Russia in Review, March 1-8, 2024

7 Things to Know

  1. In the past month, Russian forces have gained 63 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 1 square mile, according to the March 6 issue of the Belfer Center’s Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. The past week has seen Russian forces continue to try expanding control around the town of Bakhmut, as well as to seize the village of Chasiv Yar, both in eastern Ukraine, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defense. Russian forces are also concentrating offensive efforts in the direction of the eastern town of Lyman, according to Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Pavlyuk.  In recent days, Russian troops have managed to push Ukrainian forces out of a string of villages west of Avdiivka, which they took control of earlier, according to WSJ. While Ukrainian commanders have had ample time to prepare defenses outside this eastern Ukrainian town, they still consist of sparse, rudimentary trenches, according to NYT’s analysis of satellite imagery. Ukraine has few remaining military strongholds in Donbas that could rival Avdiivka or Bakhmut, which they have retreated from. That means that with each Russian advance, Ukraine must retreat to often underprepared positions, according to WSJ.
  2. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his top military commander Oleksandr Syrskyi have failed so far to come up with a clear plan to conscript or recruit many thousands of new soldiers critically needed to defend against Russia's continuing attacks, WP reported. Syrskyi has been tasked with auditing the existing armed forces to find more combat-eligible troops, after Zelenskyy's office recently announced that of the 1 million people who have been mobilized, only about 300,000 have fought at the front lines, according to this newspaper. But nearly a month after Syrskyi’s promotion to  commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, no one in the military leadership or the presidential administration has explained where those 700,000 are—or what they have been doing, according to WP.
  3. The Pentagon’s “exasperation” with the Ukrainian military-political leadership’s conduct of war comes down to a single, recurring issue, according to NYT. American military strategists believe that Ukraine needs to concentrate its forces on one big fight at a time. Instead, Volodymyr Zelenskyy “expends his forces in battles for towns that U.S. officials say lack strategic value,” according to NYT. Some of these U.S. officials say they do not consider last summer’s efforts to have been a counteroffensive at all, NYT reported.  
  4. In his 2024 State of the Union address, Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin that “[w]e will not walk away. We will not bow down” in Ukraine, but also reiterated that the U.S. will not send troops to participate in the Russian-Ukrainian war. In his address, Biden also called on the Congress to send him the Bipartisan National Security Bill that would resume large-scale military aid to Ukraine. When Biden called for providing Ukraine with weaponry, House Speaker Mike Johnson nodded, ultimately offering some applause, according to WP.
  5. A survey by the Kyiv-based firm SOCIS conducted between Feb. 22 and March 1 asked 3,000 Ukrainian adults how they would vote in a hypothetical ballot. The poll found that if an election were held, 41% of respondents would have backed former Armed Forces commander-in-chief and Ukraine’s soon-to-be ambassador to the U.K. Valerii Zaluzhnyi in the first round, compared with 23.7% for Zelenskyy, according to Newsweek. Zelenskyy this week approved the appointment of Zaluzhnyi as the next Ukrainian ambassador to the U.K., Meduza reports.
  6. Russia now possesses approximately 4,380 nuclear warheads for its strategic and non-strategic nuclear forces—a net reduction of approximately 109 from last year’s estimate, according to a report written by FAS experts entitled, “Russian nuclear weapons, 2024,” and published by BAS. Despite prior U.S. assumptions of a potential shift toward a reliance on first use of nuclear weapons surrounding a potential low-yield “escalate-to-deescalate” policy, Russia’s official policy is largely consistent with previous public iterations of its nuclear strategy and has remained largely unchanged since Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, according to the report.
  7. Russia’s oil and gas revenue jumped more than 80% in February from a year earlier to over $10 billion due to higher prices for the nation’s crude as its producers withstood Western sanctions, according to Bloomberg. 


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi travelled to Sochi this week to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and discuss nuclear safety and security at the Zaporizhzhia NPP. He also held discussions with Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev, the head of nuclear regulator Rostechnadzor Alexander Trembitsky, the Permanent Representative to the international organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Russian Armed Forces and the National Guard. (Rosatom, 03.04.24, Bloomberg, 03.04.24, WNN 03.06.24)
  • The Board of Governors of the IAEA has approved a draft resolution on nuclear safety, security and safeguards in Ukraine by a majority vote. In particular, the document urges Russia to urgently withdraw all unauthorized personnel, including military forces, from the Zaporizhzhia NPP. (Ukrainska Pravda, 03.07.24)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • Iranian-produced UAV the Mohajer-6, provided to Russia, has been observed flying over the Black Sea and Crimea, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry’s Twitter (X) account. It is an Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance system, but can also conduct air-to-surface attacks with free-fall guided munitions. It has a practical range of approximately 200 kilometers at 10,000 feet, but that can be extended by handover to another ground control station.. It is also possible that its mission includes supporting Russian targeting processes for the southwest Ukrainian coastline, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry’s Twitter (X). (U.K. MoD, 03.08.24)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • British outlet The Times reported on March 4 that Chechen paramilitary groups are buying Ukrainian POWs from other Russian military units on a black market for trafficking POWs. (ISW, 03.06.24)
  • Ukraine has agreed to accept the bodies of the Ukrainian prisoners of war that Russia says were onboard the crashed IL-76 military transport aircraft, Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said. (Meduza, 03.03.24)
  • The International Criminal Court in The Hague has issued an arrest warrant for Lt. Gen. Sergey Kobylash, the commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ long-range aviation, and Adm. Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Both men are accused of the war crimes of directing attacks at civilian objects. (Meduza, 03.05.24)
    • The Kremlin said March 6 that it does not recognize the International Criminal Court's arrest warrants for the two officers. (MT/AFP, 03.06.24)
  • India is working to bring back about 20 of its citizens who ended up on the Russian side of the front line in Ukraine after their families said they were lured there under false pretenses. On March 7, Indian authorities said they have detained members of a "trafficking" network sending citizens of the country to fight for the Russian army in Ukraine after raiding several travel agents. (FT, 03.05.24, MT/AFP, 03.08.24)
  • Since 2014, Russia has issued more than 4 million passports in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine, according to the head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory Anton Drobovich during an international conference in Lviv, Ukrinform reports. (, 03.08.24)
  • Ukraine’s DTEK company, which supplies about 20% of Ukraine’s power needs, has recorded over 9,700 attacks on its infrastructure since the full-scale invasion started in February 2022. Almost 160 strikes were on the company’s thermal power plants, DTEK said. (FT, 03.03.24)
  • The Yale University Humanitarian Research Lab says it has documented 223 incidents of damage to Ukraine’s electric power infrastructure between October 2022 and April 2023. (RFE/RL, 03.04.24)

For military strikes on civilian targets see the next section.

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

  • In the past month, Russian forces have gained 63 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 1 square mile, according to the March 6 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 03.06.24)
    • Russian forces have continued attacks intended to expand control around the town of Bakhmut. Its forces have advanced to occupy eastern parts of the village of Ivanivske and are attacking Ukrainian positions in Bohdanivka. On this axis, Russia’s operational objective is almost certainly to seize Chasiv Yar, located approximately 5km from the front line. In recent days, Russia has pushed Ukrainian forces out of a string of villages west of Avdiivka, although hills and bodies of water a little further west can serve as natural obstacles for Kyiv that are easier to defend. (U.K. Ministry of Defense’s X (Twitter) account, 03.07.24, WSJ, 03.07.24)   
      • By many accounts, the Ukrainian retreat from Avdiivka was panicked and disorganized, with dozens feared left behind. (WSJ, 03.02.24)
    • Despite Ukraine’s losses in Avdiivka, U.S. officials predict that Russia will continue to put pressure on Ukrainian forces across multiple parts of the front line, hoping Kyiv’s units are degraded. The battlefield defeat, along with declining morale — exacerbated by the U.S. failure to continue supplying ammunition — might give the Kremlin’s formations an opportunity to exploit the situation on the ground. The Russian military does not, however, have the kind of reserve forces that could immediately exploit the weakened defenses created by the retreat from Avdiivka, those officials said. (NYT, 03.04.24)
    • Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Oleksandr Pavlyuk stated that Russian forces are concentrating offensive efforts near Avdiivka, in the direction of Chasiv Yar (west of Bakhmut), and in the Lyman direction. Pavlyuk stated that Ukrainian forces will aim to stabilize the frontline, that this will allow Ukraine to create a grouping of forces that will conduct unspecified counteroffensive actions (possibly but not necessarily counteroffensive operations) in 2024. (ISW, 03.07.24)
      • “We believe that Ukraine has a plan that they can execute to achieve victories on the battlefield. We’ve seen them making – having victories on the battlefield, most recently in the Black Sea, where in the last 24 hours they sunk another Russian ship. So we do believe that they have some surprises in store. We look forward to seeing the results,” Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said on March 5. (, 03.05.24)
    • Ukrainian commanders have had ample time to prepare defenses outside Avdiivka. The area has been under attack since 2014, and Ukraine has had a tenuous hold on it since Russia launched its full-scale invasion two years ago. But the Ukrainian defenses outside Avdiivka show rudimentary earthen fortifications, often with a connecting trench for infantry troops to reach firing positions closest to the enemy, but little else. These trench lines lack many of the additional fortifications that could help slow Russian tanks and help defend major roads and important terrain. (NYT, 03.04.24)
      • Ukraine has few remaining military strongholds in Donbas that could rival Avdiivka or Bakhmut during periods when these cities served as major hubs for Ukraine's resistance, said Dara Massicot, an expert on the Russian military at CEIP. That means that with each Russian advance, Ukraine must retreat to often underprepared positions. (WSJ, 03.07.24)
      • Avdiivka ''will receive maximum attention,'' Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during a visit near the front line in late November, noting the ''need to boost and accelerate the construction of structures.'' But Pasi Paroinen, an analyst from the Black Bird Group, which analyzes satellite imagery and social media content from the battlefield, said that ''nothing significant has happened'' since Zelenskyy's visit. (NYT, 03.08.24)
      • Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on March 4 that almost 31 billion hryvnia, or around $800 million, had been allocated for the construction of fortifications. Building physical defenses is now vital for Ukraine, not least because it is also struggling to mobilize troops. (WSJ, 03.07.24)
  • For the Pentagon, the exasperation [with Ukraine’s conduct of war] comes down to a single, recurring issue: American military strategists, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, believe that Ukraine needs to concentrate its forces on one big fight at a time. Instead, Zelenskyy, who has vowed to drive Russia out of every inch of Ukraine, expends his forces in battles for towns that U.S. officials say lack strategic value. At the Pentagon, some officials say they do not consider last summer’s efforts to have been a counteroffensive at all. The most recent example involved the battle for the eastern city of Avdiivka, which fell to Russia last month. U.S. officials say Ukraine defended Avdiivka too long and at too great a cost. (NYT, 03.07.24)
  • Zelenskyy said he is expecting a “detailed report and concrete proposals” from new commander in chief Oleksandr Syrskyi in the coming week. During his daily video address on March 2, Zelenskyy noted that Syrskyi recently returned from a tour of the front and added that the General Staff has “carte blanche for personnel changes in the army or any changes at the headquarters.” Syrskyi has announced a reshuffling of commanders of several combat brigades, noting that during his tour of the eastern part of the front, he determined that “some brigades manage to hold back enemy attacks and hold their positions, while others do not.” (RFE/RL, 03.03.24)
  • Zelenskyy and his top military commanders have failed so far to come up with a clear plan to conscript or recruit many thousands of new soldiers critically needed to defend against Russia's continuing attacks. The lack of a clear mobilization strategy — or even agreement on how many more troops Ukraine needs — factored into Zelenskyy's dismissal of his top general in February, but Syrskyi so far has brought no new clarity. Syrskyi has been tasked with auditing the existing armed forces to find more combat-eligible troops, after Zelenskyy's office recently announced that of the 1 million people who have been mobilized, only about 300,000 have fought at the front lines. But nearly a month after his promotion, no one in the military leadership or the presidential administration has explained where those 700,000 are — or what they have been doing. (WP, 03.04.24)
  • Zelenskyy has issued an executive order to demobilize conscripted soldiers whose service term was extended beyond Ukraine’s established terms amid martial law imposed during Russia’s full-scale invasion. (Meduza, 03.08.24)
  • Ukraine's military command is scouring brigades that were created for last year's counteroffensive, seeking to bring into combat the thousands of troops currently fulfilling support roles, said Mykola Bielieskov, a research fellow at Ukraine's government-linked National Institute for Strategic Studies. (WSJ, 03.07.24)
  • The number of women in the Ukrainian Armed Forces is increasing, reported the Defense Forces channel, which is coordinated by the Ministry of Defense, on March 8. As of January 2024, 45,587 female servicewomen are serving in the Ukrainian army. (Ukrainska Pravda, 03.08.24)
  • Ukrainian border guards detained two organizers of another scheme for illegally transporting men across the border. The channel for illegally transporting men across the border was organized by 29 and 45-year-old residents of the city of Krivoy Rog. The “service” cost $12,000, which had to be paid before leaving. (Ukrainska Pravda, 03.08.24)
  • While Ukraine grapples with manpower problems, Russia is adding around 30,000 men to its armed forces each month, according to Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukrainian military intelligence. (WSJ, 03.07.24)
  • Russian forces appear to be willing to risk continued aviation losses in pursuit of tactical gains in eastern Ukraine by providing more aggressive air support on the front lines. Military analysts say Russia has increasingly used warplanes near the front lines to drop powerful guided bombs on Ukrainian positions and clear a path forward for the infantry. That tactic has yielded good results, experts say. It has also come with risks. The Ukrainian Army last week said it had shot down seven Su-34 fighter jets, nearly all operating in the east, just a few days after downing an A-50 long-range radar reconnaissance aircraft. (NYT, 03.05.24, ISW, 03.02.24, NYT, 03.06.24)
  • "The average daily number of Russian casualties (killed and wounded) in Ukraine throughout February 2024 was the highest rate it has been, since the start of the war, at 983 per day," according to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense. (, 03.03.24)
    • Based on open sources, the BBC, together with Mediazona and a team of volunteers, managed to establish the names of 46,678 Russian military personnel who have died in the war in Ukraine since February 2022. Over the past two weeks, another 1,555 people have been confirmed dead, which is one of the highest increases in all months of the war. (BBC, 03.08.24)
    • Deputy commander of the 155th Marine Brigade of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, Lt. Col. Roman Kozhukhov, was killed in a HIMARS strike on a formation of fighters in Yelenovka, Donetsk region. This is the first confirmed loss as a result of the Ukrainian Armed Forces strike on the Marines on Feb. 29. (Istories, 03.05.24)
  • Lithuanian intelligence assessed that Russia has the capability to continue sustaining the current tempo of its war in Ukraine and will likely have the capability to gradually expand its military capabilities in the near term. Lithuanian intelligence also assessed that Russia is unlikely to abandon its long-term objectives of subjugating Ukraine even if Russia fails to achieve these objectives through military means. High oil prices, sanctions evasion and state investment are providing Russia with enough resources to fight on in Ukraine at the current intensity for at least two more years, Lithuanian intelligence agencies said in a report March 7. (Reuters, 03.07.24, ISW, 03.07.24)
  • On March 2, a suspected drone attack caused an explosion in St. Petersburg, with damage to a residential building and at least six injuries reported. St. Petersburg Gov. Alexander Beglov reported that an “incident” had occurred without giving a cause, saying some 100 residents were evacuated. St. Petersburg news outlet Fontanka reported that the blast was caused by a Ukrainian drone. Ukraine hasn’t commented. (RFE/RL, 03.02.24)
  • On March 3, Zelenskyy called for the world to help Kyiv defeat "Russian evil" as the death toll from the drone strike on Odesa rose to 12, including several children. (RFE/RL, 03.03.24)
  • On the night of March 4-5, Ukraine destroyed the Project 22160 Sergei Kotov large patrol ship of the Black Sea Fleet off the coast of the Kerch Strait. Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on March 5 that GUR special unit “Group 13” conducted the attack against the Sergei Kotov using Magura V5 naval drones, inflicting severe damage on the port and starboard sides of the ship, killing seven sailors and wounding six. (ISW, 03.06.24)
  • On March 5, Ukraine said it had jailed two men for 10 and 12 years each for passing sensitive information about military targets to Russia to help its invasion. (MT/AFP, 03.05.24)
  • On March 5, Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov of Russia's Belgorod region said that an important building in the region's Gubkin district was hit by a fire caused by an explosion. Media reports said the building that Gladkov mentioned is an oil depot in the village of Dolgoye. The oil depot belongs to Russian energy giant Rosneft. (RFE/RL, 03.05.24)
  • On March 5, explosions were heard in the Crimean city of Kerch, and the bridge connecting the occupied peninsula with Russia was closed. (RFE/RL, 03.05.24)
  • On March 5, Ukrainian air defenses shot down 18 of 22 drones launched by Russia at the southern region of Odesa. The attack mostly targeted residential and industrial areas of the Black Sea port of Odesa, the military said. Russia's Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said that its air defense forces destroyed three Ukrainian drones over the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 03.05.24)
  • On March 6, Russia launched its biggest drone attack on Ukraine in more than three weeks, with damage to energy infrastructure cutting power for 14,000 consumers in parts of the western Khmelnytskyi region. Defense forces shot down 38 of 42 Shahed drones targeted at areas across Ukraine, the Ukrainian Air Force said. The largest Russian assault since Feb. 11 also included five S-300 missiles. Four people were wounded after three drones hit the northeastern city of Sumy, close to the border with Russia. (Bloomberg, 03.06.24)
  • On March 6, a Russian ballistic missile struck “very close” to Zelenskyy and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis while the pair were visiting the port of Odesa, according to Mitsotakis. Five people were killed by the missile, Ukraine’s navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk told FT. Russia said it hit a hangar housing sea drones that have been used to attack Russian ships in the Black Sea. (FT, 03.07.24)
  • On March 6, a gasoline-storage depot in Russia's western region of Kursk near the Ukrainian border caught fire after being hit by two Ukrainian drones. (RFE/RL, 03.06.24)
  • On March 6, a car bomb killed a woman who was a member of the Moscow-installed local election commission in the Russian-occupied city of Berdyansk in Ukraine's eastern Zaporizhzhya region. Russia's Investigative Committee said it launched a probe into the "terrorist attack." (RFE/RL, 03.06.24)
  • On March 8, two people were killed and another was seriously injured as a result of a strike by three kamikaze drones on the village of Rozhdestvenka in Russia’s Belgorod region, said the regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov. (Istories, 03.08.24)
  • On March 8, Ukrainian air defenses shot down 33 out of the 37 drones launched by Russia at the Odesa, Kirovohrad, Kherson, Mykolayiv, and Kharkiv regions, the military said. Russia also fired one S-300 antiaircraft missile and two Kh-59 missiles, the military said. Meanwhile, shelling wounded five people, including a 3-year-old child, in Chuguyev, in Kharkiv region, governor Oleh Synyehubov wrote on Telegram. (RFE/RL, 03.08.24)

Military aid to Ukraine:

  • “Overseas, Putin of Russia is on the march, invading Ukraine and sowing chaos throughout Europe and beyond. If anybody in this room thinks Putin will stop at Ukraine, I assure you, he will not. But Ukraine can stop Putin if we stand with Ukraine and provide the weapons it needs to defend itself. That is all Ukraine is asking. They are not asking for American soldiers. In fact, there are no American soldiers at war in Ukraine. And I am determined to keep it that way ... I say this to Congress: we must stand up to Putin. Send me the Bipartisan National Security Bill. History is watching. If the United States walks away now, it will put Ukraine at risk,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address March 7 (SOTU-2024). (, 03.07.24)
  • When Biden called for providing Ukraine weaponry, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), nodded, ultimately offering some applause. What some might not have realized in that moment is that each of Biden's statements closely echoed how Johnson has, at times, talked about Ukraine. But Johnson is currently the man standing in the way of a bipartisan Senate bill that got 70 votes and would send another $60 billion to Ukraine. (WP, 03.08.24)
  • Biden’s SOTU-2024 contained two mentions of Russia compared to none in SOTU-2023, six mentions of Putin compared to four in 2023; eight mentions of Ukraine compared to three in SOTU-2023, and zero mentions of Zelenskyy. (RM, 03.08.24)
  • Olena Zelenska, Ukraine's first lady, declined an invitation from the White House to attend the State of the Union address, forgoing one of Washington's most dignified events and underscoring the complicated politics facing her war-torn country. (WP, 03.06.24)
  • Ukraine will receive 4.5 billion euros ($4.9 billion) from the European Union through its four-year Ukraine Facility program in the next few days, with an additional 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) to come over the next two months, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on March 8. (RFE/RL, 03.08.24)
  • The Biden administration is weighing whether it can tap around $200 million in U.S. Army funding to provide Ukraine immediate support as a larger aid package remains stalled in Congress, according to people familiar with the matter. The funding could be used to pay for critical weapons, supplies and other equipment as Ukraine faces an artillery shortage, and comes as Russian forces have made small territorial advances in recent weeks. (Bloomberg, 03.07.24)
  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on March 7 that Congress's inaction in approving new U.S. aid to Ukraine is "nothing short of a gift" to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran, and other adversaries as Ukrainian forces run short of ammunition to fight Russia's invasion. (Reuters, 03.07.24)
  • Ukraine is set to receive U.S.-made F-16 fighter aircraft within months, an upgrade that Kyiv and its Western allies hope will help level the playing field with Russia’s formidable air force. But the F-16s will only have a meaningful impact on the war in Ukraine if Kyiv and its partners can build and maintain the extensive support and logistics infrastructure necessary to keep these world-class warplanes in the air. (CFR, 03.05.24)
  • On March 1, Margarita Simonyan, head of Russian state broadcaster RT, posted a recording on her Telegram channel in which the head of the Luftwaffe, Ingo Gerhartz, discussed the possibility of deploying German Taurus missiles in Ukraine with other senior officers. Gen. Gerhartz is heard saying that Germany could afford to supply 100 missiles to Ukraine, delivered in two tranches. One participating general is heard saying the missiles could relatively easily be fitted onto Ukraine's Su-24 jets. In the 30-minute conversation, they also discussed whether Ukraine could attack Russian targets without the participation of German soldiers. The officers also discussed whether Ukraine could attack the Crimean bridge. The eavesdropped conversation was part of preparations for a briefing for defense minister Boris Pistorius. (FT, 03.02.24, WSJ, 03.03.24)
    • German chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised a full investigation into the incident. Scholz’s message last week was clear: Berlin would not deliver Taurus cruise missiles to Kyiv because German soldiers would have to be sent to Ukraine to program them. And that meant Germany would be dragged into war with Russia. The German chancellor’s argument has now been blown apart — by his own military. (FT, 03.05.24)
    • Pistorius said that the leak by Russian state media of a phone call among senior German military officials was caused by "individual error." According to an ongoing investigation, the conference call was leaked because one participant dialed into the Webex call on an unsecure line from Singapore. Pistorius also said that Putin is looking to divide Ukraine’s allies with a disinformation campaign. (WP, 03.06.24, Bloomberg, 03.03.24)
    • Russia's Foreign Ministry on March 1 summoned the German ambassador to Moscow after Russian state media leaked the conversation. "Germany is preparing for war with Russia," the deputy head of Russia's Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, said on Telegram. "Attempts to present the conversation … as a game of rockets and tanks are a malicious lie." (WP, 03.03.24, MT/AFP, 03.04.24)
    • ''Scholz's behavior has showed that as far as the security of Europe goes, he is the wrong man in the wrong job at the wrong time,'' Ben Wallace, Britain's former defense minister, said after Scholz hinted that Britain, France and the United States may secretly be helping Ukraine target missiles. (NYT, 03.05.24)
  • On March 5, French President Emmanuel Macron told expats in Prague it was time for Ukraine's allies to step up, adding that a moment was being approached "in our Europe where it will be appropriate not to be a coward." Macron has faced backlash from many Western allies after he discussed the idea of sending Western troop to Ukraine. But during a visit to Prague on March 5, Macron said he stood by his comments, and that a "strategic leap" was necessary. Macron also threw his support behind a Czech plan to deliver hundreds of thousands of artillery shells to Ukraine from countries outside the European Union. (Reuters 03.05.24, Bloomberg, 03.05.24)
    • Ukraine’s allies have lined up nearly all the funding required for a Czech-led initiative to purchase hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds, according to a government official familiar with the arrangements. (Bloomberg, 03.06.24)
    • On March 7, Macron has said there are "no limits" to Paris' support for Kyiv. The French head of state held a meeting with France's other party leaders at the Elysee Palace to discuss the situation in Ukraine, according to Le Monde. Following the  meeting, Fabien Roussel, national secretary of the French Communist Party, said Macron had expressed how "France's position has changed" regarding the war, and that "there are no more red lines, there are no more limits," the publication reported. (Newsweek, 03.07.24)
      • NATO countries can only escalate the war in Ukraine if they send soldiers to confront Russia. All other assistance is not escalation, stated British Foreign Secretary David Cameron at a joint press conference with his German colleague Annalena Baerbock. (, 03.08.24)
      • Russian Security Council Chairman Dmitry Medvedev took to X (formerly Twitter) to respond to the Le Monde report: “Then that means, Russia has no more red lines left for France.” He concluded his post with a phrase from Roman law, “in hostem omina licita,” which translates to “against the enemy, everything is permitted.” (Meduza, 03.08.24)
    • Lithuania’s Gabrielius Landsbergis, Estonia’s Margus Tsahkna, Latvia’s Krisjanis Karins and Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba praised Macron’s “outside of the box” approach during a joint press conference, after Paris convened a meeting of foreign affairs ministers in Vilnius on March 8. “What Macron is reminding everyone and bringing again to the forefront is the sense of urgency,” Karins said. “This is what is needed.” (Bloomberg, 03.08.24)
  • “Three French companies will be setting up partnerships with Ukrainian companies, in particular in the drone and land equipment sectors, to produce spare parts on Ukrainian soil, and perhaps ammunition in the future,” French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu said in an interview, adding that the first production could begin by this summer. (FT, 03.08.24)
  • Fiscally conservative EU states are pushing back at a nascent Brussels plan to boost common funding for defense, raising doubts over the drive to expand rapidly the continent’s industrial capacity. “We would not accept a power grab by the commission,” said a senior EU diplomat, who described an associated idea of the 27 member states issuing new jointly backed defense bonds as “pure fantasy.” Countries including Germany and the Netherlands are unwilling to issue new debt. (FT, 03.05.24)
  • The European Union is setting aside an initial €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) to boost the bloc’s defense industry, in a proposal that could face pushback from nations wary of Brussels grabbing too much power. (Bloomberg, 03.05.24)

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

  • Russia managed to import $8.8 billion worth of dual-use goods from around the world in the first 10 months of 2023, just 10% lower than in the pre-sanctions period, according to a January report by the Kyiv School of Economics. (WSJ, 03.04.24)
  • German prosecutors have charged two people with illegally delivering electronic parts for use in drones to Russia, accusing them of circumventing sanctions imposed on Moscow. The accused delivered components to a Russian company that produces military equipment, including the Orlan-10 drone, which has been used by Russian forces in Ukraine, the German Federal Public Prosecutor's Office said March 5. (dpa, 03.06.24)
  • Poland will call on the European Commission to impose a full ban on imports of food products from Russia and Belarus in a bid to increase the region’s security and protect farmers, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said. (Bloomberg, 03.04.24)
  • A survey of European and U.S. consumers conducted by Danish corporate reputation expert Caliber showed that only a small minority knew which global companies had remained in Russia among a selection of 18. Those that have left, including Volkswagen and Renault, barely got a reputational boost. (FT, 03.01.24) 

For sanctions on the energy sector, please see section “Energy exports from CIS” below.

Ukraine-related negotiations: 

  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin and Chinese Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs Li Hiu met in Moscow on March 2 to discuss China’s desire to facilitate peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Galuzin and Li noted that it is “impossible” to discuss a settlement in Ukraine without Russia’s participation and without “taking into account [Russia’s] interests in the security sphere.” Galuzin and Li added that Western and Ukrainian “ultimatums” and “dialogue formats” only “harm the prospects for a settlement and cannot serve as [the settlement’s] basis.” China is ready to "continue its efforts to promote peace talks, mediate and build consensus among Russia, Ukraine and other relevant parties, and promote a final political settlement of the Ukraine crisis," China's foreign ministry said in a readout from the meeting. (ISW, 03.03.24, Reuters, 03.02.24)
    • Senior Ukrainian officials, in a meeting with a Chinese regional envoy on March 7, pressed Kyiv's plan to end the two-year conflict with Russia and presented what they said was evidence of North Korean weaponry supplied to Moscow. Hui visited Ukraine and met with Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Zelenskyy, March 7. It was the envoy’s second visit to Kyiv within a year. “We appreciate the partnership with China and hope that today’s talks will be another step toward deepening and strengthening our relations,” Yermak said. (Bloomberg, 03.07.24, Reuters, 03.08.24)
    • On March 6, Hui held talks with Polish Foreign Ministry Secretary of State Władysław Teofil Bartoszewski. The two sides had an extensive exchange of views on the crisis in Ukraine and the next step of the peace talks, among others. Chinese Ambassador to Poland Sun Linjiang and officials from relevant departments and bureaus of Poland’s Foreign Ministry were present. (Chinese MFA,  03.08.24)
      • Beijing’s outreach abroad appears to contrast with its actions at home. Ukraine’s ambassador, Pavlo Riabikin, has secured only a handful of meetings since his arrival in the Chinese capital last summer, despite sending requests to almost 40 different ministries and municipalities, according to a person familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg, 03.04.24)
  • "All our efforts point to one goal, that is, to pave the way for ending the conflict and starting peace talks," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a press conference in reference to the conflict in Ukraine. China supports the holding in due course of an international peace conference that is recognized by both Russia and Ukraine and ensures the equal participation of all parties and fair discussions on all peace plans, he said. (Xinhua, 03.07.24)
  • Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan stated during the Antalya Diplomatic Forum on March 3 that Turkey hopes talks for a ceasefire in Ukraine will “start soon” and that Turkey believes that “both sides have reached the limits” of what they can achieve through military means. (ISW, 03.03.24)
    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov publicly rejected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent offer to host a negotiation platform for Russia and Ukraine. Lavrov attended the Antalya Diplomatic Forum in Turkey on March 1 and responded to a question about Erdogan’s offer by stating that there are no current dialogue initiatives that consider Russian interests. Lavrov also claimed Ukraine lacks the “goodwill” to negotiate with Russia, insinuating that the lack of substantive negotiations is Ukraine’s fault and not Russia’s fault. (ISW, 03.02.24, ISW, 03.03.24)
  • Zelenskyy on March 8 visited his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan – standing next to Zelenskyy – said his country is ready to host peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv and that it will “strongly contribute” to efforts to rebuild Ukraine after the war. Zelenskiy, however, said Moscow would not be invited to the high-level peace summit that Switzerland has offered to hold in the spring, although he added that a Russian representative could be invited to a subsequent meeting after a road map for peace is agreed upon with Kyiv’s allies. (Bloomberg, 03.08.24, RFE/RL, 03.08.24)
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants to discuss how to end Russia’s war on Ukraine this week with former U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida. Orbán is set to meet Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago on March 8, in a rare sign of support from an EU leader for the Republican frontrunner. “The only serious chance for peace now is if he’s able to come back — that’s my only hope,” Orbán said of Trump last week. (FT, 03.08.24, Bloomberg, 03.06.24)

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

  • Biden said in SOTU-2024: “My message to President Putin is simple. We will not walk away. We will not bow down. I will not bow down ... It wasn’t that long ago when a Republican president, Ronald Reagan, thundered, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.’ Now, my predecessor, a former Republican president, tells Putin, ‘Do whatever the hell you want.’ A former American president actually said that, bowing down to a Russian leader. It’s outrageous. It’s dangerous. It’s unacceptable. Europe at risk. The free world at risk, emboldening others who wish to do us harm.” (, 03.07.24)
  • Sweden finally joined NATO on March 7. At a meeting in Washington, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson deposited the final paperwork with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. "There is no clearer example today of the strategic debacle that Ukraine has become for Russia," Blinken said March 7, standing beside an elated Kristersson. “The Baltic Sea becomes a NATO lake,” said Krišjānis Kariņš, Latvia’s foreign minister and a self-declared candidate to head NATO. (FT, 03.07.24, WP, 03.08.24)
  • NATO kicked off an exercise on March 4 to defend its newly expanded Nordic territory when more than 20,000 soldiers from 13 nations began taking part in drills lasting nearly two weeks in the northern regions of Finland, Norway and Sweden. With over 4,000 Finnish soldiers taking part, the Norway-led Nordic Response 2024 represents the NATO newcomer's largest-ever participation in a foreign exercise, according to Finland's military. (AP, 03.04.24)
  • The biggest exercise NATO has held since the end of the Cold War, Steadfast Defender 24, began on Jan. 24 and will run to the end of May. A key finding of the exercise will be what more needs to be done to enable frictionless movement of much larger forces across national boundaries in the event of a real crisis or pre-crisis. The answer is likely to be quite a lot. Since the Cold War, moving forces across Europe has become entangled in a web of national regulations and customs requirements, while the physical infrastructure needed, such as resilient rail systems and bridges strong enough to bear the weight of tank transporters, has been neglected. (Economist, 03.07.24)
  • Lithuanian intelligence assessed that Russia is preparing for confrontation with NATO in the long term while also waging its war in Ukraine. Lithuanian intelligence assessed that Russia has allocated substantial resources to the war in Ukraine but maintains the means to prepare for a long-term confrontation with NATO in the Baltic Sea region. (ISW, 03.07.24)
  • Putin likes to “terrorize surrounding countries” in the pre-election period, Latvian Prime Minister Evika Silina said in an interview with public broadcaster Latvijas Radio March 8. “We live next to a neighbor, who one might say is like an alcoholic or an addict, whose actions we cannot predict.” (Bloomberg, 03.08.24)
  • Russia is intensifying disinformation attacks against democratic countries in an effort to turn allies against each other and create friction ahead of European Union and U.S. elections, according to Romania’s foreign minister on March 7. (Bloomberg, 03.08.24)
  • Elon Musk sparked backlash March 2 in an X post after writing that he "always wondered why NATO continued to exist even though its nemesis and reason to exist, The Warsaw Pact, had dissolved." (Newsweek, 03.03.24)
  • Russia's Defense Ministry said March 5 that it had scrambled a fighter jet to "prevent a violation of the Russian state border" by three French aircraft over the Black Sea. (MT/AFP, 03.05.24)
  • Two fighter jets that took off from NATO's Aviano Air Base in Italy landed in Albania on March 4 to mark the reopening of the Soviet-era Kucova Air Base. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said during the inauguration, noting the increased threat Europe faces from "the ambitions of Russia." (RFE/RL, 03.04.24)
  • The head of France’s Dassault Aviation has cast doubts over the EU’s fresh pledges to ratchet up arms production in the bloc, warning that building a true European defense industry could take decades. “Europe believes all of a sudden that working on defense is a good thing . . . I’m delighted that realization is there. Between that realization and the reality of building a European defense industry it’s going to take many years and even many decades,” Éric Trappie said. (FT, 03.06.24)
  • Biden turned to an unlikely ally on March 1 in his drive to build support for Ukraine's war effort as U.S. aid falters, declaring during a White House visit by the far-right prime minister of Italy that the two leaders ''have each other's backs'' and ''have Ukraine's back.” (NYT, 03.02.24)
  • The CIA argues that even in the age of artificial intelligence and ubiquitous intercepts, human sources are more important than ever. Only with a human source can intelligence officers make proper sense of intercepts and understand the context of an overheard conversation, the CIA's espionage chief, Tom Sylvester, says in a podcast the agency released on March 6. ''That brutal invasion of Ukraine and the hundreds of thousands of casualties have horrified many of the individuals in Russia with whom we wish to be in contact,'' Sylvester said. (NYT, 03.03.24)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • “We want competition with China, but not conflict. And we’re in a stronger position to win the competition for the 21st century against China or anyone else for that matter,” Biden said in SOTU-2024. (, 03.07.24)
  • China's foreign minister painted the U.S. as a paranoid superpower and criticized Europe's policy toward Beijing as increasingly muddled, comments that laid bare how deep distrust persists between China and the West despite a surge of diplomacy to stabilize ties. In a 90-minute press conference March 7, Foreign Minister Wang Yi also warned of the possible escalation in the war between Russia and Ukraine, celebrated the close ties between Beijing and Moscow and echoed recent comments by Putin about the risk of a protracted conflict. "Efforts to maintain and promote Chinese-Russian relations are a strategic choice made by the two sides on the basis of the fundamental interests of the two countries’ peoples," Wang said. (WSJ, 03.08.24, TASS, 03.08.24)
  • "China is our eternal neighbor. I have been trained as a Turkologist. The Turks have a proverb that a close neighbor is frequently better than a bad relative. So we really value how our relations with China are unfolding. Both President Putin and Chairman Xi repeatedly said that these relations are at their historic high. And I hope that we will surpass this high," he said at the Knowledge First educational marathon. (TASS, 03.06.24)
  • Russia and China are deepening their strategic space cooperation, including cooperation on satellite surveillance and space exploration. Russian space agency Roscosmos Head Yuri Borisov stated March 5 that Russia and China are considering delivering and constructing a nuclear power plant on the moon in 2032-2035. (ISW, 03.06.24)
  • War games, which were written by Russian officers between 2008 and 2014, offer a window on the Russian army’s long-standing fears about Beijing’s real intentions. The documents recount years of exercises rehearsing a possible Chinese invasion, revealing the military establishment’s deep suspicion of Beijing. Some documents suggest concern that China might mount offensives via Kazakhstan — possibly leading to strikes on western Siberia and even the Urals. But in several exercises dating back as far as 2008, the invasion force’s ultimate goal is to take over the Russian far east. (FT, 02.29.24)
  • China’s defense spending will grow by 7.2% in 2024 — the most in five years — an increase that comes amid signs corruption is undermining a military revamp. Military expenditure by the central government is expected to rise to 1.67 trillion yuan ($231 billion) this year, according to a Finance Ministry report released on March 5. (Bloomberg, 03.05.24)
  • China’s foreign trade grew faster than expected in the first two months of this year, driven partly by electronics and increased exports to emerging markets and Russia, with Beijing’s foreign minister touting “a new paradigm” in relations with Moscow. China’s exports rose by 7.1% in January and February compared with a year earlier, beating a Reuters poll of analysts that forecast an increase of 1.9%. Imports were up 3.5%, compared with a 1.5% estimate. Russia became China’s fifth-biggest single-country trading partner last year. (FT, 03.07.24)
  • Chinese exports of dual-use goods to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have surged since February 2022, when the war began, according to China's customs data. Exports of the 45 targeted goods rose to $1.3 billion in 2023, up 64% over 2022 levels. Many of these goods were then sent to Russia, according to trade records shared by C4ADS. In the two years before the war, China didn't report exporting a single drone to Kazakhstan. But in 2023, Kazakhstan bought $5.9 million worth of unmanned aircraft from China and exported $2.7 million worth of such products to Russia. (WSJ, 03.04.24)
  • Yuan financing is becoming costly and sparse in Russia, choking off a pathway to foreign capital for companies that are already facing much higher domestic interest rates and a wave of debt due this year. But even as yields on China’s benchmark government bonds hover around a two-decade low, insufficient yuan liquidity in Russia and demand for the currency from importers are contributing to higher borrowing expenses. The funding dilemma leaves companies like Russia’s biggest miner, MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC, choosing between expensive ruble funding or the rising cost of domestic yuan debt. Russia more than doubled its benchmark last year, saddling corporate borrowers with as much as 1.2 trillion rubles ($13 billion) in extra debt-servicing costs, according to Moscow-based consultancy Yakov & Partners.  (Bloomberg, 03.05.24)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • Russia now possesses approximately 4,380 nuclear warheads for its strategic and non-strategic nuclear forces—a net reduction of approximately 109 from last year’s estimate, according to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists article, “Russian nuclear weapons, 2024.” (FAS/BAS, 03.07.24)
  • Despite prior U.S. assumptions of a potential shift toward a reliance on first use of nuclear weapons surrounding a potential low-yield “escalate-to-deescalate” policy, Russia’s official policy is largely consistent with previous public iterations of its nuclear strategy and has remained largely unchanged since Putin came to power in 2000, according to “Russian nuclear weapons, 2024.” (FAS/BAS, 03.07.24)
  • On March 5, in reference to Macron’s statement that NATO and EU members may send ground troops to Ukraine in an “official way,” Russian Foreign Intelligence Service chief Sergey Naryshkin said that the statement was very dangerous. When asked if such statements put the “world on the brink of a nuclear war,” Naryshkin agreed. (RM, 03.05.24)
  • During his talk at the World Youth Festival on March 6, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov touched on concerns about nuclear war breaking out between Russia and the West, saying that “a nuclear war is a last resort.” But, he added, Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons “if something threatens its existence.” “All discussions about nuclear war, of which there are now a lot in the West, European capitals and the United States, are extremely irresponsible and extremely dangerous because this issue is being routinized,” he said. (MT, 03.06.24)
  • Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova responded to Finnish President Alexander Stubb’s recent statement about NATO membership providing Finland a nuclear deterrent by claiming that American nuclear facilities in northern Europe would be “legitimate targets” for Russia in a hypothetical direct conflict between Russia and NATO. (ISW, 03.07.24)
  • Russian Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko stated that Russia needs to reassess and denounce international agreements that do not serve Russia’s national interests, specifically unspecified international agreements signed by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and other Soviet and Russian leaders. (ISW, 03.07.24) 
  • As part of Russia's functions as a coordinator of the P5, a regular working meeting was held on Feb. 29 in that format per the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. (Russian Foreign Ministry, 03.03.24)


  • The U.S. Embassy in Russia on March 7 issued a warning about possible terrorist attacks in Moscow in the next 48 hours. On March 7, the Russian FSB reported that its agents had thwarted the activities of an ISIS cell in the country’s Kaluga region whose members were planning an attack on a Jewish religious institution in Moscow. The FSB said the terrorists “put up armed resistance” and were “neutralized by return fire.” (Meduza, 03.08.24)
  • Six gunmen were killed in a shoot-out with police in the town of Karabulak in the Russian North Caucasus region of Ingushetia on March 2, law enforcement officials reported. The National Anti-Terrorism Committee said in a statement that the slain men were “a group of fighters planning crimes in the realm of terrorism.” Russian authorities claimed the men had ties to the Islamic State terrorist organization. The independent Baza Telegram channel reported on March 3 that only five of the slain men were gunmen, while the sixth was an uninvolved passerby. Baza also reported that three police officers were wounded. (RFE/RL, 03.03.24)

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security/AI: 

  • Palantir Technologies and the Ukrainian Economy Ministry signed an agreement to use artificial intelligence to help clear the country of mines over the next decade. An area twice the size of the Czech Republic is affected by mines and other munitions, according to Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko. (Bloomberg, 03.04.24)
  • A Russian state-sponsored hacking group Microsoft first identified in January, called Midnight Blizzard and also called Cozy Bear and APT29, that stole sensitive data from Microsoft executives, is trying to leverage that information to compromise the company’s source code and internal systems, according to the technology giant. (Bloomberg, 03.08.24)
  • Authorities in northern Russia’s Khanty-Mansi autonomous district said they plan to release a homegrown version of ChatGPT to help local lawmakers draft new legislation, regional media reported March 5. (MT/AFP, 03.05.24)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Russia’s oil and gas revenue jumped more than 80% in February from a year earlier to over $10 billion due to higher prices for the nation’s crude as its producers withstood Western sanctions. Budget proceeds from taxes on oil and gas totaled 945.6 billion rubles ($10.4 billion) last month, the Finance Ministry said March 5. Levies on crude and petroleum products — which accounted for 84% of total hydrocarbon revenues — more than doubled, according to Bloomberg calculations based on the data. (Bloomberg, 03.05.24)
  • Russia will cut oil production output by 350,000 barrels a day (bpd) in April, by 400,000 bpd in May and then 471,000 bpd in June as part of a move to boost prices. The plan, agreed with Russia's energy allies in the OPEC+ group, comes on top of previous cuts to both oil output and exports as some of the world's largest energy producers drive to push up market rates amid economic uncertainty. (MT/AFP, 03.03.24)
    • Russia’s compliance with its pledge to reduce crude oil output worsened slightly last month after reaching nearly 100% at the start of the year, according to Bloomberg calculations based on official data. (Bloomberg, 03.08.24)
  • Russian refineries’ recovery from Ukrainian drone attacks helped the country’s oil processing to pick up in the second half of February. The nation processed 5.44 million barrels of crude a day during the Feb. 15-28 period, a person with knowledge of industry data said. That’s 226,000 barrels a day, or just over 4%, above levels seen in the first half of the month, according to Bloomberg calculations based on historic figures. (Bloomberg, 03.04.24)
  • India’s state-run oil refiners are shying away from contracted Russian crude supply as the once-booming trade becomes much harder under tighter enforcement of U.S. sanctions. The biggest state-owned refiner Indian Oil Corp. will likely reduce the amount of crude received under so-called term supply, while Bharat Petroleum Corp. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. have decided against making firm commitments to take contracted oil next financial year. (Bloomberg, 03.05.24)
  • Ukraine Energy Minister German Galushchenko ruled out any commercial agreements to allow Russian natural gas to continue flowing through the country after the current transit deal lapses at the end of the year. (Bloomberg, 03.05.24)
  • Spain has asked the EU to take a tougher stance on Russian LNG imports by ensuring that countries can block them without shipments being diverted to neighbors. The country has seen deliveries from Russia double since the invasion of Ukraine to make up roughly a fifth of its gas imports last year. (Bloomberg, 03.05.24)
  • Ever-tighter sanctions against Moscow have left a South Korean shipbuilder struggling to find buyers for specialized vessels intended to serve Russia’s newest LNG facility, threatening to delay exports from the Arctic project. Russia’s Sovcomflot PJSC had ordered the vessels, specifically tailored for use at Novatek PJSC-led Arctic LNG 2 export plant above the Arctic circle, in 2020, but the contract was terminated after the invasion of Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 03.05.24)
  • Control of an $850 million gas-storage development in Uzbekistan linked to sanctioned Russian tycoon Gennady Timchenko, a close associate of Putin, has been transferred to an obscure offshore firm owned by an Uzbek political insider with whom Timchenko has commercial ties, an RFE/RL investigation has found. (RFE/RL, 03.05.24)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • According to B4Ukraine, a coalition of NGOs, American companies paid $712 million in corporate taxes in Russia in 2022, German businesses paid $402 million and Swiss ones $275 million. (Economist, 02.29.24)

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • Victoria Nuland, the third-ranking official at the State Department and a determined advocate of tough policies toward Putin's Russia, will retire this month after more than 30 years of government service. (NYT, 03.06.24)
  • Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service chief Sergey Naryshkin said that he has an agreement with CIA head William Burns to prevent leaks on issues they discuss personally, which they agreed on at their first meeting. (, 03.05.24)
  • A retired U.S. Army officer has pleaded not guilty to charges that he shared classified intelligence with a woman claiming to be from Ukraine, using e-mail and an online dating platform to send information that included Russian military targets in Ukraine. David Slater entered the plea in federal court in Nebraska on March 5. (RFE/RL, 03.05.24)
  • Into the depleted field of journalism in America, a handful of Russian-created websites meant to mimic actual news organizations have appeared in recent weeks with names suggesting a focus on news close to home: D.C. Weekly, the New York News Daily, the Chicago Chronicle and a newer sister publication, the Miami Chronicle. The fake news organizations, experts say, represent a technological leap in the Kremlin's efforts to spread false and misleading narratives. (NYT, 03.08.24)


II. Russia’s domestic policies 

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • At least 27,000 people came to pay their respects to murdered opposition leader Alexei Navalny between March 1 afternoon and March 3 evening, independent media outlet Mediazona reported on March 6 citing passenger data sourced from the Moscow metro. (Novaya Gazeta Evropa, 03.06.24)
    • Police in Moscow have begun arresting people who attended Navalny’s funeral on March 1, according to the human rights project OVD-Info. (Meduza, 03.05.24)
    • Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny’s widow, has urged Russians to follow through on her late husband's plan to hold a mass protest on election day by flocking to polling stations across the country at noon to cast ballots against incumbent Putin or to spoil them. (RFE/RL, 03.06.24)
    • Hours before Navalny’s death, Putin held a meeting with Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich in which they discussed Navalny’s possible release in a prisoner exchange, independent media outlet Agentstvo has reported, citing two sources familiar with the details of the conversation. According to one of the sources, Putin verbally agreed to a prisoner swap (Meduza, 03.08.24)
    • The Kremlin instructed Russia’s security forces to take measures to “protect the constitutional order from threats” following Navalny’s death. According to the sources, the prospect of a public funeral for Navalny alarmed Russia’s leadership, despite Putin’s efforts to project strength following the opposition leader’s death. (Meduza, 03.02.24)
    • Peskov said March 4 it “has nothing” to say about the large crowds of mourners who have visited Navalny's grave since he was buried in Moscow late last week. “We haven’t talked much about this topic, and we believe that we have nothing more to say,” Peskov said. (MT/AFP, 03.04.24)
    • Sergei Naryshkin, the director of the Foreign Intelligence Service claimed March 5 that opposition leader Navalny died of natural causes, a statement that appeared to reflect the Kremlin's efforts to assuage international outrage over the death of Putin's fiercest foe. (Bloomberg, 03.05.24)
    • More than 40 countries have demanded an independent international investigation into the death of Russian opposition leader Navalny and said Putin bore ultimate responsibility. (RFE/RL, 03.04.24)
    • The head of human rights for the U.N. has chided Russia for its throttling of "dissenting voices" prior to this month's presidential election, adding that the death of Navalny added to concerns over the state of human rights in the country. Speaking at a meeting of the U.N.'s Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 4, Volker Turk pointed to the absence of opposition candidates over administrative technicalities in the March 15-17 election. (RFE/RL, 03.04.24)
    • Canada announced new sanctions on March 3 against six Russian officials following the death of opposition leader Navalny last month in an Arctic prison colony. The sanctions target "senior officials and high-ranking employees of Russia’s prosecution, judicial and correctional services," a statement by Canada's foreign affairs department said. (MT/AFP, 03.04.24)
  • Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin, who is serving an 8 1/2-year prison term for his criticism of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, has been labeled as "inclined to spread extremism" and faces tighter controls in prison, his Telegram channel said on March 4. (RFE/RL, 03.04.24)
  • A Moscow court has sentenced journalist Roman Ivanov to seven years in prison on charges of spreading “disinformation” about the Russian army, according to RusNews, the media outlet where he worked. (Meduza, 03.06.24)
  • Russia has added former chess champion and exiled Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov to its state list of “terrorists and extremists.” (MT/AFP, 03.06.24)
  • A Moscow court on March 4 issued an arrest warrant for Abbas Gallyamov, the self-exiled former speechwriter of Vladimir Putin, on a charge of distributing false information about Russia's military (RFE/RL, 03.04.24)
  • The Memorial human rights group has recognized musician Eduard Sharlot, who was arrested in November 2023 on his return from Armenia, where he publicly protested against Moscow's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, as a political prisoner. (RFE/RL, 03.06.24)
  • A court in Russia's Irkutsk region in Siberia sentenced nine Jehovah's Witnesses to various prison terms on March 5 as a crackdown on the religious group continues. (RFE/RL, 03.05.24)
  • Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has launched a package of Russian-language satellite news channels that it said would provide independent journalism for Russian speakers. The Svoboda (Liberty) Satellite Package contains nine radio and TV channels, with content largely produced by journalists forced to leave Russia after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 03.06.24)
  • At least a dozen clinics in Russia “secretly” conduct so-called conversion therapy, an abusive practice used to forcibly “cure” LGBTQ+ people, the U.S.-funded broadcaster Current Time reported on March 4. (MT/AFP, 03.04.24)
  • In Russia, the poverty level decreased by 0.5%, according to Rosstat data. Over the year it decreased from 9.8% to 9.3%. 800 thousand people ceased to be “officially poor.” Now 13.5 million out of 146 million Russians can be classified as poor. (Istories, 03.07.24)
  • According to Meduza’s sources, the Putin administration’s political team is well aware that Russia’s upcoming elections hold little interest for voters. To ensure they nonetheless produce the president’s desired voter turnout rate of 70–80 %, Kremlin officials plan to use electronic voting terminals and QR codes to pressure government-dependent voters such as civil servants, state corporation employees, and workers at government-loyal private companies to go to the polls and bring their friends and relatives with them. The Kremlin has also issued strong recommendations for parties participating in the elections to “significantly roll back monitoring measures.” (Meduza, 03.04.24)
    • The Appeal Board of the Russian Supreme Court on March 4 rejected anti-war presidential hopeful Boris Nadezhdin’s latest appeal of a Central Election Commission (TsIK) decision to bar him from being registered to run in the March 15-17 presidential election. (RFE/RL, 03.04.24)
    • Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) announced March 6 that it will set up special polling places for next week’s presidential race along the country’s borders with Poland, Belarus and the three Baltic states. (MT/AFP, 03.07.24)

Defense and aerospace:

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

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • A military court in the Siberian city of Chita on March 6 sentenced a resident of the Zabaikalye region to 11 years in prison for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a military recruitment center. The court concluded that Sergei Lovchikov will serve the first two years of his term in a cell-like penitentiary (RFE/RL, 03.06.24)
  • Moscow’s Preobrazhensky district court on March 4 sentenced former Federation Council member Rauf Arashukov's cousin Ruslan Arashukov to 16 1/2 years in prison on charges of embezzlement and participation in a criminal group. The court also sentenced Beslan Arashukov, Arashukov's second cousin, to 16 years in prison on the same charges. (RFE/RL, 03.04.24)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Russian spies working out of embassies still holds in traditionally neutral countries such as Austria and Switzerland. Security officials from both countries said there were around 150 known Russian agents still operating there under diplomatic cover. Another intelligence official from a different country estimated that nearly a third of Russia’s intelligence operations across the continent were now run from “the safe hubs” of Vienna and Geneva. (FT, 03.06.24)
  • A senior member of Slovakia's government met his Russian counterpart on March 2 in a rare high-level encounter between an EU member state and a country that the bloc has sought to isolate. Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Blanar held talks with Russia's Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum in Turkey, the countries said. (Reuters, 03.02.24)
  • The West African nation of Mali will be able to reduce power cuts during the month of Ramadan, thanks to a fuel donation from Russia. (Bloomberg, 03.08.24)


  • There are several reasons that make holding elections during wartime impossible according to Zelenskyy. Among them is, for instance, the need for appropriate changes in legislation; a need to respect the military who have the right to express their will during elections; and a need for a separate infrastructure to allow 7 million Ukrainians who are currently abroad to participate in voting, Zelenskyy said. (, 03.08.24)
  • A survey by the Kyiv-based firm SOCIS conducted between Feb. 22 and March 1 asked 3,000 Ukrainian adults how they would vote in a hypothetical ballot. The poll found that if an election were held, 41% of respondents would have backed former Armed Forces commander-in-chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi in the first round, compared with 23.7% for Zelenskyy. (Newsweek, 03.06.24)
  • Zelenskyy has approved the appointment Zaluzhnyi as the next Ukrainian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry announced on March 7. (Meduza, 03.08.24)
  • Next week, the European Commission will present to the EU member states a draft negotiating framework for Ukraine's accession to EU for these states’ approval. This was stated by Executive Vice President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis at a joint press conference with Prime Minister of Ukraine Denis Shmygal in Kyiv on March 8. (, 03.08.24)
  • Ukraine is prepared to accept restrictions on its trade with the EU to defuse a bitter political dispute with Poland, but is also urging the bloc to ban Russian grain imports, the Ukrainian trade minister Taras Kachka has said. (FT, 03.06.24)
    • Poland, seeking to meet the needs of protesting farmers, plans to ask the European Union to put sanctions on Russian and Belarusian agricultural products, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said during a visit to the Lithuanian capital. (Reuters, 03.04.24)
  • When Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s military ruler, found himself besieged by rebel forces in the country’s capital last summer, he called an unlikely ally for help: Zelenskyy. Zelenskyy had reasons to take the request seriously: Burhan had been quietly supplying Kyiv with weapons since shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, according to Ukrainian and Sudanese military officials. In addition, the Sudanese rebels were backed by Russia’s Wagner paramilitary group, which has also mined gold in the country and used it to fund Moscow’s war in Ukraine. (WSJ, 03.06.24)
  • A court in Moscow has issued an arrest warrant for Petro Vrublevskiy, the former Ukrainian ambassador to Kazakhstan, on a charge of inciting hatred. Vrublevskiy found himself at the center of a scandal in August 2022 -- about six months after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine -- after he said in an interview with noted Kazakh blogger Dias Kuzairov that "the more Russians we kill now, the fewer of them our children will have to kill in the future." (RFE/RL, 03.04.24)
  • Ukraine and the liberal Russian opposition share a common enemy. Both want to see an end to Putin's reign and his war against Ukraine. But the Ukrainian reaction to the death of Navalny, Putin's greatest opponent, has highlighted the depth of the disconnect between the two sides. (WP, 03.08.24)
  • Addressing participants at a youth festival in Sochi on March 4, Russian Security Council Chairman Dmitry Medvedev presented a map that showed the majority of Ukraine’s territory divided between Russia, Poland, Romania, and Hungary. Only an area approximately the size of Ukraine’s Kyiv region was labeled “Ukraine.” The former Russian president said that the “territory on both banks of the Dnipro is inherently part of Russia’s historical strategic borders.” (Meduza, 03.05.24)
  • In two months of the year, the hryvnia depreciated by more than 2% against the dollar, for January - February 2024, the average official exchange rate of the hryvnia to the dollar was 37.92 UAH/USD. (Ukrainska Pravda, 03.08.24)
  • Bulgaria has ceased imports of crude oil from Russia ahead of schedule as part of the measures adopted in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The ban on Russian oil imports affects the Lukoil Neftochim oil refinery, located west of the Black Sea port city of Burgas. The refinery is mostly owned by the Russian oil and mining giant, Lukoil. (, 03.02.24) 
  • The SBU and the police exposed the head of one of the departments of the Rivne military hospital and the ex-military committee in a corruption scheme. The men are suspected of receiving bribes from military personnel for declaring them unfit for service. (Suspilne novyny, 03.07.24)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Moldova suspended the Cold War-era Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty on March 6 Moldovan officials stated that Moldova is suspending the CFE Treaty because there has been a “fundamental change in circumstances” in the international security environment since the original signing of the treaty. Russian State Duma Defense Committee Chairperson Andrei Kartapolov responded to the Moldovan decision and claimed that it is against Russian interests, despite the fact that Russia itself withdrew from the treaty in 2023. (ISW, 03.07.24)
  • Putin met with the governor of pro-Russian Moldovan autonomous region Gagauzia, Yevgenia Gutsul, on March 6 and emphasized Russia’s support for Gagauzia. Putin and Gutsul met on the sidelines of the World Youth Festival in Sochi and discussed “complex regional and geopolitical issues,” which Gutsul claimed Gagauzia is at the “epicenter of.” Gutsul informed Putin about the “lawless actions” of Moldovan authorities and claimed that Moldova is systematically ”taking away [Gagauzia’s] powers, limiting the budget, violating legal rights, [and] provoking instability and destabilization in Gagauzia and throughout [Moldova]. Putin has promised to support the Gagauz region and the Gagauz people in defending their “legitimate rights and international position”, according to Gutul.” (ISW, 03.07.24, BNE, 03.08.24)
  • At the Ankara Diplomatic Forum, Lavrov made threatening statements towards the Republic of Moldova stating, “The government in Chișinău, led by Romanians, is following in the footsteps of the regime in Kyiv.” This comes in the context of Transnistria’s request for Russian support, citing so-called "economic pressures from Moldova." (, 03.04.24)
  • France and Moldova have signed defense and economic co-operation agreements. The defense accord includes placing a French military representative in Moldova, as well as training programs and arms supplies. Paris has also pledged to invest in Moldovan energy projects, natural resources and rail transport. (FT, 03.07.24)
  • Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanian said his Caucasus nation is willing to sign a peace deal with bitter rival Azerbaijan based on principles previously agreed upon by the two neighbors. He also said his country is prepared to normalize relations with Turkey, which is a close ally of Baku. Speaking on March 2 during a visit to the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey, Kostanian said any deal with Baku requires that both sides recognize each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty. He said Yerevan seeks full normalization of relations with Ankara, including the opening of their border and the establishment of diplomatic ties. (RFE/RL, 03.02.24)
  • Senior Russian officials acknowledged Armenia’s reduced participation in the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), marking a notable shift in Russian official rhetoric that previously sought to ignore Armenian efforts to distance itself from the CSTO. Lavrov stated that “it is time for Armenia to decide on its status in the CSTO,” likely in response to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Feb. 22 statement that Armenia “essentially” froze its participation in the CSTO because the CSTO “failed to fulfill its obligations in the field of security” to Armenia, particularly in 2021 and 2022 (ISW, 03.02.24)
  • Armenia said March 6 that it had officially asked Russia to withdraw its border guards from an airport in Yerevan. “Armenia has a clear position on this issue and it informed Russia in an official letter,” Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan told reporters. Under a 1992 agreement signed with Armenia, Russia maintains several border guard detachments at locations throughout the South Caucasus country, including at Yerevan's Zvartnots airport. (MT/AFP, 03.06.24)
  • Russia plans to unleash a hybrid attack against Moldova in a bid to undermine the former Soviet republic’s plan to join the European Union and maintain Kremlin influence, Moldova’s intelligence chief Alexandru Musteata said. (Bloomberg, 03.05.24)
  • Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said March 8 she has not heard from her jailed husband for a year, describing the lack of communication as a form of torture. She called on U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to intervene, saying that other Belarusian political prisoners had also been cut off from the outside world. (MT/AFP, 03.08.24)
  • A Belarusian citizen was killed in Russia’s Republic of Karelia during an attempt by Russian FSB agents to arrest him on terrorism charges, Russian state news agency Interfax reported on March 7, citing the FSB’s Public Relations Center. According to the FSB, the man belonged to the Kastuś Kalinoŭski Regiment, a unit of Belarusian soldiers fighting for Ukraine. (Meduza, 03.07.24)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • A woman at Navalny’s funeral in Moscow made a comparison between Putin and Navalny: “One sacrificed himself to save the country, the other one sacrificed the country to save himself,” she said. (X, 03.01.24)
  • “Our democracy is the best, and we will continue to build it,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. (Vedomosti, 03.06.24)
  • “Belgium appeared on the world map as an independent state largely thanks to Russia and Russia’s position. But this no longer matters today,” Putin said in response to a question from a Belgian festival participant, without offering any further clarification. (Meduza, 03.08.24)
  • “We don’t have anything against Russians, but we do against Russian tanks. We just want Russia to respect the Republic of Moldova,” Moldovan President Maia Sandu declared during an emission with Journal TV. (Agerpres, 03.01.24) 


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

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

Slider photo by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine shared under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.