Russia in Review, July 7-14, 2023

3 Things to Know

  1. At their summit in Vilnius, NATO allies approved highly-secretive defense plans that laid out which of the 31 member states would be called on to respond if an attack were to occur anywhere from the Arctic and Baltic Sea regions to the Mediterranean and Black Seas, AP reported. The new plans, which are reportedly more than 4,400 pages long, provide for NATO to have up to 300,000 troops ready to move to its eastern flank within 30 days. The number of forces deployed on this flank will increase to brigade level (4,000 troops) under the approved plans. The July 11-12 summit also saw NATO members agree to expand NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense, and set 2% of GDP as the floor, rather than ceiling, of their annual defense expenditures.
  2. Also at the summit, NATO members declared that Ukraine would be invited to join the alliance, but did not say how or when, reflecting what NYT described as Biden’s resolve not to be drawn directly into Ukraine's war with Russia. Biden’s public observation two days ahead of the summit that Ukraine is not ready for NATO membership sent a clear signal to Volodymyr Zelensky not to hold his breath. That, however, didn’t stop Zelensky from lashing out at NATO’s draft statement on Ukraine’s membership prospects as “absurd.The Ukrainian leader’s remarks roiled the U.S. delegation so much that some of its members “wanted to withdraw the reference to ‘invitation,’” from the draft communique, a NATO diplomat told WP. In the end, the summit’s communique retained the allies’ pledge that “We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.” For Belfer Center experts’ take on Ukraine’s NATO membership options see this 07.14.23 paper.*
  3. Russia’s military campaign has continued to suffer from insubordination issues. Having learned that he was being dismissed from the post of the commander of Russia’s 58th Army, Major General Ivan Popov accused his unspecified superiors of “hit[ing] us from the rear, treacherously beheading the army at the most difficult and tense moment.” Popov’s diatribe came after it transpired that, according to Vladimir Putin’s account of his closed-door June 29 meeting with the PMC Wagner commander, Yevgeny Prigozhin rejected Putin’s suggestion that Wagner fighters carry on fighting in Ukraine under the leadership of this private military company’s purported chief of staff, Andrei Troshev. That Putin would meet with Prigozhin after his June 23-24 mutiny, which he condemned as a betrayal, and that Prigozhin would reject Putin’s offer in the presence of others shows the limits of the authoritarian regime that he has built — even if the Russian autocrat feels confident enough to have more than a dozen military commanders detained and questioned over suspected ties to Prigozhin’s mutiny.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • The IAEA is urging an investigation of whether an external boiler can be installed to generate the steam required so all six Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant units can be placed in a cold shutdown. (WNN, 07.13.23)

  • On July 11, NATO heads of state issued the alliance’s summit communique which said: “Terrorist organizations threaten the security of our populations, forces and territory. They have expanded their networks, enhanced their capabilities and invested in new technologies to improve their reach and lethality. … Russia’s war has had a profound impact on the environment, nuclear safety, energy and food security, the global economy, and the welfare of billions of people around the world.” (NATO, 07.11.23)

  • Wagner mercenaries came close to reaching one of Russia’s nuclear weapons storage sites during their short-lived revolt last month, Reuters claimed, citing Ukrainian and Russian officials, local residents, and geo-located videos of the fighters. Reuters said it tracked the movements of a 75-vehicle Wagner column that split off from the main convoy advancing from southern Russia to Moscow on June 23 and came as close as 110 kilometers from the Voronezh-45 nuclear weapons storage site. (MT/AFP, 07.11.23)

  • One person was killed in an accident at a uranium enrichment plant, the Urals Electrochemical Combine, in Russia's Urals region on July 14, RIA Novosti news agency said. The factory said radiation levels at the site and surrounding area were normal. The blast occurred due to the depressurization of a cylinder with depleted uranium hexafluoride, according to Fontanka. (Reuters, 07.14.23, Fontanka, 07.14.23)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • On July 8, the civilian death toll from Russian shelling in the Donetsk region city of Lyman increased to nine, Ukrainian authorities said. (RFE/RL, 07.09.23)

  • On July 10, Russian shelling on an aid hub in the town of Orikhiv in southern Ukraine killed four people, the regional governor said. (MT/AFP, 07.10.23)

  •  On July 14, Ukraine said that it had intercepted 16 of 17 attack drones that Russia launched overnight, but that one evaded air defenses and hit the central city of Kryvyi Rih. One man was injured and a utility company suffered damage in the strike in Kryvyi Rih. (NYT, 07.14.23)

  • On July 14, authorities in Russia’s Bryansk region said an elderly woman was killed in the shelling of a Russian village near the border with Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 07.14.23)

  • After 16 months of war, casualty totals on all sides have reached 400,000, including about 100,000 dead, as estimated by Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings. (WP, 07.10.23)

  • UNHCR records more than 5 million refugees from Ukraine globally, excluding Russia. More than 90 percent of them are in Europe, according to Constanze Stelzenmüller of Brookings’ estimate. (WP, 07.10.23)

  • Russian authorities have forcibly deported to Russia more than 19,500 Ukrainian children from occupied regions, according to Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings’ estimate. (WP, 07.10.23)

  • A Russian government document dating to January outlined plans to create 25 new prison colonies and six other detention centers in occupied Ukraine by 2026. Hundreds of detainees are used for slave labor by Russia’s military, for digging trenches and other fortifications, as well as mass graves. (AP, 07.12.23)

  • A group of 16 European Union member states pledged to contribute over €400 million to the European Investment Bank’s fund to support the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine, with first disbursements beginning in autumn. (Bloomberg, 07.14.23)

  • A rising number of Ukrainians who fled to Germany after Russia’s invasion are planning to remain in the country for longer as the war drags on and integration into society progresses. About 44% of respondents in a survey conducted in early 2023 said they intend to stay either for several years or even for good — up from 39% in an earlier poll, according to the German Institute for Economic Research. (Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

  • Moscow has accused Kyiv and Ankara of violating the terms of a high-profile prisoner exchange after President Volodymyr Zelensky returned home from a visit to Turkey with a group of Ukrainian commanders. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Sunday blasted Ankara for breaking a key promise to keep the men in Turkey until the end of Russia’s war in Ukraine. (FT, 07.10.23)

  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on July 14 that he is in agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin that a deal allowing the Black Sea export of Ukraine grain should be extended. (Reuters, 07.14.23) With the 2nd Russia-Africa summit planned in St. Petersburg on July 26-29, 2023, it has always been doubtful that Putin would follow up on his criticism of the grain deal by not extending it beyond the current deadline of July 17.

  • The communique issued by NATO heads of state on July 11 says: “Allies are working to enable exports of Ukrainian grain and actively support international efforts to alleviate the global food crisis.” (NATO, 07.11.23)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict:

  • In the past month of fighting Russian forces have gained 28 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine gained 65, according to Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 07.12.23)

    • Since the beginning of the Ukrainian counteroffensive on June 4, ISW has calculated based on its own control of terrain data that Ukrainian forces recaptured approximately 253 square kilometers of territory. In comparison Russian forces have captured a total of 282 square kilometers in the entire theater since January 1. In five weeks, Ukrainian forces have liberated nearly the same amount of territory that Russian forces captured in over six months. (ISW, 07.10.23)

    • Ukraine’s counteroffensive to date has had only modest impacts; Russia still holds just over 17 percent of Ukraine, according to an estimate by Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings. (WP, 07.10.23)

  • On July 9 Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said that his Akhmat military unit has been deployed to the site of “difficult” fighting in the embattled eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. (MT/AFP, 07.10.23)

  • On July 10 the General Staff of Ukraine's military said Ukrainian forces have continued to make gains in the south, liberating an area roughly the size of the city of Odesa since the start of its counteroffensive. Over the past week, the Ukrainian military advanced 1 kilometer in the Melitopol and Berdyansk areas of the Zaporizhzhia region, the General Staff said. (RFE/RL, 07.10.23)

  • On July 12 Ukraine said it had shot down 11 Russian drones overnight in a second consecutive night of attacks on the capital Kyiv. A total of 15 kamikaze drones were involved in the strike. (MT/AFP, 07.12.23)

  • On July 12 Gen. Ivan Popov has said he was dismissed from the post of the commander of Russia’s 58th army for challenging the army’s top brass over their handling of the invasion of Ukraine and accused them of betraying the troops amid Kyiv’s counteroffensive. “As many regimental commanders said today, Ukraine’s armed forces couldn’t break through our front lines, but our senior boss hit us from the rear, treacherously beheading the army at the most difficult and tense moment,” Popov said. (FT, 07.13.23)

    • Andrei Turchak, secretary of Putin’s United Russia party, said Popov’s message had been posted in private chats for men of the 58th army and not intended for publication. (FT, 07.13.23)

    • Popov and Yevgeny  Prigozhin exposed “big, systemic” problems in the army as well as the unpopularity of Russia’s military leadership, said Sergei Markov, a political consultant with close Kremlin ties. “And now a third problem has been added — the disintegration of military discipline, an open manifestation of disloyalty.” (Bloomberg, 07.13.23)

  • On July 13 Pentagon said that he Wagner mercenary group is not participating in military operations in Ukraine in any significant way. (Reuters, 07.13.23)

  • As of July 13, “The situation on the battlefields has not undergone major changes” according to Ukrainian OSINT Telegram channel The channel said the Russian units continued attacking in the Svatove area in the Luhansk region, while the Ukrainian Armed Forces continued to gnaw away at Russian positions near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region and Rabotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region. (RM, 07.14.23)

  • On July 14, Ukraine acknowledged that its troops were not making speedy headway in their counteroffensive to recapture territory in the east and south of the country from Russian forces. "Today it's advancing not so quickly," the head of the Ukrainian presidential office Andriy Yermak told reporters, conceding that battles were difficult. (MT/AFP, 07.14.23)

  • On July 14, pro-war Russian Telegram channel “Rybar” conceded that Ukrainian units had retaken an “important fortification area” southwest of Maryinka in the Donetsk region. The channel said, citing Russian reconnaissance sources, that the Ukrainian forces are to try for a number of islands in the Dnipro’s delta in the upcoming days. (RM, 07.14.23)

  • Carrying out a counteroffensive to reclaim that territory, defeat Russia and minimize Ukraine’s casualties requires resources that commander of the Ukrainian armed forces Gen. Valery Zaluzhny said he’s still lacking. (WP, 07.14.23)

  • “As soon as I have the means, I’ll do something. I don’t give a damn — nobody will stop me,” commander of the Ukrainian armed forces Gen. Valery Zaluzhny said when asked about his intent to take Crimea. (WP, 07.14.23)

  • At least 47,000 Russian troops have been killed fighting in Ukraine, the independent news outlets Mediazona and Meduza reported. (MT/AFP, 07.10.23)

  • The deputy commander of Russia’s Southern Military District, General Oleg Tsokov, was killed in Ukraine. He was the highest-ranking officer of the Russian Armed Forces to have been killed in the war. (Istories, 07.11.23)

  • UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace claimed that Russia lost an estimated 2,500 tons of ammunition when a depot was blown up by one of the long-range missiles that Britain gave to Ukraine. He did not elaborate, and the claim has not been independently verified. (NYT, 07.12.23)

  • General Charles Q. Brown Jr., the nominee to be the next chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine had provided valuable lessons for the US military. Those lessons, he said, include the importance of information in warfare; the crucial role of morale and the “will to fight;” and the benefits of integrated air defense. The conflict has also highlighted the value of logistics, he said. “I think the Russians learned, if you don’t pay attention to the logistics, it’s hard to win and hard to move forward,” Brown said. (Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

  • On July 11 President Petr Pavel of the Czech Republic warned at the NATO summit that Ukraine needed to make military progress more or less “by the end of this year” because of the coming elections in the United States. By next year, he suggested, there could also be “another decline of willingness to massively support Ukraine with more weapons.” (NYT, 07.13.23)

Western military aid to Ukraine: Also see section on NATO-Russia relations.

  • The level of Western military aid to Ukraine has remained high, with total assistance approaching $250 billion, and Europe has been even more generous than the United States, when all types of assistance are aggregated (even acknowledging that much of Europe’s financial aid is in the form of loans, not grants), according to Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings’ estimate. (WP, 07.10.23)

  • The Biden administration is debating whether to send Ukraine any of its limited stock of long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems. Ukraine has long coveted the ATACMS, which have a range of about 190 miles, or about 40 miles more than the missiles France and Britain are providing. (NYT, 07.12.23)

  • A group of right-wing House Republicans pushing to load up the annual defense bill with socially conservative policies have another demand: severe restrictions on U.S. military support for Ukraine. They are seeking votes on a series of proposals that would hamstring U.S. support for Ukraine, including one to curtail all funding for Kyiv until there is a diplomatic solution to the conflict and another that would end a $300 million program to train and equip Ukrainian soldiers that has been in place for nearly a decade. The group's proposals on military aid stand no chance of passing the House. (NYT, 07.13.23)

  • The much-anticipated and controversial American-made cluster munitions that the United States agreed to supply to Kyiv are now in Ukraine, according to Brig. Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavsky and Pentagon. (CNN, 07.14.23)

    • Democratic lawmakers voiced concern about Biden’s decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine. “No, cluster bombs should never be used. That’s crossing a line,” Representative Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. (Bloomberg, 07.10.23)

    • “Joe Biden should not be dragging us further toward World War III by sending cluster munitions to Ukraine—he should be trying to END the war and stop the horrific death and destruction being caused by an incompetent administration,” Donald Trump said in a statement. (Bloomberg, 07.13.23)

    • Germany's president on July 9 said the country should not "block" the United States from sending cluster bombs to Ukraine, while defending its opposition to the use of the controversial weapon. (AFP, 07.09.23)

    • Washington's decision to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions is an "act of desperation" that will have no effect on Moscow's campaign in Ukraine, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. (MT/AFP, 07.08.23)

    • Kremlin spokesman Peskov said the US’s recent decision to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions “changes the situation and forces Russia to take countermeasures,” even though Ukraine says Russia has used the weapons indiscriminately since the start of the invasion.” (FT, 07.12.23)

    • Dmitri A. Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, claimed late Tuesday that the Ukrainian city of Tokmak, which is occupied by Russian troops, had been hit with cluster munitions. “This means it’s time to unsheathe our arsenal of these inhumane munitions,” Mr. Medvedev wrote in a post on the Telegram app. (NYT, 07.12.23)

  • Germany is to offer Ukraine a further package of weapons worth €700 million, chancellor Olaf Scholz said. The package will include 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 25 Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks and five armored recovery vehicles from industry stocks as well as launch vehicles for Patriot air defense systems from the Bundeswehr. (FT, 07.11.23)

    •  Zelensky said he had spoken Scholz and got an agreement for “additional Patriot [missile defense] systems and missiles.” (FT, 07.12.23)

  • French President Emmanuel Macron said France will supply Ukraine with Scalp cruise missiles, manufactured by the MBDA conglomerate. Their range of more than 300 miles is significantly longer than that of any weapon supplied to Ukraine by Washington so far. (WSJ, 07.11.23)

    • Kremlin spokesman Peskov called France’s decision to supply Ukraine with long-range missiles a mistake. (NYT, 07.11.23)

  • The NATO allies came to Vilnius with more pledges of weapons and military equipment for Ukraine to bolster its slow-moving counteroffensive: long-range “Scalp” cruise missiles from France; 25 more Leopard tanks, 40 additional infantry fighting vehicles, and two more Patriot air-defense missile launchers. There was a $770 million package from Germany and $240 million from Norway for unspecified equipment and other support. Additionally, the defense ministers of Denmark and the Netherlands announced they had gathered 11 countries to help train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets as soon as next month. Mr. Biden agreed in May to drop his objections to giving Ukraine F-16s, though that may not happen until next year. (NYT, 07.11.23)

  • Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has said that Ukraine and 11 countries signed a memorandum regarding the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets.. Ukrainian pilots will begin training on the F-16 in August in Denmark. In parallel, training will be conducted in Romania, where a special training center will be set up. (RFE/RL, 07.12.23)

  • Rheinmetall has received a munitions order worth up to €4 billion from the German government as the country rushes to shore up diminishing inventories to supply Ukraine with military equipment. (FT, 07.13.23)

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

  • Some of the world’s largest aircraft owners, including AerCap and Carlyle Aviation Partners, which are pursuing claims against insurers for planes stranded in Russia, are preparing to step up their fight against the cases being heard in Moscow. More than 500 aircraft, worth an estimated $10 billion, were stuck in Russia at the time sanctions were imposed. Lessors managed to retrieve some of the planes but around 400 are still in the country and the companies subsequently lodged insurance claims last year. (FT, 07.08.23)

  • Motor lubricant exports from South Korea to Russia increased 116.7 per cent in 2022 to $229 million, according to Korean government statistics. The surge came after western oil majors including Total, Shell and BP voluntarily scaled back their Russian operations, including sales of lubrication oils used in vehicle transmissions and engines, following the outset of the war. (FT, 07.09.23)

  • Finnish President Sauli Niinisto declined to rule out shuttering Russia’s consulate on the demilitarized archipelago of Aland in response to Moscow closing Finland’s biggest consulate. (Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

  • The Russian government has ordered the closure of the Polish Consulate in Smolensk, a city some 400 kilometers west of Moscow. (Current Time, 07.14.23)

  • The Russian company Sollers closed a deal to buy out a 100% stake in Isuzu Rus, owned by the Japanese automaker Isuzu Motors, Interfax reports. This deal is part of Isuzu’s exit from the Russian market, according to Meduza. (RM, 07.14.23)

  • The UK’s seizure of a £38 million ($50 million) superyacht owned by unsanctioned Russian tycoon Sergei Naumenko was part of an attempt to look tough, which violated the businessman’s human rights in the process, his lawyers told a UK court. (Bloomberg, 07.13.23

  • Russia has blocked U.S. tech giant Meta’s competitor app to Twitter just a day after its launch, a senior Russian lawmaker said Friday. Threads “is being de facto blocked [in Russia],” said Anton Gorelkin, a senior member of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament. (MT/AFP, 07.08.23)

  • At least 204 Russian athletes have changed their sport nationality in order to continue competing in international events and avoid bans over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the independent Kholod news website reported Thursday, citing publicly available information. (MT/AFP, 07.13.23)

  • With war still raging in Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee on Thursday confirmed that Russia and Belarus will not receive formal invitations to the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics when they are sent out July 26. (WP, 07.14.23)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  •  “I don’t think the war can go on for years. … I don’t think Russia could maintain the war forever,” Joe Biden said while in Finland, arguing Moscow did not have the “resources and capacity” to sustain the conflict. He added: “I think that there is going to be a circumstance where eventually President Putin is going to decide it’s not in the interest of Russia economically, politically or otherwise.” “My hope is and my expectation is you’ll see that Ukraine makes significant progress on their offensive and it generates a negotiated settlement somewhere along the line." (FT, 07.13.23)

  • Vladimir Putin said: “By the way, the draft document that I mentioned several times, namely the draft agreement between Russia and Ukraine  [which Russian and Ukrainian negotiators discussed in Istambul in spring of 2022] which was put together in Istanbul and then tossed out by the Ukrainian regime, set out in detail matters related to ensuring Ukraine’s security. We needed more time to see whether we agreed with what it said, but I think that document was acceptable overall.” (, 07.13.23)

  • Czech president Petr Pavel was among those this week who warned that a lack of progress on the ground in Ukraine would likely lead to negotiations based on whatever gains Kyiv can make by the end of the year. (FT, 07.13.23)

  • BRICS heads of state will discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the five-nation bloc’s summit next month, as South Africa drives a continental initiative to bring an end to the conflict, President Cyril Ramaphosa said. Cyril Ramaphosa held talks Thursday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss an effort by African leaders to help end hostilities. (Bloomberg, 07.14.23)

  • The war in Ukraine will not end until the West “abandons its plans” to defeat Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Indonesian media on Wednesday. (MT/AFP, 07.12.23)

  • The former chief of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, confirmed he was part of a group that met with Russia’s foreign minister in April, saying such talks are important when official negotiations are “either nonexistent or unproductive.” In a post on Substack, Haass defended the decision but didn’t give details on who else participated or what was discussed. He said those involved spoke for themselves, not the US government, though he said “relevant government officials” were informed. (Bloomberg, 07.08.23)

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

  • On July 9 U.S. President Joe Biden said: “I don't think it [Ukraine] 'is ready for membership in NATO. … If the war is going on, then we're all in a war. You know, we're in a war with Russia if that were the case. So I think we have to lay out a path for the rational path for Ukraine, to be able to qualify to get into NATO.” (CNN, 07.09.23.)

  • On July 10 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country will deploy as many as 1,200 new personnel to boost the Canadian-led battle group in Latvia as it expands to a combat-capable brigade. (Bloomberg, 07.10.23)

  • When Biden landed in Vilnius on July 10 the language on Ukraine’s membership path in the draft communique of the July 11-12 NATO summit was still not nailed down. Earlier drafts of the communique offered a clearer pathway to Ukraine eventually joining, but Biden and Chancellor Olaf Scholz were wary of going too far. Their teams demanded changes in the final days before the summit. Eventually Biden administration officials believed they had finally found a compromise: a vow to ease Kyiv's membership process once the wartime situation allows it. Then Zelensky weighed in with a tweet that blasted as “absurd” the absence of a timetable for his country’s membership in the draft statement. Zelensky's intervention midway through NATO's high-stakes summit here made members of the U.S. delegation "furious," one official said. (WP, 07.13.23, Bloomberg, 07.13.23, AP, 07.11/23))

  • Zelensky’s confrontational tweet so roiled the White House  that  U.S. officials raised the possibility of revisiting or striking the passage to which Zelensky had so forcefully objected: “We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met,” according to European officials involved in the negotiations. Three senior policymakers, two of whom were direct participants in the talks, said their strong perception was that the United States was getting ready to water down the document’s language — to make it less welcoming to a speedy Ukrainian accession to the alliance. “Some wanted to withdraw the reference to ‘invitation,’” or find another place to put that word, said one of the senior policymakers, a NATO diplomat who took part in the talks. (WP, 07.13.23)

      • Over dinner in Vilnius, with Biden back at his hotel, the other leaders delivered a clear message to Zelensky, according to one person who was present. You have to cool down and look at the full package, Zelensky was told. (Bloomberg, 07.13.23)

      • “The American people have sought -- in watching and wanting to stand in solidarity with the brave and courageous people of Ukraine -- to step up and deliver, and I think the American people do deserve a degree of gratitude from us,” said Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden's national security adviser. (NYT, 07.13.23)

      • UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace suggested Ukraine should show more gratitude to the countries supplying weapons after Zelensky said Tuesday it was “unprecedented and absurd” that he didn’t have more detail on when Ukraine could become a NATO member “There is a slight word of caution here — which whether we like it or not, people want to see gratitude,” Wallace told reporters in Vilnius, particularly when “you’re persuading a country to give up their stock,” he added. “You know, we’re not Amazon,” Mr. Wallace said. (Bloomberg, 07.12.2, NYT, 07.12.23)

        • The UK Prime Minister has shut down comments by the Defense Secretary after Ben Wallace suggested Ukraine should show "gratitude" for the military support it has been given. Rishi Sunak said Zelensky had "repeatedly expressed gratitude" for what the UK had done for Kyiv since Russia's invasion broke out more than 500 days ago. (Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

        • Finnish foreign minister Elina Valtonen said in an interview that “we in the west need to understand that obviously, this is not charity because Ukraine is fighting for us. They are fighting for our liberty and the European security architecture.” (FT, 07.14.23)

  • On July 11 NATO declared that Ukraine would be invited to join the alliance, but did not say how or when, reflecting the resolve by President Biden and other leaders not to be drawn directly into Ukraine's war with Russia. In addition to committing NATO to allow Ukraine to join the alliance without going through a Membership Action Plan, the three-part package, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced at the summit, will give Ukraine a multi-year program of practical assistance and create a NATO-Ukrainian coordination council. (NYT, 07.11.23, ISW, 07.13.23)

    • On July 11 NATO heads of states issued the summit’s communique which said: “Ukraine’s future is in NATO. We reaffirm the commitment we made at the 2008 Summit in Bucharest that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and today we recognize that Ukraine’s path to full Euro-Atlantic integration has moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan… Allies will continue to support and review Ukraine’s progress on interoperability as well as additional democratic and security sector reforms that are required… The Alliance will support Ukraine in making these reforms on its path towards future membership. We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.” (NATO, 07.11.23)

  • On July 11 NATO heads of states issued the summit’s communique, which said: “Consistent with our obligations under Article 3 of the Washington Treaty, we make an enduring commitment to invest at least 2% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually on defense.” “We affirm that in many cases, expenditure beyond 2% of GDP will be needed in order to remedy existing shortfalls and meet the requirements across all domains arising from a more contested security order.” (NATO, 07.11.23)

  • On July 11 U.S. President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts approved highly-secretive defense plans which lay out which of the 31 member countries would be called on to respond to an attack anywhere from the Arctic and Baltic Sea regions through the northern Atlantic and south to the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The new NATO defense plans are more than 4,400 pages long and describe in detail what military capabilities the Alliance's 32 member countries should demonstrate together with Sweden in the land, air and naval forces, as well as in the cybersphere and space, according to Bild. (AP, 07.11.23, Kyiv Post, 07.13.23)

    • Under its new plans, NATO aims to have up to 300,000 troops, including 35,000 soldiers of the Bundeswehr, ready to move to its eastern flank within 30 days. The number of forces deployed on the eastern flank will be increased to brigade level (4,000 troops). (AP, 07.11.23, Kyiv Post, 07.13.23, Yahoo News/Ukrainska Pravda, 07.13.23)

    • In the event of aggression, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of NATO in Europe will be allowed to make more decisions without prior consultation with NATO bodies. (Yahoo News/Ukrainska Pravda, 07.13.23)

    • Other measures include strengthening the protection of underwater pipelines; for this purpose, at the Naval Command base in Northwood, Britain, a new surveillance center is being created. (Yahoo News/Ukrainska Pravda, 07.13.23)

      • The Alliance is also discussing the creation of a second NATO Land Command in Wiesbaden. The First Land Command is now located in İzmir, Turkey. (Yahoo News/Ukrainska Pravda, 07.13.23)

  • On July 12 Polish President Andrzej Duda said that NATO’s decision to invite Ukraine to join the alliance when its members agree and conditions are met “is absolutely not enough” for Kyiv. (Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

  • On July 12 Zelensky said: “We understand some are afraid to talk about our membership in NATO now because they are afraid of the global war … It’s for the first time today when it sounded confidently that we will be a member of NATO.” (Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

  • On July 12 Biden told Zelensky that “We’re going to make sure that you get what you need.” “And I look forward to the day we’re having the meeting to celebrate your official, official membership in NATO,” the US leader said during his one-on-one meeting with the Ukrainian leader. (Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

  • On July 12 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said ratification of Sweden’s application to join NATO may not happen until his country’s parliament returns from a two-month summer recess, highlighting differing views on what was agreed between the countries at the alliance’s summit this week. Earlier he said that the European Union should open the way for Ankara's accession to the bloc before Turkey's parliament approves Sweden's bid to join the NATO military alliance. (Bloomberg, 07.13.23, Reuters, 07.10.23)

    • Hungary’s government plans to discuss Sweden’s bid to join NATO during a three-day meeting this week. (Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

  • On July 12 G7 countries agreed a on joint framework for providing long-term security guarantees to Ukraine aimed at turning it into a military fortress to repel Russian aggression, a pledge that Zelensky said would help it on its journey to becoming a member of NATO. The commitments will include supplies of “modern military equipment, across land, air, and sea domains,” training of Ukrainian forces, intelligence sharing and cyber defense assistance. In exchange, Kyiv would commit to reforms including of its judiciary and civilian control of the military. (FT, 07.12.23)

    • The Nordic countries will line up behind the initiative led by the Group of Seven nations to provide Ukraine with security assurances, in conjunction with a leaders’ summit that will be held in Helsinki on Thursday, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said. (Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

  • On July 13 President Biden authorized the Pentagon to mobilize up to 3,000 military reservists for duty in Europe, signaling the toll that ongoing efforts to deter Russia and reassure NATO allies is taking on a force deployed across the continent since war erupted in Ukraine early last year. (WP, 07.14.23)

  • On July 13 Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he has “no doubt” that Ukraine will join NATO after the conflict with Russia ends. Austin told CNN that the alliance’s members want to move quickly on Ukraine’s proposed membership after the conflict, provided that it meets conditions such as improving its military equipment and training, and passing judicial and other reforms. (Bloomberg, 07.13.23)

  • On July 13 President Biden met in Finland, the alliance’s newest member, with Nordic leaders, who have drawn closer militarily to the United States since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. Mr. Biden held talks with the Finnish president, Sauli Niinisto, before attending a summit with other Nordic leaders. In a statement, the Nordic countries and the United States reiterated their “unwavering support” for Ukraine and vowed to continue for “as long as it takes.” At a press conference Thursday with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Biden said he could “absolutely guarantee” US dedication to NATO. (Bloomberg, 07.13.23, NYT, 07.13.23)

  • A May 25-31 poll by the Chicago Council and Levada revealed that six in 10 Russians believe they have reason to fear Western countries that are part of NATO. Nearly half (48%) are concerned that the war in Ukraine could escalate into a Russian confrontation with NATO. Some 71% view Ukraine’s membership in NATO as a threat to Russia. At the same time, 53% believe an imminent attack by NATO on Russia is unlikely, and 20% believe it is absolutely improbable. About half — 49% — don’t believe Russia’s actions are responsible for Finland’s and Sweden’s application to join NATO. Some 37% said NATO has become weaker over the past year while 37% believe it has become stronger. Meanwhile, 60% of Russians believe Russia has become stronger in the past year. (Chicago Council, 07.11.23)

  • Russian authorities’ reaction to the NATO summit and its outcomes:

    • Vladimir Putin said: “As for Ukraine’s NATO membership, as we have said many times, this obviously creates a threat to Russia’s security. In fact, the threat of Ukraine’s accession to NATO is the reason, or rather one of the reasons for the special military operation. I am certain that this would not enhance Ukraine’s security in any way either. In general, it will make the world much more vulnerable and lead to more tensions in the international arena… With regard to security, we have said many times that all countries have the right to ensure their own security and to choose the path to get there which it believes is the best for it… There is only one limitation related to the fact that while striving to achieve the security of one country, the security of another country must not be jeopardized.” (, 07.13.23)

    • Dmitry Peskov, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, told reporters that any move to speed up Ukraine’s admission into NATO would be “potentially very dangerous for European security,” according to Interfax. “We consider this an extremely wrong and potentially very dangerous [decision],” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday. “By giving security guarantees to Ukraine, they [G7 members] are threatening the security of the Russian Federation.” Peskov also said bloc’s decision “carries the risk of negative consequences and makes Europe much more dangerous for many years. (MT, 07.13.23, FT, 07.11.23, FT, 07.12.23)

    • In response to the NATO summit, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on July 12, claiming: “Washington and its allies … are dreaming of delivering a strategic defeat to Russia… At the same time, Ukraine will be the main expendable element in the hybrid war NATO has launched against Russia. … We will scrutinize the results of the Vilnius summit. Taking into account the threats and challenges to Russia’s security and interests, we will use all the means and methods available to provide a prompt and appropriate response to them,” the statement said. (Russian Foreign Ministry, 07.12.23)

    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday said Moscow will “make conclusions” and “take appropriate measures” in response to NATO’s Nordic expansion, without mentioning Turkey’s role in the matter. “ (MT/AFP, 07.13.23)

    • As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lifted a veto this week on Sweden joining NATO, Russian hard-liners demanded that Turkey be designated an "unfriendly" country. "Turkey is gradually and steadily continuing to turn from a neutral country into an unfriendly one," said Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the committee on defense and security in the Federation Council, or upper house of parliament, complaining of Turkey's recent moves in support of Ukraine. (WP, 07.13.23)

    • Russian pro-invasion activists are portraying the lack of a definite timeline for Ukraine’s NATO membership bid as an indication that some Western governments are experiencing war fatigue amid a slow-moving counteroffensive, despite allied promises of resolve. (NYT, 07.12.23)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president’s spokesman, said Putin’s trip to China was “on the agenda,” adding that dates had yet to be agreed. Putin’s visit would be his first trip to China — which has yet to confirm his plans to visit — since meeting Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing, shortly before he ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. (FT, 07.12.23) Putin is to attend the 3rd Belt and Road Forum in China in September 2023 per Xi’s March 21, 2023 invitation. Putin attended the first two Belt and Road Forums.

  • When meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a series of ASEAN foreign ministers' meetings Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, said that in the face of major changes unseen in a century, China and Russia firmly support each other in safeguarding their legitimate interests and adhere to the path of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation. (Xinhua, 07.14.23)

  • A communique issued by NATO heads of state on July 11 says: “The deepening strategic partnership between the PRC and Russia and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests… We particularly call on the PRC to act responsibly and refrain from providing any lethal aid to Russia… We remain open to constructive engagement with the PRC, including to build reciprocal transparency, with a view to safeguarding the Alliance’s security interests. We are working together responsibly, as Allies, to address the systemic challenges posed by the PRC to Euro-Atlantic security and ensure NATO’s enduring ability to guarantee the defense and security of Allies.” (NATO, 07.11.23)

    •  "What's said in the NATO communique is a complete opposite of the truth and the product of Cold War mentality and ideological bias. China strongly opposes it," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a daily press briefing. (Xinhua, 07.13.23)

  • UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace said that China, which has maintained a close partnership with Moscow, viewed Russia as “the embarrassing uncle you don’t really want to get too close to.” (NYT, 07.12.23)

  • Key equipment for the third power unit of Xudapu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), one of the largest China-Russia nuclear energy cooperation projects, started shipping to China from Volgodonsk in Russia's Rostov region on Tuesday. (Xinhua, 07.11.23)

  • According to figures released on Monday by Otkritie Auto, the auto business unit of Russia's Otkritie Bank, 168,000 Chinese cars were sold in Russia in the January-June period.

  • Compared with the same period last year, the share of Chinese cars in the Russian market increased from 10.6 percent to 46 percent. (Xinhua, 07.10.23)

  • Up to 500 Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete as neutrals at the Asian Games in China later this year, organizers said on July 8. (AFP, 07.08.23)

Missile defense:

  • On July 11, NATO heads of states issued the summit’s communique which said that the allies “agreed to further improve the readiness, preparedness, and interoperability of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense, in particular through regular training and rotational presence of modern air defense systems and capabilities across SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility, with an initial focus on the Eastern Flank, thereby strengthening our deterrence. (NATO, 07.11.23)

    • Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on July 12 in response to the NATO summit, saying the latter has decided to “create an integrated air and ballistic missile defense system. Brussels no longer mentions its past assurances that this system will not be targeted against Russia.” (Russian Foreign Ministry, 07.12.23)

Nuclear arms:

  • On July 11 NATO heads of states issued the alliance’s summit’s communique which said: “Russia is modernizing its nuclear forces, including its large stockpile of theatre-range weapons, and expanding its novel and disruptive dual-capable delivery systems. It is unacceptable that Russia uses such dual-capable systems to attack civilians and critical civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. We condemn Russia’s announced intention to deploy nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable systems on Belarusian territory.” (NATO, 07.11.23)

    • Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on July 12 in response to the NATO summit, which claims that “ NATO is gradually lowering the threshold for the use of force and strengthening the nuclear component of its military planning.” (Russian Foreign Ministry, 07.12.23)

  • Russia considers the deployment of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine as a nuclear threat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday. "During the hostilities, our military will not check whether each specific aircraft of this type will be equipped for the delivery of nuclear weapons or not," Lavrov said. (Xinhua, 07.13.23)

  • US President Joe Biden said in Helsinki on July 13: “I don’t think there’s any real prospect — you never know — but of — of Putin using nuclear weapons. Not only has the West, but China and the rest of the world has said, ‘That’s — don’t go there.  Don’t go there.’” (White House, 07.13.23)

    • President Volodymyr Zelensky's Chief of Staff, Andrii Yermak, told reporters on July 14 that the threat of Russia using nuclear weapons to stop Ukraine's ongoing counteroffensive is not high at the moment. (Kyiv Independent, 07.14.23)

  • As of this year, 18 of the US Navy’s 49 attack submarines — 37% — were out of commission, about double the rate the Navy would like, according to new data released by the service. (Bloomberg, 07.11.23)

  • Macron’s team is discussing whether to open up the issue of how French nuclear weapons could help protect the rest of the continent, according to one person familiar with French government thinking, and looking at how that could contribute to Ukraine’s security guarantees. (Bloomberg, 07.08.23)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • The United States is “deeply disappointed” by Russia’s “inhumane veto” against the UN renewal of Turkish delivered aid to Syria, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on July 11. The long-running UN humanitarian operation in Turkey has delivered aid to 4 million people in rebel-held northwest Syria since 2014. (Reuters, 07.12.23)

Cyber security/AI:

  • U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and senior officials at the State Department were victims of a newly discovered Chinese hacking campaign, American officials said Wednesday, a targeted spying effort in the spring that coincided with a Biden administration push to soothe rising tensions with Beijing. (WSJ, 07.13.23)

  • Russia-linked RomCom group is targeting NATO summit. BlackBerry Threat Research and Intelligence discovered a pair of malicious documents submitted from a Hungarian IP address that they've attributed to RomCom. (WP, 07.12.23)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Russia is finally cutting crude exports, at the most advantageous moment possible. Moscow has pledged to curb shipments to global markets by 500,000 barrels a day next month. Seaborne shipments of Russian crude are starting to show signs of falling. Exports from the country’s western ports in the four weeks to July 9 dropped substantially below their average February level for the first time. (Bloomberg, 07.13.23)

  • On July 12 Russia’s flagship crude oil grade Urals finally edged above $60 a barrel, exceeding a threshold imposed by the G-7. It implies that companies can’t provide an array of services for such cargoes. This development would allow Moscow to claim a win of sorts by showing Russia can get its barrels to buyers around the world without help from western firms. The price cap allows Russian oil to be transported with western ships and insurance only if it’s priced below the threshold. (Bloomberg, 07.13.23, Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

  • A fleet of tankers that sprouted up out of nowhere to keep Russia’s oil moving has disbanded even faster than it emerged. Mumbai-based Gatik Ship Management now marshals a fleet of just four oil tankers, according to Equasis, an international maritime database set up to promote safe shipping. As recently as April it had 42, having amassed most of those carriers in under a year. (Bloomberg, 07.10.23)

  • Austrian energy group OMV will continue to buy most of its gas from Russia this winter, its chief executive has said, even though the company has secured back-up contracts to fully cover its import needs from other sources. (FT, 07.09.23)

  • Russia has requested a new meeting of the UN Security Council for July 11 to discuss last September's explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, a senior Russian diplomat at the United Nations said on July 8. (Reuters, 07.08.23)

    • Investigators trying to solve last year’s unexplained blasts that destroyed the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea say they have found traces of undersea explosives on a German yacht that is linked to the incident. German police in May reportedly raided an apartment in the eastern city of Frankfurt an der Oder, investigating a woman whose former boyfriend was a Ukrainian soldier. According to the reports by the German newspaper Die Zeit and The Wall Street Journal, the soldier was among the crew members on the Andromeda prior to the blasts. (RFE/RL, 07.12.23)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • In India, Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors meet on July 17-18 and look to make progress on bolstering the resources of multilateral development banks. They also seek to encourage greater flows of credit to address global challenges like climate change. (Bloomberg, 07.13.23)

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's interventions at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were "not constructive or productive on any issue." the Russian diplomat was "totally negative" and focused on blaming the United States, said Blinken who didn’t meet Lavrov on the sidelines of the event. (Bloomberg, 07.14.23, Reuters, 07.14.23.)

    • While at ASEAN "Lavrov responded (to) me very aggressively and explained his point of view, saying everything is a 'West conspiracy' and the war will continue… as Russia is not at all ready to stop the aggression and withdraw troops," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters after ASEAN Regional Forum talks. (MT/AFP, 07.14.23)

  • At a press conference Thursday with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto Biden underscored the Kremlin’s role meddling in the 2016 elections, another break from Trump. “They’ve already interfered in American elections,” Biden said. “So that would not be anything new. They did that last time, they tried to. (Bloomberg, 07.13.23)

    • While in Finland Joe Biden poked fun at the recent mutiny attempt by Yevgeny Prigozhin. “We’re not even sure where he is and what relationship he has [with Putin],” Biden said of Prigozhin. “If I were he, I’d be careful what I ate, I’d be keeping an eye on my menu.” (FT, 07.13.23

  • The head of Russia's foreign intelligence service said a recent telephone conversation he had with CIA director William Burns was focused on the war in Ukraine, giving a sharply different account of the conversation than U.S. officials. American officials told The Wall Street Journal last month that Burns called Sergei Naryshkin of Russia's SVR in the aftermath of a short-lived mutiny by paramilitary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin to assure Moscow that Washington wasn't involved in any effort to overthrow the Russian government. (WSJ, 07.13.23, MT/AFP, 07.12.23)

  • Vadim Konoshchenok will be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr., at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn on an indictment charging him with conspiracy and other charges related to a global procurement and money laundering network on behalf of the Russian government.  Konoshchenok, a Russian citizen with alleged ties to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), was arrested in Estonia on a provisional arrest warrant issued from the Eastern District of New York and extradited from Estonia to the United States on July 13, 2023. (U.S. Justice Department, 07.14.23)

  • For years, a small group of American officials watched with mounting concern as a clandestine unit of Russia's Federal Security Service covertly tracked high-profile Americans in the country, broke into their rooms to plant recording devices, recruited informants from the U.S. Embassy's clerical staff and sent young women to coax Marines posted to Moscow to spill secrets. On March 29, that unit, the Department for Counterintelligence Operations, or DKRO, led the arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. The secretive group is believed by these officials to be responsible for a string of strange incidents that blurred the lines between spycraft and harassment, including the mysterious death of a U.S. diplomat's dog, the trailing of an ambassador's young children and flat tires on embassy vehicles. (WSJ, 07.08.23)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the private Wagner mercenary group, on June 29, just five days after the their short-lived mutiny. Peskov said in a meeting with journalists on July 10 that the meeting was part of a three-hour gathering of 35 people, which included unit commanders from Wagner, who conveyed to the Russian leader that they would continue to fight for him in the war against Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 07.10.23)

    • In an interview published late on Thursday, Putin divulged new details about the meeting. Depicting himself as a mediator, Putin said that he had praised regular Wagner fighters for their military feats on the front lines, but suggested that Prigozhin should be sidelined and they could keep fighting under a different commander, known as Sedoi (gray-haired). However,  Prigozhin rejected that offer on behalf of Wagner fighters. Sedoi is the nom de guerre of retired colonel Andrei Troshev – who had served in Soviet army in Afghanistan and fought in Russia’s Chechen wars before becoming the head of a St. Petersburg police commando unit. He retired from active service, but then travelled to Syria to join PMC Wagner. Most recently, he has served as Wagner’s chief of staff. (Kommersant, 07.13.23, NYT, 07.13.23, RTVI, 07.14.23)

    • The State Duma will consider legalizing PMC Wagner, Putin’s spokesman Peskov said on July 14. Putin had said earlier the private military company, which mounted a short-lived mutiny last month, was operating without a legal basis. “There is no law on private military organizations. It simply doesn’t exist,” Putin told the Russian newspaper Kommersant. (RFE/RL, 07.14.23, Istories, 07.14.23)

  • Hours after Russian paramilitary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin began a short-lived march on Moscow, the country's domestic security service detained several high-ranking military officers, including Gen. Sergei Surovikin. Surovikin wasn't being held in a detention center, but was undergoing repeated interrogation in Moscow, the people said. He hasn't been charged with a crime. Surovikin's deputy, Col. Gen. Andrey Yudin, and the deputy head of military intelligence, Lt. Gen. Vladimir Alexeyev, were among those who were detained, but both were later released. Among other figures detained is former Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev. All in all the people said at least 13 senior officers were detained for questioning, with some later released, and around 15 suspended from duty or fired. (WSJ, 07.13.23)

  • On July 10 Russia’s top military commander in Ukraine Valery Gerasimov made his first public appearance following Prigozhin’s failed mutiny last month. Gerasimov was shown in a Defense Ministry video listening to reports and instructing subordinates on Russia’s response to increased Ukrainian missile attacks on Russian territory and annexed Crimea. He was shown giving orders, including to Russia's powerful military intelligence service, the GRU (MT/AFP, 07.10.23, Reuters, 07.10.23)

  • Russians withdrew 100 billion rubles ($1.1 billion) from banks during the panic that ensued as Wagner mercenaries marched on Moscow last month, Russia’s Central Bank said Tuesday. (MT, 07.12.23)

  • Companies associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin have been awarded 1 billion rubles worth of contracts for catering in schools and hospitals since the rebellion, RTVI reported. (RM, 07.13.23)

  • The surplus in the current account — roughly the difference between exports and imports — decreased to $5.4 billion in the last quarter, from $76.7 billion in the same period in 2022, according to preliminary central bank data published on Tuesday. It’s the smallest surplus since the third quarter of 2020. Plummeting revenues from energy exports are cutting into proceeds. (Bloomberg, 07.11.23)

  • According to ING Bank research, 42% of Russia’s population was dependent on government support in 2021. (Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

  • Russia was condemned Tuesday by Europe's top rights court for failing to adequately investigate the shooting of top opposition politician Boris Nemtsov in 2015, including possible links to Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov. (MT/AFP, 07.11.23)

  • Lawmakers from the Russian parliament's lower-house State Duma on Friday approved a ban on legal and surgical sex changes. (MT/AFP, 07.14.23)

  • Yulia Alyoshina Russia’s first transgender politician announced Monday that she will not run in this year's upcoming gubernatorial elections as federal lawmakers pursue a ban on legal or surgical sex changes. (MT/AFP, 07.10.23)

  • While Wikipedia has remained in operation in Russia so far, there are signs that things are shifting against it. From March 2022 through this June, the government repeatedly sanctioned the site, levying fines totaling almost 23 billion rubles ($255 million), according to the Wikimedia Foundation Inc., the San Francisco-based organization that hosts the servers that operate Russian Wikipedia and is thus legally responsible for what is published. (Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

Defense and aerospace:

  • Wagner has handed to the MoD over more than 2,000 pieces of equipment. The arsenal of more than 2,000 pieces included T-90 and T-80 tanks, Grad and Hurricane multiple-launch rocket systems, Pantsir surface-to-air missiles, artillery systems and armored personnel carriers, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday on its Telegram channel. More than 2,500 tons of ammunition and 20,000 small arms were also handed over to the military, he said. The handover is part of a deal to dismantle the group after its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin led a revolt against the Russian army’s top brass for a day in late June. (FT, 07.12.23, Bloomberg, 07.12.23)

  • The Russian Navy’s heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky will be decommissioned after the repair and modernization of the sister ship Admiral Nakhimov are completed. (TASS, 07.14.23)

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

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • A deputy chief of the department for mobilization in Krasnodar has been shot dead in the southern Russian city. Stanislav Rzhitsky, who also commanded a Black Sea Fleet submarine, was shot four times while jogging on the morning of July 10. Sergei Denisenko, a married dad-of-six former president of a Ukrainian karate federation, was detained on suspicion of killing Rzhitsky. (RFE/RL, 07.10.23, NYT, 07.31.23)

  • Berlin prosecutors said Monday they had charged a 55-year-old Russian man with attempted murder for trying to set fire to a building housing employees of Russia's RIA Novosti news agency. (MT/AFP, 07.10.23)

  • FSB reported to have detained four individuals suspected of treason on just one day, Mediazona reported. One of the detainees is a transgender person suspected of donating money to the Ukrainian military, according to Mediazona. (RM, 07.13.23)

  • Russia’s Investigative Committee detained Deputy Minister of Digital Development Maxim Parshin on corruption allegations. Parshin is accused of taking a large bribe. (Bloomberg, 07.13.23)

  • Mikhail Polyakov, a former FSB colonel who was the administrator of the telegram channel "Kremlyovskaya Prachka" was detained in Moscow, a source close to the Ministry of Internal Affairs told RBC and the telegram channel "112." According to the Telegram channel, Polyakov is suspected of extorting money from influential politicians and businessmen. (RBC, 07.14.23)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • The leaders of BRICS are due to hold a summit Aug. 22-24 in Johannesburg. As a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court, the South African authorities would be obliged to arrest the Russian leader on an arrest warrant. Russia refused a request by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa for their delegation to be led by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov instead of Putin, India and Brazil rejected a second option to move the summit to China, while a proposal to host the event virtually was opposed by all four nations, he said. (Bloomberg, 07.14.23)

  • The Kremlin will allow Russia’s Wagner mercenary outfit to keep its Central African Republic (CAR) businesses after mounting a failed mutiny at home. Wagner-linked companies have been widely reported to run gold, timber and beer brewing operations in CAR for helping the former French colony fight off a rebel insurgency in recent years. Wagner fighters were at the same time accused of torturing and executing civilians in the CAR. The deal allowing Wagner to hold onto its CAR foothold “has the support” of President Vladimir Putin, Bloomberg cited one of its sources as saying. (MT/AFP, 07.11.23)

  • The departure of hundreds of Russian Wagner troops from the Central African Republic is part of a rotation of forces rather a withdrawal, a spokesperson for the C.A.R. presidency said on July 8. (Reuters, 07.09.23)

    • President Faustin-Archange Touadéra has called a controversial vote on July 30 to override the CAR’s constitutional bar on running for a third term, raising tensions in a country that has been battling rebel groups for a decade Touadéra owes his survival to the Wagner fighters. (FT, 07.13.23)

  • As Africa seeks to become an international hub for the trade of carbon offsets, its choice of partners may lead some investors to think again. That’s as a planned carbon credits exchange in Zimbabwe works with Belarus and Russia on a program to sell offsets from former Soviet states. (Bloomberg, 07.11.23)

  • Poland has detained another member of a Russian spy network, bringing the total number of people rounded up in an investigation to 15, Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said on July 10. (Reuters, 07.10.23)

  • Vienna has once again become the espionage capital of Europe after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and Austria’s government seems in no rush to change that. After an explosion in undercover activity, the country’s three largest opposition parties in spring jointly backed legislative changes to finally criminalize espionage in Austria. But months later, their efforts have got nowhere thanks to repeated government stalling. (FT, 07.14.23)

  • Moscow is unaware of the missing Israeli-Russian academic Elizabeth Tsurkov’s Russian citizenship and has not been approached by her relatives, Russia’s Ambassador in Baghdad Elbrus Kutrashev said. (MT/AFP, 07.10.23)


  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, met on July 9 in the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk to commemorate the victims of World War II-era clashes between Poles and Ukrainians. (RFE/RL, 07.09.23)

  • Ukraine’s public spending, around 60 percent of it going to the military, continues to far outstrip its revenue, according to David Wessel of Brookings’ estimate. (WP, 07.10.23)

  • The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) have charged former People’s Front party MP Heorhiy Lohvynskyi with misappropriation of state funds, the agencies reported on July 11. He is now the seventh suspect in the case related to the Gold Mandarin Oil company, in which UAH 54 million ($1.4 million) is claimed to have been misappropriated from the state budget. (New Voice of Ukraine, 07.11.23)

  • G7 leaders, in announcing the launch of negotiations with Ukraine to formalize their “enduring support” for Ukraine, noted that as part of this ongoing support, Ukraine had committed to “continuing implementation of the law enforcement, judiciary, anti-corruption, corporate governance, economic, security sector, and state management reforms that underscore its commitments to democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and media freedoms, and put its economy on a sustainable path.” (RM, 07.12.23) 

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has won a third term that will keep him in charge of the tightly controlled, gas-rich Central Asian state until 2030. (MT/AFP, 07.10.23)

  • The Bishkek City Court has annulled an April decision by the Lenin District Court to shut down the operations of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, known locally as Radio Azattyk, over the broadcaster's refusal to remove a video on clashes along a disputed segment of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. (RFE/RL, 07.12.23)

  • Azerbaijan says it has suspended traffic through the Lachin Corridor, temporarily closing the only route linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh after accusing the Armenian Red Cross of smuggling goods into the breakaway region. (RFE/RL, 07.11.23)

    • Thousands of people gathered on July 14 in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, to protest the blockade by Azerbaijan of the Lachin Corridor, the only land link between the breakaway region and Armenia. (RFE/RL, 07.14.23)

  • Plans are underway to turn the South Caucasus country of Georgia into a transit hub for Russian travelers flying to Europe, the RBC business daily reported. (MT/AFP, 07.13.23)

  • LGBT Pride Week organizers in the Caucasus nation of Georgia were forced to cancel a festival on July 8 after thousands of far-right protesters stormed the site of the event in the capital, Tbilisi. (RFE/RL, 07.08.23)

  • Russia’s Wagner mercenaries will train the army of neighboring Belarus where they were exiled following a failed mutiny, the Belarusian Defense Ministry said Tuesday. “They’ll tell us about weapons: which ones worked well, which ones did not,” Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in a statement issued by his ministry. He said Wagner would also share its expertise on “tactics, armaments, how to attack, how to defend.” (MT/AFP, 07.11.23)

    • PMC Wagner servicemen are participating in the training of military units of the territorial troops of Belarus during training near the town of Osipovichi, Mogilev region. This was reported by the press service of the Belarusian Ministry of Defense. (TASS, 07.14.23)

  • Belarusian artist and political prisoner Ales Pushkin has died in intensive care under unknown circumstances, his wife said on July 11. The 57-year-old had been sentenced to five years in prison for “mocking state symbols” and inciting “social enmity or strife.” (RFE/RL, 07.12.23)

  • In May, remittances from Russia to Kazakhstan, Georgia, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan totaled $625.9 million, according to RBC, marking a 33% drop compared to May 2022 and the first year-on-year decline since Moscow’s invasion. (MT/AFP, 07.13.23)

Quotable and notable

  • “The Americans are worried that Europe will flag,” one senior European official, who requested anonymity, said during the Vilnius summit. “We worry America will flag. And everyone worries that the Ukrainians will run out of ammunition and air defenses.” (NYT, 07.14.23)


The cutoff for reports summarized in this product was 2.00 pm 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 RM editorial policy..

Correction: “The following item in the July 7th issue of the Russia in Review news digest was corrected at 7:18 pm on July 7, 2023 to reflect the accurate number of square miles regained by Ukraine, per the Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force's 07.05.23 estimate: "In the past month of fighting Russian forces have gained 23 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine regained 166 square miles, according to the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 07.05.23)”

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