Russia in Review, June 16-23, 2023

4 Things to Know

  1. President Joe Biden has warned that the threat that Putin could initiate the use of tactical nuclear weapons is “real,” saying this week: “When … I worried about the Colorado River drying up, everybody looked at me like I was crazy… They looked at me like when I said I worry about Putin using tactical nuclear weapons. It’s real.” His comments came as debate flared among some of Russia’s most influential pundits on whether such first use is feasible. Sergei Karaganov — who sits on the scientific boards of Putin’s Security Council and Russia’s Foreign Ministry — fired the first salvo in the debate, arguing that Russia should use “God’s weapon” to “hit a bunch of targets in a number of countries in order to bring [them] to reason” if the West refuses to “back down” over Ukraine and “leave us alone.” In his response to Karaganov, Dmitri Trenin appeared to agree with his SVOP colleague’s recipe for compelling the U.S. and its allies to “leave Russia alone.” However, Ivan Timofeyev, director of the Russian International Affairs Council, disagreed with Karaganov, as did Alexey Arbatov, who — along with two of his IMEMO colleagues — criticized Karaganov’s calls for escalation, arguing that “nuclear war is a bad way to solve problems.”

  2. Wagner owner PMC Prigozhin accused the Russian MoD on June 23 of striking his PMC’s camps to kill “many” and vowed to march with his fighters to “restore justice.” Prigozhin also accused Shoigu of “cowardly fleeing” the city of Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia, so he doesn’t have to explain why he had allegedly ordered the strikes. “This creature must be stopped,” Prigozhin said of Shoigu. In response, the Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement in which it called Prigozhin's statement about the strikes an "information provocation.”  Prigozhin has been careful to avoid criticizing Putin in his tirades this week, but his announcement that he and his PMC’s personnel would be marching to restore justice – that he accuses Shoigu of having violated by supposedly having MoD forces strike Wagner – is a sign that the stand-off between him and Shoigu is reaching its culmination, which would most likely end in fall of one of them.*
  3. Ukraine has regained control of 108 square miles of its territory, while Russia has captured 16 square miles in the past month, according to the June 21 issue of Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force’s report card. Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Vladimir Putin this week that Russian troops were able to fend off Ukraine’s counteroffensive. However, PMC Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin has accused the Russian top brass of deceiving Russians about the course of Ukraine's offensive. "Huge chunks have been handed over to the enemy," he was quoted by AFP as having said on June 21.
  4. Kyiv had paid arms suppliers more than $800 million last year for contracts that went completely or partly unfulfilled, NYT reported. Some of the weapons sent to Ukraine by other countries between the beginning of the Russian invasion in February 2022 and end of that year have been unusable, according to NYT. That said, some of the missing weapons had eventually been delivered, and that in other cases brokers had refunded the money, according to officials interviewed by NYT.


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


Nuclear security and safety:

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alleged Russia is weighing a “terrorist attack” at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant that would result in leakage of radiation. Zelensky said information from Ukraine’s security service would be shared with nations including the U.S. and China, as well as international organizations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the claims “another lie.” (Bloomberg, 06.22.23)
  • Ukraine’s foreign minister pushed back on a claim that Russia’s federal security service (FSB) had broken up an attempt by five men to buy one kilogram of Cesium-137 to smuggle into Ukraine for use in a false-flag operation. The FSB had claimed the suspects planned to use the radioactive material during ongoing clashes between Ukrainian armed forces and occupying Russian troops in "staged acts with weapons of mass destruction to discredit Russia." (Bloomberg, 06.23.23, RFE/RL, 06.23.23, MT/AFP, 06.23.23)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • The Biden administration is conducting indirect bilateral talks with Iran that it hopes, at a minimum, will curtail Tehran's nuclear program short of weapons development, end its proxy attacks on U.S. forces in Syria and bring home three longtime American prisoners in exchange for limited access to some of Iran's billions of dollars frozen overseas. (WP, 06.21.23)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says that, as of June 18, 9,083 Ukrainian civilians had been killed and 15,779 wounded since the start of Russia's unprovoked invasion in February last year. In June alone, 112 civilians were confirmed killed and 445 were wounded. (RFE/RL, 06.20.23)
  • An annual UN report on children and armed conflict distributed to members of the Security Council on June 22 said the deaths of 136 children killed in Ukraine were attributed to Russian forces and affiliated groups. (RFE/RL, 06.22.23)
  • On June 19 Russian regions of Kursk and Belgorod bordering Ukraine came under fire, resulting in injuries to seven people, including a child, local authorities said. (MT/AFP, 06.19.23)
  • On June 23 Russia struck a public transport facility in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, killing at least two people (RFE/RL, 06.23.23)
  • Russian forces opened fire on rescue workers in the flood-stricken Ukrainian city of Kherson on June 20, killing one and injuring eight others responding to the catastrophic effects of a major dam’s destruction. (NYT, 06.20.23)
  • The toll from flooding sparked by a breach of a huge Ukrainian dam has risen to 41 in areas under Russian control, an official said on June 21. In the Ukrainian-held territory, 17 people have died in the flooding and 31 others are missing, (MT/AFP, 06.21.23, NYT, 06.19.23)
  • Multiple lines of evidence reviewed by The New York Times, from original engineering plans to interviews with engineers who study dam failures, indicate that catastrophic failure of the dam’s underlying concrete foundation was very unlikely to occur on its own. (NYT 06.16.23)
  • Kyiv said on June 21 the destruction of the Russian-held Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine earlier this month caused an estimated $1.5 billion in damages to the environment. (MT/AFP, 06.21.23)
  • Ukrainian soldiers have come home with tales of appalling suffering in Russian captivity — executions and deaths, beatings and electric shocks, a lack of health care and near-starvation. (NYT, 06.20.23)
  • The cost of rebuilding Ukraine’s cities, towns and other infrastructure e estimated to top $411 billion, according to the most recent numbers from the World Bank — and that doesn’t even cover the vast devastation unleashed by the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine this month. (NYT, 06.21.23)
  • The Ukraine Recovery conference was hosted by the UK government this week:
    • Zelensky appealed to his allies to start funding “real projects” for his country’s reconstruction. (FT, 06.21.23)
    • Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said he expects to secure almost $7 billion in aid for reconstruction. (RFE/RL, 06.21.23)
    • EU is proposing a financial aid package of around €50 billion ($55 billion) to support Ukraine as the country embarks on a critical counteroffensive to retake territory lost since Russia’s invasion more than a year ago. The EU is paying another €1.5 billion to Ukraine on June 22 under the macro-financial assistance package (Bloomberg, 06.20.23, Bloomberg, 06.22.23)
    • The European Commission is allocating another 1.5 billion euros ($1.64 billion) of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on June 22. (RFE/RL, 06.22.23)
    • Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged an additional $1.3 billion in assistance to help Ukraine rebuild following the Russian invasion. (Bloomberg, 06.21.23)
    • Britain will offer £240 million ($306 million) of assistance to Ukraine this year for programs including mine-clearance and disaster relief kits, as well as energy projects, the prime minister’s office said in an emailed statement. (Bloomberg, 06.21.23)
  • The Kremlin has restated that it sees “no grounds” to extend the Black Sea grain deal, alleging that the Turkish- and United Nations-brokered accord, which is up for renewal on July 17, was not being properly implemented. (Reuters, 06.21.23)
  • Moscow’s recent relentless air assault on Kyiv has laid bare a shortage – and occasional mismanagement – of the most basic protection for residents: bomb shelters. (WP, 06.22.23)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

· In the past month of fighting Russian forces have gained 16 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine regained 107, according to the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 06.21.23)

  • On June 18 the Russian-installed governor of Ukraine’ s Zaporizhzhia region, Vladimir Rogov, said Russian armed forces had left the village of Pyatykhatky. On June 19 Ukrainian officials confirmed they have retaken the village (RFE/RL, 06.19.23, RFE/RL, 06.19.23)
  • On June 19 President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine hasn’t yet used new assault brigades in its counteroffensive as troops advance across some parts of the front line. (Bloomberg, 06.20.23)
    • It is, finally, showtime for the 36,000 Ukrainian soldiers — nine brigades — that have been armed, equipped and trained outside of Ukraine over the past several months by the United States and its NATO allies. (NYT, 06.23.23)
  • On June 20 Russian “kamikaze” drone strikes hit the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, some 1,000km from the front lines. Russia launched a total of 35 Iranian-made suicide drones at Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. (FT, 06.20.23, WSJ, 06.20.23)
  • On June 21 Russia’s Defense Ministry said three drones were brought down outside Moscow in what it described as an attempted attack by Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 06.21.23)
  • On June 21 Zelensky told BBC progress was slow and difficult because Russian forces had mined 200,000 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory. (NYT, 06.21.23, WSJ, 06.21.23)
    • Maj. Gen. Vadym Skibitskiy, the deputy chief of Ukraine’s defense intelligence, appeared to temper expectations for the timeline of the offensive. “Let’s not make predictions for the whole year. I will say this: in the next two to three months, there will be active military operations of both an offensive and defensive nature," he said. (WSJ, 06.23.23)
  • On June 21 Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated that Ukrainian forces have liberated eight settlements and over 113 square kilometers of territory since starting counteroffensive operations on June 4. (ISW, 06.22.23)
  • On June 21 PMC Wagner’s owner Prigozhin accused Moscow's top brass of deceiving Russians about the course of Ukraine's offensive. "Huge chunks have been handed over to the enemy," he said, adding that Ukrainian troops have already sought to cross the Dnipro River, a natural border on the frontline. (MT/AFP, 06.22.23)
  • On June 22, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed the country’s army was able to fend off Ukraine’s counteroffensive. At a meeting of Putin’s Security Council on June 22, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev claimed that between June 4 and 21, Russian troops destroyed 246 tanks, including 13 Western tanks, as well as 595 armored combat vehicles and armored cars in Ukraine. As for field artillery and guns, out of the 48 pieces destroyed, about 30% were Western made, Shoigu claimed. These claims could not be verified. (RM, 06.23.23, NYT, 06.22.23)
  • On June 22 Ukraine’s army was reported to have struck the Chongar bridge, which serves as a key supply line between the Crimean peninsula and the southern province of Kherson, Moscow-installed officials in both Russian-occupied regions have said. It will take 2-3 weeks to restore traffic through the Chongar bridge, which is unusable at the moment, and which has accounted for 70% of Russian traffic between Crimea and Kherson region. (Meduza, 06.23.23, MT, 06.23.23, FT, 06.22.23)
  • On June 22 the Ukrainian air force said it shot down all 13 cruise missiles fired by Russia at a military airfield in the Khmelnytskyi region in central Ukraine. (WSJ, 06.23.23)
  • On June 22 Ukrainian military said it had fought off an attempt at a counterattack by Russian soldiers near Kupyansk and Lyman, two cities that were recaptured by Ukrainian forces last year. (WSJ, 06.23.23)
  • On June 22 “there were no substantial changes documented” on the battlefields, with the “adversary becoming more active against the backdrop of a decline in [Ukrainian] activity,” according to Ukrainian OSINT Telegram channel Deep State. (RM, 06.23.23)
  • On June 23 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine entered the first line of Russian trenches on the front line in the area around of the Zaporozhe region’s village of Robotyne, forcing the Russian troops retreat to the second line of defense, according to Russia’s pro-war Telegram channel “Voyenkory Russkoy Vesny.” The Ukrainian units advanced 1.5 kilometers in the Robotyne area and were about 1.5 km away from that village, according to a June 23 statement by PMC Wagner’s Grey Zone Telegram channel. The Ukrainian offensive also gained momentum in the area of the Zaporozhe region’s settlement of Orikhiv on June 23 with the Ukrainian units transferred from the Kamensky sector of the front participating the attack there, according to the Voeynkory Russkoi Vesny channel. (RM, Istories, 06.23.23)
  • On June 23 PMC Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin released a series of videos, in which:
    • He said Zelensky would have been prepared to negotiate with Russia before the war, implying that the invasion could have been avoided. (WSJ, 06.23.23)
    • He said the situation along LOC in Donbas prior to February 24, 2022 was no different from what it had been since 2014, with Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanging strikes. Ukraine was not going to attack Russia at the time and the Russian MoD had been lying about that, according to Prigozhin. He said the Russian Ministry of Defense lied to Russians and to Putin when it told a "story about the crazy aggression from the Ukrainian side and the plans to attack us with the entire NATO bloc." The war was needed ... so that Shoigu could become a marshal ... so that he could get a second 'Hero' [of Russia] medal. The war wasn't needed to demilitarize or degasify Ukraine,” he said. (Reuters, 06.23.23.WSJ, 06.23.23, Meduza, 06.23.23)
    • He argued that Russian advances, once launched on February 24, 2022, “would have been stopped by no one” if the planners of these advances had not formed lengthy columns and had managed to provide sufficient ammunition to the advancing troops. Prigozhin blamed Shoigu for the killings of “tens of thousands” of Russian soldiers who had formed the “most combat-capable” part of the Russian army early in the war. (Meduza, 06.23.23)
    • He claimed that a “missile attack was carried out on the camps” of PMC Wagner, killing “many.” “According to eyewitnesses, the strike was launched from the rear, that is, it was carried out by the military servicemen of the RF MoD,” Prigozhin claimed without providing any evidence in an audio statement published by the Kepka Prigozhina Telegram channel. Following the alleged strikes, PMC Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin issued an audio statement saying that this company’s Council of Commanders “has adopted a decision: the evil, which the military leadership of the country is causing, must be stopped,” according to the Kepka Prigozhina channel. “We will restore it [justice]… those who have eliminated many tens of thousands of Russian soldiers will be punished,” he said, claiming 25,000 Wagner fighters will be “going” with him to attain justice.  “I ask that no one offers resistance… those who try to offer this resistance – we will eliminate them immediately.” Prigozhin also accused Shoigu of “cowardly fleeing” the city of Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia, so he doesn’t have to explain why he had allegedly ordered the strikes, and said that “this creature must be stopped.” (RM, 06.23.23) Prigozhin has been careful to avoid criticizing Putin in his June 22-23 tirades, but his announcement that he and his PMC’s personnel would be marching to restore justice – that he accuses Shoigu of having violated by supposedly having MoD forces strike Wagner – is a sign that the stand-off between him and Shoigu is reaching its culmination, which would most likely end in fall of one of them.
      • The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement in which it called Prigozhin's statement about the " strike by the Russian military" on the Wagner PMC camps an "information provocation.” (Meduza, 06.23.23)
      • Russian pro-war Telegram channel Rybar, which is run by a former employee of the Russian MoD’s press service, reported that its staff had examined a video of the alleged strike that concluded that it had been staged. (RM, 06.23.23)
  • Earlier this month, Moscow deployed an additional 20 helicopters including Alligators to an airfield near Berdiansk, 100km from Orikhiv. (FT, 06.20.23)
  • Russia’s Wagner mercenary group has started recruiting military police in occupied Ukraine, according to online job advertisements posted by the private army. (MT/AFP, 06.22.23)
  • Former senior Ukrainian intelligence official, Lt. Gen. Valerii Kondratiuk, claimed "Siberian" battalion being formed by ex-soldiers from far-flung Russian regions. (WP, 06.20.23)
  • A project of the BBC and Mediazona says it has confirmed the deaths of 25,528 Russian troops in the war with Ukraine. Among the losses are more than 2,150 officers belonging to the Russian Army and other law enforcement agencies. The deaths of 161 military pilots also were confirmed, the joint project said on June 16. (RFE/RL, 06.17.23)
    • Major General Sergei Goryachev reportedly killed in Ukraine last week was buried in St. Petersburg. (MT/AFP, 06.21.23)
  • Kyiv paid arms suppliers more than $800 million last year for contracts that went completely or partly unfulfilled, NYT reported. Some of the weapons sent to Ukraine by other countries between the beginning of the Russian invasion in February 2022 and end of that year have been unusable, according to NYT. That said, some of the missing weapons had eventually been delivered, and that in other cases brokers had refunded the money, according to officials interviewed by NYT. (NYT, 06.19.23)
  • EU aims to add another €3.5 billion ($3.8 billion) to the European Peace Facility, which currently has a budget of about €7.9 billion. But Hungary is still blocking plans for more of that money to be allotted to Ukraine, according to people familiar with the discussions. (Bloomberg, 06.23.23)
  • Denmark’s military support to Ukraine will be increased to 21.9 billion Danish crowns ($3.21 billion) during 2023-2028, the Danish Defense Ministry said in a statement on June 19. (Reuters, 06.19.23)
  • The Pentagon said it will be able to spend $6 billion more than originally expected on arms for Ukraine thanks to what it called accounting errors. The Defense Department overstated the value of weapons sent from its stockpiles by $2.6 billion in fiscal 2022 and $3.6 billion in fiscal 2023, for a total of $6.2 billion, deputy spokesperson Sabrina Singh told reporters on June 20 at the Pentagon. (Bloomberg, 06.21.23)
  • U.S. defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin has said it stands ready to help Ukrainian pilots fly and maintain its F-16 fighter jets if NATO states agree to send them to help the country against Russian aggression. (FT, 06.19.23)
    • According to Reznikov, Ukrainian pilots need four-to-six weeks to be trained to operate F-16s. (Current Time, 06.19.23)
  • Doug Bush, the Army’s assistant secretary for acquisitions, logistics and technology, said in an interview that the U.S. is currently producing around 24,000 155-millimeter howitzer shells each month, up from around 14,000 a month before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. wants to hit monthly output of between 70,000 and 80,000 shells a month by early in the 2025 fiscal year, he said. (NYT, 06.23.23)
  • French president Emmanuel Macron announced that Franco-Italian SAMP-T systems pledged earlier were now “operational” in Ukraine. (FT, 06.20.23)
  • Bulgaria’s new defense minister, Todor Tagarev, has signaled a likely break from the previous caretaker government’s reluctance to provide lethal aid to Ukraine by pledging an imminent announcement on a fresh package of military assistance. (RFE/RL, 06.20.23)
    • Bulgaria’s President condemned the country’s new government for pledging to boost military support for Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 06.23.23)
  • The Russian Navy has bolstered security at its Black Sea Fleet base in annexed Crimea with the use of trained dolphins, Britain’s defense ministry said on June 23. (MT/AFP, 06.23.23

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

  • The European Union has assessed that it can’t legally confiscate outright frozen Russian assets of €200 billion ($219 billion) and instead is focusing on using those assets temporarily, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg (Bloomberg, 06.21.23)
  • EU member states have agreed on an 11th package of economic sanctions. The new mechanism provides EU nations with powers to restrict key exports to targeted third countries if diplomatic efforts to deter them fail. EU dropped plans to restrict trade with five Chinese companies that allegedly supplied banned technologies to Russian firms. (FT, 06.21.23, Bloomberg, 06.21.23)
  • The European Union is set to hand Hungary an exemption in its latest package of sanctions on Russia to permit imports of goods and services needed to maintain the Budapest metro. (Bloomberg, 06.22.23)
  • The UK modified its own rationale for Russia sanctions. They have, to date, been aimed at forcing Moscow to “cease actions which destabilize Ukraine, or undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine.” They will now be broadened to allow the use of sanctions to press for “the payment of compensation by Russia.” (FT, 06.19.23)
  • The FATF international financial crime watchdog on Friday kept Russia’s membership but didn’t blacklist Russia. (RM, 06.23.23)
  • General Electric (GE) has stopped servicing GE-made gas turbines installed at Russian thermal power plants with extended sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine coming into force. (RFE/RL, 06.20.23)
  • Carlsberg A/S signed an agreement to sell its operations in the country to an undisclosed buyer, more than a year after deciding to exit. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and fulfillment of certain conditions in a number of jurisdictions, making the timing of completion uncertain, Carlsberg said. (Bloomberg, 06.23.23)
  • Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt bought the Alfa Nero superyacht that was ditched in Antigua in March 2022 after Russian troops invaded Ukraine. For $67.6 million The 267-foot vessel was abandoned in Antigua’s Falmouth Harbor after the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Russian fertilizer billionaire Andrey Guryev (Bloomberg, 06.16.23)
  •  Some 13 months after the forced sale of Chelsea F.C. after the British government sanctioned its Russian oligarch owner, Roman Abramovich, the charity has yet to be established and not a cent of the $3.1 billion (2.5 billion pounds) has gone toward its intended purpose: providing aid to victims of the war in Ukraine. (NYT, 06.20.23)
  • An investigation by a group of journalists led by Istories and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project has revealed details on how Putin’s inner circle has scrambled to hide assets amid waves of international sanctions imposed on Russia since it illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and its subsequent full-scale invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 06.20.23)
  • Important Stories news outlet has published a series of stories, which it claimed to have been based on leaks of electronic communications between the Rotenberg brothers and their wealth managers. The leaked documents allegedly show that these brothers had concealed their ownership of multiple real estate and other assets to prevent them from being sanctioned by the EU and U.S. (RM, 06.22.23)
  • German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters after talks with Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev in Astana on June 20 that the EU and Kazakhstan are in close contact on preventing the evasion of Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 06.20.23)
  • Lithuanian lawmakers have initiated a process to take away the citizenship of Moscow-born figure skater Margarita Drobiazko over her participation in an event in Russia in August 2022. (RFE/RL, 06.21.23)
  • Russia said on June 23 it was barring entry to more European officials in response to the EU’s decision to slap new sanctions on Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 06.23.23)
  • A Moscow court has ordered Viber and Telegram to pay fines for failing to delete information about Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 06.20.23)
  • Russian authorities on June 21 labeled the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) environmental advocacy NGO an “undesirable” organization, a designation that renders all of its activities illegal in Russia. (MT/AFP, 06.21.23)
  • Russia and Australia’s dispute over the site of Moscow’s proposed new embassy in Canberra has escalated, with local media reporting a Russian diplomat is squatting on the land despite the lease being canceled. The man couldn’t be evicted as he holds diplomatic immunity. (Bloomberg, 06.23.23)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • The presidents of South Africa, Senegal, Zambia and Comoros and the prime minister of Egypt met with President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on June 17 along with officials from Uganda and the Republic of Congo to discuss their peace proposal. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa laid out 10 main points of the proposal, including a de-escalation of the conflict by both sides, diplomatic negotiations and recognizing the sovereignty of states in accordance with the UN Charter. He also called for a reopening of the Black Sea so that grains can be exported, an exchange of prisoners of war and post-war reconstruction. (Bloomberg, 06.18.23)
    • During his meeting with the African delegation in St. Petersburg, Putin claimed that Ukraine had withdrawn from the talks last year when a peace agreement was preliminarily signed in Istanbul without any explanation. Putin presented the draft of the agreement, which reportedly had detailed clauses mutually agreed to by the Russians and Ukrainians in Istanbul. According to the document, Ukraine had agreed to the demand for neutrality and to guarantee Russian security. “It also touches upon the armed forces and other things. It was all written down to numbers of vehicles and personnel,” Putin said, as reported by TASS. (People’s Dispatch, 06.21.23)
    • “Ukraine wants peace more than anyone, but we won’t achieve diplomacy with Russia while they are on our territory,” Zelensky said June 17 after meeting the African leaders. (Bloomberg, 06.18.23)
  • A May 25-31, 2023, joint Chicago Council-Levada Center survey of Russians found that:
    • Sixty-two percent say they would support Russian President Vladimir Putin ending the military conflict with Ukraine this week (35% definitely support, 27% somewhat support).
    • But if ending the conflict this week were dependent on returning territory to Ukraine, the same percentage (62%) would oppose it.
    • Seven in 10 (73%) think that returning Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, or Kherson to Ukraine is unacceptable under any circumstances. Even more, eight in 10 (82%), would find returning Crimea unacceptable.
    • Few Russians believe their country alone will have to make concessions (3%) to bring about an end to the war; 41 percent think both Russia and Ukraine will have to make concessions. And 39 percent think Ukraine alone will have to make concessions. (Chicago Council, June 2023)

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

  • NATO leaders will not issue an invitation for Ukraine to join the alliance at a summit in Vilnius in mid-July, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on June 19. "At the Vilnius summit and in the preparations for the summit, we are not discussing the issuance of a formal invitation" he told reporters after meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, adding that leaders would talk about how to move Ukraine closer to NATO. NATO membership for Ukraine should be off the table at an upcoming summit of the Western military alliance, Scholz has suggested, as he urged Western nations to take a “sober look” at the situation in the country. “Therefore, I suggest we focus on the top priority in Vilnius, namely strengthening the combat power of Ukraine,” Scholz said, adding that NATO countries should be prepared for Russia’s war on Ukraine to last “for a long time.” (FT, 06.22.23, Bloomberg, 06.19.23, RFE/RL/Reuters 06.19.23)
  • Washington won’t make special arrangements for Ukraine to join NATO, U.S. President Joe Biden said on June 17, despite Russia's invasion. "They've got to meet the same standards. So, we're not going to make it easy," he told reporters. NATO leaders, who are set to meet in Lithuania next month, are aiming to hold a first session of a NATO-Ukraine Council with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Vilnius. But alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said that although NATO will tighten political ties with Ukraine at the summit, there will be no immediate talk of membership for Kyiv. (RFE/RL, 06.18.23)
  • The Air Defender joint air power exercises ends on June 23 after a 12-day run, have been the largest in NATO’s history. They involve 250 aircraft and around 10,000 personnel from 25 nations. Conducted in several places in Germany, they were planned well before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine 16 months ago. (NYT, 06.23.23)
  • Senior U.S. and European Union officials will gather over the weekend with diplomats from several countries in the global south in an effort to engage key nations that have remained mostly neutral in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The meeting, which will take place in Denmark, is expected to include envoys from South Africa, Brazil and India, as well as U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s chief of staff and a senior Ukrainian official. China has yet to confirm whether it will attend and the full list of participants hasn’t been finalized, one of the people said. Brazil will be represented by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s chief diplomatic adviser, (Bloomberg, 06.23.23, FT, 06.21.23)
  • With his host and U.S. President Joe Biden Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India announced a deal for coproduction in India of engines for fighter aircraft; a $3 billion purchase of about 30 American Reaper drones by India; and a road map to expand cooperation between the two countries’ defense industries. The two leaders also praised new agreements on intelligence sharing and space-based quantum and other strategic technologies. (NYT, 06.23.23)
    • In addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress on June 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India gingerly sidestepped any mention of Russia, saying, “With the Ukraine conflict, war has returned to Europe.” (NYT, 06.23.23)
    • Russia moved from fifth to fourth place among India's largest trading partners, RIA Novosti news agency reported on June 21, citing data from India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry. According to the Indian ministry, trade turnover between Russia and India from January to April 2023 increased by 3.8 times and reached 21.8 billion U.S. dollars. (Xinhua, 06.22.23)
  • Russia may revived the Soviet-era Lourdes SIGINT center in Cuba, which it closed back in 2001. Under the guise of diplomats, eavesdropping specialists from the GRU and graduates of universities that have studied rocket science, computer technology and exact mathematics are secretly transferred to Cuba to possibly work at this center. (Insider, 06.23.23)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • While the United States has seen no sign that the Chinese government has decided to send lethal aid to Russia, it is worried that private Chinese companies will provide matériel and technology that Moscow’s military could use in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on June 19. (NYT, 06.19.23)
  • China’s No. 2 official Li Qiang went on his first overseas trip since becoming premier, as the government of the world’s second-largest economy attempts to prevent ties with Europe deteriorating to lows reached with the U.S. Li held talks in Berlin on June 19 with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who told the Chinese premier that the government in Beijing is in a position “to use its global political clout and its influence on Russia to work toward a just peace” in Ukraine. German chancellor Olaf Scholz called on Beijing to step up its pressure on Russia over its “brutal” war in Ukraine, as he hosted Li. (Bloomberg, 06.19.23, FT, 06.20.23)
  • Chinese imports of Russian oil last month hit their highest level since Moscow’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. In May, China imported 9.71 million tons of oil from Russia, Beijing said, more than double the amount from February 2022. (MT/AFP, 06.20.23)
  • Russia’s Academy of Sciences has opened a research center specializing in the study of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s communist teachings, the first ever established outside China, Russian and Chinese media reported on June 22. (MT, 06.22.23)

Missile defense:

  • France is challenging a German-led plan to build up Europe’s air defenses, in another sign of brewing tensions over how the region should counter the threat posed by Russia. The disagreement will set the backdrop to an air defense strategy conference in Paris on June 19, which partly aims to wrest back momentum from the Berlin-backed European Sky Shield initiative, whose launch blindsided French officials last year. (FT, 06.19.23)

Nuclear arms:

  • President Joe Biden has warned that the threat that Putin could use tactical nuclear weapons is “real.” Biden denounced Putin’s move to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus as “totally irresponsible” on June 17. “When I was out here about two years ago saying I worried about the Colorado River drying up, everybody looked at me like I was crazy,” Biden told a group of donors in California on June 19, Reuters reported. “They looked at me like when I said I worry about Putin using tactical nuclear weapons. It’s real,” Biden said, according to the news agency. (NBC, 06.20.23)
  • A meeting of representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense of the P5 took place in Cairo on June 13-14, according to the State Department. The DOS did not specify what aspects were the focus of negotiations in Egypt. On June 16, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke about the message that the Russian delegation conveyed to the Western "troika" during this P5 meeting. “Now there is talk (about deliveries of] F-16 aircraft, which can be equipped to carry nuclear weapons [to Ukraine]… We made a serious demarche because of that within that [P5 framework,” Lavrov said. “The [in response] asked whether we really think that they will give Ukraine planes that will carry nuclear weapons. We told them that we do not even think. Our systems — that will monitor these aircraft — will not be able to distinguish between an aircraft that is not equipped with nuclear weapons and one that carries one.” Russia will assume the role of the country coordinating P5 meetings in August-September. (Kommersant, 06.23.23)
  • When asked about the threat of use of nuclear weapons, Zelensky said: “Putin has been dangerous for us since 2014 when he occupied the first of our territories. He will talk about the use of nuclear weapons, I don’t think he is ready to do it because he is scared for his life, he loves it a lot. But there is no way I could say for sure, especially about a person with no ties to reality, who in the 21st Century, launched a full-scale war against their neighbor.” (BBC, 06.21.23)
  • Debate has reemerged in the past week among some of Russia’s best-known foreign and defense policy pundits on whether Moscow should initiate the use of nuclear weapons to dissuade the West from providing further support to Ukraine. Sergei Karaganov — who sits on the scientific boards of Putin’s Security Council and Russia’s Foreign Ministry, fired the first salvo on June 13. He argued that Russia should use “God’s weapon” to “hit a bunch of targets in a number of countries in order to bring [them] to reason” if the West refuses to “back down” over Ukraine and “leave us alone.” In his response to Karaganov, Dmitri Trenin appeared to agree with his SVOP colleague’s recipe for compelling the U.S. and its allies to “leave Russia alone.” If Russia were to use nuclear weapons first against European members of NATO, “Americans are unlikely to sacrifice Boston for the sake of Poznan,” according to Trenin. Ivan Timofeyev, director of the Russian International Affairs Council disagreed with Karaganov and Trenin, asserting that “the preventive use of nuclear weapons will [not] solve the problems of relations between Russia and the West.” Most recently, Russia’s leading nuclear arms expert Alexey Arbatov and his IMEMO colleagues criticized Karaganov’s calls for escalation, arguing that “Nuclear war is a bad way to solve problems.” (RM, 06.21.23)
  • Russia is scheduled to conduct the first sea trials of its Poseidon unmanned underwater drone this summer, according to a Russian news outlet on June 23. (Xinhua, 06.23.23)


  • Police in Istanbul say they detained Tajik citizen Shamil Hukumatov on June 22 on suspicion of being a leader of the Islamic State-Khorasan. (RFE/RL, 06.23.23)

Conflict in Syria:

  • Kazakhstan abruptly said on June 21 that it will stop hosting talks aimed at resolving the Syrian conflict that erupted 12 years ago. Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry said that the talks have fulfilled their mission, but Alexander Lavrentyev, Russia’s envoy to Syria, said that Astana’s decision came as a complete surprise. Lavrentyev said that no decision has been made regarding the venue for future talks. (AP, 06.21.23)

Cyber security/AI:

  • Russian government officials have been banned from using their iPhones during cabinet meetings and for work purposes amid claims that the U.S.-made smartphones are equipped with spying technology, (MT/AFP, 06.22.23)
  • The British government on June 18 said it would roll out a major expansion to its cyber-defense program in Ukraine, investing up to £25 million, or about $32 million, in a bid to protect the country’s national infrastructure and vital public services from crippling Russian attacks. (WSJ, 06.18.23)
  • Czech Radio said on June 22 that its websites suffered a massive DdoS attack hours before the start of the Media and Ukraine conference. (RFE/RL, 06.22.23)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Russia’s seaborne crude shipments remain about 250,000 barrels a day higher than they were in February, the baseline month for the curbs. They’re up by more than 1 million barrels a day since the end of last year, helped in part by the diversion of flows previously piped to Germany and Poland. (Bloomberg, 06.20.23)
  • OPEC and its allies need to monitor not only production of the organization’s member countries but also their exports, according to Igor Sechin, head of Russian oil giant Rosneft PJSC. (Bloomberg, 06.17.23)
  • Germany reached a deal with Kazakhstan’s state-run oil producer to boost crude supplies to a refinery that helps to fuel Berlin, large parts of eastern Germany and western Poland. Under the deal, KazMunayGas National Co. will send 100,000 tons of crude a month through the remainder of this year to the PCK refinery in Schwedt, the firm said in a statement on its website. (Bloomberg, 06.21.23)
  • Germany has signed another long-term deal to import more U.S. liquefied natural gas, as Berlin moves to replace Russian energy in its economy. SEFE, or Securing Energy For Europe — the company born out of Berlin’s effective nationalization of the German operations of Russia’s state-owned Gazprom — will purchase 2.25mn tons a year of the super-chilled gas from Venture Global LNG, an American developer of export terminals along the Gulf of Mexico. (FT, 06.23.23)
  • For 12 hours, the Andromeda yacht crew accused of laying explosives that destroyed the Nord Stream gas pipelines paused during their voyage to stop in the Polish port of Kołobrzeg. Feeria Lwowa, the Polish company that rented the boat was founded by Ukrainians with Polish residency, used a Polish bank account and a Krakow-based accountant. German investigators have identified some of the six members of the sabotage crew on board the Andromeda. The suspects haven’t been named but investigators say they are Ukrainian citizens. (WSJ, 06.22.23)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • Russia attempted to assassinate a former intelligence officer in the United States in a “brazen” failed bid that led in part to tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions, according to former senior U.S. officials. Alexander Poteyev was a former colonel in Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service who shared state secrets that helped U.S. authorities bust a deep-cover Russian spy ring known as “the illegals” in 2010. The bid to assassinate Poteyev is revealed in the book “Spies: The Epic Intelligence War Between East and West” by Harvard scholar Calder Walton. (MT/AFP, 06.19.23, NYT, 06.19.23)
  • The United States has slapped sanctions on two FSB officers, Yegor Popov and Alexei Sukhodolov, who it says attempted to interfere in a local U.S. election, the Treasury Department said. According to the department, Popov and Sukhodolov have worked with Aleksandr Ionov, a Russian charged last year with conducting a multiyear effort to use political groups in Florida, Georgia, and California to interfere in elections.  (RFE/RL, 06.23.23)
  • A Russian court upheld the extended detention of Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter deemed by the U.S. to be wrongfully held, ordering that he remain in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison until at least Aug. 30. (WSJ, 06.22.23)
  •  The Republican-controlled House voted to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.). Anna Paulina Luna (R., Fla.), the freshman sponsor of the Schiff censure resolution, alleged that he improperly used his prior position as House Intelligence Committee chairman to spread falsehoods about Trump regarding ties to Russia and encourage abusive intelligence investigations. (NYT, 06.22.23)
  • Voice of America cut ties with a journalist accused by colleagues of promoting Russian propaganda before his hiring. At the same time, the U.S.-government-funded news organization announced that it would restore a suspended reporter who faced the same allegation. The two journalists, Garri "Harr" Knyagnitskiy and Daria Davydova, were hired by VOA in November. (WP, 06.17.23)



II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Russian companies declared more than 1 quadrillion rubles ($15 trillion) in 2022 revenue for the first time in the country's history, the RBC news website reported on June 20, citing data from the country's tax service. Revenues totaled 1.26 quadrillion rubles last year, nearly double the 655 trillion rubles ($7.7 trillion) declared in 2021, according to Federal Tax Service statistics. Russia’s tax service attributed the surge to “the growth of mainly oil and gas companies’ export revenues and the recovery of consumer demand for goods, works and services,” RBC said. (MT/AFP, 06.20.23)
  • The Finance Ministry stopped disclosure of high-frequency outlays on its electronic budget portal that previously showed up-to-date information about spending on different categories. The statistics enabled analysts to examine trends in expenditure and to calculate how much of the budget was going toward activity deemed classified. (Bloomberg, 06.22.23)
  • Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom plans to build one more small nuclear power station in Chukotka Autonomous Region of the Russian Far East. (Xinhua, 06.17.23)
  • Assessing their participation in political life, respondents of Levada’s April 2023 poll most often noted that “they are not interested in politics; they do not understand politics” (39%, in compared to 40% in December 2018); “there is still no opportunity to influence the events of political life” ( 25%, compared to 29% in December 2018); or “the most important thing is the fate of my native people” (19%, compared to 12% in December 2018). (Levada, 06.21.23)
  • Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s trial on a new string of “extremism” charges was abruptly ordered to be held behind closed doors at its first hearing. Navalny, 47, faces up to 30 more years on the latest charges, which he and his allies have slammed as a politically motivated effort to lock up President Vladimir Putin’s loudest domestic critic for life. Navalny urged his countrymen to join a new information campaign against the war on Ukraine as he stood trial on charges that could keep him imprisoned for decades. (FT, 06.19.23, MT/AFP, 06.19.23)
  • Russian authorities have labeled the prominent legal and human rights group Agora an “undesirable organization. The “undesirable” designation renders all of Agora’s activities illegal and forces its immediate closure. (MT/AFP, 06.19.23)
  • Russian authorities have charged Kinopoisk, popular movie portal owned by the country’s largest tech company Yandex with distributing so-called “LGBT propaganda” to minors, independent media reported on June 20. (MT/AFP, 06.20.23)
  • Nuclear physicist Grigory Klinishov, one of the creators of the first Soviet two-stage thermonuclear bomb known as RDS-37, was found dead in Moscow on June 22. Klinishov left a note in which he said goodbye to his loved ones. (RFE/RL, 06.22.23)
  • Russian businessman Alexander Mamut said he was not going to launch an opposition "media holding" in Europe, contrary to earlier reports that he did have such plans. (Meduza, 06.23.23)
  • Kaplan Panesh, a member of the LDRP faction in the State Duma and a vocal critic of the West, co-owns an apartment in Portugal and has applied for residency permits in this country along with his wife and children, according to Istories. (RM, 06.23.23)

Defense and aerospace:

  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) will form a “reserve army” by the end of June, form a new army corps, and reinforce key Western Military District (WMD) formations as part of intended force restructuring. (ISW, 06.22.23)
  • At a meeting of Putin’s Security Council on June 22, Shoigu claimed that his agency had “recruited 114,000 people as contractual enlistees and an additional 52,000 as volunteers.” (RM, 06.23.23)
  • More than 20 Russian volunteer detachments fighting alongside regular soldiers in Ukraine have signed contracts with the military, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on June 22. (MT/AFP, 06.22.23)
  • The Russian MoD is unlikely to fully formalize Russian volunteer formations by its stated July 1 deadline. (ISW, 06.22.23)
  • Russian lawmakers have approved legislation allowing convicts to clear their criminal records in exchange for joining the country’s depleted military nearly 16 months into Russia’s war on Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 06.20.23)
  • Some 32,000 former prisoners recruited by the Wagner mercenary group have returned to Russia after fighting in Ukraine, the private military company’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said on June 18. (MT/AFP, 06.19.23)
  •  See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Since the beginning of the year, 22 individuals have been tried under the new article 283.2 of Russia’s Criminal Code, which punishes those who once had access to state secrets for traveling abroad before their limitations for such travel have expired. (Mediazona, 06.22.23)
  • FSB said on June 21 that it had arrested a man in the Far Eastern region of Khabarovsk on a charge of high treason stemming from his alleged attempt to send cryptocurrency to Ukraine to raise money for its troops. (RFE/RL, 06.21.23)
  • Russia's Investigative Committee said on June 21 that it has launched a probe into the death in custody of 40-year-old anti-war activist Anatoly Beryozikov in Rostov-on-Don last week." Beryozikov's lawyer, Irina Gak, said last week that she visited her client hours before his death and noticed traces of electric shocks on his body, adding that Beryozikov told her police officers had threatened to kill him. (RFE/RL, 06.21.23)
  • A court in Russia's far western exclave of Kaliningrad on June 22 sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison 64-year-old anti-war activist Igor Baryshnikov after finding him guilty of spreading "fake" information about Russia's armed forces involved in the war on Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 06.22.23)
  • Prosecutors asked a Moscow court on June 21 to convict Russian physicist Valery Golubkin on a treason charge and sentence him to 12 years in prison. Golubkin was arrested and accused of handing his Dutch colleagues classified materials related to work on building a high-speed passenger plane run on hydrogen fuel. (RFE/RL, 06.21.23)
  • A scientist at a Russian nuclear research facility in the Nizhny Novgorod region has been sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of "high treason. “Investigators accused Viktor Ilyin — an employee at the Federal Nuclear Center in the closed town of Sarov — of attempting to engage in espionage activities on behalf of Ukraine, the U.S. and Britain (MT/AFP, 06.21.23)
  • Russia jailed a dual Ukrainian and Russian national for 16 years on June 20 on terrorism-linked charges for fighting alongside Kyiv's forces in Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 06.20.23)
  • The deputy governor of the Kalman district in the Siberian region of Altai Krai, Vitaly Manishin, has confessed to killing five women who were applicants to a local university in 2000 (RFE/RL, 06.23.23)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • The second Russia-Africa summit will take place in St. Petersburg, Russia's second largest city, on July 27-28, according to information posted on the summit's official website. The event was previously scheduled for July 26-29. The rescheduling of the summit was purely technical and was caused by the need to correct the program, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. (Xinhua, 06.21.23)
    • Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged Russian businessmen on June 23 to become more active in doing business in Africa. He said that that over the past ten years, Africa's nominal GDP has grown 1.5 time. In the near future, with our active assistance, the issue of including the African Union in the G20 will be resolved, he said. (RM, 06.23.23)
  • Foreign members of Yandex’s board of directors have blocked the sale of the Russian branch of Yandex to Russian oligarchs even though this deal has been approved by Putin, according to Meduza. (RM, 06.23.23)
  • German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said Algeria must clearly name Russia as the "aggressor" in the war with Ukraine. Baerbock said Algeria and Germany were "very far apart" on the war. (dpa, 06.22.23)
  • Poland's President Andrzej Duda said “Russia is like a wild animal that eats humans … that should simply be hunted down and shot.” Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev responded by calling Duda “a bastard” that in previous centuries would have been executed on Moscow’s Red Square. (Yahoo News, 06.23.23,, 06.23.23)
  • Charles University in Prague has opened a master's degree program on the study of Russian and the former Soviet republics, the university in the Czech capital said on June 21. (RFE/RL, 06.22.23)


  • A European Union report will this week say that Ukraine has met two out of seven conditions to start membership negotiations, two EU sources said, with the bloc's executive set to highlight progress made despite the war triggered by Russia's invasion. (Reuters, 06.20.23)
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has ordered the creation of a special commission to carry out an audit of heads of military draft offices in regions across the country. The decision follows media reports in Ukraine of corruption allegations against the head of a draft office.  (RFE/RL, 06.23.23)
  • A letter from the head of Ukraine's military intelligence agency to the State Border Service allowed Ukrainian politician Vladyslav Trubitsyn facing trial on bribery charges to leave Ukraine on a supposed business trip, becoming a fugitive from justice, Schemes, the investigative unit of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, has found. (RFE/RL, 06.17.23).
  • The authorities have completed an internal probe against military enlistment officer Yevhen Borysov, who reportedly has luxury property, and found no violations, Natalia Humeniuk, the spokesperson for Ukraine's Operational Command South, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on June 23. Humeniuk added that he keeps fulfilling his duties on the job. (Kyiv Independent, 06.23.23)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Moldova's Constitutional Court has declared the pro-Russian Shor party "unconstitutional" and has dissolved it amid moves by the impoverished former Soviet republic to escape Moscow's orbit. (RFE/RL, 06.19.23)
  • Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu on June 23 said a statement by the chief of the Russia-controlled part of Ukraine's Kherson region, Volodymyr Saldo, that Russian armed forces may attack the Giurgiulesti Bridge, which connects Romania and Moldova, in response to a Ukrainian attack on a bridge in Crimea shows "how important it is that Romania is part of NATO." (RFE/RL, 06.23.23)
  • Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has accused Azerbaijan of "ethnic cleansing" with its continued blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh. (RFE/RL, 06.17.23)
  • The South Caucasus nation of Georgia has become Russia’s top importer of still wine. (MT/AFP, 06.20.23)
  • Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia will share their citizen’s personal data with each other for law enforcement purposes, the press service of Kyrgyzstan's presidential office announced on June 21. (MT/AFP, 06.22.23)
  • Authorities in Kyrgyzstan are increasingly at odds with the country’s newfound contingent of Russian emigres, with a spate of concert cancellations and the use of facial-recognition technology to track down Russians wanted by Moscow contributing to increased friction. (MT/AFP, 06.20.23)
  • Kazakhstan has renamed a town in the region around Astana, the capital, after Kenesary Khan, who led the largest uprising against Russia's colonial troops in Kazakhstan in the 19th century. (RFE/RL, 06.21.23)

Quotable and notable

  • No significant developments.



*Here and elsewhere, italicized text indicates a note from the editor. Homepage photo shared by the Kremlin for media use.