Russia in Review, June 2-9, 2023

5 Things to Know

  1. Ukraine has launched its long-anticipated counteroffensive with its forces staging attacks in multiple areas, including those around Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region and Velyka Novosilka in the Donetsk region, on June 7-9, according to FT, WSJ and WP. The direction of the attacks suggests that Ukraine is probing southward toward the Sea of Azov, part of a widely expected effort to cut off a land bridge that links mainland Russia with Crimea, according to WSJ.
  2. The destruction of the Kakhovka dam poses "no short-term risk" to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which, as of June 8, was still receiving the water required to cool its reactorsaccording to IAEA. As a result of a June 6 breach in the dam, which is located in the Russian-occupied part of the Kherson region, at least 600 square kilometers of land were flooded, killing dozens and putting 42,000 at risk, according to Ukrainian authorities and volunteers. The U.S. and Norway say they have evidence that the breach in the dam was caused by an explosion, which Ukraine and Russia blame on each other. 
  3. Three months before saboteurs bombed the Nord Stream pipelines on September 26, 2022, the Biden administration learned from a European country that the Ukrainian military had planned a covert attack on the undersea networkWP reported. An European country’s intelligence service, which obtained that information from an individual in Ukraine and shared it with the CIA last June, made it clear that the would-be attackers were not rogue operatives. The plan called for using a team of divers who reported directly to the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhny, but the details of the plan were withheld from Zelensky to allow him to deny knowledge of the incident, according to WP and FT
  4. Vladimir Putin made it clear that Russia will begin moving non-strategic nuclear weapons to Belarus in July. “We are proceeding on schedule with regard to the most sensitive issues, which we have coordinated, Putin told a visiting Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko on June 9. “As you know, the preparation of the relevant facilities will be finished on July 7–8, after which we will immediately start the process of deploying the corresponding types of weapons in your territory. So, everything is going to plan consistently,” he said. Putin did not specify what kind of weapons will be deployed, but the Russian and Belarussian leaders have discussed storing NSNWs in Belarus on multiple occasions.*
  5. More than two-thirds of the residents of 11 EU countries polled by ECFR view Russia as an adversary or rival, but also an average of more than two-thirds of the April poll’s respondents think their country should enter into a partnership with Russia if its war with Ukraine ends in a negotiated peace. The poll, which was conducted in Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden, also revealed 26% of respondents viewed Russia and China as equal partners, while 13% viewed them as unequal partners and 9% did not see Moscow and Beijing as partners at all. (This week alone has seen Russian and Chinese militaries conduct joint strategic air patrols and announce the participation of Russian troops in the PLA’s North. Interaction-2023 exercises.)


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


Nuclear security and safety:

  • The destruction of the Kakhovka dam in the Russian-occupied part of Ukraine’s Kherson region poses "no short-term risk" to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station despite falling water levels in a reservoir used to cool its reactors, according to IAEA. The dam sits on the Dnipro River, which feeds a reservoir providing cooling water for the plant some 150 kilometers (90 miles) upstream. The dam was breached on June 6 following an attack that Moscow and Kyiv have blamed on each other. The plant was still receiving water needed to cool its reactors despite the rupture of the Kakhovka dam, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on June 8. IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi is to lead the latest rotation of its experts at the power plant next week.  (MT/AFP, 06.06.23. WNN, 06.07.23, (RFE/RL, 06.08.23)  See more in the “Humanitarian impact” section below.
  • The FSB made arrests in connection with alleged Ukrainian plans to drop “dirty bombs” on Russian energy facilities, state media claimed on June 6. FSB claimed that two “pilots” of unknown nationality have been detained and “confessed to the committed and planned terrorist acts.” (MT/AFP, 06.06.23)
  • Alexei Likhachev, the chief of Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom, has said that more than two decades’ worth of efforts to rid the Arctic of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel from decommissioned submarines will now come to an end. Bellona fears Rosatom is leaving undone a raft of crucial projects initiated with international support.  (Bellona, 06.07.23)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • Moscow believes the situation on the Korean Peninsula is moving toward an escalation of tensions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said on June 5. (Interfax, 06.05.23)
  • Russia's Investigative Committee said on June 7 that it has started investigating the disappearance of the wife and teenage son of the North Korean Council Choi En Nam Vladivostok. Some investigators suggested that the woman and her son are on their way to defect to South Korea via China. (RFE/RL, 06.07.23) .

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • U.S. and European powers have resumed discussions on how to engage with Iran over its nuclear activity. “There is recognition that we need an active diplomatic plan to tackle Iran’s nuclear program, rather than allowing it to drift,” said a Western diplomat. “The thing that worries me is that Iran’s decision-making is quite chaotic and it could stumble its way into war with Israel.” (FT, 06.03.23)
  • Russia is importing supplies from Iran for a domestic factory that would manufacture Iranian-designed drones for the war in Ukraine, the White House said on June 9, releasing intelligence findings in what it described as an escalating military collaboration between the two countries. The drone plant “could be fully operational” in early 2024, probably in an industrial area about 650 miles (1,040 kilometers) east of Moscow, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, who shared U.S. government satellite images of two buildings in Russia’s Alabuga Special Economic Zone, which is in Tatarstan. (Bloomberg, 06.09.23)
    • “The drones are built in Iran, shipped across the Caspian Sea, from Amirabad, Iran, to Makhachkala, Russia, and then used operationally by Russian forces against Ukraine,” said John Kirby, the U.S. National Security Council spokesman. ” (FT, 06.09.23)
  • An arms contract signed last fall claims to show Iranian ammunition supplies to Russia, Sky News reported June 5, citing an unnamed informed source. The 16-page document dated Sept. 14, 2022, and written in English lists 1,000 122mm, 125mm and 155mm high-explosive rounds totaling $1,013,100. (MT/AFP, 06.05.23)
  • The share of Russians who have a positive attitude toward Iran has increased from 43% in 2015 to 69% in 2023, according to Levada’s polls. (RM, 06.08.23)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • The Kakhovka dam, which is located on the Dnipro River and is controlled by Russian troops, was destroyed on June 6. The break of the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant’s dam unleashed millions of gallons of floodwater. Flooding from the breach of the 30-meter-tall, 3.2-kilometer-long dam extended over 600 square kilometers as of June 8, according to Ukrainian authorities. The dam supplies the cooling reservoir for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and feeds into water reserves in the Crimea peninsula. Ukraine blamed Russia. The Kremlin denied responsibility and said Ukraine was behind the blast.  (Bloomberg, 06.06.23, AFP, 06.08.23)
    • More than 20 people have been identified as dead in the flood, and more than 150 people are listed as missing on the left bank of the Dnieper River, which is occupied by Russia, volunteers told Istories. (Istories, 06.09.23)
    • At least nine people were killed by the devastating flooding caused by destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in the Kherson region of Ukraine and nine were injured amid Russian shelling during the evacuation. (ABC, 06.08.23)
    • The state emergency service of Ukraine said 1,995 people had been evacuated from flooded areas, including 103 children. Ukrainian officials said about 42,000 people on both sides of the Dnipro River were affected Five residents of a Russian-occupied city of Nova Kakhovka next to a breached dam have died in massive flooding triggered by the catastrophe, its Kremlin-appointed mayor said on June 8. Also, Some 60 people have been hospitalized in the Kherson region while around 4,500 people have been evacuated, Russian state media reported. (CBC, 06.08.23, WSJ, 06.08.23, AFP, 06.08.23, FT,06.07.23)
    • At least 150 tons of machine oil spilled into the waters of the Dnipro River after. Another 300 tons of oil could leak out as the infrastructure collapses, according to a statement by the Ukrainian presidency. (Bloomberg, 06.07.23)
    • Ukrhydroenergo, Ukraine’s state-owned hydropower company, said an explosion inside the engine room had demolished the dam. (FT, 06.06.23)
    • Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been struggling to get drinking water after major flooding in southern Ukraine following the destruction earlier this week of the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Zelensky reiterated that he believed Russian forces occupying the dam had deliberately blown it up from the inside, while Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces added it was done in an attempt to disrupt Kyiv’s counteroffensive. On June 8, Zelensky visited Kherson, which has been swamped by the earlier destruction of the dam. (RFE/RL, 06.09.23, WSJ, 06.08.23, FT, 06.07.23)
    • Ukraine's Security Service claims it intercepted telephone communications between Russian military personnel that "confirm" Russia's involvement in the destruction of the Kakhovka dam (RFE/RL, 06.09.23)
    • Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed it was a “deliberate act of sabotage by the Ukrainian side aimed at depriving Crimea of water” and intended to distract from the “stuttering Ukrainian offensive.” (FT, 06.06.23)
    •   A senior Biden administration official says that U.S. spy satellites detected an explosion at the Kakhovka dam just before it collapsed, but American analysts still do not know who caused the dam’s destruction or how exactly it happened. (NYT 06.09.23)
      • Seismologists from the Norwegian Seismic Array monitoring group (NORSAR) have detected signals of an explosion in the area of Ukraine’s Kakhovka dam on June 6 at 02:54 a.m. local time (1:54 a.m. Norwegian time) (MT/AFP, 06.09.23
    • U.S. officials had not made a determination about who or what caused it, a White House spokesman said on June 6. "We are working with the Ukrainians to gather more information, but we cannot say conclusively what happened at this point," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House. (WP, 06.07.23)
    • Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Andriy Kostin on June 7 signed a decree on providing the prosecutor's office at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague with data related to the destruction of the Kakhovka dam. (RFE/RL, 06.07.23)
    • The dam's destruction was a ''monumental humanitarian, economic and ecological catastrophe,'' and ''yet another example of the horrific price of war on people,'' said António Guterres, the United Nations' secretary general. (NYT, 06.07.23)
    • The destruction of the Kakhovka dam in Ukraine will have a catastrophic effect on locating landmines in the affected region, the Red Cross warned on June 7. " (MT/AFP, 06.08.23)  See “Military aspects” section below for the military aspects of the impact caused by the breach of the dam.
  • On June 4 a Russian airstrike hit a residential district in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, killing a two-year-old girl and injuring 22 others, officials said on June 4… (MT/AFP, 06.04.23)
  • On June 4 Russian authorities on June 4 called on residents of an area on the Ukraine border to leave their homes as Ukrainian shelling intensified this week. The district of Shebekino in the southwestern Belgorod region on the Ukraine border has been hit by daily shelling, killing several civilians and forcing villagers to flee. (MT/AFP, 06.04.23)
    • Shebekino has reported a wave of looting after local authorities called on residents to leave their homes due to intensified shelling attacks. (MT/AFP, 06.05.23)
  • On June 8, four people died and at least 17 were injured in four separate artillery attacks by Russian forces on Kherson city and its surrounding villages, according to Kherson regional head Oleksandr Prokunin and Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko. (WP, 06.09.23)
  • On June 9, a drone hit a residential building in the city of Voronezh in western Russia. Tass reported that the drone had targeted a local aircraft plant but instead fell on a residential area after it was intercepted, injuring three people. (WP, 06.09.23)
  • The total number of children removed by Russians since the start of the war is unclear. Ukrainian officials put the figure at more than 19,000. The United Nations says it hasn't been able to verify that. (WSJ, 06.08.23)
  • A group of Ukrainian "prisoners of war" has been handed over to Hungary, according to the Russian Orthodox Church, with Kyiv saying on June 9 they had not been informed of the move. The transfer took place (AFP, 06.09.23)
  • A rapid inspection of Ukraine's air-raid shelters on June 3 has found that nearly one-quarter of them were either locked or unusable. The Interior Ministry reported that "over 4,800" shelters had been inspected and 252 were found to be locked, while 893 were deemed "unfit for use." (RFE/RL, 06.03.23)
  • Russia's Foreign Ministry on June 5 said it saw no prospects for extending the Black Sea grain export deal, which is set to expire in mid-July Russia. Kremlin said that talks on extending the safe-corridor deal have been complicated by damage Tolyatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline, which Russia blamed on Ukraine. The pipeline is “integral” to Russia’s involvement in the deal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Interfax. “This complicates things in terms of continuing the deal,” Peskov said, without elaborating. The Black Sea Grain Initiative is set for renewal on July 17.  (Bloomberg, 06.08.23, Reuters, 06.05.23)
    • Poland's agriculture minister, Robert Telus, says he has received a draft regulation from the European Commission extending a ban on Ukrainian grain imports until September 15. (Reuters, 06.05.23)
  • EU governments should make preparations to integrate refugees from Ukraine permanently, according to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. Since then some 8.3 million people have fled Ukraine, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR. Of those, some 5.1 million have temporary protection under special arrangements without them having to apply for asylum in the EU, Switzerland, and Norway. (dpa, 06.08.23)
  • European Union ministers struck a hard-fought deal on June 8 on how to approach migration and asylum policies after years of thorny negotiations. The nations agreed on an asylum approach that would allow countries to make decisions about granting access to applicants and to ensure procedures to return migrants who don’t qualify, Sweden’s migration minister, Maria Stenergard, told reporters. The ministers also agreed on providing EU support to the countries most exposed to migration, she added. (Bloomberg, 06.09.23)


Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • The Kakhovka dam, which is located on the Dnipro River and is controlled by Russian troops, was destroyed on June 6. (RM, 06.09.23)
    • The Ukrainian military claimed the floodwaters had killed and injured Russian soldiers and caused losses of weapons and military equipment among the Russian forces stationed in the area. Russia's 7th Air Assault Division and its 22nd Army Corps lost armored vehicles, ammunition depots and food supplies, the Ukrainian armed forces said. (WSJ, 06.08.23)
    • Andrii Pidlisnyi, a captain in Ukraine's armed forces now based in the south, argued that the Ukrainian-controlled west bank is higher in elevation than the east, and that Russia's military positions "are simply flooded" and had to be evacuated. Russian units there, Pidlisnyi said, "were not aware of this whole situation. They're just shocked." (WP, 06.07.23)
    • “The purpose is obvious: to create insurmountable obstacles in the way of the advancing Ukrainian armed forces,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Zelensky. (FT, 06.06.23)
    • Russia’s positions would likely be worse affected than Ukraine’s in the longer term, Russian military analyst Pavel Luzin added. “The water will flow away in a few days, and it’s the Russian positions on the left bank that are flooded,” he said. (FT, 06.06.23)
    • Mikhail Barabanov, an expert at the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow defense think-tank, said the flooding could create more favorable conditions for a Ukrainian advance. (FT, 06.08.23)
    • The flooding, said a western official, “will affect large swaths of civilian infrastructure which is hard to regenerate in the middle of a war. If you widely advertise that you are about to embark on a counteroffensive, you should also not be surprised if opponents take countervailing measures.” (FT, 06.06.23)
    • Michael Kofman, a Russian military analyst at the Washington-based Center for a New American Security, said he did not expect the dam breach to have a big impact on Ukraine's offensive. The likelihood of a Ukrainian offensive operation across the river south of the dam was quite low, he said. (WP, 06.07.23)

·  In the past month of fighting Ukrainian forces have regained 47 square miles of territory, according to Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 06.06.23)

  • On June 4 the feud between the mercenaries of the Kremlin-connected Wagner Group and the ordinary Russian army appeared to be escalating, amid reports of exchanges of friendly fire. Russian soldiers shot at Wagner paramilitaries near Bakhmut. In response, Wagner claimed to have detained the commander of the Russian army’s 72nd brigade, on June 5 releasing a video of him appearing to confess to giving the order to fire on the mercenaries’ vehicle, claiming he did so while drunk because he personally disliked the group. The officer, who introduced himself as Lieutenant-Colonel Roman Gennadievich Venivitin, appeared to have been roughed up by his captors. (Politco, 06.05.23)
    • Venevitin subsequently gave interviews to Russian Telegram channels, in which he alleged that he was beaten and kept sleepless when in Wagner’s custody. (Meduza, 06.08.23)
  • On June 5 Russia's Defense Ministry said that Ukrainian forces attacked with six mechanized and two tank battalions in the southern part of the Donetsk region and that Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia's top general and the commander of its troops in Ukraine, was present at one of the forward command and control posts during the attack. (WSJ, 06.05.23)
  • On June 5 Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrsky, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, posted a video on social media on June 5 showing Ukrainian tanks and infantry vehicles firing on Russian positions near Bakhmut. “We continue to move forward,” he added. (FT, 05.06.23)
  • On June 5 the Russian Ministry of Defense said its forces managed to repel an attempt by a "sabotage and reconnaissance group of Ukrainian terrorists" to enter the settlement of Novaya Tavolzhanka in Russia's Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine. (Current Time, 06.05.23)
  • On June 6 Russia launched 35 cruise missiles in a night attack against Ukraine on June 6, all of which were shot down by air defense, Ukraine's Air Force reported. Russian forces used six Tu-95MS strategic bombers located in the Caspian Sea region, to launch an assault on Ukraine. The majority of the X-101/X-555 cruise missiles were aimed toward Kyiv. (Kyiv Independent, 06.06.23)
  • On June 7  Ukraine launched its long-anticipated counteroffensive on Wednesday night, meant to contest Russia's established front line after months of attritional stalemate across much of the battlefield. Ukraine's troops intensified their attacks on the front line in the country's southeast, according to four individuals in the country's armed forces, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the battlefield developments. (WP, 06.08.23, WP, 06.08.23)
    • “The Ukrainian counteroffensive has begun,” said Ben Barry, senior fellow for land warfare at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. “Since 4 June Ukrainian forces have been attacking along the front line. This seeks to pin Russian forces in place and probe for weaknesses.” (Bloomberg, 06.09.23)
  • On June 7 Russian military bloggers filmed a video of the Ukrainian counter-attack south-east of the Ukraine-controlled town of Orikhiv. The footage appears to show at least two German-made Leopard 2 tanks. If verified, it would be the first visual confirmation of the German tanks used on the Ukrainian battlefield. The fight took place. At least two U.S.-produced M113 armored personnel carriers, or APCs, are also visible in the video.  (FT, 06.08.23, WSJ, 06.08.23)
    • German-made Leopard tanks and U.S. Bradley Fighting Vehicles pushing toward the town of Tokmak, in Ukraine’s occupied south, showed up in photographs posted by Russian military bloggers that seem genuine, according to Osint Defender, an online open-source intelligence group that said it geolocated the images and checked for any signs they’d been manipulated. (Bloomberg, 06.09.23)
  • On June 8 Ukrainian officials said they were carrying out what they described as local attacks in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia and eastern Donetsk regionsThe direction of the attacks suggests that Ukraine is probing southward toward the Sea of Azov, a widely expected effort to cut a land bridge that links mainland Russia with the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula. (WSJ, 06.08.23)
    • As of June 8, Ukrainian forces were attacking near the town of Orikhiv, seen as a jumping-off point for an assault toward the critical, Russian-occupied transport hub of Tokmak, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on June 8. Ukrainian forces were also fighting for the town of Velyka Novosilka in the eastern Donetsk region, she said. (WSJ, 06.08.23)
    • Intensification of attacks by Ukrainian troops in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia constituted what a senior U.S. official said on June 8 appeared to be a main thrust of a Ukrainian counteroffensive. (NYT, 06.08.23)
  • On June 8 The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces had repelled a Ukrainian attack in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, said that forces of Ukraine’s 47th Mechanized Brigade including dozens of armored vehicles “attempted to break through Russia’s defense” but that Moscow’s air and ground forces repelled the attack. (NYT, 06.08.23)
  • On June 8 Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder told reporters that DOD is aware of increased fighting in Ukraine. "When it comes to characterizing those particular operations, or talking about those operations, that's really something that's best left to the Ukrainians," he said. (, 06.08.23)
  • On June 9 heavy fighting continued in southeast Ukraine, as Kyiv's forces pressed on with a major counteroffensive near Orikhiv, in the Zaporizhzhia region, and Velyka Novosilka, a town just over the border in the neighboring Donetsk region. But they appeared to be meeting stiff resistance from Russian units dug into heavily fortified positions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said early on June 9 that "very tough battles were underway" in Donetsk, including in the hotly contested city of Bakhmut, which Russia seized last month. Zelensky hinted at some gains but did not offer details. "Bakhmut — well done," the president said. "Step by step." (WP, 06.09.23)
  • The Ukrainian OSINT Telegram channel,, claimed heavy fighting along the line formed by Neskuchne, Donetsk Oblast; Novodonets'ke, Donetsk Oblast, and Levadne, Zaporizhzhia Oblast as well as in the area of Malaya Tokmachka, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, on June 8. also reported that Ukrainian forces were attacking in the Bakhmut areas as of June 8. (RM, 06.09.23)
  • On June 9 Russian President Vladimir Putin said that "we can definitely state that this Ukrainian offensive has begun” because the Ukrainian army has begun to employ units from its strategic reserve in the operations.  Putin said “intensive battles” had raged for the last five days, following reports of an uptick in fighting, but claimed Russian forces were so far resisting the Ukrainian attacks (MT/AFP, FT, Meduza, 06.09.23)
    • On June 9 pro-war Russian Telegram channel, Dva Mayora, claimed that Ukraine’s 10th Army Corps began moving towards the line of contact in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. (RM, 06.09.23)
  • Ukraine has cultivated a network of agents and sympathizers inside Russia working to carry out acts of sabotage against Russian targets and has begun providing them with drones to stage attacks, multiple people familiar with U.S. intelligence on the matter told CNN. U.S. officials believe these pro-Ukrainian agents inside Russia carried out a drone attack that targeted the Kremlin in early May by launching drones from within Russia rather than flying them from Ukraine into Moscow. (CNN, 06.05.23)
  • The Pentagon announced on June 9 that it will provide an additional $2.1 billion in long-term weapons aid for Ukraine. The new assistance package will include funding for more Patriot missile battery munitions, Hawk air defense systems and missiles, and small Puma drones that can be launched by hand. (AP/PBS, 06.09.23)
  • House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says his chamber has no plans to take up legislation that would boost military aid to Ukraine and other defense spending above the levels allowed in a bill signed into law by President Biden that suspends the debt ceiling and curbs federal spending. McCarthy's posture puts him at odds with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who assured defense hawks in their chamber that the bipartisan debt deal would not prevent Congress from passing supplemental funding for Ukraine beyond the agreement's $886 billion for defense in the next fiscal year. (WP, 06.06.23)
    • President Joe Biden brushed aside fears that further U.S. aid to Kyiv could be stymied by Republicans on Capitol Hill, as he touted Washington’s “unwavering support” for Ukraine in a press conference with UK prime minister Rishi Sunak., Biden said he believed the U.S. would “have the funding necessary to support Ukraine as long as it takes . . . even though you hear some voices today on Capitol Hill about whether or not we should continue to support Ukraine and for how long.” (FT, 06.09.23)
    • Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), a member of the Appropriations subcommittee focused on defense spending, said he is concerned that the legislation passed last week could "shortchange" the Defense Department and is open to additional aid to Ukraine. (WP, 06.06.23)
    • "I will NOT vote for any money to be appropriated to fund a war in Ukraine & voted no all along," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted. "The U.S. should end the war and bring peace not fund." (WP, 06.06.23)


  • As part of what NATO bills as its "biggest overhaul" since the Cold War President Biden hosted Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark at the White House on June 5 to discuss security initiatives, including providing military support to Ukraine. One of the main discussion topics between Mr. Biden and Ms. Frederiksen, according to the White House, involved Ukraine's demand for American-made F-16 warplanes. (NYT, 06.06.23)
  • A trove of classified U.S. Department of Defense documents revealed concerns over the efficacy of Russian electronic warfare (EW) jamming of JDAM and other U.S.-supplied weapons using GPS. The documents articulated U.S. concerns that Russian jamming was causing some JDAM-ER munitions to miss their targets. (RUSI, 06.06.23)
  • Ukraine has become a proving ground for U.S. founders looking to showcase their latest technologies, from advanced drones to mini-satellites and cutting-edge targeting software. Startups that managed to make it into the country early in the conflict have shown they’re not only pioneers — their technology has use cases. And with China-made defense tech proliferating across Ukraine, they’re ready to offer an America-made solution. (Bloomberg, 06.03.23)
  • Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on June 5 that his government will ask Ukraine for clarification on reports that rifles made in Belgium had been used by pro-Ukrainian forces to fight Russian troops inside Russia's western border. (Reuters, 06.05.23)
  • Ukrainian units have been recently sent to Germany and other countries to learn "how to operate simultaneously together, like interoperability among the different units," Ukrainian defense minister  Reznikov said. "We need company-level, platoon-level, battalion-level training courses with techniques, with their infantry fighting vehicles, with a commander who will understand how to conduct his forces, support artillery, support reconnaissance operations," Reznikov said.  One goal of the training is to teach Ukraine's soldiers how to go on offense. (WP, 06.04.23)
  • "The jury's still out," said North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently, warning against underestimating Russia in the fight. "The Russians have been able to dig in deep defensive lines." (WSJ, 06.05.23)
  • Increased Russian efforts to jam Global Positioning System signals in the aftermath of a number of drone attacks have forced airline pilots flying in the Baltic region and Finland to resort to alternative navigation methods. (Bloomberg, 06.07.23)

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

  • New EU sanctions criteria in force since June 5 expand the list of people that can be targeted to include “leading businesspersons operating in Russia and their immediate family members” or other people that benefit from them. Also at risk, according to the new text, are now any “businesspersons involved in economic sectors providing a substantial source of revenue” to Russia, and no longer just “leading” businesspeople involved in these markets.

(Bloomberg, 06.09.23)

  • EU countries have agreed on a draft law to facilitate seizing the assets of Russian oligarchs and other individuals or institutions accused of circumventing the bloc’s sanctions against Moscow over the war in Ukraine. In a move that could hit European financial institutions, justice ministers on June 9 approved measures criminalizing the act of helping sanctioned individuals to bypass travel bans, trade banned goods, or conduct transactions with sanctioned states or entities. (FT, 06.09.23)
  • The UK and the U.S. announced a new economic partnership, which aims to push Russia from the global nuclear energy market, among other things, according to the "Atlantic Declaration," published by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Office on June 8. (TASS, 06.08.23)
  • Sources in the Russian electronics market said that in the past two weeks, they have increasingly encountered cases of Kazakh, Armenian and Hong Kong banks blocking payments from Russian legal entities for the purchases of processors and microcircuits. This is due to the introduction of a tenth package of U.S. sanctions that threaten banks that cooperate with the Russian Federation. (Kommersant, 06.07.23)
  • Iceland said on June 2 it would suspend work at its embassy in Russia as of Aug. 1, the first country to do so, and asked Russia to limit its operations in Reykjavik. (MT/AFP, 06.09.23)
  • The Romanian government has informed Russia that it must reduce the number of diplomats and administrative staff at its embassy in Bucharest by 51 positions. (RFE/RL, 06.08.23)
  • A Russian law firm has announced a class-action lawsuit against European securities settlement houses in Russian courts to recover funds that were frozen over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EU sanctions on Russia’s National Settlement Depository (NSD) and other Western measures have cut off many Russian investors’ assets held in foreign jurisdictions. (MT/AFP, 06.05.23)
  • South Africa stands to lose as much as $32.4 billion in export revenue, almost a 10th of its gross domestic product, should some of its main trading partners retaliate against its unwillingness to take a stance against Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to an estimate by  Ndivhuho Netshitenzhe, an economist at Stanlib Asset Management (Pty) Ltd., an (Bloomberg, 06.08.23)
  • Germany and India are closing in on a deal to build diesel submarines in the South Asian country as Russia’s prolonged war in Ukraine pushes New Delhi to expand its sources of military hardware beyond top supplier Moscow. (Bloomberg, 06.06.23)
  • NATO's newest member Finland on June 6 said it would expel nine diplomats working at the Russian embassy in Helsinki for acting in an "intelligence capacity." (MT/AFP, 06.06.23)
  • The UK government has introduced new sanctions against Belarus, targeting exports and internet propaganda, over Minsk’s continued support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The measures include an import ban on gold, cement, wood and rubber from Belarus, which are sources of revenue for the regime. (FT, 06.08.23)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu extended an offer to his Ukrainian counterpart on June 3 to use “all means” of outreach possible to try to end Russia’s war, while also pledging to expand military communications with Kyivf. Li met with Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and his team on June 3 on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, with China continuing to push for a role as peacemaker in the conflict despite its close political and economic ties to Moscow. (Bloomberg, 06.03.23)
  • An Indonesian defense minister has floated a peace plan for Ukraine, triggering fierce criticism from Western security officials but praise from China and highlighting the deep divide between the West and global South over Russia’s invasion of its neighbor. In a speech on June 3 at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Prabowo Subianto, a former special forces commander who is a leading candidate for Indonesia’s presidential election next year,  proposed a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, followed by the creation of a demilitarized zone between current front lines, a UN mission and referendums in “disputed territories.” (FT, 06.03.23)
    • That offer was dismissed by Reznikov, who said during a panel discussion earlier that “it sounds like a Russian plan, not an Indonesian plan.” (Bloomberg, 06.03.23)
  • In April 2023, ECFR conducted an opinion poll across 11 EU member states – Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden.  When asked what their country’s post-war relationship with Russia should be in the case of a negotiated peace, an average of 18% of respondents said their country should end all ties to Russia, 48% said their country should have a limited relationship, and 21% said their country should have a fully cooperative relationship with Russia. (RM, 06.07.23)

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

  • NATO and its allies will launch the largest-ever air-force wargames in the alliance's history next week. The 25-nation Air Defender 23 exercise, led by Germany, will deploy nearly 250 aircraft—including B-1 strategic bombers, advanced F-35 jet fighters and long-range lethal drones—as well as more than 10,000 troops from nations as far as Japan performing around 2,000 flights. The U.S. Air National Guard will contribute 100 aircraft and 2,600 troops from 42 federal states. The wargames will stretch from America through Germany to the Russian borders in the Baltics and around the Black Sea on June 12-23. Sweden, which has applied to join the Western military alliance, will also take part. (WSJ, 06.07.23, FT, 06.07.23)
  • As part of what NATO bills as its “biggest overhaul” since the Cold War, the alliance claims that it intends to defend “every inch” of its territory from Day One. ‘ Yet NATO hasn't committed to the level of permanent on-the-ground troops that some nations wanted. And interviews with more than a dozen senior officials, as well as former officials and analysts, suggest that the overhaul still has a ways to go before the alliance could repel Russia without losing an inch of territory. (WP, 06.05.23)
  • NATO has condemned Russia’s decision to quit the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, saying it "further demonstrates Moscow's continued disregard for arms control."
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry said on June 9 that Moscow will withdraw from the treaty, known as the CFE, on November 7. (RFE/RL, 06.09.23)
  • As optimism that Sweden will soon be able to join NATO rises, the Swedish government says it will allow the alliance to base troops on its territory even before formally joining the group. (NYT, 06.09.23)
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to discuss the upcoming NATO summit. (RFE/RL, 06.05.23)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • China and Russia conducted joint air force patrols over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea on June 6. Beijing and Moscow "staged the sixth joint aerial patrol in accordance with an annual military cooperation plan between China and Russia," the Chinese defense ministry said in a statement. (MT/AFP, 06.06.23)
  • Russian military plans to participate in the North. Interaction-2023 exercises organized by China, the Chinese Defense Ministry said on on June 9. General Liu Zhenli, chief of staff of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission, spoke by phone with Army General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, the Chinese ministry said in a statement. (TASS, 06.09.23)
  • "The coordination of Russian and Chinese efforts on the international stage has a stabilizing effect on the global situation," Russian Armed Forces Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov said during a videoconference with his Chinese counterpart, Liu Zhenli. (AFP, 06.09.23)
  • Russian-Chinese Bilateral trade in May stood at $20.57 bln and edged up by 7% against April 2023. (TASS, 06.08.23)
  • There has been a near collision between a Chinese warship and a U.S. destroyer in international waters on June 3. The Chinese ship cut directly ahead of the U.S. vessel, which was sailing through the Taiwan Strait with a Canadian warship. (FT, 06.03.23)
    • “Why does this all happen near China’s sovereign waters and airspace? Chinese ships and aircraft never go near other countries’ airspace and waters,” Li Shangfu, China’s new defense minister, said at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore on June 4. “The best way to prevent this from happening is that military vessels and aircraft [should] not come close to our waters and airspace.” (FT, 06.03.23)
    • Following Li’s speech, the Pentagon said it remained “concerned about the PLA’s increasingly risky and coercive activities in the region,” including those in recent days. (FT, 06.03.23)
  • On June 3  U.S. defense secretary Lloyd Austin and Canadian defense minister Anita Anand used their speeches at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference to criticize China for dangerous incidents in the air. Austin said the PLA had conducted an “alarming” number of risky aerial intercepts over the South China Sea. Austin attended a dinner where Li was present. The two men shook hands in their first interaction since Li became defense minister in March. (FT, 06.03.23, FT, 06.03.23)
  •  “China is willing to help build a security order of an even higher standard [and] an even more comprehensive multilateral security order,” Li Shangfu, China’s new defense minister, said at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore on June 4. (FT, 06.03.23)
  •  At the end of the session with China’s former ambassador to the United States at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, spoke directly to the Chinese envoy about the shifting power dynamics between China and Russia. Unlike decades ago, he said, China is now the “older brother” and Russia the “younger brother.” “Would you say to the younger brother to stop invading Ukraine?” Mr. Reznikov said, drawing applause from the room. (NYT, 06.04.23)
  • CIA Director William Burns made a secret visit last month to Beijing, where he met Chinese intelligence officials. During the trip, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency emphasized the importance of maintaining open lines of communication in intelligence channels between Washington and Beijing. (Bloomberg, 06.03.23)
  • Washington and Beijing are preparing for a potential visit to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken later this month that could include a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, according to officials on both sides. (WSJ, 06.07.23)
  • China is putting pressure on the European Union behind closed doors to scrap proposed trade restrictions on Chinese companies the bloc says are enabling Russia’s war machine in Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg, 06.08.23)
  • China and Cuba have reached a secret agreement for China to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island. Officials familiar with the matter said that China has agreed to pay cash-strapped Cuba several billion dollars. (WSJ, 06.08.23)
  • The share of Russians who have a positive attitude toward China increased from 85% in February to 87% in May, according to Levada’s polls. When asked by Levada pollsters to name countries that are friendliest to Russia in a multiple-choice question, 77% of Russian named Belarus in May 2023 (72% did so in 2022). The second-friendliest country is China (58% thought so in May 2023, compared to 50% in 2022), while India beat Kazakhstan to become the third-friendliest country in the eyes of Russians (31% thought so in May 2023 compared to 21% in 2022) according to Levada’s polls. (RM, 06.08.23)
  • In April 2023, ECFR conducted an opinion poll across 11 EU member states. Across the countries surveyed, an average of 43% of the respondents in the 11 countries viewed China as an ally, 24% viewed it as a rival and 11% viewed it as an adversary. An average of 26% viewed Russia and China as equal partners, while 13% viewed them as unequal partners and 9% did not see Moscow and Beijing as partners at all. When asked how their country should respond to a potential conflict between the U.S. and China over Taiwan, 23% said their country should support the U.S., 4.7% said their country should support China and 62% said their country should remain neutral. (RM, 06.07.23)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • Vladimir Putin made it clear on June 9 that Russia will begin moving non-strategic nuclear weapons to Belarus in July. “We are proceeding on schedule with regard to the most sensitive issues, which we have coordinated, Putin told a visiting Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi on June 9. “As you know, the preparation of the relevant facilities will be finished on July 7–8, after which we will immediately start the process of deploying the corresponding types of weapons in your territory. So, everything is going to plan consistently,” he said. (RM, 06.09.23)
  • In his June 2 speech, Jake Sullivan was for the first time explicit on the American response to China's rapid military buildup. Sullivan argued that the U.S. arsenal does not need to ''outnumber the combined total of our competitors'' to remain an effective deterrent. In the speech, Sullivan also said the administration would attempt to revive arms control discussions among the nuclear-armed members of the United Nations Security Council, and push them to embrace agreements on basic issues that can avoid accidental conflict, such as advance notification of missile tests.  While fairly basic, such a pact could lead to other agreements among the nuclear powers, including on crisis communication channels and restricting the use of artificial intelligence. Mr. Sullivan did not provide many details of the kinds of limits the administration would pursue but said one measure could manage nuclear risk by requiring ''a human in the loop for command, control and deployment of nuclear weapons.''  (NYT, 06.03.23)
    • Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on June 5 that a statement by U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan calling for bilateral arms control discussions was "positive,” and that Russia remained open for dialogue. (Reuters, 06.05.23 Interfax, 06.05.23)
    •  Russia’s decision to leave the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty with the U.S. is “unshakable,” but Moscow could be willing to return if Washington changes its policy on Russia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on June 3. (Politco, 06.03.23)
  • The Pentagon faces a delay of at least a year in its timetable to deploy the new $96 billion Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile that’s central to modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, according to the Government Accountability Office. (Bloomberg, 06.08.23)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security/AI:

  • The Kremlin said it was investigating what it called a “hack” after a bogus speech aired on some radio and television networks. A faked declaration of martial law and military mobilization by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia aired June 5 on a number of Russian radio and television networks, an incident that the Kremlin described as a “hack.”  (NYT, 06.06.23)
  • Tens of thousands of employees at some of Britain’s biggest companies, including British Airways, Boots and the BBC, have had their personal data compromised by a Russian-speaking criminal gang in a widespread hack expected to spread to the U.S. and ensnare more victims. (FT, 06.05.23)
  • Rishi Sunak, UK prime minister, will on June 8 announce that Britain will this autumn host the first global summit on the regulation of artificial intelligence, after a meeting in Washington with President Joe Biden. (FT, 06.08.23)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Three months before saboteurs bombed the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline, the Biden administration learned from a European intelligence service that the Ukrainian military had planned a covert attack on the undersea network, using a small team of divers who reported directly to the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces. The European intelligence reporting was shared on the chat platform Discord, allegedly by Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira. The intelligence report was based on information obtained from an individual in Ukraine. The highly specific details included the number of operatives and methods of attack. The European intelligence made clear that the would-be attackers were not rogue operatives. the details of the plot were withheld from Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky in order to allow the president to deny knowledge of an incident with serious international repercussions. (WP, 06.06.23, FT, 06.06.23)
    • In January, German investigators searched a yacht called the Andromeda that was hired in Rostock, a German port town, in September 2022 and may have participated in the attack. Explosive residue was found in the yacht cabin. German investigators and journalists have linked one individual involved in hiring the yacht to the Ukrainian military. The details from their investigation are similar in some regards to those cited by the Post, which relate to a plan to hire a boat in Germany. The intelligence report cited the intention to use a submersible vehicle, however, a method not previously associated with the Andromeda. (FT, 06.06.23)
  • While OPEC+’s new targets appear to result in a 1.4 million barrel-a-day output cut, they will actually yield a 200,000 barrel-a-day increase in the group’s real output. on OPEC+ cooperation by phone, the Kremlin said. The two leaders “gave high praise to the level of cooperation within the OPEC+ that [makes it possible] to make timely and effective steps to maintain the balance of oil supply and demand,” (Bloomberg, 06.05.23, Bloomberg, 06.07.23)
  • Russia exported about 2 million tons of gasoline in January-March, up from around 1.5 million tons in the first quarter of 2022. (MT/AFP, 06.09.23)
  • Deliveries of petroleum products from Russia to India surged by a factor of two to 6.2 mln metric tons in 2022. (TASS, 06.08.23)

Climate change:

  • The global temperatures in May were the second-warmest in the past three decades as polar ice continues to melt, according to a monthly report by Europe’s Earth observation agency Copernicus. (Bloomberg, 06.07.23)

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence capped his first full day as a formally declared presidential candidate with a CNN town hall in Iowa. ''When Vladimir Putin rolled into Ukraine, the former president called him a genius,'' Mr. Pence said. ''I know the difference between a genius and a war criminal.'' Swiping at Mr. DeSantis, he said at another point, ''I know that some in this debate have called the war in Ukraine a territorial dispute. It's not.'' (NYT, 06.08.23)
  • Nikki Haley, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, said helping Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression is in the U.S. national interest. "This is bigger than Ukraine," Haley said. "This is a war about freedom, and it's one we have to win." (CNN, 06.05.23)
  • The United States has imposed sanctions on seven leading members of a Russian influence group with links to intelligence services for their role in Moscow's campaign to destabilize Moldova and instigate an insurrection. (RFE/RL, 06.05.23)
  • Robert Hanssen, the former FBI agent who spied for Moscow for more than a decade, was found dead June 5 in his prison cell, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said. He was 79 years old. (WSJ, 06.05.23)
  • New York has leapfrogged Hong Kong as the world’s most expensive city to live in as an expat, according to ECA International’s Cost of Living Rankings for 2023. When it comes to Europe, Moscow became the 6th most expensive city for expatriates in 2023, compared to being 18th in the 2022 ranking. (Bloomberg, 06.06.23, ECA, 06.07.23)



II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Russia's economy is now expected to contract by just 0.2 percentage points this year, according to the World Bank’s updated forecast. This is 3.1 percentage points higher than the bank's previous estimate in January. While stronger recent momentum led the World Bank to raise its world gross domestic product forecast for the year to 2.1% from the 1.7% predicted in January, it cut its outlook for 2024 to 2.4% from 2.7%. The bank noted overlapping negative shocks from the pandemic, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the sharp tightening of monetary policy. (Bloomberg, WSJ, 06.06.23, MT/AFP, 06.06.23)
  • Russia extended its interest-rate pause to the longest in more than seven years as the central bank becomes increasingly alert to inflation risks at a time of heavy government spending on the war in Ukraine. Policymakers on June 9 kept their benchmark at 7.5%. (Bloomberg, 06.09.23)
  • Five billionaires in Russia’s oil, nickel and fertilizer industries, Vagit Alekperov, Vladimir Potanin, Andrey Guryev, Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko, are the nation’s top dividend earners, receiving about $10 billion in payouts from their companies since the start of 2022, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. They stand in contrast to many Russian companies that suspended or canceled dividend payments in the wake of sanctions stemming from President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 06.09.23)
  • Russia’s annual national direct call-in event with Vladimir Putin may take place toward the end of the year when there, hopefully, will be clarity with the situation on the battlefield in Ukraine, a source in the Kremlin staff told Kommersant. (RM, 06.08.23)
  • Regional authorities in Russia have been tasked with distributing free plots of land to veterans of Moscow’s war against Ukraine, according to a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin on June 6. MT/AFP, 06.07.23)
  • The administration of a prison in Russia's Vladimir region has barred journalists from entering the facility, where the preliminary hearing into a new criminal case against already jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny is set to start on June 6. (RFE/RL, 06.06.23)
  • Thousands of Russians in more than 100 cities — from Tokyo and Milan to Tel Aviv and Sydney — took part in June 4 demonstrations in support of Navalny. (MT/AFP, 06.04.23)
  • The European Court of Human Rights on June 6 condemned Russia for failing to properly investigate the 2020 poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny (MT/AFP, 06.06.23)
  • Oleg Orlov, co-chair of the human rights group Memorial, went on trial in Moscow on June 8 over criticism of Russia's Ukraine campaign, which could see him jailed for up to five years. (MT/AFP, 06.08.23)
  • Alexander Uss, the father of  Russian businessman Artem Uss wanted by the United States for smuggling U.S. military technology has been appointed as a senator. (MT/AFP, 06.08.23)


Defense and aerospace:

  • Russia's Baltic Fleet started naval exercises in the Baltic Sea on June 5 the Russian military's press service said. Around 3,500 soldiers and up to 40 ships and boats will take part in the drills, which are scheduled to last until June 15, the military said. (Reuters, 06.05.23)
  • Russia is reimporting parts for tanks and missiles previously sold to India and Myanmar, potentially to improve older weapons and equipment destined for use in Ukraine, the financial news outlet Nikkei Asia reported June 5 (MT/AFP, 06.05.23)
  •  See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • The head of the Investigative Committee’s investigations department for Moscow’s Tverskoi district, Marat Tambiyev, is being investigated for allegedly accepting the equivalent ot 24 million USD in bitcoins in April 2022 for refraining from freezing the assets of two Russian hackers he had been investigating. The bribe constitutes the largest single kickback that has been ever documented as having been accepted by a law enforcement officer in the history of post-Soviet Russia, according to Kommersant. Tambiyev had allegedly created a folder and named it “Pension” on his Apple computer to keep information on how to access the bitcoins, according to law enforcement professionals investigating the suspected bribe, Kommersant reported. (RM, 06.02.23)
  • Andrei Vereshchak, the jailed former warden of Correctional Colony No. 15 in the Siberian city of Angarsk, was handed an additional 10 years in prison on charges of abuse of office and bribe-taking. (RFE/RL, 06.05.23)
  • The FSB said on June 7 that a resident of the country’s Far East had been detained on a charge of allegedly passing classified information about law enforcement and military infrastructure to Ukrainian intelligence. In the last five months, 20 treason probes have been launched, while in 2022, the number of such cases launched in the country was 22. Almost half of the probes were launched against residents of Russia's Far East. (RFE/RL, 06.07.23)
  • Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said on June 9 that a resident of the Siberian city of Omsk had been detained on a charge of  spying for Germany. (RFE/RL, 06.09.23)
  • A local official in the Russian city of Vladimir, 200 kilometers east of Moscow, was detained on June 7 after she threw Molotov cocktails at a military recruitment center. Media reports identified the woman as Zhanna Romanovskaya, a 55-year-old official from the local Architecture and Construction Ministry. (RFE/RL, 06.07.23)
  • A jury at the Moscow City Court has found 45-year-old Moscow activist, Vitaly Koltsov, not guilty of attempting to murder 12 Russian National Guard officers. However, the jury concluded on June 6 that Koltsov was guilty of an arson attack but recommended a lenient punishment. (RFE/RL, 06.07.23)
  • European countries rejected 46 Russian extradition requests in January-May 2023, the publication cited Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Office as saying. Fifteen of the rejections by EU members including Austria, Italy, Germany and Poland cited political reasons. (MT/AFP, 06.08.23)
  • Russian authorities said on June 6 the number of people killed by tainted cider in the regions of Ulyanovsk, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, and Udmurtia had risen to 30. The cider was made from alcohol stolen from a warehouse in Samara that belongs to the Ministry of Internal Affairs  of Russia. (RFE/RL, 06.06.23, Media Zona, 06.08.23))


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa about the planned BRICS summit in Johannesburg amid uncertainty over whether he’ll be able to avoid arrest for alleged war crimes if he attends the meeting.  The two leaders “touched upon” preparations for the gathering in August as well as next month’s planned Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg in the phone call, according to a Kremlin statement on June 7 that didn’t say whether Putin intended to go to South Africa. (Bloomberg, 06.07.23)
  • The seven Western members of the Arctic Council, the main regional body, stopped cooperating with Russia after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto said he was concerned that the resulting gridlock might create “an Arctic with no rules, or an Arctic area with no common goal for climate change. It would be free for everyone to use for shipping routes, for raw materials.” (FT, 06.05.23.)
  •  Poland has deported to Russia a former officer of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Emran Navruzbekov, who fled the country in 2017 and claimed the FSB fabricated terrorist cases against residents of the North Caucasus. Polish authorities rejected Navruzbekov’s asylum request, citing security issues. Navruzbekov's wife said earlier that she and the couple's children were granted political asylum in Poland. (RFE/RL, 06.07.23)
  • The European Commission said on June 7 that it is launching legal action against Poland over its creation of a controversial body probing "Russian influence," which is seen as targeting the opposition. (AFP, 06.07.23)
  • The “top 100” Western companies that have stayed in Russia despite its aggression against Ukraine earned 1.1 trillion rubles ($13.4 billion) in 2022, according to an estimate released by Novaya Gazeta Europe on June 8. The newspaper estimates that about 288 billion rubles were paid to Russia’s federal budget from the earnings of the Western shareholders of Russian companies in 2022. That amounted to 1% of the budget’s revenues. (RM, 06.08.23)
  • The share of Russians who had a positive attitude toward the U.S. declined from 14% in February to 12% in May, according to Levada’s polls. The share of Russians who had a negative attitude toward the U.S. increased from 73% in February to 77% in May. The share of Russians who had a negative attitude toward the EU also increased in that period, from 69% to 72%. The share of Russians who think Russia should normalize relations with the West has remained unchanged in the past year: 57% want that while 37% are against it, according to Levada. (RM, 06.08.23)
  • In April 2023, ECFR conducted an opinion poll across 11 EU member states. Across the countries surveyed, an average of 4% of the respondents in the 11 countries viewed Russia as an ally, 19% viewed it as a partner, while 9% viewed it as a rival and 55% viewed it as an adversary. The highest percentage of respondents who viewed Russia as an ally or a partner was in Bulgaria: 18% and 47% respectively. T The highest percentage of respondents who viewed Russia as an adversary was in Denmark: 74% (higher than in Poland: 71%) (RM, 06.07.23)



  • Ukraine’s economy shrank 10.5% in January to March from a year earlier, less than the 13.7% predicted in a Bloomberg survey, the Statistics Office said on June 9. It grew on a quarterly basis by 2.4%. (Bloomberg, 06.09.23)
  • U.S. firms representing some of Ukraine’s largest private foreign creditors say their efforts to recover $130 million in assets have been hampered by parts of the Kyiv government. The Ukrainian company involved in the dispute in turn alleges the American firms are using the continuing war in Ukraine as pretext for taking over their grain-trading business and its subsidiaries. The dispute, though still working its way through courts in Ukraine, the U.K. and Switzerland, highlights the challenges facing a government dependent on Western support, including private investment, but long plagued by allegations of corruption. (WSJ, 06.04.23)
  • Calling Russia a "terrorist state" Ukranian diplomat Anton Korynevych addressed judges at the International Court of Justice in a case brought by Kyiv against Russia linked to Moscow's 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the arming of separatists in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine wants the world court to order Moscow to pay reparations for attacks in the regions, including for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. (AP, 06.06.23)
    • Russia accused Ukraine at the UN's top court on June 8 of destroying a key dam with artillery strikes, and alleged that Kyiv was led by neo-Nazis. (MT/AFP, 06.08.23
  • Ukraine’s Charge d’Affaires in Budapest officially protested a video on the Hungarian government’s official YouTube channel, which advocates for peace in Ukraine, designated the occupied peninsula as part of Russia on a map.  (Bloomberg, 06.04.23)
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country will open 10 new embassies on the African continent, starting with Rwanda and Mozambique. It will also seek to boost agricultural exports to the continent and strengthen military relations. (Bloomberg, 06.08.23)
  • The share of Russians who had a negative attitude toward Ukraine increased from 69% in February to 74% in Mary, according to Levada’s polls. (RM, 06.08.23)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Kyrgyzstan's State Committee of National Security (UKMK) said on June 6 that a group of men and women suspected of plotting to seize power had been apprehended. According to the UKMK, the group was led by the leader of the Eldik Kenesh (People's Council) political party. the Eldik Kenesh party is led by Roza Nurmatova. (RFE/RL, 06.06.23)
  • Russia's Rosatom has signed a fresh memorandum of cooperation (MoC) with Kyrgyzstan, on the non-energy application of nuclear technologies in healthcare and updated the country on the "progress of the development of a project for the construction" of a small modular reactor. (WNN, 06.09.23)
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Kyrgyz lawmakers to withdraw a controversial "foreign agents" bill, calling it "a highly repressive draft law" that is intended to "discredit and stigmatize" civil society groups that receive foreign funding similar to a law in Russia that has had a chilling effect on nongovernmental organizations.  (RFE/RL, 06.09.23)
  • Uzbekistan had 34.9mn people as of June according to the UN and by far the youngest and fastest growing population of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) states. That made Uzbekistan the fourth biggest population in Eurasia after Russia (146mn), Germany (83.2mn), Ukraine (43.8mn) and Poland (37.8mn) in 2021. (BNE, 06.03.23)
  • Sources in Tajikistan's government entities told RFE/RL on June 8 that dozens of armed Afghan citizens, including former Afghan military personnel, have been apprehended by Tajik law enforcement and security troops in the Central Asian nation's southern Khatlon region. (RFE/RL, 06.08.23)
  • Trade with China surged by about a third last year to approach $24 billion for Kazakhstan. It still lagged volumes with Russia — which added just over 6% in 2022 — by about $2 billion, according to Kazakhstan’s Bureau of National Statistics.   (Bloomberg, 06.06.23)
  • A Kazakh court has sentenced a woman to three years in prison for saying online that Russia should "take over North Kazakhstan and its capital, Petropavl, like it took Crimea" from Ukraine in 2014. (RFE/RL, 06.06.23)
  • The office of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, known as the office of the First President of Kazakhstan, will cease to exist within the next 45 days, the Central Asian nation's Finance Minister Erulan Zhamaubaev said on June 7. (RFE/RL, 06.07.23)
  • Students at the Turkmen Cultural Institute in Ashgabat have been forced by their teachers to go to theaters at least once a week. (RFE/RL, 06.06.23)
  • Belarusian poet Dzmitry Sarokin, 37, has died in police custody in the country’s western city of Lida. (RFE/RL, 06.05.23)
  • No significant developments.

Quotable and notable

  • "Now, it is increasingly clear that we are really in a multipolar international environment with at least three great powers: the United States, China and Russia," he said. "And three is much more complicated than two and certainly much more complicated than one,” Milley said at NDU. (, 06.09.23)
  •  “Putin cannot be seduced,” François Hollande said. “He respects force.” (FT, 06.09.23)
  • Russian MP Konstantin Zatulin claimed on June 1 that a Russian diplomat has told a recent session of the country’s Council for Foreign and Defense Policy that Russia’s problem is with the West and that it would not be bad to strike Rzeszów or Poland in general with an atomic bomb. (, 06.01.23)


*Here and elsewhere italicized text represents contextual commentary by RM staff.

Slider photo shared by the Ukrainian presidential administration via a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.