Russia in Review, March 29-April 5, 2024

6 Things to Know

  1. Russian forces have gained 23 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 0 square miles in the past month, according to the April 2, 2024, issue of the Belfer Center’s Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. Most recently, Russian forces have advanced into the outskirts of the town of Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine, according to both Russian sources and Ukrainian OSINT group DeepState. Come late May or early June, Russia will be likely to launch an assault on Kharkiv, which is also located in eastern Ukraine and which is Ukraine’s second largest city, according to Andriy Yermak, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff. Zelenskyy himself estimates that Russia will mobilize an additional 300,000 soldiers by June 1 for the offensive. There’s a great risk of the front lines collapsing wherever Russian generals decide to focus their offensive, high-ranking Ukrainian military officers who served under Valerii Zaluzhnyi told Politico
  2. A U.S. House of Representatives vote on military aid to Ukraine isn’t likely until at least mid-April, with the chamber’s speaker Mike Johnson still searching for ways to soften opposition from Republican hardliners, according to Bloomberg. In fact, the odds of the assistance being approved are no better than 50%, according to multiple members of the House Republican leadership cited by this news agency. If Johnson does end up putting the aid bill for a vote, it may offer Ukrainians loans or repurpose some seized Russian assets, according to Politico. Further delays in aid would mean “we will go back, retreat, step by step, in small steps,” Zelenskyy has told David Ignatius of WP in a recent interview. American military and intelligence officials believe that Ukraine may not hold out much longer in the absence of renewed aid from the U.S, according to Rep. Mike Turner of the House Intelligence Committee.
  3. Zelenskyy signed a package of bills on April 2 to lower the age of wartime conscription from 27 to 25 and to crack down on draft dodgers in an effort to replenish the ranks of Ukraine’s combat units, which are significantly outmanned, outgunned and fatigued. The age bill was approved by the parliament in May 2023, but it took Zelenskyy more than 10 months to sign off on the unpopular measure. Another unpopular measure is the mobilization bill, which is to further expand the pool of Ukrainians who can be called up to fight. This bill, which has been debated since last year, is going to be heard in the second reading next week, according to Meanwhile, a survey by Ukraine’s Rating pollster has revealed that 36% of Ukrainians believe the current scale of mobilization is insufficient, while 49% believe it is either sufficient or too large. 
  4. More than two weeks before terrorists staged a bloody attack outside Moscow, the U.S. government told Russian officials that Crocus City Hall was a potential target,  U.S. officials familiar with the matter told WP. The U.S. identification of this hall as a potential target raises new questions about why Russian authorities failed to take stronger measures to protect the venue, according to this newspaper. In spite of WP’s revelations, Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, claimed that the information the United States shared was “too general and did not allow us to fully identify those who committed this terrible crime,” according to WP.  
  5. When China proposed its 12-point vision for peace between Ukraine and Russia more than a year ago, the Russian official reaction was not exactly welcoming, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying the conditions were not right to pursue it. Fast forward to April 2024, however, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov describes Beijing’s peace plan as “the clearest” and “reasonable.”  "The most important thing for us is that the Chinese document is based on an analysis of the reasons for what is happening and the need to eliminate these root causes. It is structured in logic from the general to the specific," Lavrov was quoted by RIA as saying. "This plan was criticized for being vague ... But this is a reasonable plan that the great Chinese civilization proposed for discussion,” Reuters quoted Lavrov as saying. “The clearest plan was presented by China last year," according to Lavrov, who is to travel to China in the near future for talks on Ukraine and other issues with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
  6. The number of Russian billionaires in the Forbes world ranking has grown over the past year from 110 to 125 people. This is the highest number of Russians in the history of the list of the world's richest businessmen, according to Forbes’ Russian edition. The previous record for the number of Russians in the ranking was recorded in 2021 at 123 peopleThere could have been more Russian businessmen on the list if 10 individuals had not renounced their Russian citizenship, according to Forbes, which ranked ex-president of Lukoil Vagit Alekperov as Russia’s richest person, with a fortune that grew from $20.5 billion to $28.6 billion over the last year.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • Ukraine's power generating company, Enerhoatom, said on April 4 that one of the two power lines at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has been under the control of Russia's occupying forces since March 2022, was disconnected from the grid amid intensive Russian shelling. (RFE/RL, 04.04.24)
  • The Neutron Source Facility of the National Science Center “Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology” in Ukraine’s Kharkiv lost power on April 4 after shelling by Russian forces, according to Two diesel generators were turned on to restore power. (RM, 04.04.24)
  • A new international membership organization - the Nuclear Energy Maritime Organization  - has been launched to bring together stakeholders involved in all aspects of floating nuclear power and nuclear mobility. Headquartered in London, NEMO will seek to provide expert guidance to nuclear and maritime regulators represented at the International Maritime Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency. (WNN, 04.04.24)
  • Russia continues to be the biggest player globally in providing nuclear fuel, accounting for over 40% of the global market, including to Europe and especially to the United States, the biggest single buyer of enriched Russian uranium.  (FP, 04.04.24)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • Russia summoned the South Korean ambassador on April 5 to protest Seoul’s sanctions over Moscow’s alleged arms trade with North Korea. (Bloomberg, 04.05.24)
  • Russia and China hold similar positions on the situations on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement following a meeting in Beijing between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Miao Deyu. (TASS, 04.04.24)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • Five thousand children have been evacuated from Russia's Belgorod region bordering Ukraine following weeks of deadly bombardment by Kyiv, the region's governor said March 30. Regional authorities last week said 9,000 minors would be moved to other regions after a spate of cross-border shelling and drone strikes killed over a dozen civilians. "Five thousand of our children are already outside the region. Yesterday, 1,300 children arrived in St. Petersburg, Bryansk and Makhachkala," Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said. (MT/AFP, 03.30.24)
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has announced that Ukrainians can now file claims for damages suffered in Russia's invasion at a newly established register based in The Hague. (RFE/RL, 04.02.24)
  • Speaking to tens of thousands of followers in St. Peter's Square, and millions more across the globe, the pope called for a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine and for an end to hostilities. (WP, 03.31.24)
  • In recent weeks, Russia has destroyed 80% of Ukrainian thermal power stations, according to Prime Minister of Ukraine Denis Shmygal. The destroyed plants accounted more than six gigawatts of power grid capacity. (Istories, 04.05.24) Such stations had accounted for almost 30% of electric power generation in Ukraine prior to the war.*
  • Located six meters underground, the first purpose-built "bunker school" designed to shield students from Russian bombardment is now ready for students in Kharkiv. (RFE/RL, 04.04.24)
  • 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 23 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have re-gained 0 square miles, according to the April 2 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 04.02.24)
    • In its account of developments on the front on April 4, Ukrainian OSINT group DeepState stated in its Telegram channel that “the situation is more difficult east of Chasiv Yar”, because the Russians entered the outskirts of this settlement. DeepState also said the “enemy continues to attack in many areas, the resources available in manpower, the advantage in artillery and the availability of redundant equipment allow pressure in several directions at the same time.” (RM, 04.04.24)
    • "Since the start of the year, 403 square kilometers ... have come under our control," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed on April 2, referring to gains in the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions that Moscow claimed to have annexed in 2022, despite not fully controlling them. (MT/AFP, 04.02.24)
    • Russian forces appear to have increased the number and size of mechanized ground assaults on select sectors of the frontline within the past two weeks, marking a notable overall increase in Russian mechanized assaults across the theater. (ISW, 04.03.24)
    • Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, sees the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest, as the most likely target for the main thrust of an assault. “We know that Putin is preparing a new wave of mobilization and we reckon new counter-offensive operations by the Russians could start at the end of the May or the beginning of June,” Yermak said. “Ukraine is approaching a critical moment,” he said. (Politico, 04.04.24)
      • An unspecified senior NATO official reportedly told Russian opposition news outlet Vazhnye Istorii that NATO intelligence agencies have not observed indications that Russia is preparing for a large-scale partial mobilization wave. (ISW, 04.04.24) 
    • According to high-ranking Ukrainian military officers who served under Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi—the military picture is grim. The officers said there’s a great risk of the front lines collapsing wherever Russian generals decide to focus their offensive. Moreover, thanks to a much greater weight in numbers and the guided aerial bombs that have been smashing Ukrainian positions for weeks now, Russia will likely be able to “penetrate the front line and to crash it in some parts,” they said. “There’s nothing that can help Ukraine now because there are no serious technologies able to compensate Ukraine for the large mass of troops Russia is likely to hurl at us. We don’t have those technologies, and the West doesn’t have them as well in sufficient numbers,” one of the top-ranking military sources told Politico. (Politico, 04.03.24)
    • Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, a Republican who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CBS News over the weekend that American military and intelligence officials had made it clear Ukraine could not hold out much longer. “We are at a critical juncture on the ground that is beginning to be able to impact not only the morale of the Ukrainians that are fighting but also their ability to fight,” Turner said. On the front lines in Ukraine, they call it the “shell hunger,” a desperate shortage of munitions that is warping tactics and the types of weapons employed. (NYT, 04.05.24)
  • On March 30, Ukraine said that Russian shelling overnight and in the morning killed two elderly people in the eastern town of Krasnogorivka. (MT/AFP, 03.30.24)
  • On March 30, Ukrainian shelling killed a woman in the Russian border village of Dunayka. (MT/AFP, 03.31.24)
  • On April 1, Russia’s air strikes on Kharkiv knocked out “almost all” of the city’s energy infrastructure, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said. (Meduza, 04.02.24)
  • On April 2, Ukraine said a Russian missile strike on its central city of Dnipro wounded at least 18 people. (MT/AFP, 04.02.24)
  • On April 2, Ukraine carried out its longest-range drone strikes in Russia. The drones struck the Niznekamsk oil refinery – one of the five largest in Russia – in the Tatarstan region, more than 1,100 km (700 miles) from the border. At least 12 people were injured in the attack. (CNN, 04.02.24, FT, 04.02.24)
    • Republic of Tatarstan Head Rustam Minnikhanov warned that Russian companies and local authorities must defend themselves against Ukrainian drone strikes and not rely on Russian air defenses following the strike. (ISW, 04.03.24)
  • On April 2, Zelenskyy signed a bill to lower the age of wartime conscription from 27 to 25. The bill was approved by lawmakers in May 2023. Ukraine’s total population of 25- and 26-year-olds was about 467,000 in 2022. Zelenskyy signed the measure, along with laws eliminating a category of medical exemption known as “partially eligible” and creating an electronic database of men in Ukraine, starting at age 17, to crack down on draft dodgers. Also, demobilization of conscripts from units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine began on April 2. (Bloomberg, 04.02.24, NYT, 04.03.24, RFE/RL, 04.02.24)
    • Next week, the Verkhovna Rada may consider the mobilization bill in the second reading. This was reported by MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak on Telegram on April 5. (, 04.05.24)
    • "We understand that we don't need as many people right now (500,000 people, - Ed.), so mobilization will be much softer,” Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said. (, 04.05.24)
    • Ukraine’s sociological group Rating conducted a survey to find out how Ukrainians assess the level of mobilization and why they do not want to mobilize into the Armed Forces of Ukraine: 36% of respondents called the level of mobilization insufficient, 30% - sufficient, 19% - too high and 15% - undecided. Among the main reasons why men of military age do not want to mobilize into the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the following were most often cited: fear of death, disability, captivity, uncertainty - 42%, unfair mobilization - 22%, lack of equipment, ammunition and weapons - 22%. (, 04.04.24)
    • “We don’t only have a military crisis — we have a political one,” a senior Ukrainian officer said. While Ukraine shies away from a big draft, “Russia is now gathering resources and will be ready to launch a big attack around August, and maybe sooner,” the officer said. (Politico, 04.03.24,, 04.02.24)
    • In Ukraine’s Chernivtsi region, more than 5,000 people were put on the wanted list for failure to appear at the territorial recruitment center. (, 04.02.24)
    • In the Khmelnytsky region, a member of the local military commission was detained for demanding a 40,000 hryvnia bribe. The member, a doctor, knew for certain that the soldier had a heart condition, but still demanded money for the “correct” medical report. (, 04.04.24)
  • Russia is going to mobilize 300,000 troops by June 1, Zelenskyy claimed during a press conference in Kyiv, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied it. (Istories, 04.03.24,, 04.03.24)
    • On April 3 Russia’s Defense Ministry said more than 100,000 people have signed up to fight as contract soldiers in the war against Ukraine so far this year. “Over the past week and a half, recruitment points have seen a significant increase in the number of people interested in signing contracts with the Russian Defense Ministry in order to take part in the special military operation,” the ministry said. (MT/AFP, 04.03.24)
  • On April 3, Russian forces targeted Kharkiv with a barrage of explosive-laden Shahed drones, with some of them evading air defenses. Four people were killed, and at least 12 wounded, regional Gov. Oleh Synehubov said on Telegram. (Bloomberg, 04.04.24)
  • On the night of April 3-4, Russian drones struck several regions across Ukraine, including Kharkiv, where four people died and 12 were injured. (RFE/RL, 04.04.24)
  • On April 4, six civilians were killed in Ukrainian attacks on Russian-occupied parts of southern and eastern Ukraine, Russian-installed officials have said. (Sky News, 04.04.24)
  • On April 5, three Russian military airfields were attacked by drones, according to the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. At the Engels-2 airfield, three Tu-95MS strategic bombers were probably significantly damaged. The other two airfields that were struck are located in Yeisk and in Kursk. Ukrainian media claims that the attacks damaged a total of 19 warplanes. (, 04.05.24, Meduza.  04.05.24)
  • On April 5, Russian strikes on Zaporizhzhia killed two people. (, 04.05.24)
  • In March 2024, Russia fired more than 400 missiles and 600 Shaheds at Ukraine. (, 04.03.24)
  • On April 5, Russia's Defense Ministry said it downed 53 Ukrainian drones, most of which targeted the southern Rostov region, where sources in Ukraine's security services claim to have destroyed several Russian warplanes. (MT/AFP, 04.05.24)
  • BBC and Media Zona identified a total of 49,281 Russian servicemen killed in the Ukraine war. This represents an increase of 1,580 since March 14. (RM, 04.05.24)
  • Russia has used five hypersonic Zircon missiles to attack Kyiv since the start of the year, the city's military administration said April 1. (RFE/RL, 04.01.24)
  • Ukraine will keep targeting Russian oil-refining facilities despite U.S. discontent with its campaign, according to Zelenskyy. (Bloomberg, 03.30.24)
    • Zelenskyy’s adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, denied that Washington demands Ukraine stop attacks on Russia's oil infrastructure. (Radiosvoboda, 03.22.24)
  • Funding for research and development of weapons in Ukraine is forecast to increase by eight times this year — to $1.3 billion from $162 million — according to an analysis of Ukraine’s military budget through 2030 by Janes. Military procurement jumped to a projected 20-year high of nearly $10 billion in 2023, compared with a prewar figure of about $1 billion a year. (NYT, 04.02.24)
  • Ukraine’s military had only one Bohdana artillery cannon in its arsenal when Russia invaded the country two years ago. Now, Ukraine’s arms industry is building eight of the self-propelled Bohdana artillery systems each month. (NYT, 04.03.24)
  • A Ukrainian start-up drone-maker called Terminal Autonomy, told me he's now producing an "AQ 400 Scythe" drone that can fly nearly 500 miles. The company is also working on a version that will travel 1,200 miles. An émigré with roots in Australia and Portugal, he's an example of Ukraine's international high-tech ecosystem. (WP, 04.05.24)
  • A Kremlin-installed official in the Russian-occupied city of Starobilsk in Ukraine’s Luhansk region was killed in a car bombing on April 1, Russian officials said. He was identified as Valery Chaika, deputy head of the district Center for Services to Educational Organizations. (RFE/RL, 04.01.24)
  • Russia's FSB said April 2 it had seized dozens of kilograms of explosives that were sent from Ukraine and concealed in Orthodox Christian religious icons as they were moved through the EU. (MT/AFP, 04.02.24)
  • Videos, documents and text message exchanges provided to WP by SBU officials and Ukrainians contacted by individuals claiming to represent Russia’s special services revealed that in many cases the Russians used extortion to force Ukrainians to work for them — by threatening family members who still live under Russian occupation or who have been taken prisoner. (WP, 04.03.24)
  • Russia’s FSB said it has detained and deported a former Israeli Defense Forces soldier who was allegedly seeking to join the Ukrainian army. (MT/AFP, 04.04.24)

Military aid to Ukraine:

  • A U.S. House of Representatives vote on Ukraine aid isn’t likely until at least mid-April and possibly later with Speaker Mike Johnson still searching for ways to soften opposition from Republican hardliners, multiple party leadership officials said. In a Fox News interview, the speaker indicated he would attach new conditions to the aid. Those conditions might include converting assistance into a loan, seizing Russian assets as an offset and overturning a Biden administration freeze on new licenses to export liquefied natural gas, Johnson said. (Bloomberg, 04.03.24, NYT, 04.01.24)
    • Multiple members of the House Republican leadership said on April 1 that the odds lawmakers would approve more assistance were no better than 50%. (Bloomberg, 04.01.24)
    • The White House provided little official pushback following Johnson’s interview March 31 on Fox News Channel, when he floated the ideas of making some of the Ukraine aid a loan or repurposing some $300 billion in seized Russian assets. Aides to President Joe Biden have been privately working behind the scenes to ensure Johnson can put a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine up for a vote — and survive it politically. The White House has maintained contact with Johnson’s office about Ukraine aid throughout Congress’s two-week recess. (Politco, 04.04.24)
    • Rep. Victoria Spartz is the only U.S. lawmaker born in Ukraine. But when it comes to the U.S. sending billions in more aid to the beleaguered country, Spartz is skeptical. (WSJ, 04.04.24)
  • Zelenskyy delivered a stark message to Congress in an interview on March 28: Give us the weapons to stop the Russian attacks, or Ukraine will escalate its counterattacks on Russia's airfields, energy facilities and other strategic targets. "If there is no U.S. support, it means that we have no air defense, no Patriot missiles, no jammers for electronic warfare, no 155-millimeter artillery rounds," he said. "It means we will go back, retreat, step by step, in small steps." (WP, 03.29.24.)
    • Then-commander of the Ukrainian armed forces Zaluzhnyi used to call it “the War of One Chance,” a high-ranking Ukrainian officer said. “By that, he meant weapons systems become redundant very quickly because they’re quickly countered by the Russians. For example, we used Storm Shadow and SCALP cruise missiles [supplied by Britain and France] successfully — but just for a short time. The Russians are always studying. They don’t give us a second chance. And they’re successful in this.” (Politico, 04.03.24)
      • “Often we just don’t get the weapons systems at the time we need them — they come when they’re no longer relevant,” one senior Ukrainian officer said, citing the F-16 fighter jets as an example. A dozen or so F-16s are expected to be operational this summer, after basic pilot training has been completed. “Every weapon has its own right time. F-16s were needed in 2023; they won’t be right for 2024,” he said. (Politico, 04.03.24)
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on April 2 said Ukraine was at a "critical moment" in its war with Russia and urgently needs more Western support, bemoaning the stalemate in Congress. "It is absolutely essential to get Ukrainians what they continue to need to defend themselves, particularly when it comes to munitions and air defenses," he told reporters. (Reuters, 04.02.24)
    • Blinken said, “Yes ... Our policy is clear. President Biden’s policy is clear.  There will be no American troops on Ukrainian soil.” (, 04.02.24)
      • Finland sees no reason to send its troops to Ukraine, but continues to provide military support, Finnish President Alexander Stubb stated at a press conference with Zelenskyy in Kyiv on April 3. (, 04.03.24)
      • Finland views Ukrainian strikes on oil refineries and military targets inside Russia as legally justified, Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen told MT. (MT/AFP, 04.04.24)
  • With continued American aid to Ukraine stalled and the looming prospect of a second Trump presidency, NATO's top diplomat said April 3 that the alliance was poised to take more control over military support sent to Ukraine -- a role that the United States has played for the past two years. Jens Stoltenberg said a foreign ministers meeting in Brussels agreed to pursue plans to give the military alliance more oversight in coordinating security assistance and training for Ukraine. (NYT, 04.03.24)
    • Stoltenberg said there are two scenarios for the development of events in the Russian-Ukrainian war. The first is that NATO allies can provide their assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian army will be able to regain more territory. “On the other hand, this may not happen and Ukraine will lose even more territory, and the situation in Ukraine may become even more dangerous,” Stoltenberg added. ''The Ukrainians are not running out of courage -- they're running out of ammunition,'' Stoltenberg said. ''We need to step up now and ensure our support is built to last.'' (NYT, 04.03.24,, 04.04.24)
    • NATO allies are reining in expectations about the viability of a proposed 5-year $100 billion fund to support Ukraine. At a gathering of the alliance’s foreign ministers in Brussels, some countries raised doubts about the prospects of finding fresh funding for Stoltenberg’s plan to pool allied contributions over five years. Several ministers suggested it would be better to pledge a smaller amount that allies can more clearly back, according to a senior diplomat present for the discussions. The proposed plan needs approval from NATO’s 32 members. (Bloomberg, 04,04.24, FT, 04.04.24)
  • Ukraine and its allies are losing the race to secure the ammunition Kyiv needs to hold off Russian attacks. Some Ukrainian guns are firing just a single round a day in order to preserve their dwindling stocks. With European companies’ order books filled for the next year or two, an EU goal to send Ukraine 1 million artillery shells by this past March has had to be delayed until the end of the year. Only half the amount has been sent since the target was set more than 12 months ago. (Bloomberg, 04.03.24)
  • Germany will support Ukraine with 180,000 rounds of artillery shells as a contribution to a Czech-led plan to buy ammunition for Ukraine, with a price tag of 576 million euros ($618 million), the defense ministry said. (Reuters, 04.02.24)
  • Finland and Ukraine signed a security cooperation agreement in which the Nordic country committed to providing military, political and financial support for 10 years. Finland also announced its 23rd aid package to Ukraine worth €188 million ($203 million), bringing the total value of military support close to €2 billion since the war started. (Bloomberg, 04.03.24)
  • Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his country's support for Ukraine was unwavering during a phone call with Zelenskyy on April 3. (RFE/RL, 04.03.24)
  • Ukrainian drone operators can instantly map a safe route to targets using a system, which was developed for them by the U.S. software company Palantir. To demonstrate it, a Palantir engineer pressed a key: The simulated drone headed south, turned east in a wide semicircle to avoid one air-defense zone, carved a semicircle west around another, zigzagged a route through the jammers — and finally hit the target. (WP, 04.05.24)

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

  • Kyrgyzstan's Elkart Interbank Processing Center said on April 2 that the Central Asian country's banks will stop processing transactions with Russian Mir payment cards as of April 5 due to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. Earlier, some banks in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, as well as Samsung Pay and Apple Pay systems, stopped working with Mir cards. (RFE/RL, 04.03.24)
  • The Finnish government has said it will extend the closure of its border with Russia until further notice. (Sky News, 04.04.24)
  • A Russian smuggler in China has used tether, the cryptocurrency, to relay millions of dollars of funds from Russia’s Kalashnikov Concern to its supplier of electrical parts for drones in Hong Kong. Tether has emerged as one of the world's default black-market payment methods. Authorities have limited ability to trace its use around the world. (WSJ, 04.01.24)
  • Two German construction companies are taking part in rebuilding Russian-occupied Mariupol, the Ukrainian city that fell to Moscow's invading forces two years ago, a German press investigation claimed on April 4. They are the industrial Knauf group, which manufactures plasterboard, and WKB Systems, which produces aerated concrete. (MT/AFP, 04.04.24)

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

Ukraine-related negotiations: 

  • Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said discussions on a peace plan were a focus in a meeting with his Indian counterpart. Kuleba met Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on March 29. “We paid specific attention to the Peace Formula and next steps on the path of its implementation,” Kuleba said, referring to an initiative that requires Russian forces to withdraw from all Ukrainian territory. (Bloomberg, 03.30.24)
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “For us, what matters is the desire, the will of the Ukrainian people. It’s up to them to decide. Whatever they decide, we’ll support them.  But I am also convinced of one thing: despite the present challenges, first of all, we have a defeat, a strategic debacle for Russia in Ukraine.” (, 04.02.24)
  • France denied Russian claims that it expressed willingness to hold dialogue on Ukraine or discuss possible peace negotiations when the two countries' defense ministers spoke on April 3. Russia's defense ministry said, "Readiness for a dialogue on Ukraine was noted" in the call between France's Sebastien Lecornu and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu. It said a starting point for discussions could be the 2022 talks between the Russian and Ukrainian sides in Turkey. "It is not true," a French government source said. "At no moment did we show any willingness to dialogue on Ukraine or negotiations or anything like that." (Reuters, 04.03.24)
  • Bolstered by a new six-year term in power and attempting to blame Kyiv for Russia’s worst terror attack in two decades, Putin’s committed to pursue his war goals after a tentative diplomatic outreach to the U.S. late last year came to nothing, said four people familiar with the Kremlin’s military strategy. U.S. officials have said they saw no indication the Russian president was serious late last year about looking for a way to end the fighting, and have rejected the idea of cease-fire talks without Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 04.03.24)
  • Speaking after a “round table” of more than 70 foreign ministers on April 4, Sergei Lavrov said that Russia thinks it is “not necessary to talk with Zelenskyy” but that Russia should negotiate instead with the West. Lavrov claimed that the West, however, is not ready for negotiations. Lavrov also claimed that the current situation on the battlefield has created “new realities” and that Russia is ready for “honest talks based on these new realities and on Russia’s security interests.” (ISW, 04.04.24)
  • "We continue to welcome various initiatives put forward by countries of the Global South," Lavrov said, recalling in particular the peace plans of African and Brazilian leaders. "And a number of other countries have put forward their proposals, but perhaps not as concrete and articulate. The clearest plan was presented by China last year," Lavrov said, calling the Chinese initiative "reasonable." (TASS, 04.04.24)
  • The share of Russians who follow events in Ukraine increased from 51% in February to 60% in March, according to the Levada Center. The same period saw the share of Russians who support Russia’s war against Ukraine remain at 76%, and saw the share of Russians who support peace negotiations over continuation of war decrease from 52% to 48%. Some 48% believe Russia could launch another wave of mobilization in the next three months. (RM, 04.04.24)
  • The results of the survey by the Rating sociological group during Feb. 17-21, 2024, show that 45% of Ukrainians believe that after the war's end, Ukraine will retain the territories it had when declaring independence in 1991. Some 7% of respondents believe Ukraine will regain full control of the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, but not Crimea. Another 7% believe Ukraine will be able to regain Crimea but not the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. Sixteen percent of Ukrainians responded that Ukraine will regain the territories under its control before the full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, and 16% believe that Ukraine will lose more territories. (Ukrainska Pravda, 04.04.24)
  • An opinion study by the independent Chronicles project shows that the core support for military action among Russians in 2023 has almost halved and now stands at 12% - a historical low. The survey indicates that 40% of respondents are in favor of the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine, while 33% are against it. (, April 2024)

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

  • What Ukraine wants, ultimately, is a formal invitation to join NATO. But alliance officials agree that is not going to happen when NATO's leaders gather in Washington this July to celebrate the 75th anniversary of their military alliance,. NATO has no appetite for taking on a new member that, because of the alliance's covenant of collective security, would draw it into the biggest land war in Europe since 1945. That has sent NATO searching for some middle ground, something short of membership but meaty enough to show that it is backing Ukraine ''for the long haul,'' as Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, put it this week. (NYT, 04.04.24)
  • NATO celebrated its 75th birthday on April 4. At a ceremony at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, officials and diplomats feted an alliance that is now bigger — at 32 members — and more relevant — thanks to Russia — than it has been in years. But toasts about unity were in many cases undercut by the conversations on the margins of the party, most notably about the possible return to the U.S. presidency of Donald Trump. (WP, 04.04.24)
    • Blinken said: “A millimeter or a centimeter. For us, Article 5 is essential ... I won’t go into specific hypotheses, but I think that any adversary who is aggressive against a NATO member knows that he will get a response from NATO, including the United States … [T]here is an immediate danger on the ground – but the greatest danger is the idea that may be in Putin’s head, that he can outlast us, that we’ll end up fading away, whether it’s us, Europe or the other partners.  I think it’s essential to convince Putin that this won’t be the case.” (, 04.02.24)
    • Relations between Russia and NATO have slid to the level of direct confrontation, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has claimed. He alleged some NATO countries are involved in the war in Ukraine, and that the military alliance is expanding its military infrastructure toward Russia's borders. "In fact, NATO continues to demonstrate its essence, because NATO was envisioned as an alliance, configured, created and managed by the United States as an instrument of confrontation, primarily on the European continent," Peskov said. (Sky News, 04.04.24)
  • French President Emmanuel Macron held confidential calls with Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in February to lay the groundwork for a Paris summit that he hoped would shake up the West’s strategy in the Ukraine war. Western allies—Macron told each leader—should adopt a position of strategic ambiguity toward Russia that would leave all military options on the table. For Macron, the Ukraine war has become an acid test of Europe’s ability to survive in a world where U.S. security guarantees are no longer airtight. In recent weeks, Macron has begun using dark rhetoric to prepare the French public for the possibility of a more direct confrontation with Moscow, warning that if Ukraine falls then a host of Central and Eastern European countries would be next. (WSJ, 04.03.24)
    • The Kremlin is seizing on the divisions on Macron’s strategy to adopt a position of strategic ambiguity toward Russia with regard to war in Ukraine. An internal Kremlin memo viewed by WSJ describes plans for Moscow to launch a diplomatic outreach and influence campaign to amplify the rift over Macron’s stance and weaken public support for Ukraine. The memo says the campaign should be designed to portray Macron as an adventurist who could trigger a military confrontation between the West and Russia. (WSJ, 04.03.24)
  • Hungary's foreign minister has said his country would oppose any NATO proposal that would lead to an escalation in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Peter Szijjarto said: "We must do everything possible to avoid direct conflict between NATO and Russia in the coming period." He said he believed there were "intentions to the contrary," and that some of the proposals being discussed "would certainly cross some of the lines that until now were believed to be red." (Sky News, 04.04.24)
  • Germany has unveiled its most sweeping military reforms since the Cold War, including the possible revival of national service, as part of efforts to better prepare its armed forces to defend NATO territory. Speaking in Berlin on April 4 on the military alliance’s 75th anniversary, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said he had signed an order to reorganize the German military from top to bottom. (FT, 04.04.24)
  • Norway plans to almost double its defense spending over the next 12 years as the energy-rich nation seeks to adapt to threats from neighboring Russia. The Nordic country will boost spending on its military by 600 billion kroner ($56 billion) by 2036. (Bloomberg, 04.05.24)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Interior Ministry board that, “After the collapse of the USSR, our geopolitical adversaries naturally became determined to finish off what remained of historical Russia, primarily to accelerate the collapse of its core, Russia proper, the Russian Federation. Anything that was left was destined to serve their geopolitical interests. I can say this with confidence, as a former director of the Federal Security Service, as a former secretary of the Security Council, and as President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of Russia.” (, 04.02.24)
  • If a referendum on Ukraine's accession to NATO were held, 77% of Ukrainians would vote in favor, according to the results of the survey of the International Republican Institute (IRI) in February. This is five percentage points less than in February 2023, when 82% of respondents would have voted for joining NATO. (Ukrainska Pravda, 04.04.24)
  • Turkey suspended an arms treaty that imposed limits on conventional military equipment in Europe, joining NATO allies who did the same after Russia withdrew from the agreement last year. (Bloomberg, 04.05.24)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Lavrov plans to discuss the Ukraine crisis, the situation in the Asia-Pacific region and cooperation on multilateral platforms with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi during a visit to China, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. Lavrov is to make the official visit to China in the near future. (TASS, 04.03.24)
  • Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev has held a working meeting with Chinese Public Security Minister Wang Xiaohong in Astana, the press service for the Russian Security Council's Office said. Among other things, the meeting addressed joint efforts to counter terrorism. (Interfax, 04.02.24)
  • On April 2, Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a call that was aimed at addressing a wide range of combative and cooperative issues, as the United States grapples with wars and other global crises, the White House said. The topics on Biden’s agenda included fighting narcotics production, the Middle East conflict and China’s support of Russia during the Ukraine war, said a senior administration official. Biden voiced concern about Chinese support for Russia’s defense industrial base and its “impact on European and transatlantic security.” The sides also discussed AI, military cooperation, climate change and efforts to fight drug trafficking, among other subjects. (NYT, 04.02.24, Bloomberg, 04.02.24, FT, 04.03.24)
  • Blinken used meetings with EU and NATO foreign ministers this week to warn Beijing was assisting Moscow “at a concerning scale,” and providing “tools, inputs and technical expertise,” according to three people familiar with the discussions. They quoted Blinken as saying the assistance was particularly focused on Russia’s production of optical equipment and propellants and its space sector, which he said, “not only contributes to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine but threatens other countries.” (FT, 04.05.24)
  • French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said on April 1 that Paris expects China to send "clear messages" to its close partner Russia over its war in Ukraine, after meetings with his counterpart in Beijing. France and China have sought to strengthen ties in recent years and, during meetings in Paris in February, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Macron that Beijing appreciated his country's "independent" stance. But Paris has also sought to press Beijing on its close ties with Moscow, which have only grown closer since the invasion of Ukraine. (AFP, 04.01.24)
  • Isotope, a Rosatom group company, has shipped the first batch of Cobalt-60 sources to China, the press service of the Russian state corporation said. (TASS, 04.04.24)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms

  • Blinken said: “From the start, from day one, President Biden was convinced of two things: that we had to do everything possible to support Ukraine ... but he was also convinced that we had to avoid a war with Russia ... an escalation, whether conventional or nuclear.  ... [T]here was a fear that it [Russia’s use of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict] was possible. But I think the Russians heard not only from the United States, not only from France, but from many other countries, including China, that a nuclear weapon should absolutely not be used ... we’re doing everything, of course, to avoid this possibility and to avoid a war, a bigger war ... For us, it’s a matter of national interest. It’s not in our interest to have a direct conflict with Russia. I don’t think it’s in the interest of any of the NATO members. But at the same time, there is a determination, a conviction that we must do our utmost to support Ukraine, and do so not only this year, but in the years to come.” (, 04.02.24
  • The Biden administration pushed Russia to support a U.S.-backed resolution at the U.N. Security Council that would warn countries against placing nuclear weapons in orbit, after reports emerged that Putin may be planning to do so. The resolution from the U.S. and Japan would underscore that countries “should not develop nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction designed to be placed in orbit.” (Bloomberg, 04.04.24)
  • When asked whether he thought Biden was too cautious in supplying weapons, Zelenskyy said: "I think he's cautious about nuclear attack from Russia," Zelenskyy answered. His own view is that Putin wouldn't risk a nuclear exchange, but he conceded that the Russian leader is unpredictable: "He's crazy. There is nobody in the world who can tell you 100% what he will do. That's why Biden is cautious." (WP, 03.29.24)
  • [When asked “To use the Doomsday Clock metaphor, how much time do we have left before a direct possible clash between the armies of Russia and NATO countries – 5-10 minutes, one hour?] Lavrov said: “I will not speculate on this topic. In general, I think that this Doomsday Clock idea is inconsistent and not really useful. They try to stir up the public opinion at a time when it is necessary to project calm and reason.” (Izvestia, 03.28.24)
  • Though France has not formally offered to extend its nuclear umbrella, currently dedicated to protecting the country's "vital interests," Macron has stated that these interests have "a European dimension," and last month he described the war in Ukraine as "existential" for Europe and France. In a February meeting with German and Polish counterparts, French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné called on European allies to develop a "supplementary life insurance policy," given the rise of isolationism in American politics. (WSJ, 04.05.24)


  • On March 30, foreign diplomats in Russia laid flowers at the site of the March 22 attack on a suburban Moscow concert hall that killed 144 people. Those in attendance included ambassadors from the United States, EU countries, Africa and Latin America. (RFE/RL, 03.30.24)
  • On March 31, the FSB in Dagestan declared a counterterrorism operation regime in Makhachkala and Kaspiysk, and the Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee stated that Russian authorities detained three militants who were allegedly planning terrorist acts. The FSB claimed that that the foreigners who were detained in Dagestan were involved in financing and “providing terror funds” to the perpetrators of the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall. (ISW, 03.31.24, Media Zone, 04.01.24)
  • On April 1, the FSB said that it has detained four people in Dagestan suspected of providing financing and weapons to participants in the March 22 massacre at the Crocus City Hall concert venue. (RFE/RL, 04.01.24)
  • On April 1, Russia’s top investigative body announced that it will look into alleged involvement by the United States, Ukraine and other Western countries in terrorist attacks inside Russia. (MT/AFP, 04.01.24)
  • On April 1, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service baselessly claimed that the United States is attempting to cover up Ukraine’s alleged responsibility for the Crocus City Hall attack, including by blaming the attack on the Islamic State’s Afghan branch IS-Khorasan (IS-K). (ISW, 04.01.24)
  • On April 2, a Moscow court ordered two months' pretrial detention for a suspected accomplice of the perpetrators of the March 22 terror attack. Suspect Yakubjoni Yusufzoda, a Tajik citizen, allegedly provided money for accommodation for the gunmen, Russian investigators claim. He was detained three days after the attack and jailed for failing to obey police, but has now been charged with committing fatal terrorism, investigators said. He is the 10th person to have been charged in the case. (Current Time, 04.02.24)
  • On April 2, Putin told the Interior Ministry board with regard to the March 22 terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall: “Those who use this weapon – and it is obviously a weapon against Russia – must understand that it cuts both ways. Numerous crimes have been perpetrated for money. In addition, it can be said, and you are fully aware of it, that no agent is fully reliable in that professional community. Anything is acceptable there for money; no religious or political considerations are taken into account, only financial gain.” (, 04.02.24)
  • On April 3, Russia’s top children’s rights official said the number of children confirmed killed in the attack on Crocus City Hall has risen to six. (MT/AFP, 04.03.24)
  • On April 3, Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev directly blamed Ukrainian security services for the Crocus City Hall attack. A day earlier, he accused Western intelligence of using terrorist groups to attack adversaries. (WP, 04.03.24)
  • On April 3, the Moscow City Court rejected an appeal filed by Isroil Islomov against his two-month detention after his arrest on suspicion of involvement in last month's attack on Crocus City Hall. (RFE/RL, 04.04.24)
  • On April 4, the FSB said it has detained three more Central Asian natives, one of whom is a Russian citizen, on suspicion of involvement in last month's attack on the Crocus City Hall. According to the FSB, the suspects were detained in Moscow, Yekaterinburg and Omsk. Russian authorities have said 10 Central Asian natives, including four ethnic-Tajik men, who are accused of carrying out the March 22 terrorist attack, have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the attack. (RFE/RL, 04.04.24)
  • On April 4, Putin said, “Judging by the current findings of the investigation, we have every reason to believe that the main goal of the perpetrators of the bloody, horrendous terrorist act in Moscow was to destroy our unity.” “There are no other apparent goals; they do not exist because Russia cannot be a target of terrorist attacks by Islamic fundamentalists.” According to Putin, Russia sets a unique example of interfaith harmony and unity, as well as interreligious and interethnic unity. (Meduza, 04.04.24)
  • On April 4, Macron hit out at Moscow's comments on last month's deadly concert hall attack, dismissing them as "ridiculous" and "threatening." Macron was speaking a day after a rare phone call between the French and Russian defense ministers. According to the French side, defense minister Sebastien Lecornu firmly condemned the attack and that Paris had no information linking it to Ukraine. (Sky News, 04.04.24)
  • On April 5, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow arrested Tajikistan native Sharipzoda Muhammad Zoir on charges of complicity in the March 22 attack. (Media Zone, 04.05.24)
  • On April 5, Russian investigators claimed that they uncovered more evidence of Ukraine’s alleged involvement in last month’s deadly concert hall attack, including photos of Ukrainian flags found on one of the suspected assailant’s phones. (MT/AFP, 04.05.24)
  • More than two weeks before terrorists staged a bloody attack in the suburbs of Moscow, the U.S. government told Russian officials that Crocus City Hall was a potential target, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter. The high degree of specificity conveyed in the warning underscores Washington’s confidence that the Islamic State was preparing an attack that threatened large numbers of civilians, and it directly contradicts Moscow’s claims that the U.S. warnings were too general to help preempt the assault. (WP, 04.02.24)
    • On April 2, Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, said that the information the U.S. shared was “too general and did not allow us to fully identify those who committed this terrible crime,” according to the state-run Interfax news agency. Naryshkin said that in response to the U.S. intelligence, Russia “took appropriate measures to prevent” an attack. But video from the scene of the slaughter shows the gunmen facing no significant resistance. Naryshkin said “U.S. intelligence agencies” gave the information to the FSB, Russia’s state security service. (WP, 04.02.24)
    • Asked on April 3 whether the U.S. warned Russia that the Crocus City Hall concert venue was a potential target for a planned terrorist attack, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the issue falls outside of the Kremlin’s purview. (Meduza, 04.03.24)
  • Iran tipped off Russia about the possibility of a major "terrorist operation" on its soil ahead of the concert hall massacre near Moscow last month, three sources familiar with the matter said. "Days before the attack in Russia, Tehran shared information with Moscow about a possible big terrorist attack inside Russia that was acquired during interrogations of those arrested in connection with deadly bombings in Iran," one of the sources told Reuters. (Reuters, 04.01.24)
  • A source close to the FSB Special Purpose Center said, “I think their [terrorists’] original plan was to die in Crocus. They were without masks, that is, they were clearly not hiding, they fled in the same car with the same license plates, which does not look like a well-thought-out escape plan. I think they did what they wanted, they saw that no one was resisting them and was not coming - they couldn’t sit there and burn just like that: they jumped into the same car and drove off wherever they looked.” (Istories, 04.02.24)
  • After the terrorist attack in Crocus City Hall, the neo-Nazi terrorist organization NS/WP (National Socialism/White Power) that is banned in Russia called on its supporters for a new round of violence against migrants and residents of Russia of non-Slavic appearance. From March 23 to April 4, at least 32 neo-Nazi attacks across the country were recorded on video. (Istories, 04.05.24)
  • Polling carried out soon after the March 22 terrorist attack on the Crocus Concert Hall shows about 50% of Russians believe Kyiv was behind it, although given Putin’s crackdown on dissent, it remains difficult to establish how genuine the rise of anti-Ukrainian sentiment in Russia is. (FT, 04.01.24)
  • Russian tabloid KP’s war correspondent Alexander Kotz published what he claimed to be photos of Ukrainian soldiers found in a phone belonging to one of the individuals suspected to have been involved in the March 22 attack. His claim was impossible for RM to verify, however, and both Kyiv and Western capitals have rejected claims of Ukraine’s complicity in the attack as false. (RM, 04.05.24)

Conflict in Syria:

  • Russia accused Israel of seeking to fuel conflict in the Middle East, blaming it for a strike on Iran's consulate in Syria that killed at least 13 people. Slamming the "flagrant violation" of Syria's sovereignty, Moscow's U.N. envoy Vasily Nebenzia told a Security Council meeting that Russia was "of the view that such aggressive actions by Israel are designed to further fuel the conflict.” (MT/AFP, 04.02.24)

Cyber security/AI: 

  • Russia has made “thousands” of attempts to interfere with European rail networks in a campaign to destabilize the EU and sabotage critical infrastructure, the Czech Republic’s transport minister has said. The hacking campaign included attacks on signaling systems and on the networks of the Czech national railway operator České dráhy. (FT, 04.05.24)
  • Hackers claim to have broken into the Russian prisoner database and displayed pictures of anti-Kremlin activist Alexei Navalny while also stealing information on hundreds of thousands of Russian prisoners and their relatives. (RFE/RL, 04.01.24)
  • The website of the hacker group RGB-TEAM published an archive with data on criminal offenses committed by Russians from 1993 to 2022, Important Stories noted. The hackers claim that they obtained this data by hacking the Russian Prosecutor General's Office, and that this is only part of the data they obtained. (Istories, 04.04.24)
  • Hillary Clinton and U.S. election officials said they are concerned disinformation generated and spread by artificial intelligence could threaten the 2024 presidential election. "Anybody who's not worried is not paying attention," Clinton said at Columbia University, where election officials and tech executives discussed how AI could impact global elections. At Columbia, election officials said they were worried about deepfake videos—deceptive videos designed to look real—that could lead people to believe false information. (WSJ, 03.30.24)
  • The U.K. and U.S. governments announced April 1 they will work together in safety testing the most powerful artificial intelligence models. An agreement, signed by Michelle Donelan, the U.K. Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, sets out a plan for collaboration between the two governments. (Time, 04.01.24)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Gasoline production in Russia in the last week of March amounted to 110,700 tons per day, decreasing by 12% compared to the average daily figure in February, according to Rosstat data. Diesel fuel production decreased by 3.5%, to 231,000 tons per day. Russian refineries have reduced gasoline output mainly due to damage to primary processing units due to attacks by Ukrainian drones. (Kommersant, 04.04.24)
    • Ukrainian strikes on Russian oil refineries may have disrupted more than 15% of Russian capacity, a NATO official said April 4. (Reuters, 04.04.24)
  • Russia’s oil and gas tax revenue almost doubled in March from a year earlier as global prices of the nation’s crude jumped and its producers adapt to sanctions. Budget proceeds from oil and gas levies rose by 90% last month from a year ago to almost 1.31 trillion rubles ($14.1 billion), the Finance Ministry said April 3. (Bloomberg, 04.03.24)
  • Three tankers hauling Russian Sokol cargoes are anchored near Indian ports, indicating trade of the crude grade is returning despite complications caused by tougher U.S. sanctions. (Bloomberg, 04.02.24)
    • The U.S. never expected India to stop importing Russian oil as it’s in Washington’s interest to keep energy flowing to prevent any supply shocks caused by the Ukraine war, U.S. Treasury Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy Eric Van Nostrand said. (Bloomberg, 04.04.24)
  • OPEC+ chose to stick with oil supply cuts for the first half of the year, keeping global markets tight and potentially sending prices higher. That means roughly 2 million barrels a day of output curbs will remain in place until the end of June. (Bloomberg, 04.03.24)
  • Russia’s plan to rapidly expand LNG exports is stalling due to U.S. sanctions that are delaying shipments from a major new project. The Arctic LNG 2 plant began production in December, but has so far not managed to export any gas due to the U.S. restrictions (Bloomberg, 04.02.24)

Climate change:

  • The world’s fossil-fuel producers are on track to nearly quadruple the amount of extracted oil and gas from newly approved projects by the end of this decade, with the U.S. leading the way in a surge of activity that threatens to blow apart agreed climate goals, a new report has found. There can be no new oil and gas infrastructure if the planet is to avoid careering past 1.5C (2.7F) of global heating, above pre-industrial times, the International Energy Agency has previously stated. (BAS, 04.04.24)
  • Moscow smashed a daily temperature record on April 2, with thermometers in the Russian capital measuring a balmy 23.2 degrees Celsius. The previous record was broken in 1951, when the daily high for April 2 in Moscow was recorded at 17.4 degrees C. (MT/AFP, 04.03.24)

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • A yearlong investigation by The Insider, in collaboration with 60 Minutes and Der Spiegel, has uncovered evidence suggesting that unexplained anomalous health incidents, also known as Havana Syndrome, may have their origin in the use of directed energy weapons wielded by members of Russian GRU Unit 29155. Members of the Kremlin’s infamous military intelligence sabotage squad have been placed at the scene of suspected attacks on overseas U.S. government personnel and their family members, leading victims to question what Washington knows about the origins of Havana Syndrome, and what an appropriate Western response might entail. (The Insider, 03.21.24)
    • A senior U.S. Defense Department official who attended last year’s NATO summit in Lithuania had symptoms similar to those reported by U.S. officials who have experienced “Havana syndrome,” the Pentagon confirmed April 1. (AP, 04.02.24)
  • The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has slammed a Russian court ruling to extend the pretrial detention of RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva until June 5, calling the country’s crackdown on independent media “unacceptable.” (RFE/RL, 04.02.24)
  • Former president Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has made no public statements on Russia's detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been held for one year without formal charges or a trial. (WP, 03.30.24)
  • Russia’s Minister of Interior Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev told the Interior Ministry board that last year, a number of persons accused of committing serious and especially serious crimes were extradited from Thailand, Montenegro, Romania, Greece, Egypt, Spain, Vietnam and the U.S. (Istories, 04.02.24)
    • Andrei Soldatov, an expert on Russia’s security services, said that cooperation with the U.S. had been fraught, because in the past there had been several high-profile cases in which Russian officials tasked with maintaining connections with Americans were later either accused of treason by Moscow or became targets for recruitment by U.S. intelligence. (FT, 04.03.24)
  • Multiple Russian pro-war Telegram channels have shared a video in the last day that features a “former American soldier named Will” talking about his experience joining the Russian military and fighting in the battle for Avdiivka. According to Agentstvo, the man in the video is Wilmer Puello-Mota, a 27-year-old former city councilor from Holyoke, Massachusetts, who was charged in 2020 with possession of child pornography as well as obstruction, forgery, and counterfeiting. A Rhode Island court reportedly issued a warrant for his arrest after he failed to show up for a hearing. (Meduza, 04.04.24)


II. Russia’s domestic policies 

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Russia has brought under state control some 180 companies worth $115 billion. (U.K. MoD’s X account, 04.05.24)
  • Speaking at the 12th Congress of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia in Moscow on April 4, Putin said that Russia’s future labor shortage is “absolutely certain” and that it is “critically important” for Russia to increase labor productivity and modernize and automate various economic sectors. Putin stated that Russia does not “have much of a choice: either [Russia] needs to import labor from abroad or [Russia] needs to increase labor productivity.” (ISW, 04.04.24)
  • Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media said April 5 that two-thirds of tech workers who left the country after Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 have returned. (MT/AFP, 04.05.24)
  • The number of Russian billionaires in the Forbes world ranking has grown over the last year from 110 to 125 people. This is the highest number in the history of the list of the world's richest businessmen. The previous record for the number of Russians in the ranking was recorded in 2021 - 123 people. There could be more Russian businessmen on the list, but 10 people have already renounced Russian citizenship. First place in the Russian Forbes list was taken for the first time by the ex-president of Lukoil Vagit Alekperov - his fortune grew from $20.5 billion to $28.6 billion over the last year. (Forbes, 04.02.24)
  • Russia’s Minister of Interior Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev told the Interior Ministry board meeting, which Putin attended, that over the previous year, 44 organizations were recognized as “undesirable,” and 129 individuals and 37 legal entities were included in the register of “foreign agents.” Employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs “solved” 124 cases under articles of “fakes” and “discrediting” the army. (Istories, 04.02.24)
  • On April 1 the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that it is preparing a bill that introduces various measures tightening Russia’s migration policy. Russian authorities are considering creating a new department to oversee interethnic and migration policy and that the department will be directly subordinate to the Russian president. (ISW, 04.01.24)
  • The governor of Russia’s northwestern Murmansk region Andrei Chibis was stabbed in the stomach after a meeting with local residents, the most dangerous assault on a high-ranking government official in more than a decade. The suspect told interrogators that he committed the attack because he “disliked” the governor, although he did not know him personally. (Bloomberg, 04.05.24)
  • The Staatsschauspiel theater in Dresden said on April 4 that the 2024 Dresden Peace Prize will be posthumously awarded to Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. (RFE/RL, 04.05.24)
  • A Moscow court on April 2 sentenced Pyotr Verzilov, the former publisher of the independent media website Mediazona, to eight years and four months in prison in absentia in a retrial on a charge of distributing fake news about Russian troops involved in the invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 04.02.24)
  • The Nobel-Prize-winning Memorial human rights group on April 1 expressed concern over the condition of its jailed co-founder Oleg Orlov, who was recently imprisoned for criticizing Russia's invasion of Ukraine. A Russian court in February sentenced Orlov, 70, to two-and-a-half years in prison for "discrediting" the Russian army after he spoke out against the full-scale invasion and the Kremlin. "His health is threatened with irreversible consequences," Memorial said in a statement April 1, saying Orlov was losing his hearing and had become unwell due to "inhumane treatment" by prison authorities. (MT/AFP, 04.01.24)
  • Prosecutors asked a court in the Russian city of Perm on April 3 to sentence Alexander Chernyshov, the chief of the Center of Historic Memory, the successor entity of the Nobel Prize-winning Memorial human rights group, to three years in prison on a charge of "attempting to smuggle cultural artifacts.” (RFE/RL, 04.03.24)
  • Russian opposition activist and Soviet-era dissident Alexander Skobov was arrested late on April 2 in St. Petersburg on a charge of promoting terrorism, his associates said. (RFE/RL, 04.03.24)
  • A court in Russia’s Volgograd region has sentenced a local woman to 10 months of forced labor for sharing a video on Instagram in which she pretends to “tickle” a World War II statue. (Meduza, 04.05.24)
  • A nationwide survey by the Levada Center conducted from March 21 to March 27, 2024, revealed that a majority of Russians say they are satisfied with the results of the past presidential election (86%). (Levada, 04.02.24)

Defense and aerospace:

  • Russia's Defense Ministry has confirmed a shakeup in the leadership of the navy in the wake of several successful Ukrainian attacks on the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Putin on April 2 signed an order naming Adm. Alexander Moiseyev as acting overall naval commander. Vice Adm. Konstantin Kabantsov replaced Moiseyev as head of the Northern Fleet, while Vice Adm. Sergei Pinchuk was named commander of the Black Sea Fleet. (RFE/RL, 04.03.24)
  • The Russian military command reportedly appointed Chief of Staff of the Russian Ground Forces Col. Gen. Alexander Lapin as commander of the newly formed Leningrad Military District. (ISW, 03.31.24)
  • Putin signed on March 31 the scheduled decree authorizing Russia’s spring military conscription, which will conscript 150,000 Russians between April 1 and July 15. (ISW, 03.31.24) Russia’s Defense Ministry has repeatedly pledged not to send conscripts to fight in Ukraine.
  • See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Putin told the Interior Ministry board: “I believe that we must give special attention to several priorities such as ensuring public order, countering extremism, preventing illegal migration, the performance of district police offices, as well as the Interior Ministry’s efforts to combat organized crime.” (, 04.02.24)
  • Russia’s Minister of Interior Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev told the Interior Ministry board meeting that over the past year the Ministry of Internal Affairs expelled or deported 110,000 people who were illegally in Russia, which is 65% more than the year before. (Istories, 04.02.24)
  • The number of convictions in Russia decreased by 4% in 2023, said acting chairman of the Supreme Court Petr Serkov. According to him, the number of courts’ decisions to approve detention of suspects decreased by 6%. As Serkov noted, the number of people sentenced to forced labor increased fivefold over the past year - from 3,600 to 17,300. (Brief, 04.02.23)
  • Putin’s former university classmate has been nominated as the sole candidate to head Russia’s Supreme Court. Deputy Chief Justice of Russia’s Supreme Court Irina Podnosova and Putin studied law at Leningrad State University. (MT/AFP, 04.01.24)
  • The Omsk regional court in Siberia has sentenced a 46-year-old local resident to 12 years in prison on a high treason charge. The defendant, whose identity was not disclosed, was found guilty on April 4 of collecting classified military data with the intention of passing the materials on to German officials in exchange for permanent residence in Germany. (RFE/RL, 04.05.24)
  • The Lefortovo District Court of Moscow sent a new defendant in the treason case to a pre-trial detention center, Mediazona learned. The man's last name is Konovalov. (Media Zone, 04.01.24)
  • Russian investigators have opened a criminal probe into the disappearance of a young Chechen woman, Seda Suleimanova, who is feared to have been murdered by her family, the human rights group NC SOS said April 3. (MT/AFP, 04.03.24)
  • A Chechen man committed suicide in police custody late last month, the republic of Chechnya’s human rights chief said April 3, after previous unconfirmed reports alleged the man was tortured to death by law enforcement agents. Askhab Uspanov was found dead at a Moscow police station hours after being detained on March 22. (MT/AFP, 04.04.24)
  • Zakharyi Kalashov, a native of Tbilisi and one of Russia’s most known crime bosses, (aka Shakro Molodoy), previously convicted of extortion, was granted an early release from Russia’s IK-2 prison colony in the village of Dvubratsky, Ust-Labinsk district, Krasnodar region. (Ekho Kavkaza, 03.29.24)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Russia supports Palestine’s decision to resume the process of joining the United Nations as a full-fledged member, Russian First Deputy Permanent Representative to the U.N. Dmitry Polyansky said. (TASS, 04.04.24)
  • Three Russian-Israeli dual nationals remain in Hamas captivity in Gaza as Moscow attempts to secure their release, Israel’s Ambassador to Russia Simona Halperin said April 3. (MT/AFP, 04.03.24)
  • Fugitive Wirecard COO Jan Marsalek used compromised intelligence officials in Vienna to spy on European citizens and plot break-ins and assassinations by elite Russian hit squads. He also obtained a NATO government’s cutting-edge cryptography machine and smuggled stolen senior Austrian civil servants’ phones to Moscow. The allegations — based on new evidence obtained by British intelligence — are contained in an Austrian police warrant for the arrest of a former Austrian police and intelligence official, Egisto Ott. (FT, 04.05.24)
  • Russian disinformation campaigns to undermine support for Ukraine in Europe have grown significantly in scale, skill and stealth, one of Germany’s most senior diplomats has warned. “It is absolutely a threat we have to take seriously,” Ralf Beste, head of the department for culture and communication at Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, told FT. “Overall, [there] is an increase in sophistication and impact to what we have seen before.” (FT, 04.01.24)
  • A leading German far-right politician has denied allegations that he was paid by a pro-Kremlin oligarch to spread Russian propaganda, amid growing concern over Moscow’s efforts to disrupt upcoming European elections. Calls mounted on April 4 for Petr Bystron to withdraw from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) candidates list for the June elections to the European parliament, as fresh allegations surfaced over his links to Russia. (FT, 04.04.24)
  • Macron has said he has no doubt Russia will try to target the Paris Olympics this summer.  "I have no doubt whatsoever, including in terms of information," Macron said. (Sky News, 04.04.24)
  • The United States and Finland have agreed to cooperate in “countering foreign state information manipulation,” the U.S. State Department announced on April 4. (RFE/RL, 04.04.24)
  • An analysis of accounts on social media platform X that have been used to promote Russian interests in South Africa are now being utilized to rally support for a new party backed by former President Jacob Zuma, according to a director at the Center for Information Resilience. (Bloomberg, 04.02.24)
  • The death in Spain of Maksim Kuzminov, a pilot who delivered a helicopter and secret documents to Ukraine, has raised fears that the Kremlin is again targeting its enemies. The men who killed Kuzminov wanted to send a message. This was obvious to investigators in Spain even before they discovered who he was. Not only did the killers shoot him six times in a parking garage in southern Spain, they ran over his body with their car. They also left an important clue to their identity, according to investigators: shell casings from 9-millimeter Makarov rounds, a standard ammunition of the former Communist bloc. (NYT, 03.31.24)
  • The arrest in recent days of a former Austrian intelligence officer on serious allegations of spying for Russia suggests that Vienna needs to boost its security to thwart Russian infiltration, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said April 1. The allegations against Egisto Ott, who worked for a now-defunct intelligence agency and whose arrest was announced on March 29, are “grave.” (AP, 04.02.24)
  • Russia’s Wagner mercenary group is once again recruiting fighters for deployment in Africa, the investigative news outlet Vyorstka and research group Nordsint reported in a joint investigation published April 4. (MT/AFP, 04.04.24)
  • Russia, sensing an opportunity to forge new economic alliances to mitigate the impact of Western sanctions has been quick to pledge its support to African countries with nuclear energy ambitions. Last week, Rosatom announced it had signed nuclear energy “cooperation” agreements with Mali, Burkina Faso and Algeria during the two-day Atomexpo energy conference, held in the Russian city of Sochi. This entrenched an earlier agreement, announced in October, in which Rosatom said it would build a nuclear power station in Burkina Faso. And in January, Rosatom announced that construction had begun on the fourth reactor at the $30 billion El Dabaa nuclear power plant in Egypt. (FT, 04.03.24)
  • India will take delivery of two Russian-made warships in the next few months. The two frigates are part of a four-ship deal that the Indians signed with the Russians back in 2018. The other two ships are being built in India, in collaboration with Russia, but are also behind schedule due to war-related supply chain issues, the officials said. (Bloomberg, 04.05.24)


  • According to the results of the survey conducted by the Rating sociological group for the International Republican Institute (IRI), 77% of Ukrainian respondents in February chose the European Union in response to the question about Ukraine's accession to a particular international economic union. This is eight percentage points less than in February 2023, when 85% of respondents favored joining the EU. (Ukrainska Pravda, 04.04.24)
  • Putin told the Interior Ministry board that over 3.2 million people in the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics and the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions have received Russian passports. (, 04.02.24)
  • Zelenskyy is cleaning out the ranks of his allies amid setbacks on the battlefield and increasing fatigue surrounding the war effort. Eight officials, mostly among Zelenskyy’s advisers, have been fired. That includes two deputy heads of his administration and Serhii Shefir, a top aide who’s also been Zelenskyy’s business partner for decades. (Bloomberg, 03.30.24)
    • The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine at a meeting on April 2 dismissed Emine Dzhaparova from the post of First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. (Ukrinform, 04.02.24)
  • An all-Ukrainian survey conducted Feb. 17-21, 2024, by the Ukrainian sociological group Rating revealed most respondents do not support the idea of holding presidential elections in Ukraine during the war: 67% in total (49% of respondents definitely oppose, another 18% rather oppose). (Ukrainska Pravda, 04.04.24)
  • Law enforcement officials exposed an organized group that, while purchasing transformers for Ukrainian railways company Ukrzaliznytsia, took possession of 94.8 million hryvnia ($2.4 million). (, 04.02.24)
  • U.S. funds Argentem Creek Partners and Innovatus Capital Partners said they have won the support of a Ukrainian court in their bid to wrest control of an Odesa grain terminal operator from local financiers. (Bloomberg, 04.04.24)
  • Ukraine's fifth president, Petro Poroshenko, told Al-Jazeera television on April 2 that he plans to run for president again after Russia's ongoing invasion of his country is over. (RFE/RL, 04.03.24)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • After talks between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in Brussels on April 5, von der Leyen said the European Union will allocate 270 million euros ($293 million) for the South Caucasus state over the next four years. (RFE/RL, 04.05.24)
  • Blinken spoke with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on April 3 about the importance of advancing the peace process between Baku and Armenia, a State Department spokesman said. Blinken told Aliyev that there was no justification for increased tension on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border and cautioned that aggressive actions and rhetoric from any side would undermine prospects for peace, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement. (Reuters, 04.03.24)
  • Georgia’s ruling party said it’s reviving a draft law targeting “foreign agents” that triggered violent clashes between police and protesters last year and evoked comparisons to a measure Russia uses to suppress critics. (Bloomberg, 04.03.24)
  • Georgia's government has rejected President Salome Zurabishvili's request to allow her to pay a working visit to the Lithuanian capital next week, in another sign of the growing animosity between the lawmakers from the ruling party and the head of state. (RFE/RL, 04.04.24)
  • Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said during a visit to the city of Grodno on April 2 that the country is “preparing for war,” according to the state-run news agency Belta. (Meduza, 04.02.24)
  • Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov has signed into law a controversial bill that allows authorities to register organizations as "foreign representatives," legislation critics say mirrors a repressive Russian law on "foreign agents." (RFE/RL, 04.02.24)
  • Russian Chief of the General Staff Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov appealed to Commonwealth of Independent State (CIS) members to increase cooperation against perceived Western threats as part of the effort to posture against the West. (ISW, 04.04.24)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • No significant developments.


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.

Photo by the Presidential Office of Ukraine shared under a Creative Commons 4.0 license.