Russia in Review, May 6-13, 2022

This Week's Highlights

  • Senior U.S. intelligence officials said this week that Putin “is preparing for prolonged conflict,” with heightened chances for escalation, and called Moscow’s renewed military focus on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine “even riskier” than its earlier attempts to capture Kyiv, according to FT.
  • Ukrainians caught up in Russia's invasion are being forcibly sent to Russia via perilous “filtration camps,” AFP and WP write, citing Ukrainian and U.S. officials. The U.N. Human Rights Council voted on May 12 to probe allegations of "serious violations of international humanitarian law" by Russian troops in the Kyiv region after more than 1,000 bodies of civilians were recovered in previously occupied areas, according to Axios.
  • Some 97% of Ukrainians believe they will win the war, according to a March-April IRI-funded poll conducted in Ukraine, WSJ writes.
  • European diplomats failed to agree on a Russian oil embargo this week, but tried to tackle other problems, like unblocking 25 million tons of grain stuck in Ukrainian ports because of Moscow’s onslaught, the AP reports. The EU’s foreign policy chief says the bloc should consider seizing frozen Russian assets and using them to help fund postwar reconstruction in Ukraine, according to RFE/RL.
  • After Finnish and Swedish leaders this week voiced strong support for joining NATO, Turkish President Erdogan said May 13 that his country, a NATO member, would not be able to support such plans as the Nordic countries were "home to many terrorist organizations," Reuters reports. Russia said it would see the bloc’s expansion as a threat and a state-owned company announced it will suspend electricity supplies to Finland this weekend, AFP writes.
  • Military enlistment offices in Siberia and in Moldova's Moscow-backed breakaway region of Transnistria were attacked this week, according to local media reports and officials cited by MT and AFP. A rights lawyer told The Guardian that “hundreds and hundreds” of Russian soldiers had been in touch with his team for advice on how to avoid being sent to fight in Ukraine.
  • New car sales in Russia sank by over 78% in April, industry data showed May 11, while prices for car parts have gone up by an average of 31% since Moscow invaded Ukraine, AFP and MT report, citing industry data and the Kommersant business daily.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • No significant developments.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • The EU's foreign policy chief said May 13 that he believed there had been enough progress during consultations between his envoy and Iranian officials in Tehran this week to relaunch nuclear negotiations after two months of deadlock. (Reuters, 05.13.22)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • The Pentagon said it has seen indications that Ukrainians caught up in Russia's invasion are being forcibly removed from their homeland and sent to Russia. Almost everyone has had to pass through “filtration camps” where Ukrainians are strip-searched, interrogated and, if suspected of having sympathies to the Ukrainian military, detained and tortured, according to refugees, representatives of volunteer organizations and Ukrainian and U.S. officials. (MT/AFP, 05.10.22, WP, 05.11.22)
    • Ukraine accused Russia of forcibly deporting more than 210,000 children since its invasion on Feb. 24, saying they were among 1.2 million Ukrainians transferred against their will. The Kremlin says people have come to Russia to escape fighting. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
  • Dozens of Ukrainian civilians were killed on one four-mile stretch of road outside Kyiv during the month of March. A WSJ analysis of videos, photos and social media posts reveals how Russian forces positioned themselves around the road to fire on and kidnap fleeing civilians. (WSJ, 05.12.22)
  • Nearly 100 children were killed in Ukraine during the month of April alone, but actual figures could be significantly higher, UNICEF has said. (The Guardian, 05.12.22)
  • The number of Ukrainians internally displaced by Russia’s war has surpassed 8 million, according to the International Organization for Migration. (FT, 05.10.22)
  • The U.N. Human Rights Council on May 12 voted to launch a probe into alleged "abuses of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law" by Russian troops in the Kyiv region. U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said over 1,000 bodies of civilians have been recovered in areas around Kyiv that were previously occupied by Russian troops. (Axios, 05.12.22)
    • U.N. investigators said May 10 that they had recorded the unlawful killing of 300 civilian adults and children in areas north of Kyiv since the withdrawal of Russian forces in April; they estimated that thousands of civilians have died in the southern city of Mariupol. (NYT, 05.10.22, WP, 05.11.22)
    • See also “Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally” below.
  • Ukrainian officials say that all women, children and elderly people have been evacuated from the Mariupol steel plant. (RFE/RL, 05.07.22)
  • Before Russia's invasion, Ukraine's Jewish population numbered around 200,000 people, including 10,000 Holocaust survivors. Jewish organizations estimate more than 40,000 Jews have fled the country since Feb. 24. (WSJ, 05.07.22)
  • Some 60 people sheltering in the Bilogorivka village school in east Ukraine are feared dead after it was hit by an air strike, the Luhansk regional governor said May 8. (MT/AFP, 05.08.22)
  • Putin’s invasion has crept into the lives of Russian-speaking children across Europe, who have found themselves paying for Putin’s aggression in humiliation, harassment and bullying. (NYT, 05.08.22)
  • Lithuanian lawmakers have unanimously adopted a resolution declaring Russia "a terrorist state" and calling Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine "genocide against the Ukrainian people." (RFE/RL, 05.10.22)
  • The foreign ministers of Germany and the Netherlands made a surprise visit to Ukraine, stopping in the Kyiv suburbs of Bucha and Irpin, where Russian forces are accused of committing war crimes before retreating last month. (RFE/RL, 05.10.22)
  • Russia’s war has caused colossal losses in employment and income for Ukrainians, destroying nearly a third of all jobs in the country and threatening the loss of millions more if the conflict continues, the U.N.’s labor organization said. (NYT, 05.11.22)
  • Ukraine’s government has accused Russia of trying to destroy its agriculture sector through theft, destruction and blockades. But it is the confiscation of grain in Russian-controlled areas that is the most emotive issue, drawing parallels with Soviet crop confiscations in the 1930s and the ensuing famine in Ukraine that killed some 4 million people. (FT, 05.12.22)
  • Women who have fled to Poland to escape the war must have access to reproductive rights that meet international standards, including abortions, a top UNHCR official said May 13, amid reports of rape and sexual violence in Ukraine. (Reuters, 05.13.22)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • Maps of main Russian movements: New York Times and the Institute for the Study of War
  • In January 2022, the Congressional Research Service reported that the Ukrainian army had grown from about 6,000 combat-ready troops in 2014 to nearly 150,000 troops. That number has been climbing higher since the Russian invasion, as Ukrainians from all walks of life have joined military service. (FA, 05.09.22)
  • Some 97% of Ukrainians believe they will win the war, according to a March-April IRI-funded poll conducted in Ukraine. (WSJ, 05.06.22)
  • CIA chief Bill Burns said Putin remained undeterred from pressing ahead with the war, saying the second phase of the conflict as it shifted to the Donbas was “at least as risky” or “even riskier” than the first, in which Russia failed to gain control of Kyiv. “I think he’s convinced right now that doubling down … will enable him to make progress.” (FT, 05.07.22)
  • U.S. director of national intelligence Avril Haines said “Putin is preparing for prolonged conflict” and the current fighting in the Donbas is unlikely to end the war. (FT, 05.10.22)
    • His immediate aims are to capture Donetsk and Luhansk and to encircle and “crush the most capable and well-equipped Ukrainian forces” now in the east. (FT, 05.10.22)
    • Russia wants to consolidate control of its land bridge from Crimea to the Donbas, occupy Kherson and control the water source for Crimea. (FT, 05.10.22)
    • Haines also said Russia would not be able to extend the land bridge to Transnistria, via Odesa, without some form of military mobilization. (FT, 05.10.22)
  • Battlefield news:
    • The Russian Defense Ministry said May 10 that its forces in eastern Ukraine had advanced to the border between Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The assertion, if confirmed, strengthens the prospect that Russia could soon gain complete control over the Donbas, compared with just a third of it before Feb. 24. (NYT, 05.10.22)
    • British defense officials have said Russia is investing significant military effort near Severodonetsk and Izyum, and trying to break through toward Slovyansk and Kramatorsk to complete its takeover of Donbas. Izyum has become a crucial operations center for Russia. (Reuters, 05.13.22, NYT, 05.13.22)
    • Russian troops suffered heavy losses when Ukraine destroyed a pontoon bridge they were using in a “highly risky” river crossing in the east, British officials said May 13. The incident occurred earlier this week at the Siversky Donets river west of Severodonetsk and southeast of Kharkiv. (AP, 05.13.22, Reuters, 05.13.22)
    • Ukraine has driven Russian troops back from Kharkiv in the fastest advance since Kremlin forces pulled away from Kyiv and the northeast over a month ago. Reuters has confirmed Ukraine is now in control of territory stretching to the banks of the Siversky Donets, around 25 miles east of Kharkiv. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
    • Ukrainian advances around Kharkiv have left Russian troops vulnerable to the country’s “highly motivated” counter-attacking force, the U.K.’s defense ministry said May 12. The Ukrainian counteroffensive over the weekend likely forced Russian troops to redeploy to the area around Kharkiv instead of reinforcing their stalled operations elsewhere in Ukraine’s east, the Institute for the Study of War said May 8. (FT, 05.12.22, NYT, 05.08.22)
    • A Russian missile strike May 11 savaged a cultural center that had doubled as a humanitarian-aid distribution base in the town of Dergachi, north of Kharkiv. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
    • Moscow's Defense Ministry said May 7 that Russia had struck military equipment Ukraine received from the U.S. and European countries near a railway station outside of Kharkiv. (WSJ, 05.07.22)
    • Renewed fighting around Snake (Zmeiny) Island in recent days may become a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast, according to some defense officials. Ukraine said it had damaged a Russian navy logistics ship near the island, a small but strategic outpost close to Ukraine's sea border with Romania, though the details could not be independently verified. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
    • Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on May 7 released video footage of what it said were Bayraktar TB2 armed drones targeting a Russian ship in the Black Sea. The ship appeared to be hit. (WSJ, 05.07.22)
    • In the southern port of Mariupol, Russian forces intensified their bombardment of the Azovstal steelworks, the last bastion of Ukrainian defenders after a siege of more than two months. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told 1+1 television negotiations were underway for the evacuation of wounded troops. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
    • Firefighters battled blazes in Odesa until the early hours on May 10 after Russian missiles pounded the Ukrainian port, destroying buildings and killing one person, just hours after a visit by European Council President Charles Michel. (Reuters, 05.10.22, AFP/MT, 05.10.22) 
    • At least nine Georgians have died fighting in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, likely the largest death toll among any foreign contingent fighting on the Ukrainian side. (BNE, 05.10.22)
  • Military aid:
    • Foreign ministers from the G7 backed giving more aid and weapons to Ukraine on May 13. The EU’s foreign policy chief announced a further €500 million worth of military support that should be approved next week. (Reuters, 05.13.22, AP, 05.13.22)
    • When Biden signed a modern-day Lend-Lease Act on May 9, 81 years after the original version helped lead the U.S. into World War II, he effectively thrust the country even deeper into another war in Europe that has increasingly become an epic struggle with Russia despite his efforts to define its limits. (NYT, 05.09.22)
    • Biden said May 6 he has authorized a new weapons package for Ukraine. U.S. officials said the aid amounts to $150 million and includes funds for 25,000 155-mm artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars, jamming equipment, field equipment and spare parts. (RFE/RL, 05.07.22)
    • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more military aid after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine on May 8: “drone cameras, satellite imagery, small arms, ammunition, and other support, including funding for demining." (RFE/RL, 05.08.22)
    • Germany is considering supplying IRIS-T SLM medium range surface-to-air defense systems to Ukraine. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
    • U.S. Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier said the United States estimates that between eight and 10 Russian generals have been killed in the war. (RFE/RL, 05.10.22)
  • Ben Wallace, U.K. defense secretary, said it was “perfectly possible” that Ukraine’s army could defeat Russia’s armed forces, but added that whatever happened in the war, “president [Vladimir] Putin is going to be around for some time” and NATO must plan accordingly. (FT, 05.09.22)
  • Ukraine has upgraded its war aims and is now looking to push Russian forces out of the country as long as Western allies rapidly deliver promised heavy weaponry, its foreign minister has said. (FT, 05.10.22)
  • Russian warplanes are generally flying 200 to 300 sorties each day, a senior Defense Department official said, but have failed to establish air superiority over Ukraine. In addition the Russians “have blown through” many of their precision-guided munitions. (FT, 05.08.22, NYT, 05.10.22)
  • GRU deputy head Vladimir Alexeyev has been placed in charge of intelligence operations in Ukraine. Alexeyev was reportedly responsible for coordinating military campaigns in Syria and eastern Ukraine's Donbas region after being appointed to his current position in 2011. (AFP/MT, 05.11.22)
  • Ukraine's head of military intelligence says the war with Russia is going so well that it will reach a turning point by mid-August and be over by the end of the year—the most precise and optimistic prediction by a senior Ukrainian official so far. (Sky News, 05.13.22)
  • Authorities in Moldova's Moscow-backed breakaway region of Transnistria said May 13 that two attempted attacks had been carried out—on an oil depot and a military enlistment office—in the regional capital Tiraspol. (AFP/MT, 05.13.22)
  • Moldova’s foreign minister says the country is on alert for any signs the conflict in neighboring Ukraine could spill across the border. Nicu Popescu spoke with reporters May 13 on the sidelines of a G-7 meeting in Germany. (AP, 05.13.22)

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

  • U.S.-led sanctions are forcing Russia to use computer chips from dishwashers and refrigerators in some military equipment, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said May 11. U.S. technology exports to Russia have fallen by nearly 70% since sanctions began in late February. (WP, 05.11.22)
  • In Kyiv, a court has begun hearing the first case of what Ukraine says are more than 10,000 possible war crimes: A 21-year-old Russian soldier is charged with murdering a civilian soon after the invasion. Moscow has accused Kyiv of staging such crimes. (Reuters, 05.13.22, WP, 05.11.22)
  • The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, says the bloc should consider seizing frozen Russian assets and using them to help fund postwar reconstruction efforts in Ukraine. Kyiv’s foreign minister on May 13 asked the G7 to do as much, calling on them to follow Canada’s lead. (RFE/RL, 05.09.22, Reuters, 05.13.22, AP, 05.13.22)
  • Top diplomats from the G-7 gathered May 12 in Germany for a three-day meeting on the war and its impact worldwide, particularly on food and energy prices. One agenda item was lifting Russia’s “grain blockade” and getting “the grain out to the world,” Germany’s foreign minister said, referring to some “25 million tons [27.5 million U.S. tons] of grain … currently blocked in Ukrainian ports” by Russian forces. (AP, 05.12.22, RFE/RL, 05.09.22)
    • The European Commission proposed helping Ukraine export its wheat and other grains by rail, road and river to get around the blockade. (AP, 05.12.22)
  • Western banks collectively have $86 billion of exposure to Russia—with close to 40,000 staff—and are setting aside more than $10 billion in expectation of losses on their ventures. (FT, 05.06.22)
  • According to an analysis by the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute, the stock market has rewarded companies that have divested from Russia. Of roughly 1,000 firms, on average the shares of those that withdrew completely went up by 3.6% between Feb. 23 and April 19, while those of companies that continued business as usual lost 6.8%, no matter their sectors, regions and sizes. (The Economist, 05.09.22)
  • Energy-related:
    • Biden and leaders of the G7 vowed to phase out, or altogether ban, the import of Russian oil in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, they said after a video meeting with Zelensky. (WP, 05.08.22)
    • The EU will have to spend close to €200 billion in the next five years to secure energy independence from Russia, according to draft plans. Europe has begun refilling depleted gas stores to shore up supply for the winter. (FT, 05.11.22, Reuters, 05.13.22)
    • In Europe, diplomats failed on May 11 to make a deal on a Russian oil embargo due to objections from Hungary. One radical idea to get around Budapest’s reluctance is to move ahead with other elements of the EU's sixth package of Russia sanctions while putting aside the complete ban on imports of Russian oil and refined fuels. (WP, 05.11.22, Politico, 05.12.22)
    • Hungary has demanded that shipments of Russian oil via pipelines should be exempted from the EU’s proposed ban. Bulgaria, meanwhile, sought a delay of the ban so that its sole refinery, Lukoil Bulgaria, gets time to adjust to process other types of oil. (BNE, 05.10.22, FT, 05.11.22)
    • Shell has agreed to sell its retail and lubricants businesses in Russia to Lukoil, the first big deal in the oil and gas sector since the start of the Western corporate exodus. (FT, 05.12.22)
    • One of the world’s largest tanker operators, Russian state-controlled Sovcomflot, has sold about a dozen ships to buyers in Asia and the Middle East as it works to repay loans to Western banks ending business ties to comply with sanctions. (WSJ, 05.12.22)
    • Brussels has shelved its plan to ban the EU shipping industry from carrying Russian crude after failing to secure agreement from key partners to mirror the sanction. (FT, 05.09.22)
    • See also “Energy exports from CIS” below.
  • German electronics giant Siemens is exiting Russia after about 170 years of business there. The company, which has 3,000 employees in Russia, said on May 12 that it has taken a hit of about $625 million after sanctions. (NYT, 05.12.22, FT, 05.12.22)
  • Russia's biggest airline, Aeroflot, said May 13 it had bought eight Airbus A330 aircraft from foreign leasing companies "as part of the fulfillment of contractual obligations.” (Reuters, 05.13.22)
  • The British soccer club Chelsea will be sold to a group of investors led by American billionaire Todd Boehly, formally ending nearly two decades of ownership by Kremlin-connected oligarch Roman Abramovich. (RFE/RL, 05.07.22)
  • Allianz, Europe’s largest insurance company by market value, has said it is highly likely to leave Russia, a move that could hit its profits by as much as €500 million. (FT, 05.12.22)
  • Britain imposed new sanctions on Putin’s family and inner circle. Among those blacklisted: his ex-wife Lyudmila Ocheretnaya; Alina Kabaeva, a retired Olympic gymnast with whom Putin has long been rumored to be romantically involved; first cousin Igor Putin and two more distant relatives, all of whom are businesspeople who the British government says have benefited from their ties to the president. (NYT, 05.13.22)
  • The United States has unveiled sanctions against Russian television stations Channel One, Russia-1 and NTV and executives from Gazprombank along with a ban on Americans providing accounting and consulting services to Russians. (RFE/RL, 05.08.22)
  • Rosatom’s unit in Finland says it has "no other choice but to defend ourselves and demand compensation" for the "unlawful termination" of the Hanhikivi I project, adding that it is ready to discuss "possible options for the project to recommence when conditions permit." (WNN, 05.09.22)
  • Arrival, the U.K.-based electric vehicle manufacturer founded by former Russian government minister Denis Sverdlov, is closing its Russian operations and has no plans to operate there in future. (FT, 05.11.22)
  • The U.N. General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly for the Czech Republic to replace Russia on the Human Rights Council, the world organization’s leading human rights body. The vote was 157 countries in favor and 23 abstentions. (RFE/RL, 05.11.22)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said May 13 that his country remains willing to engage in diplomatic talks with Russia to unblock grain supplies and to achieve a political solution to the war in Ukraine but won’t accept ultimatums from Moscow. (AP, 05.13.22)
    • If Kyiv received “even more military support, we will be able to throw them back from the Kherson region [in southern Ukraine], to defeat the Black Sea fleet and unblock the passage,” Kuleba said. But he also acknowledged the bloodshed could be too great and Ukraine might ultimately have to negotiate a settlement. (FT, 05.10.22)
  • Zelensky has reiterated an offer to hold direct talks with Putin and said Russia's withdrawal from Ukraine should be the starting point for any discussions. (Reuters. 05.13.22)
  • "Tomorrow we'll have a peace to build, let's never forget that," French President Emmanuel Macron said May 9. The terms of a peace deal will be set by Ukraine and Russia, “but that will not be done through … the exclusion of one another, nor even in their humiliation." (RFE/RL, 05.09.22)

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

  • Finland’s president and prime minister have vowed to join NATO, with Helsinki expected to submit a formal application next week; Sweden is expected to decide on applying May 15. NATO’s secretary-general said Finland’s accession process would be "smooth and swift." (FT, 05.12.22, CFR, 05.12.22, Reuters, 05.12.22)
    • The Kremlin said Finland's accession—which would more than double NATO members’ land border with Russia—would pose a direct threat to the country; Russian diplomats warned of "retaliatory steps.” (Reuters, 05.12.22, CFR, 05.12.22)
    • Russia will suspend electricity supplies to Finland this weekend, a supplier said May 13 as tensions rise over Helsinki's NATO bid. The change is to take effect May 14. (AFP/MT, 05.13.22)
    • Swedish membership of NATO would boost national security and help stabilize the Nordic and Baltic regions, Foreign Minister Ann Linde said May 13. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
    • The U.K. has promised to help Sweden and Finland should they come under attack, as it seeks to provide security assurances to both countries to smooth their path to NATO membership. (FT, 05.11.22)
  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said May 13 it was not possible for NATO-member Turkey to support plans by Sweden and Finland to join the pact, saying the Nordic countries were "home to many terrorist organizations." (Reuters, 05.13.22)
  • “The interest of European countries is to weaken Russia,” said Gen. Thierry Burkhard, France’s military chief of staff. Burkhard added that weakening Russia would not mean wiping it out, and that the West may need to work with Russia to build a future global “security architecture.” (NYT, 05.10.22)
  • Lavrov on May 13 said he doubted the motives of Ukraine's intention to join the EU, while accusing Brussels of turning from a "constructive, economic platform" into an "aggressive, militant player, declaring its ambitions far beyond the European continent.” (AFP/MT, 05.13.22)
  • Biden says he fears Putin does not have a way out of the Ukraine war. Speaking in Washington on May 9, Biden described the Russian president as a “very calculating man" but without an exit strategy and admitted "I'm trying to figure out what we do about that." (Sky News, 05.10.22)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine when he spoke by telephone to his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on May 13 for the first time since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
  • The U.S. Army is poised to revamp its forces in Alaska to better prepare for future cold-weather conflicts, and it is expected to replace the larger, heavily equipped Stryker Brigade in the state with a more mobile infantry unit better suited for the frigid fight. (AP, 05.12.22)
  • The U.S. House of Representatives on May 10 approved nearly $40 billion in additional aid for Ukraine. Republican Sen. Rand Paul defied leaders of both parties on May 12 and single-handedly delayed Senate approval of the aid. (WP, 05.10.22, AP, 05.12.22)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • CIA chief Burns said that Chinese President Xi Jinping had been “unsettled” by the war in Ukraine, which demonstrated that the friendship between Beijing and Moscow had “limits.” Burns said Xi’s China was the “biggest geopolitical challenge we face over the long term as a country,” even though the threat from Russia could not be underestimated. (FT, 05.07.22)
  • Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's joint venture in Russia has laid off about 40% of employees since the invasion of Ukraine as the war has severely disrupted cross-border business. (Nikkei, 05.14.22)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms control:

  • DNI Haines said Moscow’s continued use of nuclear rhetoric was aimed at deterring Western powers from increasing lethal aid to Ukraine. If Putin perceived the U.S. to be ignoring his threats, he could order a large nuclear exercise to signal the risks of supporting Ukraine. The U.S. still assesses the likelihood of nuclear weapons use to be low, but heightened tensions always create the possibility of miscalculation, she said. (FT, 05.10.22)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security:

  • The EU, Britain and the United States say Russia masterminded a massive cyberattack against a satellite Internet network that disabled thousands of modems in Ukraine and parts of Central Europe hours before the start of Moscow's invasion on Feb. 24, helping facilitate the invasion, the Western allies said. (RFE/RL, 05.10.22)
  • Russia’s ability to unleash devastating cyber attacks on Ukraine’s military and civilian infrastructure may have been overblown, according to a British spy chief, as Ukrainian defenses prove to be resilient against some of the country’s most sophisticated assaults. (FT, 05.10.22)
  •  “The [Ukrainians] have responded well, kept their systems up, built their systems up, with their emergency plans after being under pressure for years,” said Rob Joyce, director of cyber security at the U.S.’s National Security Agency. (FT, 05.10.22)
  • Russia's Rutube video platform remained offline for a second day on May 10, after a massive cyberattack knocked it out just hours before it was to stream the Victory Day parade in Moscow. (MT/AFP, 05.10.22) 
  • Russia-backed separatist Donetsk People's Republic says it has blocked access to Facebook and Instagram in the districts it has been controlling since 2014. (RFE/RL, 05.11.22)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Ukraine’s transmission network operator has suspended contractual obligations to transport gas through one of its key pipelines with Russia because of enemy troop activity, in a move that could cut flows to Europe. (FT, 05.11.22)
  • Russia’s state-owned gas supplier has said it will cut shipments to Europe through a major pipeline, sending prices surging. Gazprom said gas flows through the Yamal pipeline would no longer be possible after the Kremlin imposed sanctions May 11 on European gas companies. (FT, 05.12.22)
    • Germany acknowledged May 12 that the sanctions imposed by Russia against Gazprom subsidiaries in Europe are having an impact on supply. (FT, 05.12.22)
  • Russian fuel oil arrivals in the UAE oil hub of Fujairah are set to jump sharply to about 2.5 million barrels this month, data shows, in a sign that flows of Russian oil and refined products are shifting away from Europe. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
  • Japan’s prime minister has said his country would ban Russian crude oil imports "in principle" as part of a G-7 campaign, “in a way that minimizes the adverse impact on people's lives and business activities," but gave no timetable. Japan will maintain its stakes in the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 energy projects in Russia. (Nikkei, 05.11.22)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said the goal in the ongoing Ukraine war should be to "take out" Putin, contending that there is "no off-ramp" with the Russian president remaining in power. The remark drew condemnation from the White House as well as some prominent conservatives. (Newsweek, 05.08.22)
  • More than four dozen former national security leaders are calling on Congress to exempt international advanced technical degree holders from green card caps in a bid to maintain U.S. science and tech leadership, especially over China, according to a copy of a letter viewed by Axios. (Axios, 05.09.22)
  • The lawyer for U.S. WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner said May 13 her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month, adding that the relatively short extension suggested the case would come to trial soon. She has been in detention for nearly three months after vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were allegedly found in her luggage at a Moscow airport. (AP, 05.13.22)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Putin used his Victory Day speech to try to channel Russian pride into support for the invasion of Ukraine. But contrary to some expectations he did not make any announcements signaling a mass mobilization or an escalation. Putin sought to justify his invasion by claiming Russia had to defend itself against an imminent attack. He also hinted he would lay claim to more Ukrainian territory, including lands currently occupied by the Kremlin’s forces. (FT, 05.09.22, NYT, 05.09.22)
  • New car sales in Russia sank by over 78% in April, industry data showed May 11, while prices for car parts have gone up by an average of 31% since Moscow invaded Ukraine, Kommersant reported. (AFP/MT, 05.11.22, MT, 05.13.22)
  • The Russian ruble grew weaker May 13 after rallying past 63 per dollar in Moscow for the first time since early February 2020 and touching a near five-year high against the euro, supported by continuing restrictions on currency trading. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
  • Putin has appointed acting governors to five regions of the country hours after their predecessors announced they were stepping down. The Kremlin said May 11 that Putin met a day earlier with the officials he had chosen to appoint as acting governors of the Kirov, Ryazan, Saratov and Tomsk regions and the republic of Mari El. (RFE/RL, 05.11.22)
  • Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin is tapping his fortune to buy stakes in major Russian banks being sold by Western groups fleeing the country and those on the wrong side of Putin. Analysts say Potanin is bringing the assets back under the Kremlin’s purview—able to do so because of his outsized importance to global metals markets, which has helped keep him off important sanctions lists. (FT, 05.12.22)
  • A Moscow court has fined U.S.-backed broadcaster RFE/RL 12.8 million rubles ($196,621) for not deleting what Russia calls "fake" content about its operation in Ukraine, Interfax reported May 13. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
  • Leading Pussy Riot activist Maria Alyokhina has escaped to Lithuania after being declared a fugitive by the Russian government. (MT/AFP, 05.11.22)
  • Under Russian military rules, troops who refuse to fight in Ukraine can face dismissal but cannot be prosecuted since the country is not officially at war, said Mikhail Benyash, a lawyer who has been advising soldiers who choose that option. Benyash said “hundreds and hundreds” of soldiers had been in touch with his team for advice. (The Guardian, 05.12.22)

Defense and aerospace:

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

Security, law-enforcement, justice and emergencies

  • Putin has called on regional officials to act quickly in battling forest fires amid a series of blazes in Siberia and the Urals that have killed 16 people in recent weeks, raising fears that this season may be even worse than last year, the worst on record. (RFE/RL, 05.10.22)
  • A military recruitment office was attacked with Molotov cocktails in the Siberian city of Omsk, local media reported May 13. (MT, 05.13.22)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Saudi Arabia’s King Salman congratulated Putin on the anniversary of Victory Day. (FT, 05.09.22)
  • Protesters doused Russia's ambassador to Poland, Sergei Andreev, in bright red paint as he was arriving at an event to honor Soviet soldiers who fought in World War II. (WP, 05.09.22)
  • Four Russian Premier League soccer clubs, including champions Zenit St. Petersburg, said May 13 they had filed an appeal against UEFA's decision to bar Russian clubs from European competition next season. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
  • Russia said May 13 it was recommending its citizens not travel to Britain, complaining that authorities there were making it "virtually impossible" for Russians to obtain visas. (Reuters, 05.13.22)


  • Local officials installed by Moscow in Kherson said they intended to ask Putin for the region to join Russia, in the clearest sign yet that the Kremlin plans to annex the province. (FT, 05.11.22)
  • When asked which economic union they would join if they could enter only one, 80% of Ukrainians chose the EU and only 2% supported the Eurasian Customs Union. If a referendum were held on NATO membership, 59% of Ukrainians would vote to join, while only 14% would vote against, according to a March-April IRI-funded poll conducted in Ukraine. Zelensky commands a 94% approval rating, according to the poll. (WSJ, 05.06.22)
  • Jill Biden, the first lady, traveled to western Ukraine in an unannounced trip on May 8, the latest show of support from the U.S., which has significantly increased military aid for Ukraine in recent weeks. (NYT, 05.08.22)
  • Macron says it could take several years or decades for Ukraine to formally join the EU and proposed the creation of "European political community" for European countries that share common values. "Joining it would not necessarily prejudge future EU membership," he said. (RFE/RL, 05.09.22)
  • U.S. diplomats returned to Kyiv on May 8 for a visit to commemorate Victory in Europe Day as Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to western Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 05.08.22)
  • In Kyiv on May 9, Zelensky promised that Ukraine will soon have “two Victory Days.” (RFE/RL, 05.09.22)
  • The United States has announced the suspension of import taxes on steel from Ukraine in a show of support for the country's economy. (RFE/RL, 05.10.22)
  • Ukraine’s economy will shrink 30% this year, the EBRD forecast May 10, as the war is expected to have an even more devastating toll on the country than previously predicted. (NYT, 05.10.22)
  • Biden’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said she would work to coordinate the shipment of weapons and security items to Ukraine if confirmed by the Senate. Bridget Brink spoke to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 10 ahead of what's expected to be her easy Senate confirmation. (RFE/RL, 05.11.22)
  • Leonid Kravchuk, a key figure in ushering in the largely peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union three decades ago and the first president of independent Ukraine, has died. He was 88. (RFE/RL, 05.11.22)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • The president of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia on May 13 announced the territory would hold a referendum on July 17 on whether to become part of Russia, TASS news agency has said. (Reuters, 05.13.22)
  • Authorities in Tajikistan have put pressure on hundreds of university students to enlist in the national army and even threatened them with expulsion if they refuse, students and officials claim. (RFE/RL, 05.11.22)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • Asked on May 11 if Finland would provoke Russia by joining NATO, President Sauli Niinisto said Putin would be to blame. “My response would be that you caused this. Look at the mirror,” Niinisto said. (The Guardian, 05.12.22)
  • “It’s a spectacular coincidence of dates,” Dominique Moïsi, a French political scientist, said of May 9. “What is more real? Russian might and Mariupol destroyed, or normal European life in Strasbourg? We will have to fight like hell to stop him, as if our very future is at stake.” (NYT, 05.07.22)
  • Russian nuclear forces analyst Pavel Podvig said “the only way nuclear weapons could be used in this [Ukraine] war is to kill a lot of people or to show resolve to do so,” such as in the same way they were used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. (FP, 05.10.22)