Russia in Review, Nov. 18-23, 2022
4 Things to Know
- Nuclear power plants damaged and disabled: Shelling has caused a “close call” at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and forced NPPs across the country to disconnect from the power grid this week. Strikes around the Zaporizhzhia plant over the weekend damaged some of its storage tanks but left key equipment intact, according to the U.N. nuclear watchdog. IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said whoever fired the shells was “gambling with many people's lives" and described the incident as a "close call." Russian strikes on Ukraine energy facilities Nov. 23—believed to be among the most damaging attacks in weeks—forced all the country’s NPPs to temporarily go offline, the Energy Ministry said, and left “the vast majority" of consumers without power.
- Iran has agreed to set up production of its military drones in Russia, The Washington Post reports, citing three unnamed officials “familiar with the matter.” The agreement was reached earlier this month, according to new intelligence seen by Western security agencies, which believe Russia has already procured and deployed more than 400 Iranian-made attack drones against Ukraine since August. A report issued Nov. 22 by a weapons research group says the Iranian drones used by Russia in Ukraine are built with parts almost exclusively made by companies with headquarters in the U.S., Europe and Asia, the New York Times writes.
- Ukrainian territory by the numbers: Ukraine’s army has now reclaimed about 55% of the territory Russia occupied after invading in February, the NYT reports, but about one-fifth of Ukrainian territory is still occupied by Russia. Only 288 of the 61,000 square miles freed of Russian control have been cleared of land mines, improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance, according to U.S. State Department data cited by the paper.
- OECD: Among G20 economies, Russia’s to perform worst in 2022-2023. Russia’s GDP will decline by 3.9% in 2022 and 5.6% in 2023, according to the OECD’s new forecast. That would constitute the worst performance among G20 economies, with the U.K. expected to be the second worst performer.
I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda
Nuclear security and safety:
- The IAEA has said that "powerful explosions" hit the Zaporizhzhia NPP on Nov. 19 and 20. IAEA inspectors reported fresh damage to storage tanks but found key equipment intact and ''no immediate nuclear safety or security concerns,'' the U.N. watchdog said Nov. 21. IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said that whoever fired on the plant was taking "huge risks and gambling with many people's lives," describing the situation as a "close call." He added that, “until we have this plant protected, the possibility of … nuclear catastrophe is there.” (RFE/RL, 11.21.22, Oilprice, 11.21.22, NYT, 11.21.22)
- The IAEA said Grossi met with a Russian delegation led by Rosatom director general Alexey Likhachev in Istanbul on Nov. 23 for consultations “on operational aspects related to safety” at the Zaporizhzhia NPP and “on urgently establishing a nuclear safety & security protection zone." (WNN, 11.23.22)
- See also “Humanitarian impact” section below.
North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:
- No significant developments.
Iran and its nuclear program:
- The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said Nov. 22 that it had added the underground Fordow facility to the list of locations where it was enriching uranium to a 60% purity level, just below weapons grade. (FT, 11.22.22)
Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:
- At least 437 children are among the more than 8,300 civilians who have been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded in February, the country’s prosecutor general has said. (NYT, 11.20.22)
- A newborn baby was killed following a Russian strike that hit a maternity ward in Ukraine's southern Zaporizhzhia region, Ukrainian emergency services said Nov. 23. (MT/AFP, 11.23.22)
- Nearly 400 shelling incidents were recorded in eastern Ukraine on Nov. 20, Zelensky said. (NYT, 11.21.22)
- In Ukraine only 288 of the 61,000 square miles freed of Russian control have been cleared of land mines, improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance, according to the U.S. State Department. (NYT, 11.19.22)
- A barrage of Russian missiles hit Ukraine on Nov. 23, killing at least 10 people and leaving Kyiv and other cities without power, in what appeared to be one of the most damaging attacks in weeks. Ukraine’s Energy Ministry said supplies were cut to “the vast majority of electricity consumers.” Power was also cut off in the neighboring country of Moldova, whose power system remains entwined with Ukraine’s. (NYT, 11.23.22, AP, 11.23.22)
- The New York Times said it has verified footage showing captive Russian troops being killed by Ukrainian forces. At least four drone and cellphone videos of the incident emerged Nov. 12-17 as Ukraine recaptured the village of Makiivka in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region. (MT, 11.21.22)
- “Of course Ukrainian authorities will investigate this video,” Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister overseeing the country’s push to join the EU, said on the sidelines of a security forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (AP, 11.20.22)
- The Ukrainian parliament's commissioner for human rights on Nov. 20 denied Kyiv’s forces had killed Russian prisoners of war. (AFP, 11.20.22)
- "Without a doubt, Russia will itself search for those who committed this crime. They must be found and punished," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. (MT, 11.22.22)
- Russian troops allegedly dumped and burned the bodies of fallen fellow soldiers at a landfill site on the outskirts of the city of Kherson. (MT/AFP, 11.22.22)
- Explosions killed three people in two villages in Russia's Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine on Nov. 22, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. (AFP, 11.22.22)
- Ukraine's harsh winter will be life-threatening for millions of people as rolling blackouts and poor health infrastructure exacerbate the war's humanitarian crisis, the WHO said. (WP, 11.21.22)
- Sergei Kovalenko, chief executive at Ukrainian power provider Yasno, said that “Ukrainians will most likely have to live with blackouts until at least the end of March.” (FT, 11.22.22)
- The U.S. is sending $4.5 billion in aid to the government of Ukraine to bolster economic stability and support core government services, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said. The grant, which brings the total of U.S. direct government support to Ukraine to $13 billion, includes “wages for hospital workers [and] government employees.” (Bloomberg, 11.21.22)
- Ukraine reached a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund that may open a path to a financial lifeline as the war-battered nation seeks as much as $20 billion to shore up its reserves and budget needs. In its announcement of the agreement the IMF said, “The preservation of independent, competent and trustworthy anti-corruption institutions is essential.” (Bloomberg, 11.23.22, RM, 11.23.22)
- As of August, asylum applications in the EU, plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, were up 58% this year compared with the same period in 2021, to 578,875. When those fleeing Russia’s invasion are counted, the number seeking protection in Germany alone is 1.1 million, just short of the total that arrived during the 2015-2016 Syrian refugee crisis. (FT, 11.22.22)
- Zelensky has announced a national drive to prepare thousands of makeshift centers to provide basic services in the event of prolonged blackouts. “If massive Russian strikes take place again and if there is an understanding that the electricity supply cannot be restored within hours, the work of ‘Points of Invincibility’ will be activated,” he told the nation in his nightly address Nov. 22. (NYT, 11.23.22)
Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:
- Moscow quietly reached an agreement with Tehran in November to begin manufacturing hundreds of unmanned weaponized aircraft on Russian soil, according to new intelligence seen by Western security agencies. Russian and Iranian officials finalized the deal during a meeting in Iran in early November. Western intelligence believe Russia has already procured and deployed more than 400 Iranian-made attack drones against Ukraine since August. (WP, 11.19.22)
- The Iranian drones that Russia has used to attack military targets and civilians in Ukraine are built with parts almost exclusively made by companies with headquarters in the U.S., Europe and Asia, according to a report issued Nov. 22 by a weapons research group. (NYT, 11.22.22)
- It is likely that Russia has nearly exhausted its current stock of Iranian-made weapons and will seek resupply, the U.K. defense ministry said. (RFE/RL, 11.23.22)
- U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made an unannounced visit to Kyiv for the first time since taking office and met with Zelensky to pledge that the U.K. will provide air defense equipment worth $59 million. (Bloomberg, 11.19.22)
- Russia's surge in missile strikes in Ukraine is partly designed to exhaust Kyiv's supplies of air defenses and finally achieve dominance of the skies above the country, said Colin Kahl, the Pentagon's top policy adviser. (Reuters, 11.19.22)
- A relative of a Russian man mobilized during Moscow’s so-called partial mobilization has told Russian media that this man’s unit lost 101 of its 120 servicemen in fighting in the Pavlovka settlement of the Donetsk region sometime in October. (Istories, 11.21.22)
- Polish President Andrzej Duda spoke to a Russian hoax caller pretending to be French President Emmanuel Macron on the night a missile hit a Polish village near the Ukrainian border. "Emmanuel, believe me, I am extra careful," Duda told the caller. "I don't want to have war with Russia and, believe me, I am extra careful, extra careful.” Russian-language Gazeta.ru quoted Duda as telling the prankster he is more concerned that an attack on a Ukrainian nuclear power plant would lead to “nuclear catastrophe” than he is about “some dirty bomb.” (Reuters, RM, 11.22.22) Such pranks cannot be taken lightly. Imagine what could have happened if the prankster, impersonating Macron, told Duda that he’d support instant retaliation against Russia.1
- AP on Nov. 21 fired national security reporter James LaPorta who had provided erroneous information about a missile strike in Poland last week that resulted in an inaccurate news alert and story suggesting Russia was responsible for the incident. (WP, 11.21.22)
- Western and Ukrainian officials and military analysts say there have been indications that Russian stocks of certain critical weapons systems, including precision missiles, are running low. (WSJ, 11.22.22)
- U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters that Russia’s stock of precision-guided artillery munitions “has been significantly reduced” and can’t be rapidly replenished because of trade restrictions on computer chips. (Bloomberg, 11.23.22) This topic will be an interesting one to watch. One of the first headlines claiming Russia is running out of precision missiles appeared in March and they have surfaced regularly since then. Last week, however, The New York Times—which, too, had reported claims that Moscow was running out of precision missiles—noted that Russia’s recent “biggest aerial attack on Ukraine” raises questions about the claims that its “stockpile of missiles was dwindling.”
- A bipartisan group of U.S. senators urged the Biden administration Nov. 22 to reconsider its decision to not give Ukraine MQ-1C armed drones, saying that technology could help Kyiv to hold its territory and gain battlefield momentum. (WSJ, 11.22.22)
- Russian officials said Ukrainian forces launched a drone attack on the key port city of Sevastopol in occupied Crimea, which hosts the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Five drones were shot down, the city's governor, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said on his Telegram channel Nov. 22. The first two drones tried to attack the nearby Balaclava thermal power plant, but no damage was inflicted on infrastructure, he said. (WSJ, 11.23.22)
- Ukraine's military said Nov. 21 that it has launched an operation to push Russian forces from the Kinburn Spit. The sliver of land lies at a key maritime choke point leading to the port cities of Mykolaiv and Kherson, at the mouth of two large rivers, the Southern Buh and the Dnipro. The Institute for the Study of War notes that control over this location would allow Ukrainian forces to better conduct potential operations on the east bank of the Dnipro in Kherson region. It is currently the last piece of territory occupied by Russian forces in Mykolaiv region. (WSJ, 11.22.22, New Voice of Ukraine/Yahoo News, 11.22.22)
- Ukraine’s army has now reclaimed about 55% of the territory Russia occupied after invading in February, but about one-fifth of Ukrainian territory is still occupied by Russia (NYT, 11.22.22)
- Britain is sending helicopters to Ukraine, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has said, the first piloted aircraft to be sent by the United Kingdom since the war began. Three former British military Sea Kings will be provided and the first has already arrived. (BBC via RFE/RL, 11.23.22)
- This week Poland announced that it had accepted a German offer of Patriot air defense systems and would deploy them “near the border” with Ukraine. (NYT, 11.23.22)
Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:
- U.S. officials are jetting around the globe in a quiet diplomatic push to get Russia's major trading partners to enforce sanctions and trade controls. Beijing says it won't comply with Western sanctions it considers illegal. "Sino-Russian relations are rock-solid," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular news briefing this month. (WSJ, 11.21.22)
- Of the nine countries that had signed on to Russia’s payment system Mir, set up by Russia after the first wave of U.S. restrictions back in 2014, banks in six have dropped it in the two months since the Treasury Department issued its September warning. (Bloomberg, 11.21.22)
- Zelensky has dismissed the idea of a "short truce" with Russia, saying it would only make things worse. "Russia is now looking for a short truce, a respite to regain strength. Someone may call this the war's end, but such a respite will only worsen the situation," the Ukrainian leader said in remarks broadcast at the Halifax International Security Forum. (MT/AFP, 11.18.22)
- Attempts by Western countries to convince Ukraine to negotiate with Moscow after a series of major military victories are "bizarre" and effectively ask that Kyiv capitulate to the losing side, according to Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak. (RFE/RL, 11.20.22)
- Normalization between Russia and Ukraine could occur only after a change of power in Ukraine, deputy speaker of the Federation Council Konstantin Kosachev told Russian newspaper AiF.ru. (TASS, 11.21.22)
Great Power rivalry/new Cold War/NATO-Russia relations:
- The U.S. government is looking to buy the Aiviq icebreaker from a private energy services company, Edison Chouest Offshore, to bolster its presence in the waters around Alaska, according to congressional aides. Congress is close to approving funding to buy and outfit the used ship, which is estimated at $125 million to $150 million, they added. (WSJ, 11.21.22)
- David Marlowe, the CIA's deputy director of operations, told an academic audience that the invasion of Ukraine has been a massive failure for Putin and opens opportunities for Western intelligence agencies among disaffected Russians. "We're looking around the world for Russians who are as disgusted with that as we are," he said. "Because we're open for business." (WSJ, 11.22.22)
- Last week’s terrorist attack in Istanbul will reinforce Turkey’s concerns over Kurdish terrorism, with consequences for the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO, according to Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. (Bloomberg, 11.20.22)
- Some 78% of Finns have a positive attitude toward NATO membership and more than half are of the opinion that Finland should be open to having military bases located inside Finland, according to a survey by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA. (RFE/RL, 11.23.22)
China-Russia: Allied or aligned?
- See “Punitive measures” section above and “Energy exports” section below.
- No significant developments.
- “Putin is Putin, and Khrushchev was Khrushchev, God rest him,” Dmitry Peskov said when asked to comment on parallels between the current crisis and the Cuban missile crisis. Earlier, Putin said he is no Khrushchev when asked whether he could imagine playing the role the Soviet leader played during the 1962 stand-off with Washington. (Meduza, RM, 11.22.22)
- A regiment of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces in the Orenburg region is being armed with ICBMs carrying Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles, according to Interfax. One of the ICBMs that can carry such vehicles is the liquid-fuel MIRV’ed Sarmat ICBM, according to the forces’ command. Construction of silos for this ICBM has already begun in Uzhur and Dombarovsky, according to military analyst Pavel Podvig. (RM, 11.22.22)
- No significant developments.
Conflict in Syria:
- Russia on Nov. 22 called for Turkey to exercise "restraint" and warned against "destabilizing" Syria, where Ankara has carried out air strikes and is threatening to launch a ground offensive against Kurdish fighters. Turkey on Nov. 20 launched a series of air raids targeting bases of outlawed Kurdish militants across northern Syria and Iraq. At least 37 people were killed in the strikes. (MT/AFP, 11.22.22)
- No significant developments.
Energy exports from CIS:
- Europe is banning oil purchases from Moscow next month and has already been cutting back. Those cargoes are instead flowing out to Asia. Daily earnings for the industry’s largest supertankers reached $99,628 on Nov. 18, four times the average of the past four years. (Bloomberg, 11.20.22)
- G7 nations are looking at a price cap on Russian seaborne oil in the range of $65-$70/barrel, a European official said Nov. 23. This would be more generous to Moscow than many initially expected and higher than the current level at which Russian oil is trading: around $62-$63/barrel for Urals crude delivered to northwest Europe and $67-$68 in the Mediterranean, Refinitiv data show. The proposed range would be well above Russian’s cost of production. The U.S. and its allies are rushing to put the plan into place before Dec. 5, according to people familiar with the talks. (Reuters, 11.23.22, Bloomberg, 11.23.22, Bloomberg, 11.23.22, WSJ, 11.22.22)
- Oil prices fell more than 4% on Nov. 23 on news of the price-cap range—a level that could help keep Russian supplies flowing into the global market—and of higher than expected gasoline inventories in the U.S. (Reuters, 11.23.22, Bloomberg, 11.23.22)
- The U.S. Treasury Department on Nov. 22 released new details of its price-cap plan in order to help firms and maritime insurers understand how to abide by the price ceiling once it is finalized. (AP, 11.22.22)
- China’s crude buyers have paused purchases of some Russian oil as they wait for details of the U.S.-led cap to see if it presents a better price. Several cargoes of Russian ESPO crude for December-loading remain unsold and there’s hesitation among sellers and Chinese buyers to close deals before more clarity on the exact cap level is known. (Bloomberg, 11.22.22)
- The European Commission on Nov. 22 proposed a cap on month-ahead wholesale gas prices at €275 per megawatt hour. However, the cap would only apply if prices were above that level for two weeks and were more than €58 per MWh higher than an average price for liquefied natural gas for 10 days. The cap has come under fire from critics as all but useless. (FT, 11.23.22)
- Gazprom on Nov. 22 accused Ukraine of diverting natural gas supplies transiting its territory to Moldova and threatened to cut deliveries through a key pipeline to Europe in response. (MT/AFP, 11.22.22)
- A Polish court on Nov. 21 overturned a decision by Poland's anti-monopoly watchdog to impose a €6.2 billion ($6.3 billion) fine against Russian gas giant Gazprom. (MT/AFP, 11.22.22)
- Russia’s Gazprom announced Nov. 18 that it would deliver up to 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Azerbaijan between now and March under a new contract with state-owned oil firm SOCAR. The deal raises uncomfortable questions about Baku’s recent agreement to boost exports to Europe. (BNE, 11.23.22, Eurasianet, 11.23.22)
- Poor countries suffering from the effects of climate change will get financial help from richer nations under a historic agreement by the U.N. But the talks at the COP27 climate change conference ended in discord after negotiators failed to reach a deal on greater cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and an end to fossil fuel use amid staunch resistance from countries including Saudi Arabia and Russia. (FT, 11.20.22)
U.S.-Russian economic ties:
- No significant developments.
U.S.-Russian relations in general:
- No significant developments.
II. Russia’s domestic policies
Domestic politics, economy and energy:
- Russia’s GDP will decline by 3.9% in 2022 and 5.6% in 2023, according to the OECD’s new forecast. That would constitute the worst performance among G20 economies, with the U.K. expected to be the second-worst performer. Higher inflation and slower growth are the heavy price that the global economy is paying for Russia's war in Ukraine, the OECD said, predicting economies will grow only 2.2% next year. (RM, 11.22.22, FT, 11.22.22, NYT, 11.22.22)
- Russia’s international reserves rose to $552.1 billion, climbing by 1.9% ($10.5 billion) over the week as of Nov. 11, the Central Bank announced. The total includes the circa $300 billion frozen in Western central banks at the start of the war in Ukraine. (BNE, 11.19.22)
- Putin on Nov. 22 oversaw the launch of a new Yakutia nuclear-powered icebreaker as Russia pushes to develop the Arctic and seeks new energy markets amid sanctions over Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 11.22.22)
- Earlier this month, Kremlin-commissioned pollsters conducted a series of secret public-opinion studies across multiple regions of Russia, revealing a demoralized population with an overwhelmingly pessimistic view of the future. (Meduza, 11.22.22)
- The trial of opposition politician Ilya Yashin, who faces up to a decade in prison for denouncing Putin's invasion of Ukraine, opened in Moscow on Nov. 23. (MT/AFP, 11.23.22)
- Russian lawmakers on Nov. 23 gave crucial second-reading approval to a bill that significantly expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBT rights in the country. (AP/ABC, 11.23.22)
After a two-decade hiatus, Russia on Nov. 23 launched production of the Moskvich car brand at a plant near Moscow given up by the French carmaker Renault, with a new, modern Chinese design that barely resembles the Soviet-era classic. (Reuters, 11.23.22, CNBC, 11.23.22)
Defense and aerospace:
- Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Nov. 21 denied the Kremlin was considering a second wave of mobilization to bolster Russian forces in Ukraine. In recent days, opposition politicians, military analysts and even some of Russia’s pro-war bloggers have been suggesting that a second wave of mobilization could be in the cards. (MT/AFP, 11.22.22)
- A document allegedly drafted by a Russian National Guard unit’s command stated that servicemen cannot resign after their contracts expire because Putin’s Sept. 21 decree on “partial mobilization” remains in force, according to Istories. (RM, 11.22.22)
- See also section on “Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts” above.
Security, law-enforcement and justice:
- The first criminal case against conscripted soldiers refusing to fight in Ukraine has opened in Russia. A video shows two soldiers who allegedly refused to go to the frontlines being pulled out of a lineup by military police at a military base in Russia’s Belgorod region. Under Russian law, they face up to three years in jail if they are found guilty of refusing to follow orders. (MT, 11.21.22)
- Professional Russian soldier Mikhail Guryanov was handed a one-year suspended sentence back in August for deserting his unit in Ukraine, a court in Pskov announced Nov. 21. (MT/AFP, 11.22.22)
- Year on year, crimes involving weapons have surged by nearly 30% in Russia in January-October 2022, to about 5,000 incidents, according to RBC. Western Russia’s Kursk and Belgorod regions, both of which border war-torn Ukraine, saw the highest rise in rates of armed crime. (MT/AFP, 11.23.22)
III. Russia’s relations with other countries
Russia’s general foreign policy and relations with “far abroad” countries:
- France’s president accused Russia of a “predatory” strategy to fuel anti-French sentiment in Africa, where France has suffered military setbacks and lost influence in recent years. (Bloomberg, 11.20.22)
- Anti-war protests are stretching across Central Europe. In Slovakia, polls have shown 19% of the population preferring a Russian victory to a Ukrainian one. (FT, 11.20.22)
- The number of short-term Schengen visas granted to Russian nationals by Spain so far this year has almost tripled to 108,862 from the same period a year ago, according to Spanish foreign ministry data. (Bloomberg, 11.21.22)
- Hungary’s top diplomat, Peter Szijjarto, traveled to Russia on Nov. 21 and gave a speech at Atomexpo, a forum for the global nuclear industry, underscoring his country's persistently close ties with Moscow. (AP/ABC, 11.21.22)
- Two people were arrested Nov. 22 on suspicion of espionage in the Stockholm area. Swedish media cited witnesses who described elite police rappelling from two Black Hawk helicopters to arrest a couple that had allegedly spied for Russia. (AP, 11.22.22)
- Russia will not be invited to send an official delegation to the 2023 Munich Security Conference. (RFE/RL, 11.22.22)
- In a speech to the lower house of parliament in Berlin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz doubled down on his government’s promise to end Germany’s “one-sided dependence” on Russia and China for energy and trade, part of a sweeping rethink of the nation’s commercial ties triggered by the war on Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 11.23.22)
- The IMF expects Ukraine’s economy to stabilize next year, forecasting growth at 1% under a “baseline scenario,” it said, adding that inflation will likely remain elevated at around 25%. (Bloomberg, 11.23.22, RM, 11.23.22)
- APEC adopted a declaration on Nov. 19 that said: “This year, we have also witnessed the war in Ukraine further adversely impact the global economy. … Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy—constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity and elevating financial stability risks.” (RM, 11.19.22) APEC’s language on Ukraine was identical to that adopted at the G20 summit Nov. 16.
- The foreign ministries of Romania and Ukraine have criticized Hungarian PM Viktor Orban after he posted photographs on Facebook showing himself wearing a scarf with a map of so-called Greater Hungary, which includes territories of present-day Austria, Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia, Serbia and Croatia. (RFE/RL, 11.22.22)
- Olaf Scholz’s chief spokesman accused Boris Johnson of having “his own relationship with the truth” and dismissed the former British prime minister’s claim that Germany hoped for a swift Ukrainian capitulation to Russia as “utter nonsense.” (Bloomberg, 11.23.22)
- Security agents in Ukraine have conducted a “counterintelligence” operation at Kyiv’s historic Pechersk Lavra and other sites of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as part of a probe into suspected pro-Russia activity. (RFE/RL, 11.22.22)
- Zn.ua reported Nov. 23 that Ukraine’s Bureau of Investigations has accused the leadership of the Stolichny customs post of the Kyiv Customs Service of systemic bribery for allegedly demanding money from importers of consumer goods to Ukraine ($300 per container). (RM, 11.23.22)
Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:
- Putin arrived in Yerevan on Nov. 23 at a low point in Armenia-Russia relations. He will be attending a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the political-military alliance that angered Armenians with what they see as its failure to defend them against a series of incursions by Azerbaijan. (Eurasianet, 11.23.22)
- Military authorities in Yerevan said Nov. 21 that Azerbaijan's armed forces had fired in the direction of Armenian positions located along the eastern part of the countries’ border the previous night. (RFE/RL, 11.21.22)
- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has discussed issues related to security in the South Caucasus with Macron and other leaders on the sidelines of a summit in Tunisia, which took over the rotating presidency of the International Organization of La Francophonie from Armenia. (RFE/RL, 11.20.22)
- Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission has declared incumbent President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev as the winner of a Nov. 20 election that international observers said lacked competitiveness. The commission said Nov. 22 that Toqaev received 81.3% of the vote and that he will be inaugurated for a seven-year term Nov. 26. (RFE/RL, 11.22.22)
Quotable and notable
- “For what we Europeans have been doing for the past 3,000 years we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years, before starting to give moral lessons to people,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Nov. 19. (Bloomberg, 11.19.22)
- Boris Johnson on why he shouldn't resign, reportedly said one day before he did resign: "‘I think it would be bad for Ukraine, bad for Brexit, bad for the economy.’” (FT, 11.18.22)
1Here and elsewhere italicized text represents contextual commentary by RM staff.