Russia in Review, Feb. 23-March 1, 2024

7 Things to Know

  1. Vladimir Putin used his annual address to the Russian parliament to not only rattle his nuclear saber at the West again, but also to accuse his Western counterparts of “spooking the world” with the threat of a nuclear war, all while claiming to be ready for talks on nuclear arms control. “We remember what happened to those who sent their contingents to the territory of our country once before. Today, any potential aggressors will face far graver consequences,” Putin warned in his record-long address shortly after talking up Russia’s recently developed nuclear attack systems, such as the Avangard and Poseidon. He then, however, went on to accuse Western leaders of “spooking the world with the threat of a conflict involving nuclear weapons, which potentially means the end of civilization—don’t they realize this?” Putin then claimed that Russia was ready for a “dialogue on strategic stability” with the U.S., but reiterated the Kremlin’s official position that such a dialogue cannot be compartmentalized, contrary to the Biden administration’s suggestions. “This must be done as a package including, of course,” he insisted in the Feb. 29 address. While at it, Putin also repeated his denials that Russia is planning to deploy nuclear weapons in space.[1] Putin’s demand for packaging issues means that Moscow and Washington remain at loggerheads on whether nuclear arms control talks can be held separately from discussions of other issues on the U.S.-Russian agenda, thus keeping prospects of such talks dim.*
  2. FT has obtained a cache of 29 Russian military files, which describe a threshold for using tactical nuclear weapons that is lower than Russia has ever publicly admitted, according to this newspaper. The files, which date from 2008 to 2014contain a description of one Russian military exercise in which China attacks Russia and the latter responds with a tactical nuclear strike in order to stop “the South” from advancing with a second wave of invading forces. FT has also obtained what it described as a training presentation for Russian naval officers that outlines criteria for a potential nuclear strike, such as an enemy landing on Russian territory, a defeat of units responsible for securing border areas or an imminent enemy attack using conventional weapons. Other potential conditions include destruction of 20% of Russia’s SSBNs, 30% of its nuclear-powered attack submarines, three or more cruisers, three airfields or a simultaneous hit on its main and reserve coastal command centers, according to FT. If accurate, FT’s description of conditions under which Russia would initiate the use of nuclear weapons goes beyond what the two Russian strategic documents -- that are supposed to be to go-to-resources for offering Russia’s official non-classified descriptions of such conditions -- envision. Neither the 2014 Military Doctrine nor the 2020 Basic Principles of State Policy on Nuclear Deterrence explicitly refer to scenarios in which defeat of units responsible for securing border areas, or an imminent enemy attack using conventional weapons, would trigger the use of nuclear weapons by Russia. Neither an enemy landing on Russian territory nor the defeat of units responsible for securing border areas qualify as developments that put the very existence of the Russian state in jeopardy. That said, FT’s reference to the destruction of 20% of Russia’s strategic ballistic missile submarines as a condition for Russia’s decision to use nuclear weapons, is something that one can imagine inferring from the 2020 principles, which list “attack by adversary against critical governmental or military sites of the Russian Federation” and  “disruption of which would undermine nuclear forces response actions” among the “the conditions specifying the possibility of nuclear weapons use by the Russian Federation.”  It is also worth noting that FT’s is not the first report that the Russian top brass has thought about preparing for a war with China. When describing what kind of warfare the national armed forces should prepare for, then chief of Russia’s Ground Forces Staff Lt. Gen. Sergei Skokov said in 2009: "If we talk about the east, then it could be a multi-million-man army with a traditional approach to conducting com­bat operations: straightforward, with large concentra­tions of personnel and firepower along individual oper­ational directions." 
  3. French President Emmanuel Macron’s remarks this week that sending Western troops to Ukraine “could not be ruled out” has created an uproar in the West and prompted threats from the Kremlin, even though there reportedly already are U.S.,British and French officers deployed in Ukraine for liaison and targeting. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz ruled out that European countries and NATO members would send ground troops to Ukraine. His comments were echoed by top officials in Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said “there are no plans for NATO combat troops on the ground in Ukraine.”[2] In an apparent response to Macron’s remarks, Putin, in his annual address to the parliament, warned that those discussing “deploying NATO military contingents to Ukraine ... must grasp that we also have weapons ... capable of striking targets on their territory.” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov was less circumspect in his reaction to Macron’s remarks than his boss, explicitly warning that if NATO military forces enter Ukrainian territory, it would lead to a direct conflict between Russia and NATO.
  4. WSJ has obtained the full 17-page draft of a peace treaty drawn up by Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in April 2022 in Istanbul to turn Ukraine into a “permanently neutral state that doesn’t participate in military blocs,” barred from rebuilding its military with Western support and leaving Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine under de facto Russian control. The draft treaty included banning Ukraine from acquiring foreign weapons, with Moscow demanding Ukraine’s armed forces to be capped at 85,000, according to WSJ. The treaty was to have been guaranteed by the U.S., U.K, China, France and Russia, with the guarantors required to “terminate international treaties and agreements, incompatible with the permanent neutrality of Ukraine,” WSJ said of the April 15, 2022, peace treaty draft. Almost two years later, Biden administration officials are now nudging Volodymyr Zelenskyy to choose the second option in the following dilemma: “keep every inch of sovereign Ukrainian territory, or find a way to secure an economically viable state, with a democratic future, Western security guarantees and eventual membership in the European Union and in NATO,” according to NYT. American military officials in Europe, led by Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, have been quietly warning that the best the Ukrainians can hope for is a largely frozen conflict, according to NYT. 
  5. In the past month, Russian forces have gained 57 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 3 square miles, according to the Feb. 28, 2024, issue of the Belfer Center’s Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. Over the past week, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (ZSU) have withdrawn from the villages of Sieverne and Stepove, which are located north and west of the Donetsk region town of Avdiivka, with the AFU confirming the retreat. This week has also seen ZSU confirm withdrawal from the village of Lastochkyne, north of Avdiivka that Russian forces had captured earlier. Ukrainian officials believe Russian armed forces are preparing an offensive in late May or summer 2024, and they are concerned that this offensive could gain significant momentum unless Kyiv’s allies can increase the supply of ammunition,[3] according to Bloomberg and ISW.   Whether Russia will prevail in the war will be decided this year, in the view of Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev.
  6. The Pentagon’s inspector general said its criminal investigators have opened more than 50 cases related to aid provided to Ukraine, including some involving contractors, Bloomberg reported. The investigations, which are at different stages, are looking at issues including “procurement fraud, product substitution, theft, fraud or corruption and diversion,” the inspector general, Robert Storch, said, according to this news agency. Storch also cautioned there would likely be more investigations into abuse or diversions of U.S. equipment “given the quantity and speed” of gear flowing into Ukraine, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Serhiy Pashinsky, a high-profile Ukrainian former politician who has become central to the country’s effort to obtain weapons, was arrested on corruption charges, NYT reported this week. Prosecutors have recently accused Pashinsky and five other men of participating in a convoluted fuel-buying scheme that they said had defrauded the Ukrainian government out of about $25 million several years before the war started, NYT reportedThe accusations against Pashinsky do not relate to weapons procurement, according to NYT.
  7. Thousands of people lined up to pay their final respects at the funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in defiance of a heavy police presence aimed at deterring protests against Putin, according to Bloomberg. Mourners chanted “Navalny” and “we won’t forgive” and “Putin is a killer” as the Kremlin critic’s body was carried out after the service for burial. Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalny—who could not attend the funeral—has earlier vowed to carry on his political activities and urged the West to investigate “the Western assets of Putin and his inner circle. Prior to the funeral, associates of Navalny had claimed that a prisoner swap involving him and Vadim Krasikov, who was convicted of assassinating a former Chechen fighter in Berlin, had been planned.  


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • U.N. atomic watchdog chief Rafael Grossi called on Feb. 23 for "maximum military restraint" after a string of powerful explosions occurred near Ukraine's Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant this week. The large explosion on Feb. 22 was part of “field training,” plant officials said. In addition, the IAEA was told that a mine exploded outside the site perimeter on Feb. 22, but it did not cause any damage or injury. (RFE/RL, 02.24.24)
  • Alexander Nikitin, a former Russian nuclear submarine officer and Bellona employee of 30 years standing, estimates that Russian nuclear and radiation legacy consists of nearly 20,000 tons of used nuclear fuel, approximately 800,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste, over 4,700 nuclear and radiation hazardous facilities — as well as more than 30,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste dumped on the seabed. (Bellona, 02.28.24)
  • In 2023, Russian NPPs generated 217 billion kWh of electricity, which is 2.8% less than in 2022. (Bellona, January 2024)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • North Korea has shipped containers that could hold millions of artillery shells to Russia, a top South Korean official said, allowing President Vladimir Putin to maintain his assault on Ukraine as Kyiv’s stocks of ammunition dwindle. South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik told reporters that North Korea is estimated to have sent about 6,700 containers to Russia. The containers could hold about 3 million rounds of 152 mm shells, Shin said. Russia in return is providing North Korea with food, raw materials and parts used in weapons manufacturing, Shin said. (Bloomberg, 02.27.24)
    • Vessel movement continues between Najin in North Korea and Dunai and Vostochny Port in Russia, along with some changes in vessel activity between these locations since late December 2023. These voyages have reportedly supported the transfer of more than 2.5 million rounds of artillery shells and other munitions. (CSIS, February 2024)
  • Russia has not received long-range missiles from Iran, stated the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, Kyrylo Budanov. He also said that claims of extensive use of North Korean missiles also does not correspond to reality, “Several North Korean ones were used, but to say about extensive use - it certainly does not correspond to reality," said Budanov. (, 02.25.24)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office announced Feb. 26 that it was investigating the possible execution of unarmed Ukrainian soldiers by Russian forces in the eastern Donetsk region. According to the prosecutor’s office, the incident occurred on the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion near the city of Bakhmut, which Moscow captured last year. (MT/AFP, 02.26.24)
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense published footage of Russian Central Grouping of Forces Commander Col. Gen. Andrei Mordvichev reporting to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that Russian forces captured about 200 Ukrainian prisoners of war near Avdiivka. (ISW, 02.24.24)
  • Moscow is ready to give Kyiv the bodies of Ukrainian prisoners of war who were said to have died in a military plane crash last month, Russia’s presidential human rights commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova said March 1. Russia claims 65 Ukrainian servicemen en route for a scheduled prisoner exchange were killed on Jan. 24 when a missile fired from northeastern Ukraine struck an Il-76 military transport plane. (MT/AFP, 03.01.24)
  • Yevgeny Balitsky, the Kremlin-appointed “governor” of the annexed Zaporizhzhia region, said that Russian military personnel and occupation officials forcibly deported Ukrainians who spoke out against Russia. (Meduza, 02.24.24)
  • Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate, advised civilians not to travel across the Crimean Bridge, hinting at “new surprises” in 2024. (, 02.25.24)
  • Two years ago there were 109,000 school-aged students in Kharkiv. Now there are only 57,000, and of those, some 2,000 study in one of the five schools in metro stations, in rotating shifts. (The Economist, 02.28.24)
  • The Council of the European Union has approved the launch of the Ukraine Facility program, within which Ukraine has been promised to receive 50 billion euros by 2027, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance. (, 02.28.24)
  • For military strikes on civilian targets see the following section.

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • In the past month, Russian forces have gained 57 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 3 square miles, according to the Feb. 28, 2024, issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 02.29.24)
    • Over the past week, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been driven out of the villages of Lastochkyne and Sieverne, located west and north-west of Avdiivka, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Feb. 27. He also announced the capture of the village of Pobeda, which is located southwest of Marinka, Donetsk region. The retreat of the Ukrainian Armed Forces from Lastochkyne and Sieverne is confirmed by the Ukrainian OSINT project DeepState. On Feb. 26, Ukrainian military spokesman Dmytro Lykhoviy confirmed the withdrawal from Lastochkyne. On Feb. 27, the Armed Forces of Ukraine confirmed withdrawal from Sieverne as well as from Stepove. (Istories, 02.27.24, MT/AFP, 02.26.24,, 02.27.24)
    • The fighting in Ukraine has intensified, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, which has been tracking such incidents throughout the war. The organization recorded 9,700 battle events - armed clashes, or the takeover or recovery of territory - in the second year of the war, a 32% increase compared with the first year. It said the increase was mainly due to increased fighting in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions, both of which Ukraine focused on in its failed counteroffensive. (WP, 02.25.25)
    • Ukrainian officials are concerned that Russian advances could gain significant momentum by the summer unless their allies can increase the supply of ammunition, according to a person familiar with their analysis. Internal assessments of the situation on the battlefield from Kyiv are growing increasingly bleak as Ukrainian forces struggle to hold off Russian attacks while rationing the number of shells they can fire. Depending on the results of the current campaign, Russia will decide whether to continue with a slow, grinding advance, or to accumulate resources for a bigger strike to break through Ukrainian lines this summer, the person close to Ukraine’s leadership said. (Bloomberg, 02.29.24)
    • Zelenskyy stated that Russia is preparing a new offensive that will start in late May or summer 2024. Zelenskyy also stated that the Ukrainian military has a clear plan to counter Russian forces. (ISW, 02.26.24)
    • Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said that the front line in Ukraine is 3,200 kilometers, and intense military operations are taking place over a length of 1,200 kilometers. (, 02.24.24)

    • Recently retired chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told FT that the war has reached a “stalemate,” and that U.S. and European support is critical. Without that support, he warns, Russia will over time gain a strategic advantage that will be devastating. “It will be tragic, because at that point the Ukrainians will no longer be able to successfully defend themselves.” He sees the debate in Congress as a test of whether you think U.S. support for the rules-based international order is important. He sides with those who say that not backing Ukraine is “signaling a deathblow” to that order. (FT, 03.01.24)
    • In his record long address to the Federal Assembly (2 hours and 6 minutes), Putin stated that Russian combat capabilities have increased “many times over” and that Russian forces “firmly hold the initiative, confidently advance in a number of operational areas” and capture “more territory.” Putin’s characterization of Russian offensive operations in Ukraine is notably more confident than his Dec.14, 2023, Direct Line statement that Russian forces were in “the active stage of action.” (ISW, 02.29.24)
    • When asked what he expects in 2024, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Russian media that he expects victory in Russia’s so-called special military operation in Ukraine. “Whether it works out or not is a question that will be resolved in this year,” he said, according to TASS. (RM, 02.29.24)
  • On Feb. 23 Ukraine said it had shot down an A-50U Russian spy plane over the Sea of Azov, and shared a map appearing to show it had crashed over southern Russia. (MT/AFP, 02.24.24)
    • Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate, said the operation to destroy the Russian A-50 had been prepared for two weeks. At the same time, he avoided the question of whether the plane was shot down by domestic weapons. (, 02.25.25)
    • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine will never use its partners’ weapons on the territories of other states, only on temporarily occupied Ukrainian ones. “Ukraine does not have the opportunity, does not have the right and will never use its partners’ weapons in territories other than Ukrainian temporarily occupied territory,” he said. (Ukrainska Pravda, 02.24.24)
    • Russian milbloggers continued to claim on Feb. 23 and 24 that Russian forces were responsible for shooting down the A-50. (ISW, 02.24.24)
  • On Feb. 24, Ukraine said it hit one of Russia's largest steel plants with a drone strike on the second anniversary of Moscow launching its invasion. Russia reported a fire in the huge Novolipetsk factory in the western Lipetsk region, with images on social media showing a huge blaze. (MT/AFP, 02.24.24)
  • On Feb. 25, Ukrainian Army chief Oleksandr Syrskiy said he traveled with Defense Minister Rustem Umerov to the front line of Kyiv's effort to stave off invading Russian forces to analyze the situation and determine ways to boost defenses. On Feb. 23, Syrskiy and Umerov met with a delegation of U.S. senators to discuss the battlefield situation and the need for more weapons and ammunition. (RFE/RL, 02.25.25)
  • On Feb. 26, a Ukrainian drone struck a car in the Russian border village of Pochaevo, killing three people and wounding three others, the region's governor said. Pochaevo is less than five kilometers from the Ukrainian border in Russia's Belgorod region, which Moscow says has been repeatedly targeted by Kyiv's forces. "The Ukrainian army attacked a car with a kamikaze drone on the outskirts of the village of Pochaevo in Grayvoron district," regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said. (MT/AFP, 02.26.24)
  • On Feb. 27, the Ukrainian military said it had shot down another Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber jet. That claim could not be independently confirmed. (RFE/RL, 02.27.24)
  • On Feb. 27, a Russian strike in Ukraine's northeastern Sumy region killed two police officers and wounded four others, Ukraine's Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said. The Sumy region borders Russia and has been targeted throughout Moscow's two-year invasion, but it is still far from fighting hotspots further to the south. The police officers were visiting a farm building damaged in a previous attack when Russia "struck again" with artillery, Klymenko said on the messaging app Telegram. (MT/AFP, 02.27.24)
  • On Feb. 27, Ukrainian air defenses shot down 11 of 13 drones launched by Russia at targets inside Ukraine, the country's air force said. It added that two cruise missiles out of a total of six had also been destroyed. "Fighter aircraft, antiaircraft missile units, mobile groups and electronic warfare equipment were involved in repelling the attack," the Ukrainian military said, adding that the drones and missiles were shot down over the Kharkiv, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Khmelnytskiy and Kirovohrad regions. (RFE/RL, 02.27.24)
  • On Feb. 27, Ukrainian forces reportedly shot down two Russian Su-34s, the 10th downed Russian military aircraft within roughly as many days. (ISW, 02.27.24)
  • On Feb. 28 and 29, Ukrainian forces downed three more Su-34 fighter aircraft in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Oleksandr Pavlyuk reported on Feb. 29 that Ukrainian forces destroyed two Su-34 aircraft on the night of Feb. 28 to 29 and another Su-34 on the morning of Feb. 29 in the Mariupol and Avdiivka directions. (ISW, 02.29.24)

  • On Feb. 28, the Third separate assault brigade claimed that it drove Russian forces out of Krasnohorivka, Donetsk region. (, 02.28.24)
  • On Feb. 29, an unspecified number of Ukrainian special forces soldiers were killed during an operation in the occupied part of Ukraine's southern region of Kherson, the Special Operations Forces of the Ukrainian military said in a statement on Feb. 29. Ukrainian broadcaster Suspilne reported that a group of Ukrainian troops died during an attempt to gain a foothold on the Tendriv spit in the northern part of the Black Sea, near the coast of occupied Kherson. (RFE/RL, 02.29.24)
  • On Feb. 29, Syrskyi said that mistakes by frontline commanders had compounded the problems facing Ukraine’s defenses around Avdiivka, which was captured by Russian forces this month. (Bloomberg, 02.29.24)
  • On Feb. 29, the General Staff of Ukraine's armed forces said that 19 Russian soldiers were killed and 12 wounded in a missile strike on a group of Russian troops in the town of Olenivka in the Russian-occupied part of the Donetsk region. The statement has not been confirmed by Russia's military. (RFE/RL, 02.29.24)
  • On March 1, Ukrainian air-defense forces shot down four Russian drones over the regions of Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk, the military said, without specifying how many drones Moscow had launched at Ukraine's territory. Russia's Defense Ministry previously said that its air defenses downed four Ukrainian drones over the Belgorod and Nizhny Novgorod regions. Ukraine has not commented on the Russian claim. (RFE/RL, 03.01.24)
  • In Ukraine's war against Russia, 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died, according to Zelenskyy. "Every person is a big loss for us. 31,000 Ukrainian military died in this war. Not 300,000, or 150,000, as Putin lies. But every loss is a big loss for us. Russians – 180,000 died. Total casualties and wounded in the Russian Federation - up to 500 in total with the wounded. Ukrainians – 31,000," Zelenskyy said. (, 02.25.24)
  • Russia’s “Air Force has failed to gain control of the air. Its navy has seen 25% of its vessels in the Black Sea sunk or damaged by a country without a navy," Adm. Sir Tony Radakin said, referring to Ukraine's successes in the Black Sea. He added: "Russia's army has lost nearly 3,000 tanks, nearly 1,500 artillery pieces and over 5,000 armored fighting vehicles,” Radakin said. (Business Insider 02.29.24)
  • Russia originally deployed some 130 battalion tactical groups for its invasion. This likely included 1,3000 tanks and over 5,000 IFVs and 100,000 personnel. In two years of conflict, Russian losses match and in many cases surpass those that comprised the original force, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry’s X account (RM, 02.24.24)
  • Comparing and analyzing the lists of names of dead Russian soldiers with data retrieved from Russia’s Inheritance Case Registry allows Meduza to estimate that the total number of Russian combatants killed between the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022 and late 2023 is 75,000 men. A highly conservative assumption of 1.7–2 injured men for every soldier killed would mean Russia has suffered 130,000 wounded combatants, bringing the total casualty count to more than 200,000 men. If roughly 24,000 Russian soldiers died in 2022, almost twice as many were killed in 2023. (Meduza, 02.24.24)
    • Western officials estimate some 350,000 Russians have been killed or badly injured since February 2022, while 70,000 Ukrainians have died and 120,000 have been seriously wounded. (FT, 02.24.24)
    • The Pentagon estimates that about 60,000 Russian soldiers have died and that about 240,000 have been wounded. (NYT, 02.25.24)
  • Zelenskyy has appointed a new commander of the Logistics Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Brig. Gen. Volodymyr Karpenko is replacing Oleg Gulyak in this position. (, 02.29.24)
  • A bill that would overhaul the mobilization process — and potentially add up to 500,000 conscripts — is making its way through the Ukrainian Parliament, Verkhovna Rada. But lawmakers nervous about the political ramifications have already added some 4,000 amendments to the proposed law which is to be considered in second reading on March 6. Verkhovna Rada’s Commissioner for Human Rights Dmitry Lubinets says the bill contains a number of norms that contradict the Constitution of Ukraine. In particular, he drew attention to the fact that the bill states that the military command can restrict a Ukrainian citizen’s right to leave the country, while, according to Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations cannot restrict the rights and freedoms of citizens. In addition, the bill requires individuals who are eligible for mobilization to open government-approved electronic accounts [so that electronic mobilization summons can be sent to these accounts]. However, this provision of the bill also violates the Constitution, according to Lubinets. (RM, 02.24.24, NYT, 02.24.24)
  • Ukrainian military officials were concerned last year that the government wanted a road map for victory without telling them the amount of men, ammunition and reserves they would have to execute any plan, according to Gen. Viktor Nazarov, an adviser to the former commanding general in Ukraine’s army, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi. “This is what, unfortunately, our political leadership did not understand or did not want to understand when they demanded strategic plans from the military without strategic reserves and resources,” Nazarov said. (NYT, 02.24.24)
  • Russia’s annual artillery munition production has risen from 800,000 prewar to an estimated 2.5 million, or 4 million including refurbished shells. EU and U.S. production capacity stands at about 700,000 and 400,000 respectively, although the EU aims to hit 1.4 million by the end of this year and the U.S. 1.2 million. (FT, 02.24.24)
  • India said Feb. 29 it was working to secure the release of around 20 of its citizens who are "stuck" in the Russian army. (MT/AFP, 02.29.24)

Military aid to Ukraine:

  • French President Emmanuel Macron said sending Western troops to Ukraine “could not be ruled out” and that Paris would drop its long-standing opposition to purchasing emergency artillery supplies for Ukraine from outside the EU. Arguing that Russia’s defeat was necessary to ensure “Europe’s collective security,” Macron said a meeting of 25 European leaders in Paris on Feb. 26 had underscored a new depth of Western resolve to help Ukraine, after more than two years of full-scale war in the country. “We will do everything needed so Russia cannot win the war,” he told reporters. Macron declined to say which countries discussed sending troops to Ukraine at the Paris summit.[4] (FT, 02.26.24, WSJ, 02.26.24)
    • France’s Foreign Minister Stéphane Sejourne in France’s parliament on Feb. 28 elaborated further, saying NATO troops could potentially be deployed into Ukraine to assist with roles such as “demining, cyber operations or weapons production.” (ABC, 02.29.24)
    • A French official said Macron’s comments were intended as a sign of France’s commitment to defending Ukraine and it was necessary to start a debate among allies about what they may need to do to thwart a Russian victory. In Paris, officials said on Feb. 27 that Macron was not suggesting Western troops should be sent en masse to the front lines, rather that it was no longer a taboo to rule out involvement so as to preserve what the French president called “strategic ambiguity.” (FT, 02.27.24)
      • France’s pledged military aid to Ukraine totaling €6.8 billion, is still modest as a proportion of GDP and relative to both Britain (€9.1 billion) and Germany (a whopping €17.7 billion, albeit stretching to 2027). (Economist, 02.29.24)
    • A senior European defense official said Macron’s statement was about creating deterrence and ambiguity toward Russia, adding: “Everyone knows there are Western special forces in Ukraine — they’ve just not acknowledged it officially.” (FT, 02.27.24)
    • A decision to send troops and keep them deployed long term would require the kind of transport and logistics capabilities that only countries like the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and possibly Italy, Poland or Spain could muster. (AP, 02.27.24)
  • On Feb. 27, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz ruled out suggestions that European countries and NATO alliance members would send ground troops to Ukraine, a day after Macron had raised the prospect that some might do so. German lawmakers spoke out against the idea, which Macron floated at a hastily arranged meeting of European leaders in Paris on Feb. 26. He said the participants had agreed “that there will be no ground troops, no soldiers on Ukrainian soil who are sent there by European states or NATO states.” Scholz said there was also consensus “that soldiers operating in our countries also are not participating actively in the war themselves.” Scholz said Western powers had agreed “that there would be no ground troops on Ukrainian soil, no soldiers sent there from European states or NATO states,” comments that were echoed by his counterparts in Poland, Italy and the Czech Republic. (Reuters, 02.27.24AP, 02.27.24, FT, 02.27.24)
  • Germany’s deputy chancellor Robert Habeck said there was “no chance” of sending ground troops to Ukraine and, in a rebuff to France, told Paris it should instead supply Kyiv with more weapons. (FT, 02.27.24)
  • Spain does not agree with a French proposal to send European ground troops to Ukraine and wants to limit aid to sending more weapons and other material to Kyiv, government spokesperson Pilar Alegria told a news conference on Feb. 27. (Reuters, 02.27.24)
  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told The Associated Press that “NATO allies are providing unprecedented support to Ukraine. We have done that since 2014 and stepped up after the full-scale invasion. But there are no plans for NATO combat troops on the ground in Ukraine.” (AP, 02.27.24)
  • A NATO official said there were no plans for the alliance to put combat troops on the ground. “Ukraine has the right to self-defense, and we have the right to support them,” the official said. (FT, 02.27.24)
  • Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis added: “Times like these require political leadership, ambition and courage to think out of the box. The initiative behind the Paris meeting yesterday is well worth considering.” (FT, 02.27.24)
  • At a meeting in Prague on Feb. 27, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said, “Poland does not plan to send its troops to Ukraine.” Prime Minister Petr Fiala of the Czech Republic insisted that his country “certainly doesn’t want to send its soldiers.” (AP, 02.27.24)
  • Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico has said his government is not planning to propose a deployment, but that some countries were weighing whether to strike bilateral deals to provide troops to help Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion. (AP, 02.27.24)
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that if NATO military forces enter Ukrainian territory, it would lead to a direct conflict between Russia and NATO. His comments followed the statement by Macron on Feb. 27. “In this case, we need to talk not about the probability, but about the inevitability [of a conflict],” Peskov said at a press briefing. “The very fact that the possibility of NATO countries sending certain contingents to Ukraine is being discussed is, of course, very important, a new element,” said Peskov. (Meduza, 02.27.24)
  • On Feb. 24, U.S. President Joe Biden and fellow leaders from the Group of Seven sought to assure Zelenskyy of their support as Russia’s war against his country enters its third year. The leaders held a videoconference to “discuss our continued support for Ukraine and steps we can take together to continue holding Russia accountable,” according to a White House statement. (Bloomberg, 02.24.24)
  • The Pentagon is weighing whether to tap into the last remaining source of funding it has for military aid to support Ukraine’s war effort against Russia even without guarantees that those funds will be replenished by Congress, multiple defense officials told CNN. The Defense Department still has around $4 billion in presidential drawdown authority funds available for Ukraine, which allows the Pentagon to draw from its own stockpiles to send military equipment to Kyiv. (CNN, 02.28.24)
    • The Biden administration is considering whether to provide Ukraine with badly needed arms and ammunition from Pentagon stockpiles even though the government has run out of money to replace those munitions, according to two U.S. officials and a senior lawmaker. (NYT, 02.29.24)
  • U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that "Ukraine still has the potential if we give it the tools and resources it needs to win this war." Sullivan said Ukraine can still win its war with Russia but that it must get “the tools it needs” from its Western allies. Sullivan on Feb. 25 said Kyiv’s forces lost the recent battle for Avdiivka due to a lack of ammunition. (RFE/RL, 02.26.24)
  • To date, said Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of state for political affairs, the United States has provided $75 billion in security, economic and humanitarian assistance. But, she said, “Europe and our global partners have provided even more, $107 billion, in addition to hosting 4.5 million Ukrainian refugees in countries across Europe.” Yet to fully replace American military assistance this year, according to an assessment by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Europe would still have “to double its current level and pace of arms assistance.” (NYT, 02.24.24)
  • The Pentagon’s inspector general said its criminal investigators have opened more than 50 cases related to aid provided to Ukraine, including some involving contractors, Boomberg reported.  The investigations, which are at different stages, are looking at issues including “procurement fraud, product substitution, theft, fraud or corruption, and diversion,” the inspector general, Robert Storch, said, according to this news agency. Storch also cautioned there would likely be more investigations into abuse or diversions of U.S. equipment “given the quantity and speed” of gear flowing into Ukraine, according to Bloomberg. (Bloomberg, 02.23.24)
  • Kyle Parker, a senior Capitol Hill staff member who is a longtime voice on Russia policy, is under congressional investigation over his frequent trips to Ukraine's war zones and providing what he said was $30,000 in sniper gear to its military, documents show. (NYT, 02.27.24)
  • Zelenskyy on Feb. 24 signed bilateral security agreements with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Canada and Italy join Britain, Germany, France and Denmark in concluding security agreements intended to shore up Ukraine's security. (MT/AFP, 02.26.24)
  • At a press conference in Kyiv dedicated to the second anniversary of Russia's invasion, Zelenskyy said his country's victory "depends" on Western support and that he was "sure" the United States would approve a critical package of military aid. (MT/AFP, 02.26.24, RFE/RL, 02.24.24)
  • Zelenskyy said on Feb. 29 that his meetings with Western Balkan leaders at a summit in Tirana will help Ukrainian troops get more of the artillery shells they badly need to fend off advancing Russian forces. (RFE/RL, 03.01.24)
  • On Feb. 24, European and other Western leaders gathered in Kyiv to pledge support for Ukraine. The leaders of Canada, Belgium and Italy, as well as the head of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, were among the dignitaries who traveled to Kyiv in a show of solidarity. (NYT, 02.24.24)
  • Several European countries, including France and the Netherlands, expressed support for an initiative launched by the Czech Republic to buy ammunition shells for Ukraine outside the European Union. Under its initiative, the Czech Republic has identified about 800,000 artillery shells that could be purchased immediately from outside the EU, and has offered to acquire, ship and deliver them to Ukraine if it can raise the necessary funding. Separately, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said after the conference that about 15 countries had shown interest in contributing to the initiative, Dutch PM Rutte confirmed the Netherlands was one, and would contribute €100 million to the proposal. (FT, 02.26.24, AP, 02.27.24, Bloomberg, 02.27.24)
  • Germany announced a new military aid package to Ukraine on Feb. 26. The new military aid package includes 14,000 155mm artillery shells, 10 Vector recon drones, four WISENT-1 mine-clearing machines and other equipment. (ISW, 02.26.24)
  • An inference by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that British and French personnel are operating cruise missiles donated to Ukraine is “wrong, irresponsible and a slap in the face to allies,” the chair of the U.K. parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Alicia Kearns said Feb. 29. Speaking to journalists in Berlin earlier this week, Scholz justified his continued refusal to send Germany’s Taurus long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine by saying it could require German troops in Ukraine to program them. (Politico, 02.29.24)
    • The U.K. government has privately urged Germany to provide long-range Taurus missiles to the government in Kyiv as London expressed irritation over comments made by Scholz about British activity in Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 03.01.24)
  • On March 1, Zelenskyy and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte met in Kharkiv to sign a bilateral security agreement.  It will provide Ukraine with €2 billion ($2.16 billion) in military aid from the Netherlands this year and further defense assistance over the next ten years, Zelensky said. (Bloomberg, 03.01.24)
  • Canada will provide Ukraine C$3 billion ($2.2 billion) in aid this year to prop up the war-ravaged economy and boost its military as Kyiv looks for ways to hedge against a potential shortfall in U.S. assistance. (Bloomberg, 02.24.24)
  • Britain announced on Feb. 24 a new 245 million-pound ($311 million) defense package to help boost the production of "urgently needed artillery ammunition" for Ukraine. (AFP, 02.24.24)
    • The U.K. needs a “huge increase” in its ammunition supplies after two years of military aid to help Ukraine fight off its Russian invaders depleted stocks, the head of Britain’s armed forces said. Chief of the Defense Staff Adm. Tony Radakin said. “We need deeper stockpiles of ammunition,” Radakin said in a speech at the Chatham House think tank in London. These are “dangerous and uncertain times.” (Bloomberg, 02.27.24)
  • Ukraine defense minister Rustem Umerov said that half of Western military aid was being delivered late, leading to the loss of territory and people. (FT, 02.26.24)
  • Zelenskyy has told the U.S. that Ukraine needs the $60 billion aid currently stuck in a congressional stand-off within a month. Zelenskyy said the long-awaited package was about military not financial support and that he was unsure Ukraine would be able to find the types and amounts of weapons it needed if the funding did not materialize. “Our position on the battlefield will be weaker [without it],” Zelenskyy said, speaking at a conference. Zelenskyy said Europe could not replace the U.S. in terms of weapons supply, pointing to the continent’s shortage of air-defense systems, although he said it could supply more long-range missiles. (FT, 02.26.24)
  • Ukraine has received 30% of the million artillery shells the EU had previously promised to deliver by March, Zelenskyy said Feb. 26 at a joint press conference in Kyiv with Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov. The EU’s current plan is to reach the target by the end of the year. (Bloomberg, 02.26.24)
  • On Feb. 24, Zelenskyy met with Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson in Kyiv on to discuss a new Swedish military-aid package and the possibility of joint weapons production. (RFE/RL, 02.25.24)
  • Some 85% of Ukrainians are confident of their country’s victory over Russia, according to a survey in February conducted by the Kyiv-based Rating Group. However, Ukrainians know that international support is an important condition for victory. Just 19% of respondents believed Ukraine could defeat Russia without international assistance. (FT, 02.24.24)

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

  • Biden wants the Group of Seven nations to make progress on plans to tap frozen Russian sovereign assets to help support Ukraine by the time the leaders meet in June, according to people familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg, 02.29.24)
    • U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on the world’s largest advanced economies to find a way to “unlock the value” of immobilized Russian assets to help bolster Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion and for long-term reconstruction after the war. In subsequent remarks Yellen said any plan to seize or monetize some $282 billion in frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine cannot be viewed as a replacement for urgently needed assistance for the embattled country that’s been held up in Congress. (Bloomberg, 03.01.24, Bloomberg, 02.27.24)
    • Ukraine’s allies should consider using profits from frozen Russian assets to buy weapons for Kyiv, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, warning Europe must prepare for the risk of a wider war. (Bloomberg, 02.28.24)
    • Finding a legal basis to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine will be difficult, Italian Finance Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting of economy chiefs in Brazil. (Bloomberg, 02.29.24)
    • Russia will give a “symmetrical” response to any actions by the U.S. and its allies that target its frozen assets abroad, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said. “We also have no fewer frozen” assets than the West holds, Siluanov said in an interview with the state-run RIA Novosti news service published Feb. 26. He didn’t specify which Western assets he meant, though RIA reported his answer was in response to a question on Russia’s frozen foreign reserves. (Bloomberg, 02.26.24)
  • Almost a quarter of €450 million ($488 million) of so-called high priority items that reached Russia from the EU in the first nine months of last year was shipped directly from Europe. Russia mostly imported the rest via third countries, according to an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. (Bloomberg, 02.26.24)
  • A 200-page list of targets based in Russia, the United Arab Emirates, China and other nations was America’s biggest single-day package of financial punishment since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago. Just as notable, though, were companies and sectors missing from the expansive list, which was unveiled on Feb. 23: the metals sector, more energy-related punishments and secondary sanctions on banks. (Bloomberg, 02.24.24)
  • Boeing is paying $51 million to settle a U.S. administrative charge over unauthorized exports. The U.S. government found the exports to China between 2013 and 2017 “caused harm to U.S. national security,” according to the proposed charging letter from the state department. Exports to Russia in the last decade, while it was subject to restrictive measures on defense exports, “created the potential for harm to U.S. national security.” (FT, 03.01.24)
  • A Russian man pled guilty on Feb. 29 to U.S. charges that he smuggled large quantities of American-made, military-grade microelectronics to Russia, U.S. justice officials said in a statement. Maksim Marchenko, 51, was arrested in September. (Reuters, 02.29.24)
  • Japan approved fresh sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in a bid to show a united front with other Group of Seven nations. Tokyo applied an export ban to an additional 29 Russian organizations, Japan’s foreign ministry said on March 1. It also added 12 individuals, including an executive with an arms maker, seven organizations and a bank to a list of those subject to asset freezes. (Bloomberg, 03.01.24)
  • Finnish state energy company Fortum said Feb. 27 it had launched legal proceedings to claim compensation from Moscow over the seizure of its Russia-based assets. (MT/AFP, 02.27.24)
  • Electronics giants Bosch and Sony are closing their last specialized stores in Russia, Kommersant reported on Feb. 27. (Current Time, 02.27.24)
  • Two years into the war, those Western companies still clinging on to their Russian assets have been counting on war fatigue in their home markets to ride out the initial wave of public outrage. After a series of prominent and costly corporate departures in the wake of the February 2022 invasion, the holdouts — more than 1,646 of them, compared with 356 leavers, according to the Kyiv School of Economics — are staying put. (FT, 03.01.24)
  • New Zealand announced Feb. 29 that it has imposed a new round of sanctions against Russia aiming to curb Moscow's efforts to evade current restrictions over its war in Ukraine. New Zealand said it targeted 61 people and entities involved in buying technology for Russia’s defense industry from countries that include North Korea. (MT/AFP, 02.29.24)
  • The State Property Fund (SPF) of Ukraine increased its stake in the Zaporizhzhia Aluminum Plant from 68% to 97.5% of shares. According to the decision of the High Anti-Corruption Court, 29.54% of the plant's shares, which [Oleg] Deripaska had the right to dispose of, were transferred to the management of the fund, the fund said. (Ukrainian News, 02.27.24)
  • A billionaire ally of Roman Abramovich and a Russian owner of a brand new superyacht lost their appeals challenging the U.K.’s sanctions regime, bolstering the government’s pursuit of Russian assets. Eugene Shvidler lost his attempt to lift the asset freeze. (Bloomberg, 02.27.24)
  • Two more billionaires, founders of American IT companies Veeam Software and Object First, Andrei Baronov and Ratmir Timashev, have renounced Russian citizenship following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Justifying his decision, Andrei Baronov spoke on LinkedIn about the “deep suffering” that Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine is causing him and criticized the fighting. (, 02.29.24, Visa Guide News, 03.01.24)
  • Medvedev, a leading hawk on the Ukraine offensive, said on Feb. 24 that Moscow will seek "revenge" for massive Western sanctions. (RFE/RL, 02.24.24)
  • Russia’s program of supplying domestic-made civilian aircraft, including MS-21, SJ-100, Tu-214, Il-114 and Baikal, to Russian plane operators is being delayed by two years. The aviation industry does not have time to test aircraft within the deadlines set for 2022, and their characteristics do not correspond to those originally planned. (Kommersant, 03.01.24)
  • For sanctions on the energy sector, please see section “Energy exports from CIS” below.

Ukraine-related negotiations: 

  • WSJ has obtained the full 17-page draft of a peace treaty drawn up by Russian and Ukrainian negotiators on April 15, 2022, to turn Ukraine into a “permanently neutral state that doesn’t participate in military blocs,” barred from rebuilding its military with Western support and leaving Crimea under de facto Russian control. The future of the area of eastern Ukraine occupied by Russia in 2014 wasn’t included in the draft, leaving it up to Putin and Zelenskyy to complete in face-to-face talks. The draft treaty included banning foreign weapons, “including missile weapons of any type, armed forces and formations.” Moscow wanted Ukraine’s armed forces capped at 85,000 troops, 342 tanks and 519 artillery pieces. Ukrainian negotiators wanted 250,000 troops, 800 tanks and 1,900 artillery pieces, according to the document. Russia wanted to have the range of Ukrainian missiles capped at 40 kilometers (about 25 miles). The treaty was to be guaranteed by the U.S., U.K, China, France and Russia. Those countries would be given the responsibility to defend Ukraine’s neutrality if the treaty was violated. But while the treaty held, guarantors would be required to “terminate international treaties and agreements, incompatible with the permanent neutrality of Ukraine,” including any promises of bilateral military aid. The international security guarantees wouldn’t apply to Crimea and Sevastopol. (WSJ, 03.01.24)
  • American military officials in Europe, led by Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, have been quietly warning that the best the Ukrainians can hope for is a largely frozen conflict. Cavoli rarely speaks publicly, but officials emerging from recent briefings with him described a downbeat assessment, one in which, at best, the Ukrainians use 2024 to defend, rebuild and attempt another counteroffensive next year. (NYT, 02.24.24)
  • Zelenskyy faces a stark choice, Charles A. Kupchan, a Georgetown University professor who served as a national security official in the Obama administration, said: whether to keep every inch of sovereign Ukrainian territory, or find a way to secure an economically viable state, with a democratic future, Western security guarantees and eventual membership in the European Union and in NATO. In private, some senior Biden administration officials say they have been trying to nudge Zelenskyy in that direction. (NYT, 02.24.24)
  • Speaking at Hostomel alongside western leaders, Zelenskyy said that the war must end on Ukraine’s terms to ensure its independence. “Any normal person wants the war to end,” he said. “But none of us will allow our country to end.”  Zelenskyy ha also against other countries imposing “any formats of negotiations” on Ukraine with an aggressor country. “We do not want any formats of negotiations, any formulas for peace to be imposed on us. It is very important that the initiative can only come from Ukraine,” he said at a press conference on Feb. 25. (Ukrainska Pravda, 02.25.2, FT, 02.24.24)
    • Zelenskyy’s aide Mykhaylo Podolyak said "there are no other options to end the war besides the collapse of the front line and tactical defeats of Russia. Everything else is fiction." (RFE/RL, 02.24.24)
  • On Feb. 28, Zelenskyy discussed his peace formula for ending Russia’s two-year-old invasion in a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, but there was no immediate sign of progress on a global summit Kyiv is seeking. (Bloomberg, 02.28.24)
  • Switzerland hopes to establish talks for peace in Ukraine by the summer, Defense Minister Viola Amherd said. Amherd and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis want a conference that holds real promise for peace, she said, adding “that does not mean it will reach its goal with the first step,” NZZ reported. Russia will most likely not participate in the first round of discussions, according to Amherd. Switzerland plans to create “a very broad alliance consisting of BRICS states, countries from the Arab world, and from the Global South,” she added, referring to nations that include Brazil, India, China and South Africa. (Bloomberg, 02.24.24)
    • Russia has rejected an idea advanced by Switzerland about possible talks in Geneva on a peace plan for Ukraine without Moscow's participation as "ridiculous." Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Feb. 26 called the idea "bizarre." "As far as we understand, the issue on the agenda is some bizarre so-called Geneva platform—a conference to discuss Zelenskyy’s peace plan.” (RFE/RL, 02.26.24)
  • Turkey is ready to again host peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, the Turkish president said on Feb. 28. In a video message sent to the Ukraine-Southeast Europe Summit, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he maintains his view that diplomacy and dialogue should be given a chance for a “fair and lasting resolution” of the Ukraine war. (Anadolu 02.28.24) 
  • “The war could end only by negotiations,” said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Feb. 27. He said that the peace talks should begin “the sooner, the better.” (AP, 02.27.24)

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

  • Chief of U.K.’s Defense Staff Admiral Tony Radakin said that "the inescapable fact is that any Russian assault or incursion against NATO would prompt an overwhelming response. “He said that "the biggest reason that Putin doesn't want a conflict with NATO is because Russia will lose. And lose quickly." Radakin, speaking at a defense conference in London's Chatham House, said the U.K. is "not on the cusp of war with Russia. We are not about to be invaded." However, Moscow could launch “random attacks” on British underwater cables and space satellites, he said. (Business Insider, 02.29.24, FT, 02.27.24)
  • Radakin said that the thousands of allied troops stationed in Poland and the Baltic states could draw on the "three-and-a-half million uniformed personnel across the alliance for reinforcement." "NATO's combat air forces, which outnumbers Russia's 3:1, would quickly establish air superiority. (Business Insider 02.29.24)
  • Kaliningrad “will be neutralized” first if Russia decides to attack one of the NATO countries. This was stated by the Lithuanian Ambassador to Sweden Linas Linkevicius on his social network X (formerly Twitter). (, 02.27.24)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin predicted during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin would start attacking NATO nations in Europe if Russia wins its war in Ukraine, leading to a conflict with the alliance. (Newsweek, 03.01.24)
  • The U.S. and U.K. have held high-level conversations over security risks that may be triggered if the two countries hold elections around the same time later this year, people familiar with the matter said. Officials in Washington and London are concerned that Russia or other adversaries could see an opportunity for hostile action elsewhere in the world if both countries are preoccupied by a potential handover of power to new administrations. (Bloomberg, 02.28.24)
  • In his address to the Federal Assembly Putin said that that claims his country intended to attack Europe were “nonsense,” but also noted that Russia needs to “significantly strengthen” its military presence in the Western part of the country in light of Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO. He also said that the Kremlin was open to dialogue with all interested parties to create “a new pattern of equal and indivisible security in Eurasia. “He said Russia would work to “create the outlines for equal and inseparable security in Eurasia,” adding that “without a sovereign, strong Russia, no stable world order is possible.” Putin accused the West of trying to weaken Russia but said that Russia would meet the challenge.(FT, BNEMeduza, 02.29.24)
  • Jens Stoltenberg says there is no doubt that Ukraine will join NATO as western leaders gather in Kyiv to pledge support and mark the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion. The NATO chief said on Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin “started this war because he wanted to close NATO’s door… but he has achieved the exact opposite: Ukraine is now closer to NATO than ever before.” (FT, 02.24.24)
  • Sweden’s membership of NATO will likely be delayed to next week at the earliest because Hungary’s president-elect still needs to take office. (Bloomberg, 02.28.24)
    • Russia will take measures against Sweden following its accession to NATO, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Feb. 28. (MT/AFP, 02.28.24)
  • The U.S. Army is cutting 24,000 positions as the Pentagon continues to shift its priority to countering Chinese and Russian military might after two decades of focusing on the fight against terrorism, according to a new Army document. (NYT, 02.28.24)
  • Finland completed a shift in power on March 1 after Alexander Stubb was sworn in as the 13th president of the Nordic country, giving him oversight of foreign policy and national security. He represents continuity in foreign and security policy in the role that’s focused on safeguarding independence and peace next to a belligerent Russia. (Bloomberg, 03.01.24)
  • The United Kingdom is offering British passports to Russian officials in exchange for intelligence information. (MT/AFP, 02.24.24)
  • Four Central European countries are deeply divided over the Russian war against Ukraine and how to resolve the conflict, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia said on Feb. 27. While the Czech Republic and Poland are united in staunch support for Ukraine, including arms deliveries, Hungary and Slovakia have sharply different views. (AP, 02.27.24)
  • Recently retired chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said the key to avoiding war with powers such as China or Russia is a strong military, which is crucial for deterrence. But how do you determine if deterrence is working? Milley starts by conceding that you “can’t prove a negative.” (FT, 03.01.24)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • On Feb. 26, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov received the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China Sun Weidong, who is in Moscow on a working visit. The parties highly assessed the current state of Russian-Chinese relations, which have reached an unprecedented level and continue to develop dynamically in line with the agreements of the leaders of the two countries. (RF MFA, 02.26.24)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms

  • Vladimir Putin used a Feb. 29 address to the Federal Assembly to not only rattle his nuclear saber at the West again, but also to accuse his Western counterparts of “spooking the world” with the threat of a nuclear war, all while claiming to be ready for talks on nuclear arms control. “We remember what happened to those who sent their contingents to the territory of our country once before. Today, any potential aggressors will face far graver consequences,” Putin said shortly after talking up Russia’s recently acquired nuclear attack systems, such as the Avangard and Poseidon. He then, however, went on to accuse Western leaders of “spooking the world with the threat of a conflict involving nuclear weapons, which potentially means the end of civilization—don’t they realize this?” Putin then claimed that Russia was ready for a “dialogue on strategic stability,” but reiterated Russia’s official position that such a dialogue cannot be compartmentalized, contrary to the Biden administration’s suggestions. “This must be done as a package including, of course, all aspects that have to do with our national interests and have a direct bearing on the security of our country, the security of Russia,” he insisted. (RM, 02.29.24)
    • The EU on Feb. 29 said Putin’s threat with nuclear weapons was “absolutely unacceptable and inappropriate” as he was the one who started the war in Ukraine and “advancing instability in the wider region.” (FT, 02.29.24)
    • When asked by Russia’s RIA Novosti to comment on the remarks, which Putin made in his Feb. 29 address, with regard to how “the dangerous moves and statements of the West on foreign policy threaten a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning Saud: “In January 2022, leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states issued a joint statement, affirming that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. China believes that all nuclear weapon states need to embrace the idea of common security and uphold global strategic balance and stability. Under the current circumstances, parties need to jointly seek de-escalation and lower strategic risks. China calls on relevant parties to remain calm, exercise restraint and build a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture through dialogue and consultation.” (Web site of PRC’s embassy in the U.S., 03.01.24)
    • Putin's address contained some distinct new elements. He made it clear that he had no intention of renegotiating New START with the United unless the new deal decides Ukraine's fate, presumably with much of it in Russia's hands. Whatever triggered him, Mr. Putin's message was clear: He regards victory in Ukraine as an existential struggle, central to his grander plan to restore the glory of the days when Peter the Great ruled at the height of the Russian Empire.  (NYT, 02.29.24)
  • The West “recently made unfounded allegations, in particular, against Russia, regarding plans to deploy nuclear weapons in space. Such fake narratives, and this story is unequivocally false, are designed to involve us in negotiations on their conditions, which will only benefit the United States,” Putin said in his annual address to the Federal Assembly. (RM, 02.29.24)
    • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says the United States has not shown any evidence for accusations that Moscow wants to put nuclear weapons in space, following U.S. media reports and official hints of concern at emerging Russian capabilities in space-based weapons. (RFE/RL, 02.24.24)
  • Putin said on Feb. 23: “Incorporating our real combat experience, we will continue to strengthen the Armed Forces in every possible way, including ongoing re-equipping and modernization efforts. Today, the share of modern weapons and equipment in the strategic nuclear forces has already reached 95%, while the naval component of the “nuclear triad” is at almost 100%. We have begun serial production of new Zircon hypersonic missiles. Trials of other offensive systems are nearing completion. Last December, new strategic submarines were added to the navy. Just the other day in Kazan, four Tu-160M missile carriers were transferred to the Armed Forces.” (, 02.23.24) 
  • A nuclear war may start unintentionally, for example, in case of an attack on Russia from the territory of one of the NATO countries by an F-16 jet handed over to Ukraine, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev. There are still accidents from which no one is immune. And an accidental, unintentional start of a nuclear conflict cannot be ruled out, so all these games around Ukraine are extremely dangerous," Medvedev said. He pointed to the possibility of what "these smart people in NATO regularly talk about" regarding possible deliveries of F-16 jets to the “Kiev regime.” "There is no place for them to fly from Ukraine so far, and so if some jet takes off from a NATO country - what is that? An attack on Russia. I won't even describe what could happen. Although it could happen almost by accident, not intentionally, it may not even be authorized at the level of the entire leadership of NATO and the United States. So, unfortunately, but such a development is possible," he pointed out. (TASS, 02.22.24)
  • FT has obtained a cache of 29 Russian military files that date to 2008-2014 and that describe a threshold for using tactical nuclear weapons that is lower than Russia has ever publicly admitted, according to this newspaper. The files contain description of one Russian military exercise in which China attacks Russia and the latter responds with a tactical nuclear strike in order to stop “the South” from advancing with a second wave of invading forces. FT has also obtained what it described as a training presentation for Russian naval officers that outlines such  criteria for a potential nuclear strike, as enemy landing on Russian territory, the defeat of units responsible for securing border areas, or an imminent enemy attack using conventional weapons, according to FT. Other potential conditions include destruction of 20 per cent of Russia’s strategic ballistic missile submarines, 30 per cent of its nuclear-powered attack submarines, three or more cruisers, three airfields, or a simultaneous hit on main and reserve coastal command centers, according to FT. Russia’s military is also expected to be able to use tactical nuclear weapons for a broad array of goals, including “containing states from using aggression […] or escalating military conflicts”, “stopping aggression”, preventing Russian forces from losing battles or territory, and making Russia’s navy “more effective,” according to FT. (FT, 02.28.24)
  • In recent weeks, German officials have called on France and the U.K.—Europe's two nuclear powers—to work with Berlin to develop a fallback plan for nuclear deterrence for NATO, should the U.S. no longer be willing to fulfill that role. Some politicians and academics are going even further, asking whether Germany could someday need its own atomic arsenal.  (WSJ, 02.29.24)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said Feb. 26 that it has “dismantled” a financing ring for a Syrian militant group. “As a result of the activities carried out in 22 Russian regions, 49 members of a terrorist network involved in the collection and transfer of funds for the needs of militants operating in Syria were detained,” the FSB said in a statement. (MT/AFP, 02.26.24)

Cyber security/AI: 

  • Russia is increasing its cooperation with China in 5G and satellite technology and this could facilitate Moscow's military aggression against Ukraine, a report by the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) security think tank warns. The report, published on March 1, says that although battlefield integration of 5G networks may face domestic hurdles in Russia, infrastructure for Chinese aid to Russian satellite systems already exists and can "facilitate Russian military action in Ukraine." (RFE/RL, 03.01.24)
  • The largest Internet portal in Russia,, was successfully attacked by Ukrainian hackers from the IT Army of Ukraine. The email service has completely stopped working. This was reported by the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine on Telegram. (, 02.29.24)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Russia will impose a six-month ban on gasoline exports starting March 1 to meet rising domestic demand, the RBC news outlet reported Feb. 27, citing two government sources and a representative of Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak. (MT/AFP, 02.27.24)
  • Moscow has for the first time ever activated its so-called price floor mechanism to shield the flow of petrodollars to its state budget from Western energy sanctions. The nation’s oil producers are footing the bill. Russian oil and gas industries generate around a third of total budget revenue — several billions of dollars every month — and Moscow is using the money to finance its war against Ukraine and to raise social spending ahead of presidential elections in March. To calculate their January oil taxes, Russian energy firms had to use an average price of Urals of $65 a barrel, according to a letter from the Federal Tax Service published last month. The market price of the crude was actually lower, but the government applied a $15-a-barrel discount to the Brent benchmark for Urals in the tax formula (Bloomberg, 03.01.24)
  • Rosneft PJSC has begun a sales process for its German unit that owns assets including an oil refinery and would favor Berlin keeping the business in trust until that happens, Germany’s economy ministry said. (Bloomberg, 03.01.24)
  • Europe is set to end the heating season with so much gas that the idea of storing more fuel in Ukraine to avoid a price crash is becoming attractive, despite the security risks of such a move. The region is heading into March with storage facilities over 62% full — a record for the time of the year — according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe.” (Bloomberg, 03.01.24)
  • Denmark says it has ended an investigation into the explosions that rocked the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in 2022, the second country after Sweden to drop a probe into the blasts earlier this month. Danish police said, "based on the investigation, the authorities can conclude that there was deliberate sabotage of the gas lines."  (RFE/RL, 02.26.24)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • A court in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on Feb. 29 rejected an appeal filed by Russian American Ksenia Karelina (aka Khavana) against her arrest on a treason charge. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said last week that a woman holding both U.S. and Russian citizenship was arrested in Yekaterinburg on suspicion of treason after she was accused of raising funds for Ukraine's military. (RFE/RL, 02.29.24)
  • Alexander Smirnov, the former F.B.I. informant charged with falsely claiming that President Biden and his son Hunter had accepted bribes, will be held in custody indefinitely because he poses a significant flight risk, a judge in California ruled on Feb. 26. (NYT, 02.26.24)
  • Jack D. Teixeira, the Massachusetts Air National Guardsman accused of leaking top secret information in an internet chat group, plans to plead guilty, according to a filing Feb. 29 in U.S. District Court in Boston. (BG, 03.01.24)


II. Russia’s domestic policies 

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Thousands of people lined up to pay their final respects at the funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on March 1, in defiance of a heavy police presence aimed at deterring protests against Putin. Mourners chanted “Navalny” and “we won’t forgive” as his coffin was brought to the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God in Moscow’s southeastern Marino district. Some shouted “Putin is a killer” as the Kremlin critic’s body was carried out after the service for burial at the nearby Borisov cemetery. Riot police were stationed outside the church and at the cemetery, as authorities threatened punishment for any unsanctioned gathering. (Bloomberg, 03.01.24)
    • The services came after two weeks of battling between Navalny's family and Russian authorities, who delayed the release of his body as they allegedly tried to blackmail Navalny's mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, to hold a private funeral "without any farewell ceremonies." (RFE/RL, 03.01.24)
    • Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, who has vowed to carry on his political activities, and his children, Daria and Zakhar, who no longer live in Russia, did not appear to be present. As the funeral was ending, Ms. Navalnaya shared a post on the social platform X dedicated to her husband. Earlier, Yulia Navalnaya, urged European politicians to “investigate” the Western assets of Putin and his inner circle. “You cannot hurt Putin with another resolution or another set of sanctions,” Navalnaya told the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “The most important thing is people who are close to Putin: his friends, associates and keepers of mafia money. You and all of us must fight [against] the criminal gang,” Navalnaya said. (MT/AFP, 02.28.24, WSJ, 03.01.24)
    • Almost 270,000 people were watching a livestream of the event organized by Mr. Navalny’s allies, while about 150,000 watched coverage on YouTube by the independent TV Rain, according to figures provided by the streaming platform. (WSJ, 03.01.24)
    • Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Friday that the Kremlin had no comment on Navalny's funeral. (WSJ, 03.01.24)
    • Among those attending Navalny’s funeral was the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Lynne Tracy, who carried some flowers. Other senior Western diplomats were also present. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said on its X account that Navalny's fate "is a tragic reminder of the lengths the Kremlin will go to silence its critics." (WSJ, 03.01.24)
    • The European Parliament said Feb. 29 that Putin bore "criminal and political responsibility" for the death of opposition activist Navalny and should be held to account. (MT/AFP, 02.29.24)
    • The death of Alexei Navalny became the second most notable event of February (mentioned by 13% of respondents in an open question without offered choices, with responses recorded from the respondents' words), thus overshadowing an interview of Vladimir Putin with Tucker Carlson (5%). However, the most mentioned event was the capture of Avdiivka by Russian troops (21%); other events related to the Special Military Operation were mentioned by 10% of respondents. A large proportion of respondents (40%) could not recall any memorable events, and 7% mentioned personal events.  (Levada Center, 03.01.24)
  • An associate of the late Navalny claims a prisoner swap involving the Russian opposition leader was in the final stages before he died in a remote Siberian prison. Maria Pevchikh, the chairwoman of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, said in a video statement on YouTube on Feb. 26 that Navalny's associates had worked for two years to convince Western officials to negotiate a deal that would include the Kremlin critic and two U.S. citizens held in Russian prisons for Vadim Krasikov, a former colonel in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) who was convicted of assassinating a former Chechen fighter in Berlin in 2019. (RFE/RL, 02.26.24)
    • Germany’s appetite for a potential deal with the Kremlin to swap Krasikov in a prisoner exchange has cooled markedly since the death of Navalny, according to U.S. and German officials. A German official said Navalny’s death made the likelihood of such a swap far less likely. Germany, like other western countries, has said that Putin is responsible for the Russian opposition leader’s death. (FT, 02.26.24)
    • Investigative journalist Christo Grozev confirmed there was a plan in the works to exchange Navalny for Krasikov. At least three countries participated in the discussions – the United States, Germany, and Russia – Grozev said. (RFE/RL, 02.27.24)
  • The Australian government has announced targeted sanctions against three unnamed Russian prison officials linked to the Arctic prison where opposition leader Alexei Navalny died on Feb. 16. (RFE/RL, 03.01.24)
  • Over a dozen Western ambassadors including U.S. envoy Lynne Tracy paid homage to Boris Nemtsov on Feb. 27, nine years after the Russian politician was murdered near the Kremlin. (MT/AFP, 02.27.24)
  • Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Sergey Sokolov was arrested in Moscow by officers from Russia’s Center for Combating Extremism (Center E) on Feb. 29 on misdemeanor charges of “discrediting” the Russian army. (Meduza, 02.29.24)
  • Russia's Federal Financial Monitoring Service on Feb. 27 added self-exiled former lawmaker Gennady Gudkov to its list of terrorists and extremists on unspecified grounds. A Moscow court on Feb. 27 issued an arrest warrant for Gudkov on a charge of distributing "false" information about Russian military forces involved in Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 02.27.24, RFE/RL, 02.27.24)
  • Oleg Orlov, co-chairman of Memorial, a Russian human rights group awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and banned by the Kremlin, was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for criticizing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 02.27.24)
    • The Norwegian Nobel Committee has called the imprisonment of Orlov "politically motivated." (RFE/RL, 02.28.24)
  • A Russian court has handed a two-year prison sentence to PR expert and activist Yaroslav Shirshikov, who was among the first to report on U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich’s arrest in March last year, local media reported Feb. 27. (MT/AFP, 02.27.24)
  • A Moscow court has frozen bank accounts with 6 million rubles ($64,400) belonging to Erika Chkhartishvili, the wife of prominent Russian writer Boris Akunin, which is the pen name of Grigory Chkhartishvili. In early February, the same court issued an arrest warrant for Akunin on charges of calling for terrorism and disseminating "false information" about the Russian Army. (RFE/RL, 02.27.24)
  • The human rights group Memorial has recognized more than 600 people in Russia as political prisoners, including more than 400 persecuted for their religion. According to OVD-Info, a watchdog group that tracks arrests and detentions, more than 1,000 people have been imprisoned in Russia on politically motivated charges. (WP, 02.25.24)
  • The number of criminal cases against "foreign agents" in Russia more than doubled last year compared to the preceding two years, the investigative news outlet Vyorstka reported Feb. 28. according to Vyorstka’s tally, 86 out of the 406 designated "foreign agents" are currently under criminal investigation, compared with 38 out of 209 in 2022. (MT/AFP, 02.28.24)
  • Russia’s lower-house State Duma on Feb. 28 passed a bill that would ban advertisers from working with “foreign agents,” a move that will likely make it next to impossible for independent media outlets hit with the designation to earn money. (MT/AFP, 02.28.24)
  • Putin has secretly assigned “political instructors” to Russian government ministries and state agencies to ensure loyalty among officials, the independent news outlets Meduza and IStories reported Feb. 29, citing leaked Kremlin files obtained by an international team of journalists. (MT/AFP, 02.29.24)
  • Residents of Russia's North Caucasus region of Ingushetia have been marking the 80th anniversary of the deportation of Ingush and Chechens from the North Caucasus to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. (RFE/RL, 02.23.24)
  • A Russian metals tycoon's assets in a company that produces a key component in making steel have reportedly been nationalized days after Putin criticized his management of his company. Yury Antipov, 69, the owner of Russia’s largest ferroalloy company, was also questioned by investigators in Chelyabinsk. (RFE/RL, 02.27.24)
  • Russia's gross domestic product shrank in 2022 by 1.2 percent, far short of the 15 percent decline predicted by the Institute of International Finance, an industry group in Washington. And last year, Russia rebounded, growing faster than the United States. Russia's economic growth accelerated in January 2024, expanding by 4.6 percent y/y, up from a 4.4 percent increase in December, according to the Russian Ministry of Economic Development. (BNE, 02.29.24. WP, 02.23.24)
  • Russia’s manufacturing PMI surged in February to post 54.7, up from 52.4 in January, putting in its biggest gains in 13 years, S&P Global reported on March 1. Any result above the 50 no-change mark represents an expansion in manufacturing. February’s result was the biggest gain since 2017. (BNE, 03.01.24)
  • Russia’s largest lender Sberbank made a record net profit of Rbs1.5 trillion ($16.3 billion) in 2023, as the country’s financial sector recovers from the first hit of western sanctions. Sberbank’s IFRS full-year results, showed a more than a fivefold increase in profits on the previous year. (FT, 02.28.24)
  • Putin used his Feb. 29 address to the Federal Assembly to attempt to convince the Russian public that his next term as president will be defined by Russian military success in Ukraine but not at the expense of stagnating or decreased social and economic welfare. Putin emphasized the Kremlin’s domestic focus on 2024 as the “Year of the Family.” The initiatives include expanding and increasing existing social benefits, including providing maternity capital payments to mothers, giving preferential mortgage rates to families with children, and giving tax deductions to children to families with more than one child. Peskov stated that Putin’s Federal Assembly speech was largely his election program for the March 2024 presidential elections. (ISW, 02.29.24)
    • The price tag for the promises Putin has made ahead of Russian presidential elections later this month will total tens of billions of dollars over the next six years. New national projects that Putin proposed in an annual address Feb. 29 to the Federal Assembly, along with initiatives on improving living standards and massive write-offs of loans to Russian regions, could cost the Kremlin’s coffers more than $130 billion that’s not currently accounted for in the budget, analysts estimate. Putin’s proposals include expanding state support to increase the birth rate and life expectancy, as well as investment to improve infrastructure, boost development of technology and increase non-oil exports. Several other ideas are aimed at developing human resources as Russia continues to face an acute labor shortage, exacerbated by its war in Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 03.01.24)
  • On Feb. 25, early voting began for the Russian presidential election. The Central Election Commission reported this. The main vote is scheduled to take place over three days, March 15-17. (RFE/RL, 02.25.24)
  • The share of Russians who believe that the country is moving in the right direction has reached the highest values ever recorded (since 1996). Some 75% of Levada’s February 2024 poll hold that view. Also, approval of Vladimir Putin’s actions has risen from 83% in February 2023 to 86% in February 2024. (Levada Center, 02.29.24)
  • Former Soviet premier Nikolai Ryzhkov has died at the age of 94. (RFE/RL, 02.28.24)

Defense and aerospace:

  • In 2024, it is likely that the level of military and national security spending in Russia will exceed 8 percent of GDP for the first time in history. (The Bell, 02.23.24)
  • The Russian government’s payments to families of Russian KIAs can be as high as the equivalent of $84,000 in some regions, more than nine times the average annual Russian salary. (NYT, 02.25.24)
  • Putin signed two decrees on Feb. 26 that officially re-establish the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts. Putin signed one decree that deprives Russia’s Northern Fleet of its status as an “interservice strategic territorial organization” and transfers the land of the Northwestern Federal Okrug previously under the NF’s command to the newly formed Leningrad Military District. One of the decrees incorporates occupied Ukraine into the Southern Military District (SMD), notably including all of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts. (ISW, 02.26.24)
  • See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • A military court in Moscow on Feb. 26 sentenced to life in prison on high-treason charge former actor Kirill Kanakhin, who joined the so-called Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) fighting alongside Ukrainian forces against Russian troops. (Current Time, 02.26.24)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Splits over the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine prevented Group of 20 finance chiefs from issuing a closing communique after their meetings in Sao Paulo. (Bloomberg, 02.29.24)
  • The two largest Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, are holding talks in Moscow on Feb. 29 aimed at ending decades of rivalry to present a united front in pushing for an end to Israel’s offensive in Gaza and its occupation of the West Bank. (FT, 02.29.24)
  • Maxim Kuzminov, a Russian helicopter pilot who defected to Ukraine in August and was shot dead in Spain last week, was living under a protection plan at the time of his death, Zelensky administration advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said in an interview with the Spanish outlet El Mundo published Feb. 26. The Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that Spanish intelligence services are certain one of Russia’s intelligence agencies is responsible for the murder. (Meduza, 02.21.24)
  • An investigation by The Insider, Spiegel, ZDF and the Austrian Standard found that Ian Marsalek’s entanglement with the Ukrainian Main Directorate of the Intelligence (GRU), Russia’s notorious military intelligence service, long predated Wirecard’s June 2020 collapse. Wirecard fugitive Marsalek was recruited by Russian intelligence at a meeting on a yacht in July 2014. Marsalek was introduced at the yacht to Stanislav Petlinsky, a Russian former special forces operative known as “Stas.” Spiegel reports he then told others he handed the enthusiastic Austrian over to the GRU to manage. He is alleged to have directed the activities of six Bulgarian nationals resident in the United Kingdom who have been charged with spying for Russia among other things. (FT, 03.01.24)
  • A sixth Bulgarian citizen has been charged in Britain with allegedly being a member of a Russian spy network operating in the United Kingdom, British prosecutors said. The man, identified in the statement as 38-year-old Tihomir Ivanov Ivanchev, was arrested on February 7 as part of an ongoing counterterrorism investigation, Metropolitan Police said in a statement. (RFE/RL, 02.28.24)
  • Bulgaria has banned two Russian citizens from entering Bulgaria and the entire European Union for five years over their alleged role in a security agency operation in the Balkan country, its state security agency said on Feb. 26. The State Agency for National Security, which goes by the acronym DANS, said it banned Russian citizens Vladimir Nikolayevich Gorochkin, 39, and Tatyana Anatolievna Gorochkina, 37, who DANS said presented themselves as Bulgarian nationals Denis Rashkov and Diana Rashkova. "The main purpose of their presence in Bulgaria was to obtain the Bulgarian identity documents and credible biographical data, which they would later use to carry out intelligence activities outside Bulgaria," DANS said. (RFE/RL, 02.26.24)
  • A Swedish agency for grants for faith institutions said Feb. 29 it was cutting support to the Russian Orthodox Church, after Sweden's intelligence service warned the church was used for intelligence activities. (MT/AFP, 02.29.24)
  • “We see this surge in propaganda,” said Lia Quartapelle, a lawmaker with Italy’s opposition center-left Democratic party. “They are waiting to spread the idea that peace is possible, coming to terms with Putin’s Russia is possible and it is Ukraine that does not want the deal.” (FT, 02.26.24)


  • The Ukrainian president’s office has drafted an appeal to the Constitutional Court regarding the legitimacy of Zelenskyy’s tenure as president of Ukraine, given that his term of office expires this spring. according to the Constitution of Ukraine (Part 5 of Article 103), the next presidential elections in Ukraine were to take place on March 31, 2024. On May 20, 2024, the five-year period specified by the Constitution of Ukraine (Part 1 of Article 103) from the inauguration of Zelenskyy expires. (, 02.27.24)
    • Fyodor Venislavsky, Ukrainian MP who belongs to Rada’s Servant of the People faction, which is loyal to Zelenskyy, said faction would not file an appeal to the Constitutional Court regarding the legitimacy of Zelenskyy’s tenure as president. (Ukrainska Pravda, 02.28.24)
  • The European Commission will provide Ukraine with a general framework for negotiations on EU membership in mid-March, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said. (, 02.24.24)
    • In a ceremony on the tarmac of Hostomel airport, where in 2022 Ukrainian troops turned back Russian forces who were advancing on the capital, von der Leyen lauded Kyiv’s resistance, saying, “You saved your country, you saved Europe.” (FT, 02.24.24)
  • Zelenskyy intends to visit Armenia in the near future. (, 02.23.24)
  • A Ukrainian Defense Ministry official who allegedly illegally enriched himself by 14 million hryvnia during the war has been exposed. With the “profits” received, the official bought real estate and three premium cars, including Lexus and BMW brands, which were registered to his wife. (, 02.24.24)
  • Serhiy Pashinsky, high-profile Ukrainian former politician who has become central to the country’s effort to obtain weapons was arrested on corruption charges earlier this month, officials said. This week Ukraine’s High Anti-Corruption Court imposed bail of more than $7 million for Pashinsky, who was a longtime member of Ukraine’s Parliament. After Russia’s invasion, senior government officials called on him to help arm the military. The New York Times reported last year that a company tied to Pashinsky, Ukrainian Armored Technology, had become the biggest private arms supplier in Ukraine and that authorities were investigating the company. Prosecutors recently accused Pashinsky and five other men of participating in a convoluted fuel-buying scheme that they said had defrauded the Ukrainian government out of about $25 million several years before the war started. Pashinsky denied the charges. The accusations do not relate to weapons procurement. (NYT, 08.15.23, NYT, 02.28.24)
  • Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Feb. 27 he could not rule out widening a national ban on imports of Ukrainian grains to include other products if the EU does not act to protect the bloc's markets. (RFE/RL, 02.27.24)
    • Thousands of Polish farmers took to the streets of Warsaw on Feb. 27 carrying the national flag and blowing handheld horns, escalating a protest which started in early February against food imports from Ukraine and EU green rules. Farmers across Europe have been protesting for weeks against constraints placed on them by the EU's 'Green Deal' regulations, which are meant to tackle climate change, as well as rising costs and what they say is unfair competition from outside the EU, particularly Ukraine. The Polish farmers rallied in central Warsaw before marching toward parliament and then the prime minister's office. (Reuters, 02.27.24)
    • Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said the EU should restore trade restriction on Ukrainian food imports that existed before Russia’s invasion to avoid the erosion of support for the war-ravaged country. His remarks follow blockades of border crossings by Polish farmers in protest against the influx of agricultural goods from Ukraine. The government in Warsaw has called on the EU to limit imports, but the solution proposed by Sikorski goes a step further, even if expressed in personal capacity. “We should go back to pre-war rules of trade and then start negotiating with Ukraine their entry to the EU and the single market, with all the adjustment and all the rules that have to be obeyed,” Sikorski told a meeting at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. on Febraury 26. “This is just my view.” (Bloomberg, 02.26.24)
    • Deputy Economy Minister  of Ukraine Taras Kachka said Kyiv is prepared to limit surges in exports into the European Union as a way to allay mounting concerns of Polish farmers after Warsaw threatened to temporarily shut the border for trade. (Bloomberg, 02.29.24)
  • Ukraine on Feb. 27 approved the new head of a state watchdog responsible for crafting anti-corruption policy, officials said. Viktor Pavluschyk, a former investigator, will serve a four-year term heading the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) after winning an internationally supervised recruitment competition. (US News, 02.27.24)
  • Open government data serves as a cornerstone for enhancing good governance, fostering digital innovation, and propelling economic growth. Recognizing its importance, the Office of the Coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) recently partnered with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine and its Chief Digital Transformation Officers (CDTO) Campus, alongside, to initiate a series of training courses aimed at promoting the development and implementation of open data policy among Ukrainian government officials. (BNN, 03.01.24)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria called on Russia to step in and halt what it described as attempts by the government in Chisinau to bring the enclave back into its fold through exerting economic pressure. Transnistria’s call for unspecified help from Moscow risks an escalation of the previously frozen conflict with the pro-European Union government of Moldovan President Maia Sandu, while giving Russia an opening to intensify its hybrid attacks against Chisinau. Still, the step falls well short of speculation that the region was about to call a referendum on joining the Russian Federation, a move that would echo sham votes staged in occupied territories of Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 02.28.24)
    • Western nations have expressed concerns about Russia potentially attempting to rekindle a frozen conflict in Moldova on the border with Ukraine. (FT, 02.29.24)
  • Armenia and Azerbaijan officials will hold talks in Berlin this week aimed at finding a solution to the decade-long conflict between the two Caucasus countries. The two-day peace negotiations will take place from Feb. 28 at the guest house of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, on the outskirts of the city, the ministry said in a statement. (Bloomberg, 02.28.24)
  • France will provide more weapons and other military assistance to Armenia to help the South Caucasus country defend its territory, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said during his first visit to Yerevan on Feb. 23. (RFE/RL, 02.24.24)
  • Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is a threat to Armenian security as Russian officials refused to acknowledge Armenia’s reduced participation in the CSTO. Pashinyan stated on Feb. 28 that the CSTO is creating security problems instead of fulfilling its obligations to Armenia and that the CSTO’s “lack of an answer” regarding its responsibilities to Armenia “creates a threat” to Armenia’s “security and territorial integrity.” (ISW, 02.29.24)
  • An Azerbaijani soldier was detained early on Feb. 28 after crossing into Armenia for unknown reasons. (RFE/RL, 02.28.24)
  • Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze said on Feb. 26 that Georgian citizens can now visit China without visas for a period of up to 30 days. (RFE/RL, 02.26.24)
  • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has held power since 1994, said on Feb. 25 he intended to seek re-election next year, which could extend his grip on the country to 36 years. (MT/AFP, 02.25.24)
  • Latvian Justice Minister Inese Lībiņa-Egnere said that Russian citizens who live in the Baltic country and plan to vote in Russia's upcoming presidential election “essentially support” Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.” (MT/AFP, 02.28.24)
  • Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan’s combined IT exports surpassed $800 million in 2023. (BNE, 02.27.24)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • "Russia holds the material advantages and much of the initiative along the front," said Michael Kofman, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. "But the Russian military can't afford to fight that many Avdiivkas in 2024 given how much equipment they lost in that battle." (WSJ, 02.24.24)



  1. Putin’s remarks have come less than a week after his deputy at the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev warned that “an accidental, unintentional outbreak of a nuclear conflict cannot be discounted” as “all full-fledged instruments of control and nuclear deterrence have now been destroyed.”
  2. The strength of the negative reaction has prompted Macron’s aides to engage in what looks like damage controlclaiming that their boss’s proposal was to send troops for “demining, cyber operations or weapons production” rather than for combat.
  3. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told the U.S. that Ukraine needs the $60 billion in aid currently stuck in a congressional stand-off within a month.
  4. Over 20 heads of state, including 15 European Union (EU) leaders met in Paris on Feb. 26 to discuss ramping up ammunition supplies to Ukraine. Macron organized the conference and announced the creation of a new coalition to supply Ukraine with longer-range missiles and munitions. (ISW, 02.26.24)

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

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

Slider photo copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.