Russia in Review, Nov. 10-18, 2022

5 Things to Know

  1. Russia concedes to G-20 declaration which condemns threats of use of nuclear weapons. The G-20 summit, which Biden and Xi attended, but which Putin chose to skip, adopted a declaration on Nov. 16 that stated: “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.” That the Kremlin published a translation of the declaration on its website, as did the Foreign Ministry, indicates that Putin—who sent Lavrov to the G-20 on his behalf—has conceded to the declaration’s language, including the proposition that threats of use of nuclear weapons are unacceptable. Such inadmissibility was something Xi agreed upon during Scholz’s visit to Beijing on Nov. 4, even though news of the German-Chinese consensus on this issue initially drew no official reaction from Putin—who has recently engaged in increasingly loose talk on use of nukes—with pro-Kremlin media also remaining mum on the issue. Following the G-20 summit,  Macron praised Xi, who is to visit Putin next year, for the ability to tell Putin that “we work together, we respect each other but you cannot cross the line on nuclear [weapons].”
  2. Initial reactions to the explosion of a missile in Poland highlight the risk of escalation. When initial media reports that a missile flew from Ukraine into Poland, killing two, on Nov. 15 appeared, Zelensky did not hesitate to call it a Russian “escalation,” and Polish officials floated invoking Articles 4 and 5 of the NATO treaty, according to Stephen Walt's analysis in FP. The same reports prompted some Western social media influentials to go as far in their initial reaction as to call for bombing Russia. Following investigation of the incident by Polish authorities, Polish President Duda concluded, however, that the missile was likely to have strayed after being fired by Ukrainian air defenses. Washington agreed with Warsaw’s assessment, dialing back chances of escalation between Russia and the West. Nevertheless, the initial intense reaction became a “sobering reminder, if one were needed, of the risk that an already brutal conflict in Ukraine could escalate into a wider war that brings Russia and NATO into military confrontation,” according to Steven Erlanger of NYT.
  3. Russian missile attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure reached an unprecedented intensity this week, leaving 10 million Ukrainians without power. The attacks were especially intensive on Nov. 15 and Nov. 17, with a record 96 missiles reportedly fired during the Nov. 15 barrage, leaving millions without power, and prompting NYT to ponder how such a record can be reconciled with earlier estimates by Western and Ukrainian officials that “Moscow’s stockpile of missiles and other weapons was rapidly dwindling.” The short answer is Russia must have stockpiled Western components for these missiles for years, according to Janes.
  4. The Biden administration is asking Congress to approve $37+ billion in aid to Kyiv as Republican lawmakers pursue a resolution to audit aid to Ukraine. The White House is asking Congress to set aside $21.7 billion for military equipment and $14.5 billion to humanitarian and budget support for Ukraine, according to NYT. However, Marjorie Taylor Greene and several other Republican members of the House of Representatives, which the GOP is poised to retake, have introduced a resolution to audit the funds allocated by Congress to Kyiv. The authors of the resolution demanded that an inspector general be appointed to examine how money for Ukraine had been spent so far, according to The Hill and Bloomberg.
  5. The next hotspots in the Russian-Ukrainian war are expected to be near Donetsk in the eastern Donbas region and in the south en route to the strategic cities of Melitopol and Mariupol, according to military analysts interviewed by FT. Moscow can now redeploy to the east the 20,000 troops it has withdrawn from Kherson, as well as some of the 300,000 men it recently drafted, according to WSJ’s analysis of the conflict.   Russia’s minimum aims at this stage include, above all, full control of Donbas, according to that analysis.

NBNext week’s Russia in Review will appear on Wednesday, Nov. 23, instead of Friday, Nov. 25, because of the U.S. Thanksgiving holidays.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • IAEA Director Rafael Mariano Grossi said that although the Ukrainian staff at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia NPP continue to operate the Russian-occupied plant there were now "open contradictions regarding the chain of command" and the decision-making process. This is having a "negative impact on nuclear safety and security,” he said early this week. Later this week, IAEA reported that Ukraine’s Khmenlytsky NPP had to rely on emergency diesel generators after losing its grid connection for nine hours, and the Rivne plant had to temporarily reduce its power output after losing connection to one of its power lines: "It shows the potential nuclear safety and security risks facing all of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities during this terrible war,” Rossi said. (WNN, 11.17.22, WNN, 11.15.22)
  • IAEA on Nov. 17 called for Russia to end all actions at Ukrainian nuclear facilities, diplomats said. The text of the resolution submitted by Canada and Finland said that the watchdog urged Russia to immediately withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia NPP. Russia and China voted against the resolution. (Euronews, 11.17.22)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • The leaders of Japan, the United States and several other Pacific Rim economies on Nov. 18 condemned North Korea at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok over Pyongyang's launch of a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile. The North Korean missile, fired earlier Nov. 18, likely fell within Japan's exclusive economic zone. (Kyodo, 11.18.22)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • Hopes for a revived nuclear-containment deal with Iran dimmed further on Nov. 17, as the board of the United Nations’ atomic-energy agency formally rebuked the Islamic Republic, ordering it to cooperate with the agency’s investigation into the country’s nuclear activities. The IAEA resolution was presented by the U.S., France, the U.K. and Germany, with 26 of the 35 members of the board approving it. Russia and China voted against. (WSJ, 11.17.22)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • Missile strikes hit cities across Ukraine, including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv, on Nov. 15, plunging million homes into darkness. The 96-missile barrage was Russia’s biggest aerial attack of the war so far, despite months of assertions by Western and Ukrainian officials that Moscow’s stockpile of missiles and other weapons was rapidly dwindling. The strikes prompted Ukraine’s national energy utility to impose controlled but sweeping blackouts. They also caused a brief power outage throughout neighboring Moldova. Russian missiles pounded Ukraine again on Nov. 17 in a series of shattering explosions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Nov. 17 that 10 million Ukrainians were left without power. At least seven people were killed in the strikes. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says almost half of the country's energy infrastructure has been disabled by Russian strikes (RFE/RL, 11.18.22, MT/AFP, 11.15.22, RFE/RL, 11.15.22, RFE/RL, 11.15.22, NYT, 11.16.22, NYT, 11.17.22, RFE/RL, 11.18.22, NYT, 11.18.22)
    • CIA director William Burns—who was in Kyiv on Nov. 15 for talks with Zelensky—was inside the U.S. Embassy at the time of the strikes, a U.S. official said. (NYT, 11.16.22) For details of Burns’ visit, see the Nuclear arms section below.
    • Janes, a defense intelligence firm, said Russia very likely stockpiled microchips and other technology necessary to build precision missiles before invading Ukraine in February, possibly starting years ago. (NYT, 11.18.22)
  • Zelensky visited the city of Kherson to a rapturous reception. Zelensky said Ukrainian investigators had already documented more than 400 potential Russian war crimes in parts of the Kherson region that Ukrainian forces have retaken. Hundreds of people were detained or went missing in the Kherson region while it was under Russian control this year, and dozens may have been tortured, Yale University researchers said in a report backed by the U.S. State Department. (RFE/RL, 11.18.22, FT, 11.14.22, FT, 11.14.22, Reuters, 11.18.22)
  • The U.N.’s OHCR says both Russia and Ukraine have tortured prisoners of war, including beatings, electric shocks and humiliating treatment such as forced nudity, during the conflict. (RFE/RL, 11.15.22)
  • Ukraine will need $55 billion in international assistance for next year, including $38 billion to cover the forecast budget deficit and $17 billion to rebuild infrastructure, Zelensky said. (FT, 11.14.22)
  • Ukrainian law enforcement said it has caught and returned to prison 166 of 457 inmates who were freed by Russia’s military and Russian-installed authorities as they retreated in the southern Kherson region last week. (MT/AFP, 11.16.22)
  • The U.N.-backed agreement allowing Ukrainian grain exports safe passage through the Black Sea will be extended by 120 days, Zelensky said Nov. 17. (MT/AFP, 11.17.22)
  • Hungary will not support a European Union 18 billion euro ($18.6 billion) plan to provide Ukraine with billions in budget assistance next year, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Nov. 18. (AP, 11.18.22)
  • Russia said on Nov. 18 that Ukrainian soldiers had executed more than 10 Russian prisoners of war. The Russian Defense Ministry cited a video circulating on Russian social media which it said showed the execution of Russian prisoners of war. Reuters was unable to immediately verify either the video or the defense ministry's assertions. (Reuters, 11.18.22)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • After Russia’s forced retreat from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson last week, both sides are calculating their next moves. The next hotspots are expected to be near Donetsk in the eastern Donbas region and in the south en route to the strategic cities of Melitopol and Mariupol. Moscow can now redeploy there the 20,000 or so troops it has withdrawn from Kherson, as well as some of the 300,000 men it recently drafted. Analysts say Russia's minimum aims at this stage include, above all, full control of the Donbas. (FT, 11.16.22, WSJ, 11.14.22)
    • Ukrainian forces repelled multiple Russian attacks in the east, the military said on Nov. 18. (RFE/RL, 11.18.22)
    • By January, Ukrainian forces will be in position to begin an advance on Crimea, retired U.S. general Ben Hodges claimed—and he anticipates they will have expelled all Russian troops from their territory by the summer. (Politico, 11.16.22)
  • Polish media reported on Nov. 15 that a missile landed on a grain elevator in Przewodow some 20 kilometers from the Poland-Ukraine border, killing two civilians. 
    • Polish President Andrzej Duda said there was no evidence that a missile strike on his country that killed two local workers on Nov. 15 was fired intentionally, adding that it was likely a Russian-made weapon fired by a Ukrainian air-defense system. (WSJ, 11.16.22)
    • “I have no doubt that this is not our missile,” Zelensky said in initial televised remarks. “I believe that this was a Russian missile, based on our military reports.” Zelensky then backtracked somewhat on Nov. 17, telling an audience at an economic forum, "I don't know 100%—I think the world also doesn't 100% know what happened." (SCMP, 11.16.22, WP, 11.17.22)
    • U.S. President Joe Biden on Nov. 17 disputed Zelensky’s comment that missiles that landed in Poland were not of Ukrainian origin. "That's not the evidence," Biden told reporters. (RFE/RL, 11.17.22)
    • “We have seen nothing that contradicts President [Andrzej] Duda’s preliminary assessment that this explosion was most likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile,” the White House said in a statement. (SCMP, 11.16.22)
      • Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Nov. 17 denied that this week's deadly missile explosion in Poland and subsequent disagreements over the missile's origin revealed a lack of communication and coordination with Ukraine after contradictory statements between Zelensky and Western leaders. (WP, 11.17.21)
    • NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said there is “no indication” that a missile that struck Poland was a “deliberate attack,” saying it was likely fired by Ukraine while defending itself against a barrage of Russian weapons. Stoltenberg said Nov. 16 there would be no calls to initiate Article 4 until the outcome of an investigation into the "explosion" on Poland’s eastern border that killed two was completed. On Nov. 17 Duda’s administration said he had informed Stoltenberg that it was "highly probable" that the Polish ambassador to NATO "will request to invoke Article 4." (FT, 11.16.22, Fox News, 11.16.22)
    • In Indonesia's Bali, Western leaders held an "emergency roundtable" on the sidelines of the G20 summit, where they urged against jumping to any conclusions about the origins of the strike. (MT/AFP, 11.16.22)
    • "Photographs of the wreckage... were unequivocally identified by Russian military experts as fragments of a guided anti-aircraft missile of a Ukrainian S-300 air defense system," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. (MT/AFP, 11.16.22)
  • The White House asked Congress to send $37.7 billion to Ukraine, setting aside $21.7 billion for military equipment and to replace Pentagon weaponry that has been already sent to the country. It would also allocate $14.5 billion to humanitarian and budget support for Ukraine in its war against Russia. Separately, the request asks that Congress grant Biden the authority to authorize sending up to $7 billion worth of weaponry to Ukraine. (NYT, 11.15.22)
    • House Republicans critical of U.S. assistance to Ukraine during its war with Russia introduced a privileged resolution on Nov. 17 to audit the funds allocated by Congress. The resolution is being led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and backed by a group of GOP lawmakers. Reps. Greene, Thomas Massie and other proponents of cutting aid to Ukraine then demanded in a news conference that an inspector general be appointed to examine how money for Ukraine had been spent so far. (The Hill, 11.17.22, Bloomberg, 11.18.22)
  • Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that while the Ukrainian military has had important successes in Kharkiv and Kherson, Russia occupies 20% of Ukraine and still has significant combat power inside the country's territory. "The military task of kicking the Russians physically out of Ukraine is a very difficult task, and it's not going to happen in the next couple of weeks," Milley said, speaking at a joint news conference at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. (RFE/RL, 11.17.22)
  • Sergei Aksyonov, the Kremlin-imposed head of Ukraine's Russian-occupied Crimea, says Russian forces are strengthening positions on the peninsula as Ukrainian troops make gains in the nearby Kherson region. (RFE/RL, 11.18.22)
  • A Ukrainian drone attacked a coastal oil loading facility in Sheskharis located in the Novorossiysk area of Russia’s Black Sea coast, according to pro-war Russian military correspondent Yuri Kotyonok. Russian oil companies use that facility to ship oil to foreign clients. (RM, 11.18.22)

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

  • The United States has imposed sanctions on companies it accused of being involved in the production of or transfer to Russia of Iranian drones that have been used in attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. (Reuters, 11.15.22)
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry says it has imposed sanctions against 100 more Canadian nationals—including Hollywood star Jim Carrey and acclaimed writer Margaret Atwood—in response to sanctions imposed on Russian citizens by Canada's "Russophobic government.” (RFE/RL, 11.14.22)
  • Russia's Foreign Ministry has placed sanctions on 52 Irish government members and politicians for their support for the European Union's sanctions on Russia over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.16.22)
  • Russians have moved a record amount of cash out of the country so far this year. The equivalent of $32 billion has been deposited in foreign banks in January-September 2022, according to an analysis of Central Bank data. As a result, Russians' overall foreign bank deposits have more than doubled from $30.6 billion in January to $63.1 billion in September. (MT/AFP, 11.17.22)
  • Russian mining companies are having problems replacing suppliers of equipment for underground work who have left the Russian market, as manufacturers in Russia and friendly countries cannot provide comparable quality, while China is overwhelmed and is having to postpone deliveries on contracts. (Interfax, 11.18.22)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • Gen. Mark Milley said that a victory by Ukraine may not be achieved militarily, and that winter may provide an opportunity to begin negotiations with Russia. In subsequent comments made on Nov. 16, Milley said that a political solution involving a Russian withdrawal is still possible. (Politico, 11.16.22, RFE/RL, 11.17.22)
  • NATO will not pressure Ukraine into peace talks with Russia, said Stoltenberg. “It is for Ukraine to decide what kind of [peace] terms are acceptable. It is for us to support them,” he said on Nov. 14. (FT, 11.14.22)
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Nov. 15 that Ukraine's conditions for restarting talks with Moscow were "unrealistic." He was speaking at the G-20 summit. "All problems are with the Ukrainian side, which is categorically refusing negotiations and putting forward conditions that are obviously unrealistic," Lavrov said. He said he had put forward that position during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and that he had explained Russia's position during talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. (AFP, 11.15.22)
  • FIFA President Gianni Infantino has called on Russia and Ukraine to enter into a one-month cease-fire during the soccer World Cup in Qatar. (RFE/RL, 11.15.22)
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed Nov. 17 that the reason civilians were suffering from blackouts in Ukraine was Kyiv's refusal to negotiate with Moscow and not missile strikes launched by Russian forces. (MT/AFP, 11.17.22)
  • Macron said that he was hopeful that, in the wake of the G-20 summit, meaningful peace talks could be held in Ukraine. “The Ukrainians will, this is my hope, will come back to the table with the Russians, and the international community will be around this table,” he said. (FT, 11.18.22)

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

  • Zelensky told the G-20 summit via a video link that the time to end Russia's war in Ukraine is "now." "It will save thousands of lives," he said. (RFE/RL, 11.15.22)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Russia is expecting a state visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping next year, probably after Chinese parliamentary meetings in March, Igor Morgulov, Russia’s ambassador to China, said. The visit will reciprocate Putin’s visit to China during the past Olympics. The precise date of an in-person meeting between Putin and Xi Jinping in 2023 is as yet unknown, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. (Bloomberg, 11.16.22, RIA Novosti/Gazeta, 11.17.22, Interfax, 11.17.22)
  • China joined Russia in opposing the use of the word "war" to describe Putin's invasion of Ukraine in the declaration adopted at the G-20 summit in Indonesia. Instead, the declaration says that “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine.” This language made it into the final draft of the G-20 declaration because Russia and China buckled to allow a qualified condemnation of Moscow’s war against Ukraine. (FT, 11.18.22 WP, 11.15.22, White House, 11.16.22)
  • During their meeting on the sidelines of the G-20, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Lavrov that China would “continue to uphold an objective and fair position and play a constructive role” in promoting peace talks. Lavrov, in turn, said he was confident “the continuity of approaches toward our overarching partnership and strategic cooperation will be ensured.” The Russian Foreign Ministry’s account of the Nov. 15 meeting of Lavrov and Wang contained no references to China’s concerns over nuclear threats, though it does say  the two discussed the “situation in Ukraine.” (Bloomberg, 11.16.22, RM, 11.16.22)
  • Russian and Chinese diplomats are conducting a frank and honest dialogue, "without hiding thoughts" from each other, Russian Ambassador to China Igor Morgulov told reporters on Nov. 17. (TASS, 11.17.22) This could be an implicit reference to calls, which Xi has joined, for Russia to stop threatening to use nuclear weapons. See the Nuclear arms section below.1
  • Russia and China are expected to sign an intergovernmental agreement on gas supplies to China over the Far Eastern route in the near future, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said. (TASS, 11.18.22)
  • Trade turnover between Russia and China in the energy sector increased by 64% in monetary terms and by 10% in physical terms, Novak said. (TASS, 11.18.22)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • CIA director William Burns has warned Russia against using nuclear weapons in the first known in-person meeting between senior officials of the two countries since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Burns delivered his warning at a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Naryshkin in Ankara, Turkey, on Nov. 14, the U.S. said. (FT, 11.14.22)
  • Burns visited Ukraine on Nov. 15, according to a U.S. official, and spoke with Ukrainian intelligence officials and Zelensky. Burns’s visit was aimed at reassuring Ukrainian officials that discussions with Russian officials were about the threat of nuclear escalation. The Biden administration has taken pains to emphasize that the United States is not attempting to negotiate an end to the war, and American officials have insisted they will not negotiate over the war without Ukrainian officials present. Zelensky confirmed that he met in Kyiv with Burns. He said the two men had discussed what he called Russia's nuclear threat. (NYT, 11.16.22, Reuters, 11.16.22)
  • The G-20 summit, which Biden and Xi attended, but which Putin chose to skip, sending Lavrov in his stead, adopted a declaration on Nov. 16 that stated: “The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.” (RM, 11.17.22)
    • Scholz said, “It has been made clear [at the G-20 summit] that the use of nuclear weapons is not an escalation that can be accepted [and] that this represents a red line that everyone has drawn and that has been painted very strongly here.” (FT, 11.16.22) 
    • The White House said Biden and Xi agreed during their meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 that "a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine." The readout from the Chinese government didn’t include mention of the nuclear threat. Instead, Xi restated China’s support for peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. (WSJ, 11.14.22)
    • In a news conference on Nov. 16, Macron called Xi’s commitment to the United Nations charter “sincere” and said he has “no doubt that there are limits to the partnership” with Russia. “China has always firmly condemned the use of the nuclear weapon in any form, China has always put that limit,” Macron said. “And President Xi Jinping has always been clear on that, he is calling for peace and the end of the conflict.” China’s ability to pressure Russia is proving “extremely useful,” as the international community ramps up efforts to stop the war in Ukraine, Macron said in separate comments at the APEC summit. (Bloomberg, 11.16.22, FT, 11.18.22)
  • Asked if it was possible that Russia would use a nuclear weapon and whether or not it had been discussed, Peskov said even the framing of such questions was unacceptable. "If you have noticed, no one from the Russian side is discussing this topic and has not discussed it," Peskov said. (Reuters, 11.17.22)
  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he was informed following the U.S.-Russia talks held earlier this week in Ankara that neither party would use nuclear weapons, according to a readout of his comments to reporters. (Reuters, 11.17.22)
  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow is ready for high-level talks with Washington regarding "strategic stability," which includes the New START treaty. "The Americans know our position. It coincides with what we offered and expressed in the period of time before they unilaterally disrupted it," Ryabkov said. (RFE/RL, 11.18.22)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security:

  • Microsoft researchers said Nov. 10 that Russian hacking group Iridium was behind a disruptive campaign against transportation and logistics in Ukraine and Poland that began in late September using ransomware known as “Prestige.” (WP, 11.11.22)
  • Two Russians, Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova, have been charged with copyright piracy and fraud for running the globally popular Z-Library website, which offered free downloads of millions of books, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Nov. 16. They were arrested in Argentina, where they are based, at the request of the United States. (AFP, 11.17.22)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Moscow's revenues from fossil fuel exports fell in October to their lowest levels since the Ukraine invasion, but Turkey has become a new route for Russian oil supplies to the European Union, according to Finland-based Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.  Russia collected an estimated 21 billion euros ($21.7 billion) in fossil fuel exports last month, a 7% drop from September. Revenue from exports to the European Union fell by 14% to 7.5 billion euros, below pre-war levels. (MT/AFP, 11.16.22)
  • From January to September 2022, the EU imported 16.5 billion cubic meters (bcm)of Russian LNG, up from 11.3 bcm in the same period last year. This compares with pipeline imports halving from 105.7 bcm in the first nine months of 2021 to 54.2 bcm in the same period of 2022. (BNE, 11.18.22)
  • Putin has discussed a proposal to create a Turkish "gas hub" during a phone call with Erdogan, the Kremlin said on Nov. 18. (RFE/RL, 11.18.22)

Climate change:

  • Andrei Melnichenko, a Russian billionaire under sanctions by the United States and Europe over his alleged ties to the Kremlin, said Nov. 16 that he was not surprised by protests against his country at this year’s U.N. climate talks, but insisted that Russia wants to remain engaged on the issue of global warming because it deeply affects the nation. (AP, 11.16.22)

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner has been taken to a penal colony in the Russian region of Mordovia. Ryabkov says Moscow is hopeful a deal can be made with Washington to exchange prisoners, including convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who currently is serving a 25-year sentence in a U.S. prison. A possible prisoner swap is expected to also include Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. (RFE/RL, 11.18.22, Reuters, 11.17.22)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Russia’s GDP contracted for the second consecutive quarter. It fell by 4% year-on-year in the three months leading up to October, according to Rosstat. Russia’s central bank expects the economy to shrink by 3-3.5 % this year, governor Elvira Nabiulina said at the plenary session of the State Duma. (FT, 11.16.22)
  • Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov told reporters following the first day of the APEC summit that Russian GDP contraction is expected at 2.8-3% this year and 1% in 2023. (TASS, 11.18.22)
  • Russia’s pro-war activists delivered over the weekend their most cutting criticism of the military’s performance in Ukraine to date, following the humiliating withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson. By Nov. 13, the drumbeat of denunciations broke the taboo against singling out Putin himself and Russia’s very system of government. (NYT, 11.13.22)
  • Putin on Nov. 17 named several supporters of the war in Ukraine to the presidential Human Rights Council. War correspondent Alexander Kots and two other prominent supporters of the war were added to the council. (MT/AFP, 11.17.22)
  • Russia's media watchdog blocked access to the website of independent news site Novaya Gazeta on Nov. 17. (Reuters, 11.17.22)
  • Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader jailed after surviving an assassination attempt, said on Nov. 17 that he has been transferred permanently to a solitary confinement cell that would limit his contact with other prisoners and the outside world. (NYT, 11.17.22)

Defense and aerospace:

  • Putin issued a decree Nov. 14 allowing Russians who hold another citizenship to be conscripted into the army. The draft is now extended to dual citizens, Russians with permanent residency status abroad and stateless people, according to Putin’s amendments to military service regulations. Dual nationals have been exempt from conscription until now. (MT/AFP, 11.15.22)

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

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Russian law enforcement structures have started a preliminary investigation into a video published on a Telegram channel linked to the private Russian mercenary group Wagner that shows the brutal death by sledgehammer of a fighter who allegedly defected to the Ukrainian side. (RFE/RL, 11.15.22)
  • A Russian court has sentenced Dmitry Fedotkin, a former manager at Russian flagship airline Aeroflot’s British office, to 13 years in prison for treason. (MT/AFP, 11.15.22)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Czech lawmakers have backed a resolution recognizing the current "regime" in Russia as "terrorist.” The document also condemns Russia's annexation of parts of four eastern Ukrainian regions via so-called referendums. (RFE/RL, 11.16.22)
  • On the first day of a two-day summit of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, most leaders blasted Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, saying that its military aggression has caused a surge in global food and energy prices, according to Japanese and Thai officials. The first day of the APEC summit had rather positive results, the attitude of unfriendly countries toward Russia had been "rather mild" and there was a good chance for the adoption of the final declaration, Russian delegation head, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov said at a press briefing on the APEC summit sidelines. (Kyodo, 11.18.22, Interfax, 11.18.22)
  • Poland will not allow a Russian delegation to attend the December meeting in central Poland of the OSCE. (RFE/RL, 11.18.22)
  • Finland is to start building a fence on the Russian border next year, while Poland is already installing monitoring gear on the Belarus border wall, according to AP and RFE/RL. (RM, 11.18.22)
  • A German court sentenced on Nov. 18 a former military reserve officer to a suspended year and nine months in prison after he was found guilty of spying for Russia. The defendant, a 66-year-old former lieutenant colonel in the German military reserves, was identified as Ralph G. (DW, 11.18.22)


  • A court in the Netherlands has convicted and sentenced to life in prison two Russians and one pro-Moscow Ukrainian separatist in the 2014 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine. The three men convicted, in absentia, were former Russian intelligence agents Igor Girkin and Sergei Dubinskiy, and Leonid Kharchenko, a Ukrainian separatist leader. Russian Oleg Pulatov, the only suspect represented by defense lawyers at the trial, was acquitted. (RFE/RL, 11.17.22)
  • Zelensky says many major corrupt officials left the country after the full-scale invasion by Russia this February and, therefore, there will be no corruption in the country. (Ukrinform, 11.17.22, Kommersant, 11.17.22)
  • Valeriy Patskan, the chairman of Ukraine's Accounting Chamber, has tendered his resignation. He noted that the Accounting Chamber had planned audits related to the defense, security, anti-corruption and law enforcement areas. On Oct. 24, Patskan was charged with illegally receiving compensation for housing in Kyiv. (Business World Magazine, 11.18.22)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • The French Senate has voted 295-1 to adopt a resolution calling on the French government to impose sanctions on Azerbaijan for its attacks against Armenia and aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh. The resolution calls on Baku to withdraw its troops from Armenia, and reaffirms the Senate's 2020 resolution calling on the French government to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh. (RFE/RL, 11.16.22)
  • Border guards in Georgia have denied entry to at least six independent Russian journalists and activists in the past two weeks, the Agentstvo investigative news website reported. (MT/AFP, 11.16.22)
  • Kazakhstan said Nov. 17 it had prevented a coup attempt by supporters of an exiled opposition figure as it arrested seven people ahead of a presidential election this weekend. (MT/AFP, 11.17.22)
  • A Kazakh soldier who shot dead a shepherd during unprecedented anti-government protests in January that left at least 238 people dead has been sentenced to six years in prison. (RFE/RL, 11.16.22)
  • The Uzbek National Electricity Control Center has warned of possible blackouts across the Central Asian region due to a natural gas shortage in the country. (RFE/RL, 11.15.22)
  • Russian human rights defender Vitaly Ponomaryov has been deported to Russia from Kyrgyzstan after he was detained upon his arrival at the airport in Bishkek. (RFE/RL, 11.15.22)
  • The Russian successor to McDonald's, “Vkusno i tochka,” will enter the Belarusian market. (BNE, 11.18.22)
  • Artem Zinchenko, who was convicted in Estonia several years ago for working for the Russian special services and exchanged in a 2018 prisoner swap for Estonian businessman Raivo Susi, has returned to Estonia and is seeking political asylum. (RFE/RL, 11.18.22)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • “Across the entire front line trace of some 900 or so kilometers, the Ukrainians have achieved success after success after success and the Russians have failed every single time. They've lost strategically, they've lost operationally, and I repeat, they lost tactically,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley. (U.S. Defense Department 11.16.22)



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