporting Ukraine is beginning to fray, with polls showing increased opposition among Conservative voters for using money and manpower to aid the country’s battle against Russia.” (Bloomberg, 02.08.24)
  • German opposition to the proposed overhaul of an EU military support fund risks delaying arms deliveries to Ukraine, officials have warned, amid intense pressure on Kyiv’s allies to respond to a step up in Russian attacks. The European Peace Facility is a €12 billion fund set up outside the shared EU budget and is based on contributions from member states depending on the size of their economies. It has been depleted after reimbursing €5.6 billion to EU capitals for arms they have shipped to Ukraine in the nearly two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion. The EPF needs additional funding so that capitals can be partly reimbursed for their weapons shipments, but a proposed €5 billion injection is being held up as countries argue about how to reform the fund to better fit Ukraine’s needs and help Europe’s arms industry meet them. (FT, 02.05.24)
  • The Netherlands will provide six more F-16 fighter jets, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on Feb. 5 in a post on platform X. This will bring the total number of these airplanes the country is preparing for delivery to Ukraine to 24. No time frame for the delivery was provided. Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said on X that Ukrainian aerial superiority is “essential for countering Russian aggression.” Ukraine will receive F-16 fighter jets along with missiles with a range of 300-500 kilometers from Western countries. (Bloomberg, 02.05.24,, 02.05.24)
    • The U.S. National Guard still has enough money to complete the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets despite the United States running out of funds to send additional weapons and assistance to Kyiv, the head of the guard said on Feb. 8. “ (AP, 02.09.24)
    • The F-16 fighter jet for the first time has been seen with Ukrainian Air Force markings at an air base in one of the Western countries. (Status-6 OSINT project’s X (Twitter) account, 02.09.24)
  • Finland will transfer a new package of military assistance to Ukraine. It includes equipment worth about 190 million euros, the Finnish Ministry of Defense said. (, 02.09.24)
  • The European Union, collectively, has provided about $148.5 billion in assistance since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, surpassing the total of $113 billion appropriated by the U.S., of which $75 billion was directly allocated to Ukraine for humanitarian, financial and military support and another $38 billion in security assistance-related funding spent largely in the United States, according to the Institute for Study of War, a Washington-based research group. (NYT, 02.08.24)
  • Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. said her country is facing a “critical shortage” in military hardware even as she expressed optimism that U.S. lawmakers would overcome their deadlock and deliver aid to her country. “We still have enough people who want to fight — there is no choice, actually for us, we are defending our homes — but we’re running out of equipment, especially missiles and interceptors,” Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, said. (Bloomberg, 02.08.24)

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

  • The European Union has proposed sanctioning about 55 companies and more than 60 individuals as part of a new package of measures to mark two years since Russia invaded Ukraine. The restrictions would target individuals and firms involved in producing weapons and supplying key technologies and electronics used by Russian defense firms to build the armaments. The package, which would be the 13th since the invasion, would also target shipping companies that have provided transportation and logistics to transfer ammunition from North Korea to Russia. New economic restrictions are also in the works but are unlikely to be ready by the Feb. 24 deadline. (Bloomberg, 02.08.24, Bloomberg, 02.05.24)
  • Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has floated an idea that has got traction with the U.S.: G-7 members would set up a special purpose vehicle that would issue debt in the name of the Russian state using those assets as collateral in case Russia refuses to pay for damages it caused in Ukraine. The coalition supporting Ukraine would demand that Russia repays the debt and, if it fails to do so, would seize frozen Russian sovereign assets instead, according to officials familiar with the discussions. The G-7 is assessing the legal feasibility of this option. But it did not get a ringing endorsement from the EU. “We have a very gradual approach. We go step by step . . . at the moment we took one single decision,” EU economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told the FT, referring to the EU’s move to separate profits arising from the assets immobilized in the bloc, with a view to confiscating them for Ukraine at a later stage. (FT, 02.06.24, FT, 02.03.24)
  • Finland will keep all eight border stations along its border with Russia closed until April 14. (Bloomberg, 02.08.24)
  • The Taiwan government has decided to expand the list of restrictions on export of high-tech products to Russia and Belarus by adding 77 items, the Ministry of Economic Affairs reported, adding that new measures would take effect on March 8. (TASS, 02.09.24)
  • China’s Chouzhou Commercial Bank has notified its clients that it is suspending operations with Russia, the Russian daily Vedomosti reported Feb. 7, citing financial consultants and businessmen who work with the bank. The newspaper noted that Chouzhou Commercial has been the leading settlement bank for Russian importers working with China. (Meduza, 02.07.24)
  • Some Russian banks appear to have maneuvered around a ban on shipping dollars and euros to the country by trading gold in the UAE and Turkey, according to research from a financial-intelligence company. The report compiled by Sayari found that in the first quarter of 2023, the financial institutions — which include Lanta Bank JSC and at least one lender that is not sanctioned — imported more than the equivalent of $82 million in euros, dollars and UAE dirhams. (Bloomberg, 02.07.24)
  • Yandex, the company often referred to as “Russia’s Google,” has agreed to sell its operations in the country in a cash-and-shares deal worth 475 billion rubles ($5.2 billion) The sale price “reflects a mandatory discount of at least 50%” to “fair value” under Russian government rules on exits for Western companies, Yandex’s parent company said. Under the deal, Yandex’s Russian business, which accounts for 95% of the group’s revenue, assets and employees, will be owned by a consortium including members of the company’s management and Argonaut, a fund ultimately owned by oil major Lukoil. (FT, 02.05.24)
  • “The sanctions imposed on Russian airlines have significantly impeded the maintenance of aircraft airworthiness and their technical condition," said Oleksandr Laneckij, chief executive of Friendly Avia Support. Some 74 safety incidents were logged among local airline operators in Russia last year, up from 36 in 2022, according to Jacdec. The data show a safety incident occurred about 9.9 times in every 100,000 departures in 2023, compared with five in 2022 and 4.5 in 2019. (WSJ, 02.05.24)
  • Russia is suspending imports of bananas and flowers from Ecuador, weeks after Quito agreed to a U.S. weapons deal that will result in Ukraine receiving Soviet-era military equipment from the South American country. (MT/AFP, 02.06.24)
  • Russian Post has stopped ground delivery to 23 countries, reports RBC, citing the company’s website. The affected countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, France, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Sweden. (Meduza, 02.08.24)
  • Russian metals tycoon Alisher Usmanov lost his fight against European sanctions over his links to Putin, the EU’s General Court ruled Feb. 7 dismissing the appeal. (Bloomberg, 02.07.24)
  • The European Court of Justice on Feb. 7 rejected an appeal filed by former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov against European sanctions. (RFE/RL, 02.07.24)
  • Forbes reported on Feb. 8 that billionaire Vasily Anisimov had renounced his Russian citizenship, becoming the seventh tycoon to do so since Moscow launched its ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. He still holds passports from Croatia and the Dominican Republic. Other tycoons who have given up their Russian citizenship since February 2022 include Timur Turlov, Ruben Vardanyan, Yury Milner, Nikolai Storonsky, Oleg Tinkov and Igor Makarov. (RFE/RL, 02.08.24)

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

Ukraine-related negotiations: 

  • In his interview to Tucker Carlson recorded on Feb. 6 and aired on Feb. 8, Putin called on the United States to “make an agreement” to cede Ukrainian territory to Russia in order to end the war. In the interview, Putin was more direct than usual about how he sees his Ukraine invasion ending: not with a military victory, but through an agreement with the West. “You have issues on the border, issues with migration, issues with the national debt – more than 33 trillion dollars. You have nothing better to do, so you should fight in Ukraine? Wouldn't it be better to negotiate with Russia? Make an agreement, already understanding the situation that is developing today, realizing that Russia will fight for its interests to the end,” Putin said. (NYT, 02.08.24,, 02.09.24)
  • In his interview with Carlson, Putin said, “You should tell the current Ukrainian leadership to stop and come to a negotiating table,” Putin said. Minutes later, he added: “This endless mobilization in Ukraine, the hysteria, the domestic problems — sooner or later, it will result in an agreement.” (NYT, 02.08.24)
  • In his interview with Carlson, Putin said NATO allies would have to find a way to accept Russian control over the Ukrainian territory it currently occupies: “Let them think how to do it with dignity.” (WP, 02.08.24)
  • When asked by Carlson about the possibility of peace in Ukraine, Putin said: “If you really want to stop fighting, you need to stop supplying weapons,” referring to Western aid to Kyiv. “It will be over within a few weeks. That’s it,” he added. (Politico, 02.09.24)
  • Speaking of the goals of what he called the “special military operation” in Ukraine, Putin said in his interview with Carlson that the goals had yet to be achieved, because one of the aims “is de-Nazification.” For the first time, Putin expanded on what he means by that. “This means the prohibition of all kinds of neo-Nazi movements. We have to get rid of those people who maintain this concept and support this practice and try to preserve it,” he said. (Politico, 02.09.24)
  • Switzerland said it asked China to participate in a peace conference on the war in Ukraine. Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said he made the request in a meeting on Feb. 7 with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Cassis said Wang “noted the invitation” and that he expected an answer in a few days. (Bloomberg, 02.07.24)
  • January’s public opinion survey by the Levada Center indicated that just over half of Russians support beginning negotiations (52%, in December - 53%), while the number of those in favor of continuing military action remained unchanged (40%). The majority of Russians continue to believe that military action will continue for a long time, with nearly half (45%, in October - 46%) convinced it will last more than a year, and nearly another quarter (23%, in October - 23%) believe it will continue anywhere from six months to a year. In comparison to last year, the number of those who believe the war will end in a Russian victory has increased (77%, in January 2023 - 71%). Russians are evenly divided (44% - 44%) on the possibility of escalation into an armed conflict between Russia and NATO, a contrast to six months ago when such a conflict seemed more likely (60%). Around one-third of respondents feel they bear moral responsibility for the events (31% in December 2023), a sentiment which has only slightly decreased in the past eighteen months (34% in December 2022). (Levada, 02.06.24)

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

  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned of the dangers of a Russian victory if Ukraine’s allies don’t increase military support and financial aid, ahead of a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden. “Make no mistake: A Russian victory in Ukraine would not only be the end of Ukraine as a free, democratic and independent state, it would also dramatically change the face of Europe,” Scholz wrote in WSJ. “We have to do our utmost to prevent Russia from winning.” (Bloomberg, 02.08.24)
    • German chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote in rerference to Putin’s interview with Carlson: “The Russian president mocks what Russia is really doing in Ukraine and gives a completely absurd explanation about the causes of this war. This makes it all the clearer for us: we remain firmly on Ukraine’s side.” (Scholz’s X account, 02.09.24)

    • The popularity of Olaf Scholz and Social Democrats (SPD) has collapsed. The party came first in the 2021 election, and peaked in polls of “voting intentions” at 28%. The same polls now put it in third or even fourth place, attracting barely 15%. Scholz’s approval rating has since fallen to 20%, the lowest for any chancellor since the pollster Deutschlandtrend started keeping a record in 1997. (Economist, 02.05.24)
  • Denmark’s defense minister Troels Lund Poulsen joined colleagues from Sweden, the U.K., Romania, Germany and others in sounding the alarm about Russia’s increased defense spending potential leading to direct confrontation with NATO, which would test the alliance’s collective defense pledge known as Article 5. “It cannot be ruled out that within a three- to five-year period, Russia will test Article 5 and NATO’s solidarity. That was not NATO’s assessment in 2023. This is new information that is coming to the fore now,” Poulsen told Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper. (FT, 02.09.24)
  • If Republicans are willing to abide by Trump's demand that they vote against continued aid to Ukraine, one senior European diplomat in Berlin asked on Feb. 7, why would Europe rely on Biden's assurance that the United States would ''defend every inch'' of NATO territory? (NYT, 02.08.24)
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s lawmakers boycotted a parliamentary session on Sweden’s entry into NATO, ensuring further delays in the long-running standoff between lone-holdout Hungary and its partners in the military alliance. The next opportunity will be on Feb. 26, when the legislature reconvenes after its winter recess. (Bloomberg, 02.05.24)
    • The United States is disappointed that Hungary's ruling party blocked an opportunity for a vote on Sweden's NATO bid, State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel said. (RFE/RL, 02.05.24)
  • A meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Council at the level of defense ministers will take place on Feb. 15. (Ukrainska Pravda, 02.08.24)
  • Ukraine has begun detailed negotiations with Denmark to conclude bilateral security commitments. The talks began as part of the implementation of the G-7 Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine, which Denmark, along with the Nordic countries, was one of the first to join. (, 02.08.24)
  • In his interview with Carlson, Putin said: “Up until now there has been the uproar and screaming about inflicting a strategic defeat on Russia on the battlefield. Now they [NATO members]  are apparently coming to realize that it is difficult to achieve, if possible at all. In my opinion, it is impossible by definition, it is never going to happen. It seems to me that now those who are in power in the West have come to realize this as well. If so, if the realization has set in, they have to think what to do next. We are ready for this dialogue.” (, 02.09.24)
    • In his interview with Carlson, Putin claimed Russia had no interest in attacking countries on NATO’s eastern flank, contrary to the warnings of some Western officials. When asked whether he can imagine a scenario where he sends Russian troops to Poland, Putin said: “Only in one case: if Poland attacks Russia. Why? Because we have no interest in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else. Why would we do that? We simply don't have any interest. It’s just threat mongering.” (NYT, 02.08.24,, 02.09.24)
    • When asked by Carlson whether he has “territorial aims across the continent” Putin said: “It is absolutely out of the question. You just don't have to be any kind of analyst, it goes against common sense to get involved in some kind of global war. And a global war will bring all of humanity to the brink of destruction. It's obvious.” “There are, certainly, means of deterrence. They have been scaring everyone with us all along: tomorrow Russia will use tactical nuclear weapons, tomorrow Russia will use that, no, the day after tomorrow. So what? These are just horror stories for people in the street in order to extort additional money from U.S. taxpayers and European taxpayers in the confrontation with Russia in the Ukrainian theatre of war. The goal is to weaken Russia as much as possible,” Putin said. (, 02.09.24)
    • “At a meeting here in the Kremlin with the outgoing President Bill Clinton, right here in the next room, I said to him, I asked him, ‘Bill, do you think if Russia asked to join NATO, do you think it would happen?’ Suddenly he said: ‘You know, it's interesting, I think so.’ But in the evening, when we had dinner, he said, ‘You know, I've talked to my team, no-no, it's not possible now.’ You can ask him, I think he will watch our interview, he'll confirm it. I wouldn't have said anything like that if it hadn't happened. Okay, well, it's impossible now,” Putin claimed in his interview with Carlson. (, 02.09.24)

  • Russian intelligence agencies are trying to undermine U.S. influence in Africa by spreading disinformation that Africans have been the unwitting test subjects in Pentagon biological research programs and casting aspersions on Western public-health programs, U.S. officials said. The effort is part of a Russian campaign to counter the U.S. in Africa and Latin America as Washington and Moscow battle for public opinion around the world. (WSJ, 02.08.24)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Xi Jinping and Putin have rejected U.S. “interference” in their affairs and pledged to “maintain the stability” of industrial supply chains after trade between the two countries soared last year. (FT, 02.08.24)
    • Moscow and Beijing should “cultivate new momentum for cooperation,” Chinese state media quoted Xi as telling Putin in a call Feb. 8. “The two sides should strengthen strategic coordination, safeguard the national sovereignty, security and development interests of their respective countries and resolutely oppose external interference in their internal affairs,” Xi said. (FT, 02.08.24)
    • Putin backed China’s position on Taiwan and also discussed Ukraine with Xi, the Kremlin said, though Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said the latter portion of the call was “fairly brief.” The Kremlin said Xi and Putin denounced the "U.S. policy of interfering in the internal affairs of other states" during the hour-long call. "The leaders of the two countries realize that the U.S. is practically implementing a policy of double containment, [toward] both Russia and China," Ushakov said. (FT, 02.08.24, MT/AFP, 02.08.24)
  • In his interview with Carlson, Putin said Russia’s burgeoning trade relationship with China meant U.S. hegemony and the dollar’s role as global reserve currency were on the wane. “You cannot prevent the sun from rising. You have to adapt to it,” Putin said. “Your political establishment does not understand that the world is changing under objective circumstances.  . . .  Such brutal actions, including with regard to Russia and say other countries, are counterproductive.” "The West is afraid of a strong China more than it fears a strong Russia, because Russia has won 150 million people and China has a 1.5 billion population. And its economy is growing by leaps and bounds, or 5% a year. It used to be even more, but that's enough for China," Putin said. (FT, 02.08.24, TASS, 02.08.24)
  • In his interview with Carlson, Putin said Russia and China complement each other in the sphere of high technologies, energy and science. "According to our figures, our bilateral trade with China totals already 230 billion. And the Chinese statistics says it is $240 billion," he said. "One more important thing. Our trade is well balanced, mutually complementary in high tech, energy, scientific research and development. It is very balanced,” he said. (TASS, 02.08.24)
  • Over 90% of settlements between Russia and China are made in rubles and yuan, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said at a briefing. (TASS, 02.08.24)
  • China was the top buyer of Russian poultry (132,900 tons) and beef (21,500 tons) in 2023, the Russian Federal Service of Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision said in a statement. (TASS, 02.08.24)
  • Russia and China used an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 5 to sharply criticize recent U.S. retaliatory strikes on Iraq and Syria, calling the military action a violation of the territorial integrity of those countries that would further destabilize the Middle East. (NYT, 02.07.24)

Missile defense:

  • “When the U.S. missile defense (ABM) system was created ... we persuaded for a long time not to do it in the United States. Moreover, ... I proposed that the United States, Russia and Europe jointly create a missile defense system ... But our proposal was declined, that’s a fact,” Putin said in his interview with Carlson. (, 02.09.24)

Nuclear arms

  • When asked by Carlson whether he has “territorial aims across the continent,” Putin said: “It is absolutely out of the question. You just don't have to be any kind of analyst, it goes against common sense to get involved in some kind of global war. And a global war will bring all of humanity to the brink of destruction. It's obvious.” (, 02.09.24) 
  • “There are, certainly, means of deterrence. They have been scaring everyone with us all along: tomorrow Russia will use tactical nuclear weapons, tomorrow Russia will use that, no, the day after tomorrow. So what? These are just horror stories for people in the street in order to extort additional money from U.S. taxpayers and European taxpayers in the confrontation with Russia in the Ukrainian theatre of war. The goal is to weaken Russia as much as possible,” Putin said. (, 02.09.24)
  • When asked by Carlson, “Do you think NATO was worried about this becoming a global war or nuclear conflict?” Putin said: “At least that's what they're talking about. And they are trying to intimidate their own population with an imaginary Russian threat. This is an obvious fact. And thinking people, not philistines, but thinking people, analysts, those who are engaged in real politics, just smart people understand perfectly well that.” (, 02.09.24) 
  • Putin told Carlson: “I do not understand why American soldiers should fight in Ukraine. There are mercenaries from the United States there. The biggest number of mercenaries comes from Poland, with mercenaries from the United States in second place, and mercenaries from Georgia in third place. Well, if somebody has the desire to send regular troops, that would certainly bring humanity on the brink of a very serious, global conflict. This is obvious.” (, 02.09.24)
  • I would like to highlight separately that today our strategic nuclear forces have been almost completely modernized, by 95%. Their maritime component has been almost 100% renewed. This provides a solid, reliable foundation for our strategic security. It is a reliable homefront, both literally and figuratively speaking,” Putin said in his address to a plenary session of the “Everything for Victory!” forum. (, 02.02.24)
  • On Feb. 3, the Knyaz Pozharsky submarine of the Borey-A class was rolled out of the construction hall at the Sevmash shipbuilding plant. Vladimir Oblast will be a patron of the new Knyaz Pozharsky Borei-A class nuclear submarine. TASS reported on Jan. 10 that the Russian military would receive the Knyaz Pozharsky at an unspecified date in 2024. (ISW, 02.04.24,, 02.03.24)

Also see “Cyber security/AI” section below.


  • “I repeatedly raised the issue that the United States should not support separatism or terrorism in the North Caucasus. But they continued to do it anyway. And political support, information support, financial support, even military support came from the United States and its satellites for terrorist groups in the Caucasus,” Putin claimed in his interview with Carlson. (, 02.09.24)[2]

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security/AI: 

  • In his interview with Carlson, Putin said: “Humanity has to consider what is going to happen due to the newest developments in genetics or in AI. One can make an approximate prediction of what will happen. Once mankind felt an existential threat coming from nuclear weapons, all nuclear nations began to come to terms with one another since they realized that negligent use of nuclear weaponry could drive humanity to extinction... It is impossible to stop research in genetics or AI today, just as it was impossible to stop the use of gunpowder back in the day. But as soon as we realize that the threat comes from unbridled and uncontrolled development of AI, or genetics, or any other fields, the time will come to reach an international agreement on how to regulate these things.” (, 02.09.24)
  • Gen. Timothy D. Haugh is taking over the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command as the organizations look to deter Russia and other countries from expanding influence activities. (NYT, 02.03.24)
  • Yandex, Russia’s search giant, has integrated an LLM, YandexGPT-2, into its virtual-assistant service, known as “Alice”. The models are excellent at hewing to the party line. Alice, for example, refused to answer The Economist’s questions about the war in Ukraine or Alexei Navalny. (The Economist, 02.08.24)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Russia is increasingly struggling to maintain the export of oil products after at least half a dozen long-distance Ukrainian drone attacks on refineries caused fires causing temporary halts in production at facilities across western Russia. Russia has reduced gasoline and diesel exports to non-CIS countries by 37% and 23%, respectively, in January y/y, to compensate for unplanned repairs at refineries, the Ministry of Energy said on Feb. 1. Russia processed 5.41 million barrels a day in the seven days through Jan. 31, the first full week showing the impact of Ukraine’s attacks on Russia’s oil infrastructure, a person with knowledge of industry data said. That’s 135,000 barrels a day below the average for most of December, according to Bloomberg calculations. (BNE, 02.02.24, Bloomberg, 02.05.24)
    • In January 2024, Russian oil companies saw a nearly 4% drop in oil processing (compared to January 2023), according to Kommersant, which said the drop in output is not only attributed to annual maintenance, but also to drone attacks targeting energy infrastructure. (Meduza, 02.07.24)
  • The United States on Feb. 8 imposed fresh sanctions for alleged violations of an oil price cap set by the G-7 and took steps to further restrict the importation of certain categories of diamonds mined in Russia, the U.S. Treasury Department said. The Treasury Department designated four entities for sanctions and blocking one vessel suspected of hauling oil priced above the cap. The entities and the vessel were involved in a price cap violation scheme in late 2023. (RFE/RL, 02.08.24)
  • Greek shipowners are fleeing the Russian crude trade after a ramp up in U.S. sanctions targeting the traders and shipping companies moving the nation’s petroleum. The number of Greek-owned tankers hauling Russian crude fell to just eight in January, vessel tracking data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s down from as more than 40 in May and about 20 through most of the second half of last year. (Bloomberg, 02.05.24)
    • A U.K. official said that G-7 nations are aiming to curb Russia’s ability to use a vast shadow fleet of tankers to deliver its oil, the latest sign of a ramp up in Western sanctions on Moscow, according to Olga Dimitrescu, head of engagement for the oil price cap at the U.K. Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation. (Bloomberg, 02.07.24) 
  • A Russian oil tanker performed a near-immediate U-turn off the coast of Portugal after being subjected to U.S. sanctions. The NS Leader, ultimately owned by the Russian Federation, was headed to the Baltic Sea port of Primorsk when the measures were imposed at 2 p.m. Washington time on Feb. 8. (Bloomberg, 02.09.24)
  • Russia’s Rosneft warned that any move to nationalize its assets in Germany would “damage the safety of investment forever,” after Berlin told the oil company it was considering the step to bolster its energy security. (FT, 02.08.24)
  • The delivery of specialized ships to a new Russian liquefied natural gas facility is being upended by U.S. sanctions, according to Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., threatening exports. The Japanese shipping line can no longer charter the three ice-breaker LNG ships to the Arctic LNG 2 project due to U.S. restrictions. (Bloomberg, 02.06.24)
  • Sweden has dropped its investigation into the 2022 explosions on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, saying the case falls outside the country’s jurisdiction. The Swedish Prosecutor’s Office said all evidence has been handed over to German law enforcement for use in its own investigation. (Meduza, 02.07.24)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • While interviewing Putin, Tucker Carlson pressed the Russian leader to release WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich, whom Russia arrested last year on espionage accusations that WSJ and the U.S. government vehemently deny. Putin said “the dialogue continues” on Gershkovich’s fate, hinting that the Kremlin was holding out for a favorable offer from the United States to release him as part of a prisoner swap. Putin didn’t say who, specifically, Moscow was demanding in return for Gershkovich or other U.S. citizens now detained in Russia. But he made clear reference to Russian operative Vadim Krasikov, now serving a life sentence in Germany for gunning down a Chechen émigré in a Berlin park in 2019. Putin called Krasikov, whom he did not refer to by name, a Russian patriot. (NYT, 02.08.24, WSJ, 02.08.24)

    • Moscow on Feb. 9 refused to say whether Krasikov was a Russian agent. (MT/AFP, 02.09.24)

  • Asked by Carlson about when he last spoke to Biden, Putin said: “I cannot remember when I talked to him,” adding that the two last spoke before the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. He also said he had a “personal relationship” with Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump. (Politico, 02.09.24)
  • Afforded a chance in his interview with Carlson to expand on his efforts to portray Russia as a defender of “traditional values” against what he often depicts as a degenerate and declining West, Putin was uncharacteristically restrained. “Western society is more pragmatic,” he said. “Russian people think more about the eternal, about moral values.” (, 02.09.24)


II. Russia’s domestic policies 

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Russia's economy jumped 3.6% last year despite sweeping Western sanctions as the government cranked up military spending amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The expansion represented a sharp rebound from a 1.2% decline in 2022 The data on the country's economic growth in 2023 was reported on Feb. 7 by Rosstat, the Russian statistics office. (RFE/RL, 02.07.24)
    • Russia grew faster than all the G-7 economies last year and the IMF forecasts it will again in 2024, according to this FT chart. (RM, 02.02.24)
  • According to official estimates, between 45% and 60% of all utility networks in Russia need repair, with the figure increasing every year, as well as the number of accidents. In Chukotka, which Putin visited for the first time in his 23 years of rule, the figure reaches about 90%. (FT, 02.04.24)
  • Putin plans to address Russia’s Federal Assembly in late February or early March, Kommersant reported on Feb. 6, citing four sources close to the administration. (Meduza, 02.06.24)
  • In the most recent polling by the Levada Center regarding attitudes toward the conflict with Ukraine, the total share of Russians who support the actions of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine increased slightly (77%, in December - 76%). However, the proportion of those who gave a definitive yes of support decreased (42%, in December - 45%), while the proportion of those who gave a probable yes increased (35%, in December - 31%). Respectively, the share of those who responded with a definitive yes decreased (7%, in December - 9%), while the number of those who said it’s difficult to answer increased slightly (8%, in December - 7%). The share of those who responded with a probable no remained unchanged (9%). (Levada, 02.06.24)
  • According to a Levada survey on Russian attitudes toward and the potential for protests, respondents largely believe that mass protests with various demands are unlikely in the near future, with the majority indicating they would not participate in protest actions even if they were to occur. In September 2023, less than half (43%) of respondents were aware of protests by the wives and mothers of mobilized individuals, and there was a predominantly neutral attitude toward those who participate in such actions (44%). Since November 2022, opinions on the possibility of protests with economic demands have remained relatively unchanged, with 17% of Russians considering such protests possible and 11% willing to personally take part if they occur. (Levada, 02.08.24)
  • The Kremlin censored a protest by wives of mobilized soldiers in Moscow on Feb. 3 likely to suppress any possible resurgence of a broader social movement in support of Russian soldiers and against the regime. Members of the Russian “Way Home” social movement laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow before holding a protest. (ISW, 02.03.24)
  • A politician campaigning to end Russia’s war in Ukraine has been barred from running against Putin in March presidential elections. Russia’s Central Election Commission ruled Feb. 8 that Boris Nadezhdin hadn’t met the conditions for registration as a candidate. Officials said almost 10,000 of some 105,000 signatures from Russians in support of Nadezhdin weren’t verified. Nadezhdin said in a post on Telegram that he’d appeal to Russia’s Supreme Court. (Bloomberg, 02.08.24)
  • Russia's Federal Financial Monitoring Service (Rosfinmonitoring) on Feb. 9 added jailed opposition activist Sergei Udaltsov to its list of terrorists, meaning that all of his assets in Russia will be frozen. Udaltsov was detained on Jan. 11 after police searched his home. (RFE/RL, 02.09.24)
  • Former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev, who left Russia in 2014 and currently lives in Ukraine, has reportedly been charged with treason, participation in a terrorist organization and publicly calling for terrorism, reports Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, citing a source in law enforcement. (Meduza, 02.05.24)
  • A Moscow court has arrested exiled writer Boris Akunin in absentia, the Moscow courts’ press service reported on Feb. 6. On Dec. 18, the Russian authorities charged the exiled writer with spreading “disinformation” about the Russian army and publicly justifying terrorism after he expressed support for Ukraine in a prank phone call. (Meduza, 02.06.24)
  • The press secretary of imprisoned Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny said on Feb. 6 that the outspoken Kremlin critic had been placed in solitary confinement. According to Kira Yarmysh, Navalny's current solitary confinement term is 10 days. It is the 26th time he's been placed in solitary confinement since his incarceration more than three years ago. (RFE/RL, 02.06.24)
  • A St. Petersburg military court on Feb. 7 sentenced a university student to nine years in prison for making public calls to join the Ukrainian army and for his native republic of Karelia to secede from Russia. Andrei Vasyurenko, 19, was detained in March. (MT/AFP, 02.07.24)
  • Russia’s human rights body has concluded that the son of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Adam Kadyrov, did not commit a crime when he was filmed assaulting a teenager who was detained for burning a Quran, online media reported Feb. 7. (MT/AFP, 02.07.24)
  • Russian authorities will "most likely" start blocking major VPN services in March, the head of the Kremlin-aligned Safe Internet League said Feb. 5. (MT/AFP, 02.05.24)
  • The world's largest wild reindeer population could disappear in the next few years if the Russian government does not crack down on overhunting, according to a new study published by a group of researchers at the Russian Academy of Sciences. Over the past 20 years, the size of Siberia's Taymyr reindeer population has seen a fourfold decrease, researchers found, with the latest estimate placing the number of animals at around 240,000.  (MT/AFP, 02.05.24)

Defense and aerospace:

  • In a Feb. 2 speech, Putin claimed that Russia’s defense industrial base is significantly expanding and sufficiently supporting the war effort in Ukraine. Putin claimed that 6,000 Russian enterprises and 3.5 million workers are part of Russia’s DIB and that 10,000 more enterprises are connected to the DIB in auxiliary or supporting roles Putin stated that in the previous 16 months, Russia’s DIB has created 520,000 new jobs; has increased the production of armored protection for personnel by a factor of 2.5; and has increased the production of armored vehicles and other equipment for combined arms warfare by an unspecified percentage. (ISW, 02.02.24)
  • In terms of individual armor protection, there has been a tenfold increase in their production since the beginning of Russia’s so-called special military intervention in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin said in his address to the plenary session of the Everything for Victory!” forum in Tula on Feb. 2. For IFVs and armored personnel carriers, the increase has been more than 3.5 times, he said. The state defense order is now practically 100% fulfilled, he said. In addition, the output of civilian equipment at defense industry enterprises increased by almost 30%, specifically 27%, according to Putin. (RM, 02.04.24)
  • Russia is directing a third of the country’s budget — Rbs9.6 trillion in 2023 and Rbs14.3 trillion in 2024 — towards the war effort, a threefold increase from 2021, the last full year before the invasion. The Russian finance ministry estimates that war-related fiscal stimulus in 2022-23 was equivalent to around 10% of GDP. In that same period, war-related industrial output has risen 35% while civilian production has remained flat, according to research published by the Bank of Finland Institute for Emerging Economies. (FT, 02.02.24)
  • “We are now ahead of everyone – the United States and other countries – in terms of the development of hypersonic strike systems, and we are improving them every day,” Putin claimed in his interview with Carlson. (, 02.09.24)
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense proposed increasing the age limit for dismissal of mobilized and contract soldiers. The document was published on the portal of draft regulatory legal acts. It states that during mobilization, martial law or wartime, the age limit will be 65 years, for senior officers - 70 years. (Istories, 02.08.24)
  • A large explosion lit up the night sky on Feb. 7 near Votkinsk, a city about 1,000 kilometers east of Moscow that is the location of a Russian military production facility. Residents of Votkinsk reported that a powerful explosion had occurred near the city and posted videos on social media showing high flames and a massive yellow glow over the horizon. Further messages said the explosion occurred at the Votkinsk Machine-Building Plant, which produces some of the Russian military's most sophisticated missiles, including the types it has used against Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 02.07.24)
  • Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko has become a new record holder for the total stay in space, Interfax reports. By noon on Feb. 4, Moscow time, Kononenko had spent a total of 878 days and 12 hours in space. The previous record of 878 days 11 hours 29 minutes 48 seconds belonged to cosmonaut Gennady Padalka. It was recorded in 2015, during Padalka’s fifth flight to the ISS. Kononenko is also on his fifth space mission to the ISS, having first flown in 2008. (Meduza, 02.04.24)

See section “Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts” above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev emphasized on Feb. 6 that Russia needs to increase efforts to prevent and respond to natural and man-made emergencies, including strengthening counterterrorism protections of “critical and potentially dangerous facilities” and “hazardous production facilities.” Patrushev stated that Russian authorities prevented 23 “terrorist attacks” against objects in the Urals in 2023 but that criminals conducted nine attacks (ISW, 02.06.24)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Russian arms seller Rosoboronexport signed a number of new contracts worth more than $12 billion last year, Interfax reported, citing the head of the state corporation, Alexander Mikheev. Rosoboronexport’s order book amounted to more than $55 billion as of end-2023, a record high in the company’s 23-year history, Mikheev said. (Bloomberg, 02.05.24)
  • “In 1992 the share of the G7 countries in the world economy amounted to 47 per cent, whereas in 2022 it was down to, I think, a little over 30 per cent. The BRICS countries accounted for only 16 per cent in 1992, but now their share is greater than that of the G7. .... This will keep happening, it is like the rise of the sun — you cannot prevent the sun from rising, you have to adapt to it,” Putin claimed in his interview with Carlson. (, 02.09.24)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Türkiye will likely take place in late April or early May, Russian state-run RIA news agency reported on Feb. 7, citing a source in Ankara. A Turkish official told Reuters last week that Putin would visit Türkiye, a NATO member, on Feb. 12. (Daily Sabah, 02.08.24)
  • Members of the far-right Italian party Northern League, including its leader Matteo Salvini, flew to Moscow in 2018-2019 and met with current FSB Fifth Service officer Andrei Kharchenko, according to the Insider outlet. One of the meetings took place on Oct. 18, 2018 at the Moscow Metropol. At that meeting, Savoni promised to provide support to Russia and discussed “financing schemes.” (media zone, 02.06.24)
  • Israel’s new ambassador to Russia must explain what Moscow said were “unacceptable statements,” underscoring tensions between the two countries related to the ongoing wars in Ukraine and Gaza. Simona Halperin, who started her job last month, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry after making comments “distorting Russian foreign policy approaches and historical realities. Halperin, who started her job last month, discussed a wide range of topics from the Holocaust to Russian attitudes toward Hamas in an interview. Halperin said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had played down the importance of the Holocaust and that Russia was too friendly with Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. (Bloomberg, 02.05.24, Reuters, 02.06.24)
  • Vladimir Sergiyenko, a Ukrainian-born political strategist who was suspected of working for Russia’s Federal Security Service left his position as an aide for Eugen Schmidt, a member of the German parliament and member of the far-right Alternative for Germany party. (Meduza, 02.04.24)
  • Bulgarian national television reported on Feb. 5 that investigators have detained an employee from the Interior Ministry's unit fighting organized crime on suspicion of spying for Moscow. (RFE/RL, 02.05.24)


  • At the end of January, Ukraine’s international reserves decreased by almost 5%, or $1.98 billion, to $38.525 billion. These data were released by the National Bank on Feb. 6. (, 02.06.24)
  • The Ukrainian government has appointed Oleksandr Porkhun, a veteran of the Russian-Ukrainian war and a Hero of Ukraine, as the acting veterans affairs minister after the resignation of Yuliia Laputina, the ministry reported on Feb. 9. (Kyiv Independent, 02.09.24)
  • Ukraine on Feb. 6 said it had arrested five former and current intelligence officers it said were secretly working for Russia as part of an influential spy ring. Kyiv said the men were caught passing information to FSB about Ukrainian military sites, its defensive fortifications, personal data and strategic energy facilities. (MT/AFP, 02.06.24)
  • Ukrainian lawmakers on Feb. 7 voted to dismiss Yuriy Buhlak from the Central Election Commission after he left Ukraine for the United States 12 days before Russia launched its ongoing invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. (RFE/RL, 02.07.24)
  • The deputy mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Nikopol was killed when an unidentified gunman opened fire at his vehicle. Ukrainian media identified the deputy mayor as Vitaliy Zhuravlov. Nikopol, in Dnipropetrovsk region, regularly sustains Russian attacks that cause civilian casualties, but prosecutors have not mentioned any link between the killing and Russian forces. (RFE/RL, 02.08.24)
  • In the Chernivtsi region, border guards detained two groups of suspected draft-dodgers who were trying to illegally cross the border into Romania. Meanwhile police detained a law-enforcer who is suspected having facilitated departure of conscription-age men for foreign countries, disguising them as drivers of lorries in a company he has owned. (, 02.06.24)
  • In the village of Kosmach, located in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast of Ukraine, a woman and her child were assaulted by a mob after being mistakenly accused of being a “spotter” for the military recruitment office. Promoted by false rumors spread on social media, around a hundred locals blocked the road, stopping cars to search for territorial recruitment center employees. The woman, Ivanna Vandzhurak, reported sustaining a concussion, and her child suffered a nose injury. (, 02.07.24)
  • Kremlin will organize early voting for the upcoming Russian presidential election in Russian-annexed parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions, reports Kommersant. (Meduza, 02.08.24)
  • With American aid stalled, political analysts have suggested that Mr. Zelensky might promote Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, who is seen as being in favor with the Biden administration, to a senior position in Kyiv. The U.S. government has been pushing for overhauls to strengthen anti-corruption safeguards on the billions of dollars in financial and military aid Ukraine is receiving during the war. (NYT, 02.05.24)
  • Vladimir Putin’s answer to Tucker  Carlson’s first question lasted 36 minutes and covered the past thousand years of Ukraine’s history with Russia. He proffered a thick folder full of letters written by Bohdan Khmelnytsky, a 17th century Cossack leader. Putin repeated familiar grievances against the US, which he blamed for forcing him to order the invasion of Ukraine. (FT, 02.08.24)
  • Officials from Ukraine’s State Labor Service have been apprehended for allegedly demanding a bribe of half a million hryvnias ($13.3 thousand) to avoid conducting an unscheduled inspection of a business, the Prosecutor General Office reported on Telegram on Feb. 9. (The New Voice of Ukraine, 02.09.24)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has appointed Olzhas Bektenov, the former head of his administration and an anti-corruption watchdog, as the Central Asian nation's new prime minister just a day after dismissing the government. One day after replacing his prime minister, Toqaev chaired a cabinet session on Feb. 7, harshly criticizing the government for "mistakes and failures" in upgrading the nation's heating, electricity, and water supply systems. (RFE/RL, 02.07.24, RFE/RL, 02.05.24)
  • Lithuania’s top national security body called for the closure of two border checkpoints with Belarus as the Baltic region moves to reduce risks related to sanctions evasion, smuggling and a surge in migrants. (Bloomberg, 02.06.24)
  • Georgia’s authorities said they foiled an attempt to smuggle explosives into Russia in a vehicle that originated in Ukraine’s Black Sea city of Odesa. (Bloomberg, 02.05.24)
  • Voting is under way in Azerbaijan's snap presidential election that looks set to easily hand incumbent strongman President Ilham Aliyev a fifth term  (RFE/RL, 02.07.24)
  • Allies Russia and Belarus are working to create a shared database of “extremists,” the Belarusian ambassador in Moscow said Feb. 6. (MT/AFP, 02.06.24)
  • The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has slammed Azerbaijan's snap presidential election (which Ilham Aliyev won) for being held in a "restrictive environment" and lacking genuine pluralism. (RFE/RL, 02.08.24)
  • Georgian lawmakers approved Irakli Kobakhidze as the new prime minister before the European Union candidate nation holds parliamentary elections in October. (Bloomberg, 02.08.24)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • “My constituents are asking: What is the endgame?” Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado said after meeting ex-NATO SG Rasmussen in Washington. “Continuing a forever war in this area is not something we want to keep footing the bill for.” (Politico, 02.05.24)
  • Senator Mark Warner, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote on X that “If we don’t honor our commitment to Ukraine, there’s not a single nation — friend or foe — that will fully trust us again.” Bill Burns, director of the CIA, has said that for the U.S. to abandon Ukraine now would be a mistake of “historic proportions”. The decision would be all the more incomprehensible because — in contrast to the wars in Vietnam or Afghanistan — the U.S. military is not doing the fighting and dying.
  • “If Ukraine were forced to surrender, that would not satisfy Russia’s hunger for power,” the chief of Germany’s intelligence service, Bruno Kahl, said last week. “If the West does not demonstrate a clear readiness to defend, Putin will have no reason not to attack NATO anymore.” (WP, 02.03.24)
  • This year, for the first time, Germany will spend 2% of its gross domestic product on the military, reaching the goal that all NATO countries agreed to in 2014, after the Russian annexation of Crimea (WP, 02.03.24)
  • Polls show that Germans want to see a more capable German military. But only 38% of those surveyed said they wanted their country to be more involved in international crises, the lowest figure since that question began to be asked in 2017, according to the Körber Foundation, which conducted the survey. Of that group, 76% said the engagement should be primarily diplomatic, and 71% were against a military leadership role for Germany in Europe. (WP, 02.03.24)



  1. Syrskyi was born in what is now the Vladimir region of Russia, and pro-Kremlin media claim that his brother and parents live in that region, as does his brother. (Meduza, 02.09.24, RM, 02.09.24) Earlier Syrskyi led forces that fought against Russian troops at the decisive battle of Debaltseve in 2015. Rather than surrender when encircled, General Syrskyi ordered soldiers to retreat at night under fire, and more than a hundred were killed in a harrowing dash over farm fields to reach Ukrainian lines. Ukraine’s defeat in Debaltseve led to a ceasefire deal that benefited Moscow and solidified its grip over the Donbas. (FT, 02.09.24, NYT, 02.09.24)
  2. See RM’s fact-check of Putin’s similar earlier claims here.


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

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

Photo by the Ukrainian Presidential Office shared in the public domain.