Russia in Review, March 4-11, 2022

This Week's Highlights

  • Russian forces launched multiple missile attacks on a wide range of targets across Ukraine in the early hours of March 11, including a first-time hit to the central city of Dnipro, where Ukrainians from other embattled cities have fled, according to CNN. How long Ukrainians can resist is the big question, analysts and Western defense officials have told the Financial Times. Russian forces are switching to a siege strategy that seeks to demolish civilian infrastructure such as power stations and punish Ukrainians for their defiance. The city of Mariupol, the paper reports, site of the maternity hospital bombing, has been 11 days without heat, gas, electric power or internet, 10 without water. Moscow has been recruiting Syrians skilled in urban combat to fight in Ukraine, four U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal; per Reuters, Putin on March 11 green-lighted their deployment.
  • Russian officials accused the U.S. of funding biowarfare efforts in Ukraine, drawing concern from Western officials that the allegations could serve as a pretext for Russia to unleash chemical or biological weapons itself, the Wall Street Journal reports. President Biden said on March 11 that Russia “will pay a severe price” if it uses chemical weapons.
  • A $13.6 billion aid package for Ukraine was unveiled March 9 by Congress, with “$3 billion in new weapons.” According to Defense News, the request grew—as if “on steroids”—from a relatively modest White House ask of $6.4 billion, to $10 billion under pressure from lawmakers ($1.5 billion for weapons), eventually to its current size. Adjusted for inflation, the Financial Times writes, the assistance is more than the landmark package the U.S. provided Greece and Turkey in 1947 at the start of US Cold War shortly before the founding of NATO.
  • More than 300 companies have halted operations in Russia since its invasion of Ukraine, the  Financial Times cites a professor as saying—far more than the 200 that quit South Africa over apartheid in the 1980s. The Moscow Times writes that retailers in Russia will limit sales of essential foodstuffs to limit black market speculation and ensure affordability: So said the government March 6, as sanctions imposed over Moscow's military incursion into Ukraine began to bite. With Western brands departing, Russia is running low on insulin and other important medical supplies produced abroad, The Moscow Times cites Kommersant saying. Russia’s central bank on March 10 published a forecast that GDP would contract by 8% by year’s end, the highest figure since 1998, The Bell reports. The survey also predicted inflation of 20% and an exchange rate of 110 rubles to the U.S. dollar.
  • A global food crisis sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine escalated this week as a growing number of key food-producing countries are seeking to keep vital food supplies within their borders, writes Reuters. Russia and Ukraine supply almost a third of the world’s wheat exports and since the Russian assault on its neighbor, ports on the Black Sea have come to a virtual standstill, wheat prices soaring to record highs, reports the Financial Times. As far away as Indonesia, the government tightened curbs on palm oil exports, per Reuters.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko on March 11 that there were "certain positive shifts" in talks with Ukraine, though he did not elaborate, Reuters reports.  His foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, expressed hope that a meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “will become necessary at some point” but said “preparatory work” needs to be done, the New York Times writes. Zelensky has said the war can only be ended through a meeting with Putin, which the Kremlin has not yet agreed to.
  • On March 10 Putin endorsed a plan to nationalize foreign-owned businesses that flee the country over its invasion of Ukraine, The Washington Post writes, reflecting the Kremlin’s alarm over job losses and other economic pain the exodus is inflicting. The proposal would create a pathway for the government to take over and eventually sell businesses that quit the country.


I. Special Section: Ukraine Conflict

Military action/impacts:

  • Maps of main Russian movements: New York Times and the Institute for the Study of War
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed at least 549 civilians, 41 of whom were children, the United Nations said March 10, noting the actual death toll is believed to be “considerably higher,” as the U.N. numbers don’t include some areas of “intense hostilities,” including the blockaded port city of Mariupol. Most of the deaths have been caused by “the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area,” it said. (CNBC, 03.10.22, AP, 03.10.22)
    • City officials in Mariupol have said 1,200 residents have been killed there. In Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, the prosecutor’s office has said 282 residents have been killed. (AP, 03.10.22)
  • Over 2 million people have fled Ukraine since Russian troops marched in on Feb. 24, some carrying valuable witness evidence that could help build a case for potential war crimes. That figure will swell. Estimates, should the bloody campaign continue, vary from 5 million to perhaps double that. The U.N. high commissioner for refugees called the exodus “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.” (AP, 03.10.22, The Economist, 03.11.22, Russia Matters, 03.07.22)
    • In addition to the growing number of refugees, at least 1 million people have been displaced within Ukraine, International Organization for Migration director general Antonio Vitorino told reporters. The scale of the humanitarian crisis is so extreme that the “worst case scenario” in the IOM’s contingency planning has already been surpassed, he said. (AP, 03.10.22)
  • As of March 11, Mariupol, which had a population of more than 400,000 people before the war, was in its 11th day without heat, gas, electric power or internet service. Intense Russian shelling knocked these out on March 1, then water the following day. Mariupol’s mayor Vadym Boichenko said on March 11 that Russian forces were bombing from the air “every 30 minutes,” adding to the howitzers and Grad land-based rockets with which they had been pounding the town. In recent days international condemnation has escalated over a deadly March 9 airstrike at a maternity hospital in Mariupol, which killed three and injured 17 according to city officials. Western and Ukrainian officials have called the attack a war crime. (Financial Times, 03.11.22, AP, 03.10.22, The Moscow Times, 03.10.22, Wall Street Journal, 03.09.22)
    • The Russian Defense Ministry claimed the “so-called ‘airstrike’” on the maternity hospital was a “fully staged provocation” to support “anti-Russian fervor among Western audience.” (Daily Beast, 03.10.22)
    • Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said without evidence on March 10 that the hospital had been empty of patients and that Russia had told the U.N. it was being used as a Ukrainian militia base. Images taken at the wrecked hospital showed several civilian injuries, including a bloodied pregnant woman being carried away on a stretcher. The Russian Embassy in London used its official Twitter account the same day to accuse a pregnant woman believed to have been wounded in the airstrike of faking her injuries. Twitter removed the tweets within hours, after one of the photographers who took her picture as she crawled out of the rubble confirmed her identity. (Insider, 03.10.22, Times of London, 03.10.22, Daily Beast, 03.10.22)
  • Russian forces launched multiple missile attacks on a wide range of targets across Ukraine in the early hours of March 11, striking airfields in the far west of the country and, for the first time, hitting the central city of Dnipro, to which Ukrainians from other embattled cities have fled. (CNN, 03.11.22)
  • How long Ukrainians can resist is the big question, analysts and Western defense officials have said. Russian forces are switching to a siege strategy that seeks to demolish civilian infrastructure such as power stations and punish Ukrainians for their defiance. In a recent poll, 82% of Ukrainians said they were confident in their ability to repel Russia’s offensive. On Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Ukrainians to “drive the Russians out.” (Financial Times, 03.07.22)
  • Russian forces bearing down on Kyiv are regrouping northwest of the Ukrainian capital, satellite pictures showed, in what Britain said could be preparation for an assault on the city within days. On March 10 Russian troops rolled their armored vehicles up to the northeastern boundary of Kyiv, edging closer in their attempts to encircle the city. Satellite photos showed that a massive convoy that had been mired outside the city split up and fanned out into towns and forests near Kyiv, with artillery pieces moved into firing positions. (Reuters, 03.11.22, The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.10.22, AP, 03.10.22)
    • Residents of Kyiv have been stocking up on food, medicine and other essentials in preparation for a siege, says parliament member Maryan Zablotskyy from President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party, who remains in the city. In addition to the army and police force, around 30,000 Kyiv residents volunteered to defend the city and have received guns, he says. (Axios, 03.07.22)
    • Russian troops have been facing stiff Ukrainian resistance around Kyiv and civilian protests in towns captured in the south, raising the stakes for the Kremlin and increasing fears about the repressive tactics Moscow might use to achieve its objectives. (Financial Times, 03.07.22)
    • The likelihood is increasing that Ukrainian forces could fight to a standstill the Russian ground forces attempting to encircle and take the capital. Russian forces also appeared to be largely stalemated around Kharkiv and distracted from efforts to seize that city. Russian advances in the south around Mykolayiv and toward Zaporizhya and in the east around Donetsk and Luhansk made little progress as well between March 9 and 10. Russia likely retains much greater combat power in the south and east and will probably renew more effective offensive operations in the coming days. (Institute for the Study of War, 03.10.22)
    • According to information released by the Ukrainian side and by the U.S. government, Russia’s ground forces appear to have run into severe problems with communications and logistics. Convoys of armored vehicles are said to have run out of fuel, Russian soldiers have been left stranded not knowing directions and key Russian equipment such as Pantsir anti-aircraft missile trucks have been abandoned by their crews. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • “We are surrounded,” said Vladyslav Atroshenko, the mayor of Chernihiv, in a message posted online March 9. Russians had bypassed Chernihiv in the early days of the invasion. Amnesty International said March 9 that a Russian air strike on the city that reportedly killed 47 civilians on March 3 should be investigated as a possible war crime. In a new investigation into the strike—one of the deadliest so far in Russia’s two-week assault on Ukraine—the rights group said it “was not able to identify a legitimate military target at, or close to, the scene of the strike.” (New York Times, 03.11.22, The Moscow Times, 03.09.22)
  • To the south, where Russia has nearly completed a land bridge to Crimea, large, unarmed crowds of civilians confronted troops over the weekend in Kherson, the largest city Russia has captured. (Financial Times, 03.07.22)
  • As Russia’s attempt to quickly seize Ukrainian cities has stalled in the face of fierce resistance, Moscow is resorting to a punishing, wholesale destruction, shelling and bombing residential neighborhoods and historic downtowns. Kharkiv has been pulverized with particular cruelty, even though almost all of its citizens are Russian-speakers, many of whom felt affinity with Russia in the past. On March 11, the thumps of artillery punctured the city’s eerie silence. Few people were on the street. Around the corner from Constitution Square, the new Nikolsky shopping mall—complete with an oyster bar and virtual-reality game zone—smoldered. A Russian missile had plunged through its roof the night of March 9. (Wall Street Journal, 03.11.22)
  • Russian officials accused the U.S. of funding biowarfare efforts in Ukraine, drawing concern from Western officials who fear that a crescendo of allegations about weapons of mass destruction could serve as a pretext for Russia to unleash chemical or biological weapons itself. The Russian Defense Ministry on March 10 said that a U.S. defense agency funded research into bat coronaviruses in Ukraine and the country’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that “these were not peaceful experiments.” On March 9, the White House rejected such accusations, saying allegations over the use of biological or chemical weapons could mark efforts by the Russians to lay the groundwork for their use in the Ukraine conflict. President Biden said on March 11 that Russia “will pay a severe price” if it uses chemical weapons. (Wall Street Journal, 03.10.22, Politico, 03.11.22)
    • Izumi Nakamitsu, the U.N. high representative for disarmament affairs, told the Security Council on March 11 that the United Nations is "not aware" of any biological weapons program in Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 03.11.22)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened the existence of “Ukrainian statehood” as his invading force faces stiff resistance and his economy is increasingly strangled by sanctions. "The current [Ukrainian] authorities must understand that if they continue to do what they are doing, they are putting in question the future of Ukrainian statehood," Putin said March 5. "And if this happens, they will be fully responsible.” (AFP, 03.06.22)
  • A senior U.S. defense official said March 7 that Russia has now deployed "nearly 100%" of the combat power that it had massed on Ukraine's borders, and had deployed almost all of the 127 battalions pre-positioned in Russia, the Crimea and Belarus. As of March 10, the Russians had launched 775 missiles at Ukraine since the invasion began, the U.S. military said. John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman, said most of the new forces had entered from the north, suggesting they would bolster Russian troops facing strong Ukrainian resistance in their advance on Kyiv. (Axios, 03.07.22, Financial Times, 03.08.22)
  • Occupying an entire country typically requires 20 soldiers per 1,000 people, although Russia committed more than 150 troops per 1,000 residents in Chechnya in 2003, according to a U.S. Army War College study. In Ukraine, that would equal a force of more than 6 million Russian soldiers. (Financial Times, 03.07.22)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the green light on March 11 for up to 16,000 volunteers from the Middle East to be deployed alongside Russian-backed rebels to fight in Ukraine, doubling down an invasion that the West says has been losing momentum. (Reuters, 03.11.22)
    • Moscow has been recruiting Syrians skilled in urban combat to fight in Ukraine as Russia’s invasion is poised to expand deeper into cities, according to four U.S. officials. The move points to a potential escalation of fighting in Ukraine, experts said. (Wall Street Journal, 03.06.22)
    • Russia has pulled out hundreds of Syrian fighters from Libya to Hmeimim Air Base in Syria since the start of March without sending new groups to replace them at the areas where Wagner Group is positioned, Suwayda 24 website reported on March 7. (The Libya Observer, 03.08.22)
  • The White House and Congress are rushing to enact an emergency foreign-aid package to stabilize Ukraine’s besieged economy, a dramatic bipartisan effort that reflects the economic challenges facing the country following its invasion by Russia. On March 9, the House of Representatives approved an approximately $14 billion assistance package to support Ukraine’s military and humanitarian assistance efforts. The Senate passed the measure March 10 night, and President Biden has given it his support. (The Washington Post, 03.11.22)
    • The $13.6 billion package would buy $3 billion in new weapons for Ukraine, instead of the $1.5 billion in new weapons requested by Biden. The White House’s initial $6.4 billion ask on Feb. 25, the second day of the war, grew with pressure from lawmakers to a $10 billion request on March 3. After lawmakers met virtually with Zelensky on Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday the aid would exceed $12 billion. (Defense News, 03.09.22)
    • Adjusted for inflation, the assistance is more than the landmark $400 million package the U.S. provided Greece and Turkey in 1947 in a move that marked the start of U.S. Cold War policy in Europe and, two years later, the foundation of NATO. (Financial Times, 03.11.22)
  • This month a vast airlift has been underway that American and European officials describe as a desperate race against time, to get tons of arms into the hands of Ukrainian forces while their supply routes are still open. In less than a week, the U.S. and NATO have pushed more than 17,000 antitank weapons over the borders of Poland and Romania, unloading them from giant military cargo planes so they can make the trip by land to Kyiv and other major cities. So far, Russian forces have been so preoccupied in other parts of the country that they have not targeted the arms supply lines, but few think that can last. (New York Times, 03.06.22)
  • On March 9 Ben Wallace, the U.K. defense secretary, said Britain had so far sent 3,615 NLAW anti-tank missiles, would soon start sending Javelin anti-tank weapons, and was looking to supply portable Starstreak anti-air missiles as well. The Nordic states have also been transparent. Denmark said it had so far provided 2,700 anti-tank weapons, Norway 2,000 M72 anti-tank weapons and Sweden 5,000 Pansarskott m/86 anti-tank weapons. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • Ukraine’s most sophisticated attack drone is about as stealthy as a crop duster: slow, low-flying and completely defenseless. So when the Russian invasion began, many experts expected the few drones that the Ukrainian forces managed to get off the ground would be shot down in hours. But more than two weeks into the conflict, Ukraine’s drones—Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 models that buzz along at about half the speed of a Cessna — are not only still flying, they also shoot guided missiles at Russian missile launchers, tanks and supply trains, according to Pentagon officials. (New York Times, 03.11.22)
  • A U.S. defense official said that Ukrainian air space remained contested, but that Ukraine’s air and missile defences remained intact and in use, and that the Ukrainian military continued to fly aircraft. Both sides have taken losses to both aircraft and missile defence inventories,” he said. “We assess that both sides still possess a majority of their air defence systems and capabilities.” (Financial Times, 03.07.22)
  • Washington has abandoned efforts to help supply Ukraine with Polish MiG-29 fighter jets after concluding that sending the aircraft to Kyiv could spark a dangerous escalation and draw NATO into direct conflict with Russia. The U.S. and Poland have held talks over a mechanism to send the Russian-made MiG fighters in Warsaw’s arsenal to Ukraine since the early days of the Russian invasion. But the Pentagon on March 9 said it had concluded any transfer was unnecessary and risked triggering a broader conflict. Polish leaders, too, have clearly been concerned that providing the fighters to Ukraine could make them a new target of the Russians. (Financial Times, 03.11.22, New York Times, 03.06.22)
    • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on March 5 made an impassioned plea to Capitol Hill for assistance in obtaining more lethal military aid, especially Russian-made jet fighters that Ukrainian pilots can fly. (Wall Street Journal, 03.08.22)
    • Ukraine on Saturday urged the West to amp up military assistance to the besieged country, including warplanes, as Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated warnings against NATO. "The highest demand that we have is in fighter jets, attack aircraft, and air-defense systems," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a small group of journalists on the Poland-Ukraine border after a meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Antony Blinken. (The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.05.22)
  • A Russian governor in Siberia was confronted by angry citizens who accused the government of "deceiving" young men before deploying them as "cannon fodder" in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Amateur footage of the testy exchange at a meeting between Sergei Tsivilyov, governor of the Kemerovo region, and locals in the city of Novokuznetsk was posted online as early as March 5. An analysis by RFE/RL reveals that the confrontation took place at the training base of riot police units, whose officers were killed or captured in combat in Ukraine after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. (RFE/RL, 03.06.22)
  • Russia's Defense Ministry acknowledged on March 9 that some conscripts were taking part in the conflict with Ukraine, contrary to earlier denials by President Vladimir Putin. The ministry said that some of them had been taken prisoner. Citing Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the RIA news agency said Putin had ordered military prosecutors to investigate and punish the officials responsible for disobeying his instructions to exclude conscripts from the operation. Since Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, there have been reports of conscripts fighting there, with mothers taking to social media to look for their sons and rights groups saying they were inundated with calls from conscripts' families. (Reuters, 03.09.22, The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.09.22)


  • President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko on March 11 that there were "certain positive shifts" in talks with the Ukrainians, though he did not elaborate. (Reuters, 03.11.22)
  • Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia leaves open the door to a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Volodymyr Zelensky. “I hope that this will become necessary at some point,” he said. “But preparatory work needs to take place for this.” Zelensky has said that the war can only be ended through a meeting with Putin, which the Kremlin has not yet agreed to. (New York Times, 03.10.22)
  • For a seventh straight day, Russia announced plans to cease fire to let civilians leave the besieged city of Mariupol. All previous attempts to reach the city have failed with both sides accusing each other of not observing ceasefires. (Reuters, 03.11.22)
  • Russia on March 10 rebuffed Ukraine’s proposals for a temporary ceasefire and humanitarian aid for Mariupol at the highest-level talks since the invasion began, which made little progress. The talks in Turkey lasted about an hour and a half and ended without any agreement, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisting his country “did not attack Ukraine.” (Financial Times, 03.11.22, The Washington Post, 03.10.22)
    • Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country would not “surrender,” while Lavrov warned the West against sending more weapons to Ukraine and defiantly vowed to overcome a rising battery of sanctions. Kuleba indicated that Lavrov did not have the authority to agree to the cease-fire and would have to take the issue to “other decision-makers” in Russia. (The Washington Post, 03.10.22)
    • Lavrov confirms no cease-fire deal was reached at the March 10 meeting, claiming that a cease-fire wasn’t even on the table. “No one was planning to negotiate a cease-fire here,” Lavrov said, adding that such questions are to be discussed between Russian and Ukrainian officials who are expected to meet again soon in Belarus. (New York Times, 03.10.22)
  • Russia and Ukraine on March 9 agreed on a day-long ceasefire around a series of evacuation corridors to allow civilians to escape the fighting, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said. President Volodymyr Zelensky said the same day that three humanitarian corridors were operating from bombarded areas and, in all, about 35,000 people had gotten out. People left Sumy, in the northeast near the Russian border; the suburbs of Kyiv; and Enerhodar, the southern town where Russian forces took over a large nuclear plant. (The Moscow Times, 03.09.22, AP, 03.10.22)
  • A third round of Russian-Ukrainian talks in Belarus ended on Monday evening with the delegations reporting some positive signs but no breakthrough. Mykhailo Polodnyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said there had been some “small positive developments in improving the logistics of humanitarian corridors.” He tweeted that intensive consultations continued on the “basic political bloc” of a peace agreement, as well as ceasefire and security guarantees. Vladimir Medinsky, head of the Russian delegation to the talks, told Interfax that they “were not easy,” “fell short of [Russia’s] expectations” and “it’s too soon to talk of something positive.” (Financial Times, 03.08.22)
  • Ukraine on March 7 criticized the Kremlin's announcement of new humanitarian corridors to transport civilians to Russia and Belarus as an "immoral" stunt ahead of a third round of peace talks. (Axios, 03.07.22)
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed willingness to discuss Russia’s demands for Kyiv to recognize annexed Crimea and the breakaway pro-Moscow territories in an interview with ABC News published March 8. “I think that items regarding temporarily occupied territories and pseudo-republics not recognized by anyone but Russia, we can discuss and find a compromise on how these territories will live on,” Zelenskiy said. (The Moscow Times, 03.08.22)
  • Russia has told Ukraine it is ready to halt military operations "in an instant" if Kyiv meets a list of conditions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said March 7. Peskov said Moscow was demanding that Ukraine cease military action, change its constitution to enshrine neutrality, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory and recognize Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states. He insisted Russia was not seeking to make any further territorial claims on Ukraine and said it was "not true" that it was demanding Kyiv be handed over. "We really are finishing the demilitarization of Ukraine. We will finish it. But the main thing is that Ukraine ceases its military action … and then no one will shoot," he said. (Reuters, 03.07.22)
  • Two people involved in back-channel talks between Moscow and Kyiv said Ukraine’s negotiators have been open to offering concessions since the start of the war, keen to stop the fighting. But whereas Ukraine’s delegation members had a direct line to Zelensky, Russia’s negotiators appeared to be working at least in part in the dark, often appearing unaware what president Vladimir Putin wanted beyond the most general terms, the people added. “The Ukrainians say, ‘what do you want?’ We say, ‘we want Ukraine to declare neutrality!’ The Ukrainians say, ‘great, what wording should we use?’ And our guys have no idea,” one of the people said. (Financial Times, 03.10.22)
  • The Biden administration announced on March 3 that it would offer humanitarian relief to Ukrainians who have been living in the country without legal documentation since March 1 or earlier, signaling additional support for citizens of Ukraine as Russia advanced in the south of the country. (New York Times, 03.03.22
  • The White House unsuccessfully tried to arrange calls between President Biden and the de facto leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as the U.S. was working to build international support for Ukraine and contain a surge in oil prices, said Middle East and U.S. officials. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the U.A.E.’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan both declined U.S. requests to speak to Biden in recent weeks, the officials said, as Saudi and Emirati officials have become more vocal in their criticism of American policy in the Gulf. The Saudis have signaled they want more support for their intervention in Yemen’s civil war, help with their own civilian nuclear program as Iran’s moves ahead and legal immunity for Prince Mohammed in the U.S., Saudi officials said. (Wall Street Journal, 03.08.22)

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

Nuclear security:

  • Russia’s deputy energy minister said March 10 that the electricity lines to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site have been repaired, but the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said there was still no confirmation that power has been restored. The defunct plant, site of a catastrophic 1986 nuclear accident, was disconnected from the grid by Russian forces, Ukrainian officials had said March 9, potentially jeopardizing the cooling of nuclear material still stored at the site. The IAEA, the U.N.'s atomic watchdog, said at the time there was "no critical impact on safety." (The Washington Post, 03.10.22, The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.10.22)
  • The IAEA in recent days has lost remote data transmission from its safeguards systems, installed to monitor nuclear material, both at Chernobyl and at another Ukrainian nuclear power plant now controlled by Russian forces, the Zaporizhzhya facility. The reason for the disruption was not immediately clear. (IAEA, 03.09.22, The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.10.22)
  • Nuclear experts have raised concerns about the conditions faced by employees at both facilities as their occupation continues. Some 210 technical experts and guards inside the defunct Chernobyl plant face “worsening” conditions, unable to leave the facility since Russian forces took control two weeks ago; they have limited access to medicine and no cellphone or landline connections. Workers at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which was set ablaze when Russian forces captured it March 4, are in “very bad psychological conditions,” according to Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s state-owned atomic energy firm Energoatom. Nuclear technicians are being forced to work under gunpoint, Kotin told local media outlets March 9. Ukraine’s energy minister Herman Galushchenko said that invading Russian forces were “torturing” staff operating Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and wanted to force them to record a “propaganda” message. The IAEA says sufficient rest is a pillar of nuclear safety: Employees must be able to rest and work in regular shifts and be able to make decisions free of “undue pressure.” (The Washington Post, 03.10.22, Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • The IAEA said Monday it has received reports of artillery shells damaging a nuclear research facility in Ukraine's besieged second city Kharkiv, but there was no "radiological consequence." The Vienna-based U.N. body said Ukrainian authorities reported an attack took place on Sunday, adding that no increase in radiation levels had been reported at the site. (The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.08.22, Bellona, 03.09.22)
  • Ukraine’s nuclear power regulator said eight of the country’s 15 reactors remained in operation, including two at the Zaporizhzhya plant. Radiation levels at the sites were normal, it said. (IAEA, 03.09.22)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • The United States imposed fresh North Korea-related sanctions on March 11, targeting Russian individuals and companies after U.S. and South Korean officials said Pyongyang had used its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system in two recent launches. The sanctions, announced by the U.S. Treasury, targeted two Russian nationals and three Russian firms it linked to North Korea's procurement activities for its missile programs. (Reuters, 03.11.22)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • Talks on the revival of the Iran nuclear deal have become a casualty of the war in Ukraine after an indefinite pause was announced over last-minute Russian demands. The EU foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, tweeted on March 11: “A pause in the Vienna talks is needed due to external factors. A final text is essentially ready and on the table.” (Guardian, 03.11.22)
    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday that Moscow is demanding guarantees from the U.S. before backing the Iran nuclear deal, citing the current wave of Western sanctions against Russia. The guarantees were to ensure that U.S. sanctions “will not in any way harm our right to free, fully fledged trade and economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with Iran," Lavrov said at a news conference. He also said the nuclear talks in Vienna have covered most issues and, "from our point of view, if Iran agrees, this document can already be launched into the acceptance process." (The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.05.22)
    • The Russian chief negotiator, Mikhail Ulyanov, denied it had only been Russian objections that led to the near-complete text not being signed off. “The only thing which I want to tell you … [is that] the conclusion of the deal does not depend on Russia only,” he said. (Guardian, 03.11.22)

Other great power rivalry/new Cold War/NATO-Russia relations:

  • Vice President Kamala Harris called March 10 for an investigation into whether Russia had committed war crimes in Ukraine during a visit to key NATO ally Poland, which has taken in more than one million refugees from the invasion. President Andrzej Duda of Poland said his country needed more direct assistance from the United States to support Ukrainians fleeing the war. (New York Times, 03.10.22)
    • Putin shows no sign of being willing to engage in diplomacy, Harris said on March 11 during a visit to Romania. She credited the country for taking in thousands of people fleeing the fighting in neighboring Ukraine and said Washington was constantly reassessing support levels for its NATO allies according to the dynamic situation on the ground. (Reuters, 03.11.22)
  • U.S. intelligence chiefs on March 8 branded Russia's Vladimir Putin an "angry," isolated leader craving global clout, frustrated about how his Ukraine invasion has not gone to plan and lobbing provocative nuclear threats at the West. The long-standing president in Moscow has been "stewing in a combustible combination of grievance and ambition for many years," CIA Director William Burns told U.S. lawmakers. He called the invasion of Ukraine a matter of "deep personal conviction" for Putin, his latest defiant clash with Europe and the United States. (The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.09.22)
  • NATO is set to begin the largest military exercises in Norway in 30 years, led by one of the UK’s two largest warships. The Norwegian-led Cold Response 2022 will officially begin March 14. Russia has informed the Norwegian military that it will not send any observers. (High North News, 03.09.22, The Independent Barents Observer, 03.08.22)
  • Denmark is to hold a referendum on joining the EU’s defense pact, increase military spending and wean itself off Russian gas, according to the terms of a cross-party agreement unveiled on Sunday evening. (Financial Times, 03.07.22)
  • Sweden should make a joint decision with Finland on whether to join NATO rather than play party politics over security issues as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increases support for the military alliance, according to Ulf Kristersson, leader of Sweden’s center-right Moderate party. (Financial Times, 03.10.22)

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

  • A global food crisis sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine escalated on March 9 as Indonesia tightened curbs on palm oil exports, adding to a growing list of key producing countries seeking to keep vital food supplies within their borders. Russia and Ukraine supply almost a third of the world’s wheat exports and since the Russian assault on its neighbor, ports on the Black Sea have come to a virtual standstill. As a result, wheat prices have soared to record highs, overtaking levels seen during the food crisis of 2007-08. (Reuters, 03.09.22, Financial Times, 03.06.22)
    • Ukrainian wheat shipments are grinding to a halt following the Russian invasion. (Financial Times, 03.06.22)
    • Russia also imposed an export ban on wheat and other agricultural products to the Eurasian Economic Union until Aug. 31. (Fortune, 03.11.22)
    • Russia accounts for 80% of Lebanon’s wheat imports, 64% of Turkey’s and a quarter of Egypt’s. Any rise in subsidized bread prices and further increase in food inflation in Egypt “increases the threat of social unrest,” one analyst said. (Financial Times, 03.10.22, Financial Times, 03.06.22)
    • Russia’s trade and industry ministry has recommended the country’s fertilizer producers temporarily halt exports, the ministry said on March 4, in a further sign that sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could have a global impact. (Reuters, 03.04.22)
  • Goldman Sachs sharply downgraded its forecasts for the eurozone economy, saying the region will grow 2.5% this year, because of the war in Ukraine. Rising energy prices and supply disruptions would constrain some of the region’s largest economies, especially Germany and Italy. The previous forecast was for an economic expansion of 3.9%.
  • President Joe Biden on March 11 called for suspending normal trade relations with Russia and said the U.S. would ban imports of seafood, vodka and diamonds from the nation as part of an effort to ramp up economic pressure on Russia for invading Ukraine. The move, which requires congressional action, comes as a group of bipartisan lawmakers has pressured the president to take more aggressive action to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. (CNN, 03.11.22, USA Today, 03.10.22)
  • Earlier in the week, President Biden banned imports of Russian oil and gas into the U.S, attempt to deprive Moscow of revenue after its invasion of Ukraine. The move was matched by a U.K. phase-out of Russian oil imports, but the EU did not follow suit and instead unveiled a plan to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds within a year; the EU also published a plan to completely wean itself off Russian gas “well before 2030.” The U.S. decision was reached after days of behind-the-scenes talks that revolved around protecting the global economy from an energy shock. (Financial Times, 03.09.22, The Moscow Times, 03.10.22, bne IntelliNews, 03.09.22, The Washington Post, 03.08.22)
    • About 60% of Russia’s oil exports go to Europe, while 8% go to the U.S. China accounts for about 20%. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
    • Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak warned Monday that a ban on Russian oil would have "catastrophic consequences for the global market,” including an unpredictable surge in prices—“$300 per barrel, if not more," Novak said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. (The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.08.22)
  • Trading of nickel was suspended in London and oil benchmarks climbed in response to the U.S. ban on Russian oil and gas imports. Elsewhere in commodities markets, Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose as much as 2.9 per cent to $131.64 a barrel, while U.S. marker West Texas Intermediate jumped as much as 2.4 per cent to $126.68. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is introducing a bill to prevent Russia from liquidating gold to withstand biting sanctions. The sanctions against Russia have frozen the country's foreign exchange assets, but its stockpile of gold—estimated at around $132 billion—could be a lifeline. A measure to close the loophole is yet another indication Congress is looking to get ahead of the Biden administration on punitive measures against Russia. (Axios, 03.08.22)
  • In a response to crippling sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow on March 7 published an official list of foreign states it considers to be "unfriendly." Business dealings in Russia involving these countries will now require special government authorization, according to a government decree. The list includes: the U.S., the U.K., EU member states, Australia, Iceland, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Taiwan, Ukraine, Montenegro, Switzerland, Japan and others. (Newsweek, 03.07.22)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin responded has ordered a ban on exports of certain commodities and raw materials, according to a decree issued on the evening of March 8 in Moscow. Two days later, his government issued a list of over 200 products for the list but held back on banning exports of energy and raw materials like metals, leaving open a vital lifeline to the Kremlin's coffers. Under Russia's new export controls, several manufactured products cannot be sold outside Russia until the end of 2022. The export ban also includes some forestry products, such as timber, to "states that are undertaking hostile actions against Russia," which would include the U.S. and members of the EU. The economy ministry said further measures could include restricting foreign ships from Russian ports. (Wall Street Journal, 03.08.22, Fortune, 03.11.22, BBC, 03.10.22)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 10 endorsed a plan to nationalize foreign-owned businesses that flee the country over its invasion of Ukraine, reflecting the Kremlin’s alarm over job losses and other economic pain the exodus is inflicting. During a meeting with government officials, Putin said Russia must “introduce external management" on departing companies "and then transfer these enterprises to those who want to work,” endorsing a legislative proposal that would create a pathway for the government to take over and eventually sell businesses that quit the country. (The Washington Post, 03.10.22)
  • Since the invasion on Feb. 24, more than 300 companies have halted Russian operations, according to Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale School of Management professor—far exceeding the 200 big companies that quit South Africa over apartheid in the 1980s. (Financial Times, 03.10.22, The Moscow Times, 03.08.22)
    • McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Starbucks on March 8 became the latest American corporate titans to join the exodus. McDonald's is temporarily closing its 850 locations in Russia, in one of the most symbolic exits: “McDonald’s made its Soviet debut 30 years ago,” as The Washington Post wrote in 2020, “its golden arches a gateway to Western influence.” Among other recent additions to the list are cosmetics company L'Oreal, car maker Ferrari and Moody’s rating agency. (NPR, 03.08.22, Russia Matters, 03.08.22, The Washington Post, 03.10.22, Financial Times, 03.05.22)
    • Card payment giants Visa and Mastercard announced Saturday they will suspend operations in Russia. Mastercard, which has operated in Russia for more than 25 years, said that following its suspension of operations, cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by its network, and any card issued outside of the country will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs. The decision followed a request by Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky earlier on Saturday and threatens to further isolate a Russian economy. PayPal also announced it would shut down all its services in Russia. (The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.06.22, Financial Times, 03.06.22)
    • Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are closing down their businesses in Russia as Wall Street banks follow western companies in withdrawing because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. (Financial Times, 03.11.22)
    • PwC and KPMG have severed ties with its Russian business, becoming the first Big Four accounting firms to exit the country since the invasion of Ukraine. PwC said its member firm in Belarus would also exit the network. (Financial Times, 03.07.22)
    • Netflix and TikTok announced cuts to their services in Russia as the government cracked down on what can be said about the war. (Financial Times, 03.07.22)
    • Adidas expects its sales in Russia to halve this year after the German sportswear group closed its shops and website in the country following the invasion of Ukraine. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • The U.K. on March 9 restricted exports of aviation and space-related technologies and services to Russia and unveiled sanctions that enable the government to detain Russian aircraft in the country. The Foreign Office issued a ban on insuring and reinsuring Russian-linked entities in the space and aviation sectors. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • “We will provoke the collapse of the Russian economy,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has told a local radio. “We are waging total economic and financial war against Russia, Putin and his government, and let’s be clear—the Russian people will also pay the consequences.” (Financial Times, 03.06.22)
  • Japan may consider pulling out of energy projects jointly developed with Russia in Sakhalin, the country’s trade minister said on March 9. Russia was Japan’s fifth-largest supplier of both liquified natural gas and thermal coal last year. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • International lenders including Citigroup, ING and JPMorgan are reviewing their relationship with Dutch telecoms group Veon, which makes most of its revenue from Russia, after the owner of its largest shareholder and one of Russia’s richest men, Mikhail Fridman, was hit with sanctions by the EU. In March last year, Veon secured a $1.25 billion revolving credit facility from 10 banks, co-ordinated by Citi and including Crédit Agricole, JPMorgan, Société Générale, Barclays and Raiffeisen. Veon’s share price has lost about 70% of its value over the past month. (Financial Times, 03. 09.22)
  • Citigroup’s long-planned sale of its Russian retail bank is stuck in legal limbo following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, raising the odds the U.S. bank will have to shut down the operation in a costly writedown, dealmakers and sanctions experts said. Citi disclosed last month that it has almost $10 billion worth of exposure to Russia through loans, government debt and other assets. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • Credit Suisse became the latest bank to outline its Russian risk on March 10, detailing a $915 million credit exposure at the end of 2021. (Financial Times, 03.10.22)
  • Austria’s Raiffeisen reported a direct exposure to Russia of €22.9 billion ($24.9 billion) while France’s Société Générale and Crédit Agricole reported €18.6 billion and €4.9 billion of exposure, respectively, and ING of the Netherlands reported €6.7 billion. (Financial Times, 03.10.22)
  • The head of Volkswagen, Europe’s largest carmaker, has warned that a prolonged war in Ukraine risks being “very much worse” for the region’s economy than the coronavirus pandemic. VW, which has 500,000 employees in Europe, last week announced a halt in production of vehicles in Russia “until further notice,” idling its manufacturing sites in Kaluga and Nizhny Novgorod. Rival German groups BMW and Mercedes have also paused Russian production or sales. (Financial Times, 03.10.22)
  • Some consumer multinationals, such as Dettol maker Reckitt Benckiser, chocolate maker Lindt & Sprüngli and cigarette maker Japan Tobacco, continue to operate in Russia. Supermarket operators such as France’s Auchan and Germany’s Metro have also opted to stay, an approach that contrasts with some other retailers such as Inditex, parent company of fashion chain Zara, which has shuttered stores but retained its 9,000 staff. Yet companies such as French dairy manufacturer Danone, the world’s largest food manufacturer Nestlé, confectionery and pet foodmaker Mars, and U.K. tobacco group Philip Morris have taken measures such as freezing new investment into the country but continuing to sell there, or halting sales of international brands while continuing to make and sell local products. Coca-Cola has said it is “suspending” its Russian business without giving specifics. (Financial Times, 03.10.22)
  • Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich was one of seven Russians hit with a full asset freeze and travel ban by the U.K. on March 10, in the government’s most aggressive crackdown on oligarchs since Russia invaded Ukraine. London also unveiled measures against: Oleg Deripaska, the founder of London-listed metals group EN+; Igor Sechin, chief executive of Rosneft and one of Putin’s closest confidants; the head of Gazprom Alexei Miller; VTB bank chairman Andrey Kostin; Transneft president Nikolai Tokarev; and Bank Rossiya chairman Dmitri Lebedev. London said the seven have a collective net worth of about £15 billion ($19.7 billion) and described them all as part of Putin's inner circle. The measures have thrown into disarray Abramovich’s plans to sell the European- and world-champion team. (Financial Times, 03.10.22, The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.10.22)
  • The Australian government said on March 8 that it is placing new sanctions on “Moscow’s propagandists and purveyors of disinformation,” adding that the latest round of sanctions will be applied against an additional six military commanders as well as 10 people of “strategic interest to Russia.” (Financial Times, 03.08.22)
  • At least 38 businessmen or officials linked to Mr. Putin own dozens of properties in Dubai collectively valued at more than $314 million, according to previously unreported data compiled by the nonprofit Center for Advanced Defense Studies. Six of those owners are under sanctions by the United States or the European Union, and another oligarch facing sanctions has a yacht moored there. For now, they can count themselves lucky. (New York Times, 03.09.22)
  • ICIJ is launching a Russia Archive to highlight and advance what its investigations have uncovered about ways in which the offshore system bolsters networks of wealth behind Putin and his longtime allies. (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 03.08.22)
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed the failings of asset managers and data analytics firms in their assessment of environmental, social and governance risks, according to a senior sustainable finance executive. Sasja Beslik, a sustainable finance expert, said the war showed that ESG investors “have failed” by not managing risks associated with Russian investments before the latest invasion. (Financial Times, 03.11.22)
  • Russia’s representatives have “agreed not to participate” in meetings of the Financial Stability Board that sets global financial regulation, a person familiar with the matter confirmed late March 10. (Financial Times, 03.11.22)
  • The IMF’s office in Moscow is “not operational”, the head of the international organization confirmed on March 10, in the latest sign of Russia’s isolation following its invasion of Ukraine. (Financial Times, 03.11.22)
  • Russian tech giant Yandex warned March 3 it may default on its debt after it was suspended from trading on New York's digital stock exchange. Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange this week halted all listings of Russian companies until they explain how they will be impacted by sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. (The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.04.22)
  • The United Arab Emirates said it would push the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to pump more oil as crude prices rocket to near record highs during Russia's war on Ukraine. (The Wall Street Journal, 03.10.22)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • In public statements and at international summits, Chinese officials have attempted to stake out a seemingly neutral position on the war in Ukraine, neither condemning Russian actions nor ruling out the possibility Beijing could act as a mediator in a push for peace. But while its international messaging has kept many guessing as to Beijing’s true intentions, much of its domestic media coverage of Russia’s invasion tells China’s 1.4 billion people that the invasion is nothing more than a “special military operation,” that the United States may be funding a biological weapons program in Ukraine and that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a victim standing up for a beleaguered Russia. (CNN,03.10.22)
  • U.S. intelligence chiefs on March 8 said they were monitoring how China was interpreting the war in Ukraine and said the swift Western reaction would probably influence Beijing’s calculus over its goal of securing control of Taiwan. Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, said China had noted the sanctions the U.S. and its allies have imposed on Russia and understood the implications for how Washington might respond to an attack on Taiwan. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • Ukraine’s declaration that China had assured Kyiv it would help stop the war has renewed focus on Beijing’s potential role in pressuring Russia to back down. But China’s public comments, the close ties between presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin and Beijing’s lack of experience in resolving such disputes hint at the hurdles it will have to overcome to do so, said diplomats and analysts. (Financial Times, 03.06.22)
  • To help Russia evade sanctions, China would have to offer a viable substitute to the American dollar. But Chinese money — the renminbi — is barely used outside of China. Only 3 percent of the world’s business is done using the redback. Even Russia and China conduct their trade mostly in U.S. dollars and euros. What’s more, the risks of helping Russia avoid economic ruin may be greater for China than any possible reward. Much of China’s own economy depends on the U.S. dollar and the financial edifice that underpins it. (New York Times, 03.11.22)
  • The China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank said it will suspend business related to Russia and Belarus. In a statement issued March 3, the AIIB said that "in the best interests of the bank, management has decided that all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review." Beijing is the largest stakeholder in the multilateral institution—the brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping—with almost 27% voting power. (The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.04.22)
  • China’s growing economic discomfort was noticeable in the video conference Xi held on March 8 with his French and German counterparts Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz. The Chinese leader appealed for “maximum restraint” in Ukraine and said the three countries should “jointly support peace talks” between Moscow and Kyiv. But he also criticised western sanctions that are exacerbating commodity price rises. (Financial Times, 03.11.22)
  • The scale of China’s energy and resource demands are striking: last year its imports of crude oil and natural gas reached Rmb2tn ($316bn), and it spent another Rmb1.2tn on iron ore imports. The world’s second-largest economy imports about 70 per cent of its oil and 40 per cent of its gas. (Financial Times, 03.11.22)
  • Nickel prices in China hit a record high after trading of the metal was suspended in London and oil benchmarks climbed in response to the U.S. ban on Russian oil and gas imports. Nickel prices rose 17% to hit a record of about $42,400 a tonne on March 9, touching their ceiling for daily gains. A bad bet placed by a Chinese metals tycoon had sent prices surging above a record $100,000 a tonne on March 8, one of the most extreme price movements in the London Metal Exchange’s 145-year history. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • China has refused to supply Russian airlines with aircraft parts, an official at Russia's aviation authority was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying on March 10, after Boeing and Airbus halted supply of components. (Reuters, 03.10.22)
  • Shipments to Russia from leading Chinese smartphone producers Xiaomi, Oppo and Huawei have fallen by at least half since the outbreak of the war, people familiar with the matter said. Chinese brands comprise about 60% of the Russian smartphone market. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • Premier Li Keqiang told reporters at the annual Two Sessions political meetings in Beijing that China was “deeply concerned” about the war in Ukraine. Li reiterated China’s position that it hopes the situation in Ukraine can return to peace as soon as possible and underlined that it would “develop cooperative relationships with all parties”. (Financial Times, 03.11.22)

Missile defense:

  • The U.S. military is sending two Patriot missile-defense systems to Poland, amid growing fears that Russia’s war in Ukraine could threaten neighboring countries. The U.S. has repeatedly stressed that the deployment is only for defensive purposes. (Wall Street Journal, 03.09.22, CNN, 03.10.22)
    • Pentagon officials will not send the Patriot system to Ukraine, saying March 10 that U.S. forces would need to enter Ukraine to operate it, which is a non-starter for the Biden administration. A Patriot missile battery usually has about 90 U.S. soldiers attached to it. (Defense One, 03.10.22)

Nuclear arms control:

  • No significant developments.


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security:

  • Months before the Russian invasion, a team of Americans fanned out across Ukraine looking for a very specific kind of threat. This surge of U.S. personnel in October and November was in preparation of impending war. People familiar with the operation described an urgency in the hunt for hidden malware, the kind that Russia could have planted, then left dormant in preparation to launch a devastating cyberattack alongside a more conventional ground invasion. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • See above and below.

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • See above and below.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • The U.S. State Department warned Americans to leave Russia immediately, citing the country’s new law criminalizing the spread of “false information” about the war in Ukraine. (Financial Times, 03.07.22)
  • Russia opened a criminal case against Facebook’s parent Meta Platforms on March 11 after the social network changed its hate speech rules to allow users to call for “death to the Russian invaders” in the context of the war with Ukraine. The Russian Embassy in the U.S. called on Washington to stop Meta‘s “extremist activities.” (CNBC, 03.11.22, Financial Times, 03.11.22)
  • In a divided nation, the invasion of Ukraine is proving the rare moment when Americans of differing political persuasions can find agreement. In dozens of interviews across the country, Democrats, Republicans and independents expressed dismay at the violence and backed sanctions against Russia, while stopping short of advocating military intervention. (The Washington Post, 03.04.22)
  • The New York Times announced March 8 that it is temporarily moving its Russia-based editorial staff out of the country in order to protect their “safety and security.” (NYT via Twitter, 03.08.22)

III. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Russia’s central bank on March 10 published a forecast that GDP would contract by 8% by year’s end, the highest figure since 1998, The Bell reports. The estimate comes from the bank’s monthly survey of 18 outside experts forecasting the country’s macroeconomic indicators—the first edition since the start of Moscow’s war against Ukraine. The survey also predicted inflation of 20% and an exchange rate of 110 rubles to the U.S. dollar. High oil prices aren’t helping support the ruble, the publication said, because export revenues have been dampened by sanctions and their knock-on effects. (Russia Matters, 03.10.22)
  • Also this week the central bank placed limits on withdrawals from foreign-currency accounts as Western sanctions limit the nation’s supply of dollars and Euros, prompting Russians to form long lines at banks to try to withdraw their hard-currency savings. The signs of consumer panic are early symptoms of turmoil that will grow sharply in the coming weeks, said Maxim Mironov, a Russian economist at IE Business School in Madrid. (The Washington Post, 03.10.22)
    • Russia has banned foreign currency sales for six months, its latest measure to attempt to avert a deep economic crisis and run on the Russian ruble. The Central Bank said late March 8 that banks and brokers would be prohibited from selling dollars, euros and other foreign currency in exchange for rubles until at least Sept. 9, 2022. (The Moscow Times, 03.09.22)
  • Prices in Russia rose at their fastest rate in more than two decades during the first week of the country’s invasion of Ukraine, official data published March 9 showed. Weekly inflation came in at 2.2% between Feb. 26 and Mar. 4, according to data published by Russia’s Economy Ministry—the largest increase in prices over a seven-day period since 1998. (The Moscow Times, 03.10.22)
  • Retailers in Russia will limit sales of essential foodstuffs to limit black market speculation and ensure affordability, the government said Sunday, as sanctions imposed over Moscow's military incursion into Ukraine began to bite. (The Moscow Times, 03.06.22)
  • Russia is running low on insulin and other important medical supplies produced abroad, the Kommersant business daily reported March 9, including raw materials key for production of drugs at home. The concerns come after a wave of Western sanctions over conflict in Ukraine began battering the Russian economy and dozens of major Western brands announced their departure from the market. (The Moscow Times, 03.09.22)
    • Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo and U.S. chain Victoria’s Secret also joined the list of companies leaving Russia, saying they will temporarily close Russian stores, prompting long lines as shoppers queued for what may be their last chance for months to purchase the goods. Similar lines have formed at Ikea, McDonald’s and other departing companies as Russians grow anxious about losing access to consumer products. (The Washington Post, 03.10.22)
  • Western sanctions have driven Russia and its close ally Belarus "mighty close" to default, the World Bank’s chief economist Carmen Reinhart told Reuters on March 10. The specter of Russia defaulting on $40 billion in external bonds has loomed large over markets. Moscow must make $107 million in coupon payments on two bonds on March 16. (The Moscow Times, 03.10.22, Reuters, 03.09.22)
  • Russia is set to create a register of persons linked to so-called “foreign agents” as the Kremlin presses on with a crackdown on the free media since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to an amendment currently being considered in the lower-house State Duma. Anyone with links to “foreign agents”—a label used for "politically active" individuals, media outlets and NGOs that receive funding from abroad—will be added to a new register maintained by the Justice Ministry. (The Moscow Times, 03.10.22)
  • St. Petersburg State University, one of Russia’s oldest, will expel at least 13 students who were detained at the anti-war protests that have erupted across the country in recent weeks, the Kommersant business daily reported March 9. The university is reportedly expected to draft more expulsion orders for students after protests against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued this week. (The Moscow Times, 03.09.22)
  • Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on March 8 urged Russians to continue protesting against Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, days after thousands of protesters were arrested at anti-war rallies nationwide. More than 13,500 Russians have been detained at demonstrations against the invasion of Ukraine since President Vladimir Putin ordered his army to attack its pro-Western neighbor on Feb. 24. (The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.08.22) Russian feminists staged anti-war protests across nearly 100 cities to mark International Women’s Day on March 8 as Moscow ended the second week of its bloody invasion of Ukraine. (The Moscow Times, 03.09.22)
  • At least 150 journalists are believed to have fled Russia in recent days as authorities moved to stifle what remains of the country’s independent media amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the Agentsvo news website reported Monday. A new law signed by President Vladimir Putin on March 4 punishes the dissemination of “knowingly fake information” about the Russian Armed Forces with up to 15 years in prison. Russian authorities have also blocked several independent news websites or forced them to delete articles that refer to the war as a “war” or “invasion” rather than a “special military operation.” (The Moscow Times, 03.07.22)
  • Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot said Saturday that it was suspending all its international flights beginning March 8, as Moscow faces waves of Western sanctions over its military incursion in Ukraine. An Aeroflot statement on the "temporary suspension of all international flights from March 8," cited new "circumstances that impede the operation of flights," noting that all domestic routes would continue unchanged as well as flights to neighboring Belarus. (The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.05.22)

Defense and aerospace:

  • No significant developments.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Russia has announced it will withdraw from Europe’s oldest rule-of-law body, the Council of Europe, sparking questions over the future of the Kremlin’s moratorium on the death penalty. (The Moscow Times, 03.10.22)

IV. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • The U.K. government warned March 8 that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his commanders in Ukraine could face prosecution for war crimes, comparing the onslaught to the darkest days of the Yugoslav conflicts. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Russia's bombardment of Ukraine's second city Kharkiv was "absolutely sickening" and reminiscent of massacres of civilians in Sarajevo in the 1990s, vowing that Western sanctions would remain "for as long as it takes." (The Moscow Times/AFP, 03.03.22)
  • The countries of northern Europe and the European Union will halt their cooperation with Russia in the Arctic over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, they announced March 9. Russia is a part of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC), which was established in 1993 to protect the Barents region's estimated 5 million residents, which include a number of indigenous groups, as well as its vulnerable ecosystems. (The Moscow Times, 03.09.22)


  • The 27 members of the EU have said they would offer temporary protection to “all war refugees from Ukraine” and demanded a full and unconditional withdrawal of Russian forces from all Ukrainian territory. (Financial Times, 03.11.22)
  • More than half of Ukraine’s economy has shut down and infrastructure assets worth $100 billion have been destroyed since Russia invaded Ukraine, according to the chief economic adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Financial Times, 03.11.22)
  • See most Ukraine news above

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Konstantin Siniushin, a Latvia-based Russian tech investor and co-managing partner of The Untitled Ventures fund, found that demand among Russian techies to leave was so high—and exit routes so oversubscribed—that he chartered a plane to take people out. He filled the 160 or so seats on the March 3 flight from Moscow to the Armenian capital Yerevan within 24 hours. Most passengers were IT professionals or businesspeople with an international focus. (Financial Times, 03.09.22)
  • “It is a lie that the United States has confirmed that there are no Belarusian troops in Ukraine,” America’s ambassador to the OSCE said in official written comments March 7. “To the representative of Belarus, you have stabbed your neighbor in the back. … You are a co-aggressor, your territory has been used as a launch pad for a vicious, barbaric attack on a neighboring state, and you bear responsibility for that.” (Russia Matters, 03.07.22)