Russia in Review, July 29-Aug. 5, 2022

7 Things to Know

  1. Vladimir Putin wants to resume peace talks with Ukraine, according to his die-hard friend and ex-German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Shroeder—who has recently met with Putin—believes negotiations can succeed through a compromise for Donbas based on a "Swiss canton model” as well as “armed neutrality” for Ukraine as an alternative to NATO membership, FT reports.
  2. An existing FSB backchannel to Washington has been used by Russian government officials to tell their U.S. counterparts that they want FSB colonel Vadim Krasikov to be included in Washington's proposed swap of Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, CNN reports.   
  3. The Ukrainians don’t have the combat power to storm the city” of Kherson, according to RUSI’s Jack Watling. “What they’re doing instead is eating away at the Russian combat positions,” Watling told WSJ. The threat of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kherson region has compelled Russia to redeploy new units to this southern region rather than committing them to its campaign in Donbas, WSJ reports.
  4. In spite of sanctions on Russia, the EU has actually increased imports of Russian diesel by more than 1/5. The EU imported almost 700,000 barrels a day of the fuel from Russia in July, FT reports. That is more than in June and a 22% increase compared with July 2021, according to Vortexa, a tanker tracking group.
  5. Moscow squarely sided with Beijing over Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. Meeting Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi three days after the Aug. 2 visit, Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov called his Chinese counterpart a “dear friend” and told him he is “convinced that our strategic partnership is one of the pillars of the movement for the triumph of international law.” “China is quite legitimately taking action to defend its sovereignty,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
  6. Is the Kremlin coupling prevention of nuclear war with indivisible security? This week, Putin proclaimed in his written address to the NPT review conference that he “believe[s] that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, and we stand for equal and indivisible security for all members of the world community.” There was no such coupling in Putin’s address to the previous NPT review conference in 2015. In fact, “indivisible security,” which has become one of the Kremlin’s favorite principles when expressing grievances vis-à-vis the West, was absent from that 2015 address.
  7. Russian experts: Ayman al-Zawahiri’s killing will not be followed by the death of al-Qaeda, but it might ease life for the Taliban. “I would not predict the end of al-Qaeda,” Konstantin Truevtsev of Russia’s Institute of Oriental Studies told Kommersant. “Unlike IS, this is a network organization, and this is its strength,” he explained. Another Russian expert on Afghanistan, Arkady Dubnov, told the same daily that the killing eliminates “a key irritant” in the Taliban’s interaction with the U.S.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • The Russians have been firing from the cover of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant since mid-July, sending rockets at Nikopol. Ukraine cannot unleash volleys of shells in return. Doing so would risk striking one of the six pressurized water reactors or highly radioactive waste in storage. And Russia knows it. (NYT, 08.02.22)
    • Speaking at the NPT review conference, IAEA director Rafael Grossi said safety was at risk at the Zaporizhzhia NPP and urged support for his so far unsuccessful efforts to visit the facility with a team from the IAEA. (WP, 08.02.22, WP, 08.03.22)
    • Ukraine’s recurring attacks on the Zaporizhzhia NPP indicates Kyiv is seeking to create conditions for a nuclear disaster, Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s non-proliferation and arms control department, claimed at the NPT review conference. (TASS, 08.03.22)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • Iran is demanding the closure of a multiyear probe by IAEA into undeclared nuclear material found in the country as a condition for restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, diplomats said. Negotiators from the U.S., Iran, the EU and other parties to the deal resumed talks in Vienna on Aug. 4 aimed at restoring the agreement.  (WSJ, 08.05.22)
  • A new satellite that Russia is preparing to launch on Iran's behalf next week will greatly enhance Tehran's ability to spy on military targets across the Middle East—but first, Moscow intends to use the spacecraft to assist its own war effort in Ukraine. (WP, 08.05.22)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • Ukrainian officials have called for an investigation after videos appeared on social media that apparently show Russian soldiers castrating, and then killing, a Ukrainian prisoner of war. Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on July 29 that he had requested the Prosecutor-General's Office to launch a probe into the gruesome videos. (RFE/RL, 07.30.22)
  • Polish border authorities have said that 5.15 million people have fled war-ravaged Ukraine to Poland since Russia's invasion began on Feb. 24. During the same period, 3.25 million Ukrainians have returned to their home country, officials said July 31. (RFE/RL, 07.31.22)
  • Russia unleashed some of the worst barrages of the war on Ukraine's southern port city of Mykolaiv July 31, killing among others Oleksiy Vadaturskyi, the controlling shareholder and chief executive of the Nibulon LLC conglomerate, and his wife. (WSJ, 08.01.22)
  • Ukraine and Russia are in a dispute over which side struck a jail holding Ukrainian prisoners of war in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka. Russia's defense ministry said July 31 it had invited the International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.N. to visit the site "in the interests of an objective investigation." (MT/AFP, 07.31.22)
    • A new U.S. intelligence finding says Russia may plant fabricated evidence at the site of the attack that killed Ukrainian prisoners who were captured in Mariupol. (WP, 08.04.22)
  • Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said at a briefing for foreign military attaches that since the beginning of the war, Russia and Ukraine have carried out 27 operations to exchange prisoners of war and the bodies of dead servicemen. (Meduza, 08.03.22)
  • Amnesty International said in a report that the Ukrainian military is establishing bases in residential areas, including schools and hospitals, thus violating international humanitarian law and the laws of war. At the same time, the organization noted that such a practice "in no way justifies indiscriminate Russian attacks." The report is an attempt to "shift responsibility from the aggressor to the victim," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. (Meduza, 08.04.22, RFE/RL, 08.05.22)
  • Three ships carrying a total of about 58,000 tons of corn left Ukrainian ports under a U.N.-backed agreement to resume exports of grain and other agricultural products through ports on the Black Sea, Turkey's Defense Ministry said on Aug. 5. (RFE/RL, 08.05.22)
    • Experts say the immediate impact of Ukrainian grain exports on the global food crisis may be modest—if it is even felt at all. As many as 50 million people in 45 countries are teetering on the brink of famine, according to the U.N.’s World Food Program. (NYT, 08,01.22)
    • More than a dozen ships carrying grain are waiting to set sail from Ukrainian ports. Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s trade negotiator, said he was hopeful the agreement between Ukraine and Russia could serve as a template for other commodities because traders and exporters “always test the limits.” (FT, 08.05.22)
  • Since the invasion of Ukraine in February, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been forcibly resettled in Russia. In interviews, a dozen people who escaped described a process known as ''filtration''—part of a Russian campaign to ''denazify'' and ''disarm'' Ukraine. (NYT, 08.05.22)

Military and security aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • Russian authorities in Crimea said a small explosive device from a commercial drone, likely launched nearby, hit the navy command in Sevastopol. (MT/AFP, 07.31.22)
  • Tens of thousands of Russian troops were preparing to advance on the cities of Kryviy Rih, which is Zelensky’s home town, and Mykolayiv in southern Ukraine, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych has said. (RFE/RL, 08.02.22)
    • Mykolayiv will be blocked off and under a strict curfew over the weekend as law enforcement agencies search for enemy collaborators, officials said Aug. 5. (NYT, 08.05.22)
  • The Russian Defense Ministry believes that the United States is directly involved in the war in Ukraine, since they coordinate targets for strikes from HIMARS missile systems with Kyiv, a Defense Ministry spokesman said. (Meduza, 08.02.22)
  • The United States will send another $550 million in arms to Ukraine to help it fend off Russia, the White House said Aug. 1, increasing the total American investment in the fighting there to more than $8 billion since the invasion began in February. (NYT, 08.01.22)
  • A Ukrainian strike on a Russian ammunition train most likely damaged the rail connection between the Kherson region and Crimea, British intelligence said. That added to the already existing difficulties Russia is facing in resupplying its forces in Kherson following the damage done by Ukraine to the Antonivskiy Bridge across the Dnieper River. (RFE/RL, 08.03.22)
    • Russian forces have “almost certainly” tried to hide a supply route in Kherson Oblast, southern Ukraine from radar imagery and possible missile targeting equipment, according to the British Defense Ministry. It’s believed pyramidal radar reflectors have been positioned in the water near the recently damaged Antonivskiy Bridge and by the recently damaged nearby rail bridge, both of which cross over the Dnieper River. (Yahoo, 08.04.22)
  • With HIMARS, Ukraine has taken out more than 100 high-value targets, including command posts, ammunition depots, air defense sites, nodes for radar and communications and long-range artillery positions, according to a senior U.S. defense official. Four additional American units arrived this week, bringing the total of HIMARS in Ukrainian hands to 20. On Aug. 1 the U.S. approved the delivery of more HIMARS ammunition and Germany supplied three similar rocket systems with a range of about 70 kilometers. (FT, 08.04.22)
  • Germany late last month approved the production of 100 self-propelled howitzers for Ukraine's army, and this week confirmed delivery of multiple-launch rocket systems to the country. (WP, 08.04.22)
  • “The Russians are exhausted, and you don’t want to give them time to regroup and rest,” said U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who visited Ukraine last month with a small group of lawmakers. “I understand the desire to strike when they’re tired.” (NYT, 08.04.22)
  • In Donbas, parts of which have experienced fighting since Russia’s incursion in 2014, Russia’s Defense Ministry on Aug. 4 said Ukrainian forces were abandoning their positions in the towns of Soledar, Bakhmut and Avdiivka. (WSJ, 08.05.22)
  • Ukraine has ceded some territory in the Donbas region to Russian forces, with Kyiv acknowledging Russia’s “partial success” in recent days. Ukrainian forces have recaptured two villages near the city of Sloviansk, according to Ukrainian Gen. Oleksiy Hromov, but have been forced to abandon a coal mine regarded as a key defensive position as forces are pushed to the outskirts of Avdiivka. (Guardian, 08.05.22)
  • The threat of a Ukrainian counteroffensive has compelled Russia to redeploy new units to Kherson rather than committing them to its campaign in the eastern Donbas region, which it vowed to capture after pulling back from around the capital in March. (WSJ, 08.05.22)
    • “What the Ukrainians seem to be doing is sucking more and more Russian combat power away [from the fight in Donbas],” RUSI’s Jack Watling tells the Wall Street Journal. “The Ukrainians don’t have the combat power to storm the city [of Kherson]; what they’re doing instead is eating away at the Russian combat positions.” (WSJ, 08.05.22, CFR, 08.05.22)

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

  • A group of Russian lawmakers have introduced a bill that would ban the adoption of Russian children by citizens from so-called unfriendly countries. (RFE/RL, 08.01.22)
  • Russia has announced sanctions against 39 British politicians, business leaders and journalists, barring them from entering Russia. The list includes opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, former Prime Minister David Cameron, TV journalist Piers Morgan and BBC News presenter Huw Edwards. (RFE/RL, 08.02.22)
  • The U.K. has allowed the provision of aircraft insurance and reinsurance services for counterparties associated with Russia, according to the website of the country's Department of International Trade. Changes were made to the general license on sanctions against Russia. They concern "certain aviation products and technologies," including gas turbine engines and components for them. The relaxations affect only civil aviation. (Media Zone, 08.02.22)
  • Ekaterra, which owns the brands Lipton, Saito and Brooke Bond, said it will leave the Russian market. (Meduza, 08.02.22)
  • "The findings of our comprehensive economic analysis of Russia are powerful and indisputable: Not only have sanctions and the business retreat worked, they have thoroughly crippled the Russian economy at every level," said a report from the Yale School of Management. "Russian domestic production has come to a complete standstill with no capacity to replace lost businesses, products and talent," the 118-page report claimed. (MT/AFP, 08.02.22)
    • SWP’s Janis Kluge is one Western economist who has disagreed with some of the Yale report’s findings. “One of the many issues I have with the #Yale paper on #sanctions effects is their take on Russian FX reserves, which the authors claim are ‘bleeding out fast,’” he wrote on Twitter. (RM, 08.02.22)
  • In early August, the combined wealth of the 25 richest Russian businessmen amounted to $322.57 billion. Over the past eight months, this amount has decreased by 60.25 billion, according to Bloomberg. (Meduza, 08.01.22)
  • The Russian Prosecutor General's Office has declared the British non-governmental organization the Calvert 22 Foundation to be "undesirable." The Foundation is a charitable organization founded in 2009 by Russian-born London-based economist Nonna Materkova. (Meduza, 08.01.22)
  • A new round of U.S. sanctions announced on Aug. 2 targets MMK Metalurji and two of its subsidiaries along with Alina Kabayeva, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a news release. The Treasury said it has frozen the visa of Kabayeva, who it said has a “close relationship to Putin,” and imposed other property restrictions. Also named in the latest sanctions package is Andrei Guryev, an oligarch and known close associate of Putin who owns the Witanhurst estate in London, a 25-bedroom mansion, which is the second-largest estate in the British capital after Buckingham Palace. (RFE/RL, 08.03.22)
  • The U.S. Commerce Department said it would add 25 Airbus airplanes operated by Russian airlines believed to violate U.S. export controls as part of the Biden administration's sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 08.03.22)
  • The British government said it reimposed sanctions on two former Rosneft board members, Didier Casimiro and Zeljko Runje. (RFE/RL, 08.03.22)
  • The Italian Financial Guard seized assets belonging to the architect of "Putin's Palace" near Gelendzhik, Lanfranco Cirillo, worth 141 million euros. The list of seized property included houses, a helicopter, banking assets, cash, jewelry and art. (Meduza, 08.03.22)
  • Société Générale swung to a €1.5 billion loss in the second quarter after it sold out of Russia, although the hit was smaller than expected thanks to strong earnings across the French lender’s retail network and investment bank. (FT, 08.03.22)
  • Ukraine has called on Lebanon to reconsider a court decision to allow a seized Syrian ship carrying what Kyiv says is stolen Ukrainian grain to travel further. (RFE/RL, 08.04.22)
  • Hannover Re reinsurer suffered bigger than expected major losses in the first halves, after setting aside €316 million for claims relating to the Ukraine war. (FT, 08.04.22)
  • Glencore has posted record interim profit as disruption to commodity markets driven by the Ukraine war led to soaring prices for its raw materials. Adjusted earnings at the miner and commodity trader rose 119% year on year from $8.7 billion to $18.9 billion. (FT, 08.04.22)
  • The organization ETS, which conducts the TOEFL English exam, has reopened registration for Russian citizens. (Media Zone, 08.04.22)
  • EU member states have imposed sanctions on the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and his son for their alleged role in threatening Ukraine's security. (RFE/RL, 08.05.22)
  • Finland's Foreign Minister on Thursday presented a plan for limiting tourist visas issued to Russians after increasing tourism from its eastern neighbor spurred discontent due to the war in Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 08.05.22)
  • Latvia’s Embassy in Russia has suspended the issuance of all visas for Russian citizens for an indefinite period. The only exception will be the need to travel to the funeral of a close relative living in Latvia. (Meduza, 08.05.22)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, by his decree, banned shareholders from "unfriendly" countries from conducting transactions with shares of Russian banks (Meduza, 08.05.22)
  • Russia says it is expelling 14 Bulgarian consular and embassy staff in response to Sofia's "unfounded" decision to expel Russian diplomatic personnel. (RFE/RL, 08.05.22)
  • While the U.S. and its allies have sanctioned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, half of the countries in the Group of Twenty have not signed up. (Bloomberg, 08.05.22)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • Putin wants to resume peace talks with Ukraine, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said after visiting Moscow to meet Putin. Schroeder said “concessions on both sides” are needed to resolve the conflict. “The good news is that the Kremlin wants a negotiated solution,” Schroeder said. He said it would be a “big mistake” to dismiss possible concessions by Ukraine in advance as a “dictated peace.” The problems could be solved, he said, through a compromise for the eastern region of Donbas—based on a “Swiss canton model”—as well as “armed neutrality” for Ukraine as an alternative to NATO membership. (FT, 08.03.22, MT/AFP, 08.03.22)

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

  • The G7 has accused Russia of trying to "weaponize" its energy exports and pledged to work to ensure Moscow doesn't "exploit" its position as an energy producer "to profit from its aggression at the expense of vulnerable countries." (RFE/RL, 08.02.22)
  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russia must not be permitted to win in the war it launched against Ukraine, which has given rise to the most dangerous moment for Europe since World War II. (RFE/RL, 08.04.22)
  • The U.S. Senate ratified Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO. The U.S. is the 23rd NATO country to formally approve Sweden and Finland as members of the alliance, which currently has a total of 30 members. (FT, 08.04.22)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Zelensky wants to talk directly with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help end the war, he told the South China Morning Post newspaper. (WP, 08.04.22)
  • "Dear friend ... I am convinced that our strategic partnership is one of the pillars of the movement for the triumph of international law," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Aug. 5 at a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the margins of the ASEAN ministerial events in Phnom Penh. Lavrov said that it is his third meeting with the Chinese foreign minister in one month. (TASS, 08.05.22)
  • China is taking lawful steps to defend its sovereignty against the backdrop of the provocation related to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent visit to Taiwan, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said. “China is quite legitimately taking action to defend its sovereignty,” Peskov said. (Interfax, 08.05.22)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms control:

  • At the start of the Tenth Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for nuclear weapons U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said geopolitical tensions have put the planet just "one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation." "We have been extraordinarily lucky so far. But luck is not a strategy. Nor is it a shield from geopolitical tensions boiling over into nuclear conflict." (RFE/RL, 08.01.22)
  • U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the NPT Review Conference, saying the U.S. is ready to outline a new nuclear arms deal with Russia and called on Moscow to demonstrate its ability to negotiate in good faith. Biden also called on China "to engage in talks that will reduce the risk of miscalculation and address destabilizing military dynamics.” (RFE/RL, 08.01.22) 
  • Speaking at the NPT review conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Moscow of "reckless, dangerous nuclear saber rattling," and referred to past comments from Putin that countries interfering in Ukraine risked consequences "such as you have never seen in your entire history." (WP, 08.02.22)
  • Putin addressed the NPT Review Conference in a letter, saying: "We proceed from the fact that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed, and we stand for equal and indivisible security for all members of the world community.” There was no such coupling in Putin’s address to the previous NPT Review Conference in 2015. In fact, “indivisible security,” which has become one of the Kremlin’s favorite principles when expressing grievances vis-à-vis the West, was absent from that 2015 address. (RFE/RL, 08.01.22)
  • “The hybrid military campaign has been unleashed against Russia, which is forced to defend its legitimate right to ensure its fundamental security interests,  and it is fraught with a slide into a direct armed conflict between nuclear powers,” Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s non-proliferation and arms control department, said at the NPT Review Conference. (, 08.05.22)


  • The White House has highlighted what it said was Biden's "success" in killing Ayman al-Zawahiri, saying it "has undoubtedly made the United States safer." An Aug. 3 search of Russian-language news aggregators has netted no statements by Russian officials on the killing. However, some Russian experts were willing to comment. “I would not predict the end of al-Qaeda,” said Konstantin Truevtsev senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “Unlike IS, this is a network organization, and this is its strength. Al-Qaeda cells still exist on every continent,” he said. (ABC, 08.03.22, RM, 08.03.22, Kommersant, 08.02.22)
  • Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that if the United States declares Russia a country sponsoring terrorism, this could lead to a rupture of diplomatic relations, Interfax reports. (Meduza, 08.02.22)
  • Abdusalom Odinazoda, a Tajikistan-born former researcher at the University of Western Australia, has pleaded guilty to a charge of inciting terrorism in Tajikistan. (RFE/RL, 08.02.22)

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security:

  • The data of Russian Postal Service users has been leaked into the public domain. The leak contains 10 million lines with tracking numbers, the name of the sender and recipient, the recipient's phone number, the city of the sender and recipient, as well as the weight, status, date and time of sending. (Media Zone, 07.30.22)
  • Jan. 14 was a rough day for the Ukrainian government: Destructive malware wiped out computers at two agencies, and hackers temporarily took down dozens of agency websites. Now, though, Ukrainian officials say that the assault was a huge miscalculation on the Russians' part. "They could have waited for the beginning of the war and if it had happened it would have been a disaster," said Victor Zhora, deputy head of Ukraine's main cybersecurity agency. (WP, 08.04.22)
  • Greece has extradited Russian national Alexander Vinnik to the United States where he is wanted for allegedly being involved in a massive bitcoin theft scheme. (RFE/RL, 08.05.22)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Gazprom on July 30 suspended gas supplies to Latvia following tensions between Moscow and the West over the conflict in Ukraine and sweeping European and U.S. sanctions against Russia. (MT, 07.30.22) 
  • Europe increased its imports of Russian diesel by more than a fifth in July. The region imported almost 700,000 barrels a day of the fuel from Russia last month, higher than the previous month and a 22% increase compared with July last year, according to Vortexa. (FT, 08.02.22)
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has accused Moscow of purposely holding up the delivery of a turbine by refusing to submit the paperwork needed to transport the item to Russia, where its installation will allow for increased gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Gazprom said on Aug. 3 that western sanctions had made the delivery of the turbine crucial for Russian gas supplies to Europe “impossible.” (RFE/RL, 08.03.22, FT, 08.03.22)
    • "There is nothing in the sanctions that prohibits the turbine, which is the Siemens turbine, currently meant for Russia, to go there," Eric Mamer, chief spokesperson of the European Commission, said Aug. 5. (RFE/RL, 08.05.22)
  • OPEC and its allies have agreed one of the smallest oil production increases in the group’s history as Saudi Arabia attempts to appease western allies without using up all its unused capacity The increase agreed on Aug. 3 of just 100,000 barrels a day, or 0.1% of global demand, is likely to cause disappointment in western capitals. (FT, 08.03.22)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • U.S. authorities have charged Russian national Alexander Viktorovich Ionov with recruiting political groups in the United States to sow discord, spread pro-Moscow propaganda and interfere with U.S. elections. Ionov and his Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia were simultaneously designated on July 29 by the U.S. Treasury Department for sanctions in connection with American claims of Russian interference in U.S. elections. (RFE/RL, 07.30.22)
  • Moscow is leaning toward rejecting a prisoner swap unless it gets two Russians in return for the two Americans the U.S. wants released, according to people familiar with the Kremlin’s thinking. Russian government officials requested that former FSB colonel Vadim Krasikov, who was convicted of murder in Germany last year, be included in Washington’s proposed swap of notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, multiple sources said. As such, and because the request was not communicated formally but rather through the FSB backchannel, the U.S. government did not view it as a legitimate counter to the offer which was first revealed by CNN on Aug. 3. (CNN, 07.29.22, Bloomberg, 08.01.22)
  • Lavrov and Blinken appeared ready to discuss a possible prisoner exchange after U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug smuggling and sentenced to nine years in prison, which Biden called "unacceptable." (RFE/RL, 08.05.22)
  • A third of Russians (35%) agreed with the statement that the Sun revolves around the Earth, according to data from a recent VTsIOM poll. In recent years, the number of Russian who said so has increased—from 28% in 2007 to 32% in 2011. A poll conducted in the U.S. in 2014 revealed that a quarter of Americans surveyed could not correctly answer that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around. (Meduza, 08.02.22, RM, 08.02.22)
  • Blinken expressed no interest in contacts with Russia on the sidelines of ASEAN events in Cambodia, Lavrov said. (TASS, 08.05.22)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • The Levada Center conducted a nation-wide poll in late July 2022 that indicates that the share of Russians who support Russia’s war in Ukraine has increased by one percentage point from 75% in June to 76% in July. The share of those who oppose Russia’s war decreased from 20% to 18% in the same period. The share of those who think the war will last 6-12 months decreased from 23% to 21%, while the share of those who think it will last over year increased from 27% to 28%. (RM, 08.02.22)
  • Russian citizens who left the country after the start of the war in Ukraine are traitors, said speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin. (Meduza, 07.30.22)
  • Russia’s Ministry of Justice entered New Times editor-in-chief Yevgenia Albats, writer Dmitry Bykov and philanthropist/co-founder of the Need Help Foundation Mitya Aleshkovsky into the register of “foreign agents.” (Media Zone, 07.30.22)
  • Well-known Russian writer Viktor Shenderovich, who is currently living outside of Russia, has been fined for "failing to comply with the status of a foreign agent." (RFE/RL, 08.02.22)
  • The Important Stories media outlet has conducted an investigation into assets owned by Russian governors, ascertaining that at least eight of them, either directly or through their relatives, own real estate, businesses and other assets in the West in spite of supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine. (RM, 08.02.22)
  • The projects of the Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhov Tikhon (Shevkunov), who is often called Putin’s confessor, received at least 20 billion rubles from the state and state-owned companies, according to an investigation by Important Stories. (Meduza, 08.01.22)
  • Putin's ex-wife Lyudmila Ocheretnaya (Putina) receives hundreds of millions of rubles annually from the Moscow City Hall, and her new husband, Artur Ocheretny, owns two villas in Biarritz, an apartment in Davos and two apartments in Malaga, Spain. Associates of Alexei Navalny spoke about this in a new investigation. (Media Zone, 08.04.22)
  • Former Russian Deputy Education Minister Marina Rakova has been remanded in custody on embezzlement charges. Rakova was arrested last fall along with the rector of Moscow's School of Social and Economic Sciences, Sergei Zuyev. The two were charged with embezzling 50 million rubles ($950,000) from the ministry. A day earlier, the same court transferred Zuyev from a detention center to house arrest. In addition, a Moscow judge released another defendant in the same case from house arrest on bail: Vladimir Mau, the rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. (Meduza, 08.03.22, Meduza, 08.04.22, RFE/RL, 08.05.22)
  • The Lefortovsky District Court of Moscow arrested in absentia the editor-in-chief of The Insider Roman Dobrokhotov in a case of illegal border crossing. (Media Zone, 08.05.22)
  • The Bank of Russia plans to launch a pilot Islamic banking project in Chechnya and Dagestan in 2023. (Meduza, 08.05.22)
  • Russia will revive the Soviet-era practice of duty-free shops for foreign diplomats, allowing them to buy goods no longer imported to Russia due to Western sanctions, according to a government order issued last week. (MT/AFP, 08.04.22)

Defense and aerospace:

  • The United States' quest to dominate the oceans and NATO's expansion are the biggest threats facing Russia, according to a new Russian naval doctrine signed by Putin on July 31. The document also lists an “insufficient number” of overseas naval bases and supply points as one of the challenges faced by Russia in the world ocean. It also refers to the “expansion of scale of international terrorism, piracy ... and the illegal transportation of chemical and radioactive substances,” among the challenges. (MT/AFP, 07.31.22, RM, 07.31.22) 
  • Putin signed a law recognizing FSB officers who “repelled an armed invasion” into Russia as combat veterans. (Meduza, 08.04.22)
  • Before the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian president rarely conferred the honorary title of “Guards” to Russian military units: one brigade each in 2000, 2015, 2018 and 2019. At the same time, during the five months of the unfinished war with Ukraine, the president awarded 11 military formations with the honorary title of "Guards." (Important Stories, 08.04.22)
  •  See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Emergencies, security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Wildfires have burned across at least 3.2 million hectares of forest in Russia’s Siberian and Far East regions since the start of the year, according to statistics published by Russia’s Aerial Forest Protection Service on Aug. 1. (MT/AFP, 08.02.22)
  • The garrison military court of Rostov-on-Don arrested Lt. Gen. Viktor Voronov, Deputy Commander of the Southern Military District for Logistics. He is suspected of embezzling 2 million rubles from the Defense Ministry for personal needs. (Meduza, 07.30.22)
  • The Supreme Court of Russia, acting on a request by the Prosecutor General's Office, has designated Ukraine's ultra-right Azov Regiment as a "terrorist" organization. (RFE/RL, 08.02.22)
  • Russian courts are releasing Ukrainians facing deportations because Kyiv has cut diplomatic ties with Russia after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion, Kommersant reported. (MT/AFP, 08.01.22)
  • Vadim Bakatin, the last chief of the Soviet Union's Committee of State Security, widely known under its Russian acronym KGB, has died at the age of 84. (RFE/RL, 08.01.22)
  • Russian lawmaker Vadim Belousov has been added to the country's most-wanted list after he failed to show at a court hearing where he was sentenced to 10 years in prison on bribery charges. (RFE/RL, 08.04.22)
  • Director of the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Shiplyuk was arrested in a case of high treason. (Meduza, 08.05.22)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Turkey's Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources says it has taken the "necessary initiatives to resolve the conflict between the parties" after the Rosatom subsidiary Akkuyu Nuclear was reported to have terminated the contract with Turkish firm IC Içtaş. (WNN, 08.03.22)
  • Russia backs the Myanmar junta's efforts to "stabilize" the crisis-wracked country, its foreign minister said on Aug. 3 during talks with top generals, according to Russian state media. (MT/AFP, 08.03.22)
  • Italian doctors have confirmed the rare neurological disorder that debilitated Putin’s former senior aide Anatoly Chubais as authorities continue to await in-depth test results to rule out poisoning, according to a family friend and Italian media. Italy is investigating the case.  Chubais resigned as the Kremlin's climate envoy soon after Russia invaded Ukraine. (WP, 08.04.22, MT/AFP, 08.04.22)
  • Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said they wanted to deepen their countries’ economic ties. At the start of their summit in Sochi on Aug. 5, the two presidents said they were close to finalizing key agreements on their economies and trade relations. Ending the war in Ukraine and the prospect of a Turkish incursion in Syria are expected to dominate talks. A Russian proposal intercepted ahead of the meeting indicates Russia hopes Turkey will agree to new channels to help it avoid those restrictions on its banking, energy and industrial sectors. (RFE/RL, 08.05.22., FT, 08.05.22, WP, 08.05.22)   
    • "The truth is that some of our friends do not want the [Russian-Ukrainian] war to end. They are shedding crocodile tears," Turkish presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun told Reuters, saying some were actively trying to undermine Turkey's efforts without specifying who. (Reuters, 08.05.22)


  • Russian-installed authorities in newly occupied territories in southern Ukraine are under increasing pressure from Moscow and possibly preparing to hold referendums on joining Russia later this year, Britain’s Defense Ministry said on July 30. (RFE/RL, 07.30.22)
  • The European Commission on Aug. 1 said it had begun to disburse the first 1 billion euros in a 9 billion euro assistance package for Ukraine. (WP, 08.04.22)
  • Doctors suspect that Vladimir Saldo, head of the pre-Kremlin interim administration of the Kherson region, could have been poisoned. (Baza, 08.05.22)
  • Zelensky floated "civil partnerships" as a potential answer to calls for the legalization of same-sex marriage, a step he said would not be possible during the war, though Russia's invasion has reinvigorated the push for marriage equality. (WP, 08.05.22)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Nagorno-Karabakh's military on Aug. 1 accused Azerbaijani forces of launching attacks on its positions in the territory’s north and northwest. The Karabakh Defense Army said that throughout the day its troops thwarted Azerbaijani "attempts to cross the line of contact." (RFE/RL, 08.02.22)  
    • The events in Nagorno-Karabakh evoke a number of questions regarding the activities of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at a government meeting on Aug. 4. (TASS, 08.04.22)
    • Armenia has called on the international community to help stop Azerbaijan's "aggressive actions.” (RFE/RL, 08.03.22)
  • Pope Francis will visit Kazakhstan on Sept. 13-15 to attend an event regularly organized by the Central Asian nation's authorities that will also be attended by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. (RFE/RL, 08.01.22)
  • A post claiming the ex-Soviet nations of Georgia and Kazakhstan were “artificial” creations appeared Aug. 1 on former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s social media account—but was quickly deleted. (MT/AFP, 08.02.22)
  • A court in Kazakhstan has sentenced a couple to five years in prison each for calls that North Kazakhstan become part of Russia. (RFE/RL, 08.03.22)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • “First of all—do not expect that Putin is about to die or that sanctions are about to kill Russia economically. Or that residents of Russia will suddenly begin to see clearly and come out in an anti-war protest. Nothing like that will happen. Ukraine must fight and decide everything on the battlefield,” former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said. (BBC, 08.04.22)