Russia in Review, Nov. 23-Dec. 2, 2022

6 Things to Know

  1. Joe Biden says he will speak with Vladimir Putin, but only if he shows interest in ending the war in Ukraine. Speaking after talks with Emmanuel Macron in Washington, Biden said, “I’m prepared, if he’s willing to talk, to find out what he’s willing to do, but I’ll only do it in consultation with my NATO Allies.” Biden sees “one way for this war to end the rational way: Putin to pull out of Ukraine.” Responding to Biden’s conditions, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow does not accept Biden's requirement that Russian forces withdraw completely from Ukraine before he speaks with his Russian counterpart, but remains open for talks “to achieve our goals.”
  2. China calls for peace in Ukraine after Chinese and Russian bombers conduct patrols over the Sea of Japan. Solving the Ukraine crisis through political means is in the best interest of Europe and the common interest of all countries in Eurasia, Chinese leader Xi Jinping told visiting EC President Charles Michel. According to Michel’s account of the Dec. 1 talks, Xi agreed "that nuclear threats are not acceptable and highly dangerous and endanger the international community,” but such language was absent from Xinhua’s account. Meanwhile, Russian and Chinese bombers conducted a joint patrol over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. As part of the Nov. 30 drills, the Russian bombers for the first time landed in China and the Chinese bombers flew to an air base in Russia.
  3. Polls show a majority of Russians support peace talks with Ukraine. Meduza has acquired the results of the latest closed opinion polls conducted by Putin’s Federal Guard Service to gauge Russians’ support for Putin’s war in Ukraine, showing that only 25% support the continuation of the war. In contrast, 55% of Russians are “now” supporting peaceful negotiations with Ukraine. The results of the FSO poll concur with the results of recent polling by the Levada Center, according to which 53% of Russians supported the transition to peace talks as of November, while 41% advocated the continuation of hostilities.
  4. EU governments have agreed on a price cap on Russian seaborne oil, but it is well above Russia’s cost of production. At meetings in Brussels on Dec. 2, EU diplomats agreed to $60 per barrel as an upper limit, with regular reviews to make sure the ceiling stays 5% below market prices for Russian oil as the West seeks to expand measures meant to punish Russia over its war in Ukraine, according to WP. It remains unclear how much of the intended damage will actually occur. For instance, consultancy Rystad Energy estimates that the cost of oil production for Russia is between $20 and $50 a barrel. To defund Putin, that cap, which the EU, G-7 and Australia are to start jointly implementing on Dec. 5, would have needed to be no higher than $45 a barrel, according to Bloomberg columnist Javier Blas.  
  5. Once Republicans take over the House of Representatives, there will be no more “blank check[s]” when it comes to aiding Ukraine, according to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “I want to make sure whatever funding we spend goes to the right places," McCarthy asserted in comments that WSJ interpreted as a sign that he may resist some of the Biden administration's efforts to assist Ukraine. Echoing his GOP colleague, Michael McCaul—who is to chair the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee—was quoted by NYT as saying his panel will exercise more oversight into allocation of aid for Ukraine, to which the Biden administration has promised $400 million in military supplies this past week alone. As of early November, U.S. monitors had performed just two in-person inspections of weapons sent to Ukraine since February, according to WP.
  6. Russia scraps New START consultations with the U.S., signaling unwillingness to compartmentalize relations. One day before the Nov.29-Dec. 6 consultations within the framework of New START’s Bilateral Consultative Commission were to begin in Cairo, Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced they were being postponed until a “later date.” The ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova then blamed U.S. "toxicity and animosity" for the postponement, asserting that arms control talks could not be divorced from "geopolitical realities." Zakharova's comments could be another sign that Moscow may be no longer willing to compartmentalize in bilateral relations, even when it comes to issues on which Moscow was presumed to benefit from engaging Washington, such as reducing the possibility of nuclear war through arms control; preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and deconfliction.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • In an interview published Dec. 2 IAEA head Rafael Grossi says progress is being made to reach a deal to create a safe zone around Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia NPP. (RFE/RL, 12.02.22)
  • All three nuclear power plants under Ukrainian control were back online as of Nov. 25, and Ukraine's nuclear power plants are all due for inspections by international monitors, Grossi said. Ukraine typically relies on nuclear power for more than half of its energy, an uncommonly high rate of dependence. (NYT, 11.25.22, DPA, 11.25.22)
  • Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov denied Ukrainian suggestions that Russian forces were preparing to withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. He said: "There is no need to look for some signs where they are not and cannot be." (WNN, 11.28.22)
  • Russia’s state nuclear energy company said on Nov. 30 that it had appointed a Ukrainian engineer Yury Chernichuk to lead the occupied Zaporizhzhia NPP. Before the appointment, Chernichuk was the plant’s chief engineer. The engineer "betrayed Ukraine and went over to the side of the enemy," Energoatom’s Kotin said. Ukraine on Dec. 1 formally sacked and branded Chernichuk a traitor. (NYT, 11.30.22, WSJ, 12.01.22, MT/AFP, 12.01.22)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • The Biden administration is considering “all available tools” to punish North Korea over an unprecedented series of missile tests, an official said, a day after the U.S., Japan and South Korea revealed a new round of sanctions to pressure Pyongyang to come back to the negotiating table. Russia and China have veto power at the U.N. Security Council and have shown no intent to punish leader Kim Jong Un with extra sanctions. (Bloomberg, 12.02.22)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • Ukraine’s top security official has confirmed that some Iranian military advisers have been killed in Crimea. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defense council, said Iranians were present in Crimea to help Russia pilot the Shahed-136 armed drones supplied by Tehran. (The Guardian, 11.24.22)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • According to a survey published this month by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, more than 90% of Ukrainians are ready to endure material losses for three to five years if the end result is a thriving Ukraine that is a member state of the European Union. (WSJ, 11.29.22)
  • Estimates of how many Ukrainians were left without power after Russia’s strikes in the second half of November vary. As many as 10 million Ukrainians were temporarily left without power, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s own estimate released on Nov. 18. That would amount to 23% of Ukraine’s pre-war population.1 Then on Nov. 23, Ukraine’s Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Chernihiv, Kyiv regions and the city of Kyiv were temporarily left without power due to Russian strikes, according to the Ukrainian edition of the Focus journal and the deputy head of Zelensky’s staff, cited in Russia’s Meduza. If correct, that would mean 38% of Ukraine’s pre-invasion population and 27% of Ukraine’s territory were left without power at the time. As of Nov. 26, six million people across Ukraine were without power as a result of strikes. Ukrenerho said on Nov. 27 that there was enough electricity to cover 80% of the country’s consumption needs because nuclear power stations, disconnected from the national grid by massive Russian strikes last week, had been brought back online (RM, 11.27.22, WSJ, 11.27.22, NYT, 11.27.22)
    • According to Belfer Center associate Katherine Davidson’s Nov. 30 analysis of open sources, Ukraine managed to attain an estimated 86% recovery of the deficit in electricity caused by recent Russian attacks. (RM, 12.02.22)
    • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Russia's recent strategy of targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure will not divide Ukraine's supporters. (RFE/RL, 11.30.22)
    • The Kremlin’s Peskov claimed, ''we are talking about infrastructure targets that have a direct or indirect relation to the military potential of Ukraine,” while Lavrov claimed the attacks were intended to slow the delivery of foreign weapons to Ukraine. (NYT, 11.24.22, WSJ, 12.01.22)
  • Russian forces have stepped up their shelling of the southern city of Kherson, killing 10 people and injuring at least 54 others in the latest round of strikes, according to local officials’ Nov. 25 claims. (WSJ, 11.25.22)
  • Russia has launched more than 16,000 missile attacks on Ukraine over the nine months since the war start, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said The attacks hit more than 250 objects of transport infrastructure and over 220 energy objects, according to Reznikov. (Bloomberg, 11.28.22)
  • Ukraine's Ukrenerho grid operator has secured 300 million euros ($315 million) in loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to restore power infrastructure damaged in Russian attacks. (Reuters, 12.01.22)
  • Moscow and Kyiv exchanged some 50 prisoners of war from each side on Nov. 24, according to presidential and defense officials, one day after dozens were returned in another swap. Another 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war have been returned in a swap with Russia, Andriy Yermak, a top presidential aide, said on Telegram. (RFE/RL, 11.24.22, Bloomberg, 12.01.22)
  • An American-made AGM-88B High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile fired by Ukrainian forces wounded three civilians in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk in September. (NYT, 11.24.22)
  • Bryansk region Governor Alexander Bogomaz wrote on social media that tanks with petroleum products were burning in the Surazhsky district located 10 kilometers south of Belarus and 40 kilometers north of Ukraine’s Chernihiv region. (MT/AFP, 11.30.22)
  • A senior U.S. official said the Biden administration had budgeted $1.1 billion for energy spending in Ukraine and neighboring Moldova. (MT, 11.29.22)
  • The U.S. is giving Ukraine more than $53 million to help repair electrical infrastructure damaged by Russian attacks in recent weeks, Blinken announced Nov. 29. (Bloomberg, 11.29.22)
  • The numbers behind America’s program called Uniting for Ukraine were staggering: 171,000 applications to be sponsors for Ukrainian refugees, 121,000 travel authorizations for Ukrainians and roughly 85,000 arriving since April, said a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman. (WSJ, 11,24,22)
  • The European Union announced over the weekend that it would deliver to Ukraine 40 generators, each capable of powering a hospital, as well as 200 transformers. (NYT, 11.27.22)
  • NATO plans to increase shipments of power generators, clothing and other non-lethal items to Ukraine to help it withstand Russia’s onslaught on its power and water networks, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said. (FT, 11.25.22)
  • The prime ministers of Lithuania, Poland and Belgium arrived in Kyiv on Nov. 26, to discuss implementation of the “Grain From Ukraine” initiative. At least 20 nations have pledged more than $150 million to fund the effort to deliver 60 Ukrainian vessels loaded with grain to some of the world’s poorest countries next year to feed roughly one million people. (RFE/RL, 11.26.22, NYT, 11.26.22)
    • Vessels linked to Russia's largest grain trader, Peter Khodykin’s RIF Trading House LLC, shipped thousands of tons of stolen Ukrainian grain to global buyers, using a sophisticated system of feeder vessels and floating cranes, according to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal. (WSJ, 12.02.22)
  • Germany’s parliament has overwhelmingly approved a resolution labelling the Holodomor, the man-made famine that killed more than 3 million Ukrainians during the Stalin era, as “genocide.” Zelensky thanked the German parliament. Moscow said Dec. 1 that the German resolution was an attempt to "demonize Russia." (FT, 12.01.22, MT/AFP, 12.01.22)
  • James Cleverly, U.K. foreign secretary, visited Ukraine on Dec. 1 and pledged an additional £3 million for civilian infrastructure. (FT, 11.25.22)
  • The U.N. on Dec. 1 requested $51.5 billion in international aid from donors for 2023, a record total. (WSJ, 12.01.22)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • Ukrainian armed forces have managed to recapture more than half the territories the Russian armed forces occupied at any point during their invasion starting on Feb. 24, according to Belfer Center associate Katherine Davidson’s analysis of data provided by the Institute for the Study of War and other sources. According to her analysis, the invading force established control over a total of 139,657 square kilometers (53,922 square miles) of Ukrainian territory since Feb. 24, only to then cede 53% of those gains to counter-attacking Ukrainian units. As of Nov. 24, almost 65,000 square kilometers remained under Russian control in the Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, according to Istories. In spite of the setbacks, Putin has not abandoned plans to seize Kyiv and may launch an attempt to do so in the spring, according to Istories’ sources in the Russian General Staff and FSB. (RM, 12.01.22)
  • Russian forces continued efforts to defend against Ukrainian counteroffensive operations and regain lost positions along the Svatove-Kreminna line on Dec. 1, according to the Institute for the Study of War. Russian forces likely continued to make marginal advances in the Bakhmut area amidst ongoing offensive operations on Dec. 1, according to ISW. Russian forces continued to conduct offensive operations in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area as, well as in western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia regions on Dec. 1, according to ISW. (ISW, 12.01.22)
    • According to the Conflict Intelligence Team’s analysis, the rate of advance by Wagner Group units in the Bakhmut area is about 1 kilometer per month. (CIT’s Telegram channel, 12.01.22)
  • The Svatove-Kreminna sector of the Russian-Ukrainian front in eastern Ukraine saw Ukrainian forces reach the outskirts of Chervonopopivka and advance south of Kreminna in what constituted a “limited success” for the Ukrainian side and “alarming news” for the Russian side, Semyon Pegov’s pro-war Russian Telegram channel War Gonzo reported on Dec. 2, citing the commander of a Russian battalion in the area. (RM, 12.02.22)
  • Geolocated footage shows that Russian forces made marginal advances southeast of Bakhmut, but the Institute for the Study of War remains unable to confirm most other claimed gains around Bakhmut made since Nov. 27. The main effort of the Kremlin’s troops remains centered on trying to advance in the Bakhmut area, according to Ukraine’s General Staff. Andriy Yermak, Ukraine's chief of presidential staff, said the Wagner Group is sending fighters to the front lines in Bakhmut. (WSJ, 12.01.22, ISW, 11.29.22, Bloomberg, 12.02.22) 
  • Mykhailo Zabrodsky, a former commander of Ukraine’s air assault forces, insists an operation to take back Crimea is not only possible, but was something being prepared for 2023. (The Economist, 11.27.22)
  • At least 9,311 Russian soldiers have died since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine nine months ago, according to an independent investigation conducted jointly by the BBC Russian Service and independent Russian news outlet MediaZona. (MT/AFP, 11.26.22)
  • The head of the Kremlin-linked Wagner mercenary group confirmed Nov. 29 that a Zambian student killed while fighting for the Russian military in Ukraine had been recruited from prison by Wagner. (MT/AFP, 11.29.22)
  • On Nov. 30, the Biden administration announced that it would send $400 million more in military aid to Ukraine, including ammunition for air defense systems, HIMARS, precision-guided artillery systems and extra mortar rounds. (FP, 11.23.22)
  • NATO has supplied Ukraine with jammers to defend against Russian drone attacks, Stoltenberg said on Nov. 25. Stoltenberg subsequently said Nov. 28 that "one of the messages" from the NATO foreign ministers meeting will be the need "to further step" up the provision of more air-defense systems, ammunition, spare parts and training. Speaking in Bucharest on Nov. 29 as Blinken and the other NATO foreign ministers gathered in Romania, Stoltenberg called on partners to step up aid for Ukraine. (NYT, 11.26.22, RFE/RL, 11.29.22, DPA, 11.25.22, DPA, 11.28.22)
  • In total, NATO countries have so far provided some $40 billion in weaponry to Ukraine. Smaller countries have exhausted their potential, one NATO official said, with 20 of its 30 members “pretty tapped out.” (NYT, 11.26.22)
  • Last summer in the Donbas region, the Ukrainians were firing 6,000 to 7,000 artillery rounds each day, a senior NATO official said. The Russians were firing 40,000 to 50,000 rounds per day. By comparison, the United States produces only 15,000 rounds each month. (NYT, 11.26.22)
  • A third of the roughly 350 Western-made howitzers donated to Kyiv are out of action at any given time, according to U.S. defense officials and others familiar with Ukraine’s defense needs. The effort to repair the weapons in Poland, which has not previously been reported, began in recent months. (NYT, 11.25.22)
  • Germany plans to send seven more Gepard mobile anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine, Arne Collatz, a Defense Ministry spokesman, told reporters. (Bloomberg, 12.02.22)
  • Latvian Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkevics says Ukraine should be allowed to strike military sites inside Russia as it fends off attacks on its critical infrastructure. (Bloomberg, 11.30.22)
  • The U.S. is working with Middle Eastern countries to move a handful of their air defense systems to Ukraine, according to Raytheon Technologies. The goal is to send National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems to Ukraine in the next three to six months. The U.S. would then backfill those systems with new NASAMS in the Middle East over the next 24 months. (Politico, 12.01.22)
    • On Nov. 20, the U.S. awarded a $1.2 billion contract to build national advanced surface-to-air-missile systems, or NASAMS, for Ukraine. (WSJ, 12.01.22)
  • The Pentagon is considering a Boeing proposal to supply Ukraine with cheap, small precision bombs fitted onto abundantly available rockets. Boeing's proposed system, is dubbed Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB). (Reuters, 11.28.22)
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy signaled that he may resist some of the Biden administration's efforts to provide assistance to Ukraine in its war against Russia. "I'm not for a blank check for anything. This is hardworking taxpayer money. And I want to make sure whatever funding we spend goes to the right places," he said. (WSJ, 11.29.22)
  • The GOP’s Michael McCaul is poised to serve as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. McCaul has been a vocal supporter of military aid to Ukraine, suggesting that he might use his gavel to help counter the growing tide of anti-interventionist voices in his party clamoring to scale back or cut off aid entirely. He has said his panel will exercise more oversight into where the aid is going. (NYT, 11.25.22)
  • As of early November, U.S. monitors had performed just two in-person inspections since the war began in February—accounting for about 10% of the 22,000 U.S.-provided weapons, including Stinger surface-to-air missiles and Javelin antitank missiles, that require enhanced oversight. (WP, 11.27.22)
  • U.S. government and congressional officials fear the conflict in Ukraine is exacerbating a nearly $19 billion backlog of weapons bound for Taiwan. (WSJ, 11.26.22)
  • A communications line created between the militaries of the United States and Russia at the start of Moscow’s war against Ukraine has been used only once so far, a U.S. official told Reuters. The official said that the United States initiated a call through the “deconfliction” line to communicate its concerns about Russian military operations near critical infrastructure in Ukraine. (Reuters, 11.28.22)
  • Of respondents to the Reagan National Defense Survey, 57% said they believe the U.S. should continue to stand with Ukraine in fighting the Russian invasion, with 82% seeing Russia as an enemy, up from 65% in 2021.“Regarding the assistance the United States has already sent to Ukraine, 39% say the United States has sent about the right amount, while a quarter (25%) say it has sent too little and another quarter (24%) say it has sent too much,” according to the survey summary. (Defenses, 12.01.22)

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

  • A U.S. Justice Department task force created in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine is increasingly shifting its attention from yachts and private jets to the professional network of service providers that enable Russian oligarchs to move and hide their money around the world, a senior prosecutor said. (WSJ, 11.29.22)
  • U.S. prosecutors have moved to seize more than $5 million from a U.S. bank account belonging to Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeyev, a nationalist oligarch who officials say has funded separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine for years. (RFE/RL, 12.01.22)
  • "We have no dedicated mechanism to transfer the proceeds of seized oligarch assets to the Ukrainian people," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who is sponsoring a bill to address the issue. (WSJ, 11.24.22)
  • European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen on Nov. 30 floated the idea of a "specialized court" to put Russia's top officials on trial over the war in Ukraine. Any tribunal established to prosecute alleged Russian war crimes during its invasion of Ukraine would lack “legitimacy” and would not be recognized by Moscow, the Kremlin said. (MT/AFP, 11.30.22, MT/AFP, 12.01.22)
    • Ukraine’s government is holding special road-shows in Europe and the U.S. to garner support for a special international tribunal for Russia’s crimes of aggression. Meetings are planned for Berlin, Washington and London, and have already taken place in Paris, according to Zelensky’s office. (Bloomberg, 12.02.22)
  • Dutch prosecutors said on Dec. 1 that they will not file an appeal regarding the outcome in the trial over the 2014 downing of Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, making the verdicts final. (Reuters, 12.01.22)
  • The frozen assets of the Russian central bank could be actively managed to generate profits to help pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine, according to a discussion paper from the European Commission.  (FT, 11.30.22)
  • The European Union has granted itself legal authority to take action against anyone who helps Russia avoid its sanctions, the EU presidency announced on Nov. 28. (AFP, 11.28.22)
  • The European Union proposed a new law that would make it easier to seize sanctioned Russians’ assets from superyachts to Riviera mansions. The draft rules put forward by the European Commission would extend the list of crimes that allows authorities to move on assets to include sanctions breaches. (Bloomberg, 12.02.22)
  • A Paris prosecution unit in charge of tackling organized crime known as Junalco is leading the investigation into the financial flows that enabled the acquisition by Suleiman Kerimov’s daughter Gulnara Kerimova of the companies that own the four villas on the “Billionaire Bay” at Cap d’Antibes. While Kerimov is on the EU sanctions list, the four villas don’t appear on France’s list of frozen properties. (Bloomberg, 11.29.22)
  • Switzerland has frozen financial assets worth 7.5 billion Swiss francs ($7.94 billion) as of Nov. 25 under sanctions against Russians. A group of about 100 Russians and businesses reported nearly $50 billion in Swiss deposits. (Reuters, 12.01.22, Bloomberg, 12.01.22)
  • Airbus will halt its reliance on Russia for titanium supplies within months, a senior executive said Dec. 1. (Reuters, 12.01.22)
  • Britain has unveiled a new round of sanctions on Russian officials over the war in Ukraine, targeting those accused of spearheading the recent mobilization and the recruitment of "criminal mercenaries." The new package of 22 sanctions hit Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov. It also targeted 10 governors and regional heads, including in Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kalmykia. (RFE/RL, 11.30.22)
  • Veon Ltd. decided to sell its Russian unit to some senior members of its management team in the country as the mobile operator attempts to limit the fallout from the war in Ukraine on its business. Veon will receive 130 billion rubles ($2.1 billion) from PJSC VimpelCom’s managers. (Bloomberg, 11.24.22)
  • An arbitration court in Moscow has upheld a 2 billion ruble ($33 million) fine against Google issued by Russia's federal anti-monopoly service over the company's decision to block some YouTube channels. (Reuters, 11.24.22)
  • Russia has declared Lithuanian think tank Riddle Russia an "undesirable" organization amid an ongoing crackdown on international and domestic NGOs (RFE/RL, 11.29.22)
  • Italy has placed the ISAB refinery run by Russian oil giant Lukoil under provisional state supervision to avoid its closure and guarantee energy supplies. (MT/AFP, 12.02.22)
  • Zelensky called for the nation’s largest and oldest branch of Christian Orthodoxy, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, to be outlawed as long as it continues to answer to church leaders in Moscow. (NYT, 12.02.22)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • “I’m prepared to speak with Mr. Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war. He hasn’t done that yet. If that’s the case, in consultation with my French and my NATO friends, I’ll be happy to sit down with Putin to see what he wants—has in mind. He hasn’t done that yet,” Joe Biden said after meeting Macron on Dec. 1. “I’m prepared, if he’s willing to talk, to find out what he’s willing to do, but I’ll only do it in consultation with my NATO Allies. I’m not going to do it on my own,” said Biden, who believes “there is one way for this war to end the rational way: Putin to pull out of Ukraine.” Biden’s remarks are the furthest Biden has gone in expressing openness to discuss the war with Putin. (FT, 12.02.22, White House, 12.02.22)
    • Biden and Macron on Dec. 1 renewed their commitment to fighting Russia's invasion of Ukraine during their meeting. The two leaders said in a joint statement that they were determined to hold Russia to account "for widely documented atrocities and war crimes, committed both by its regular armed forces and by its proxies including mercenary entities such as Wagner" in Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 12.01.22)
    • Macron—while in the U.S.—said  he plans to speak with Putin in the “coming days” about Russia’s war in Ukraine, and believes it’s still possible to negotiate a solution to the conflict. Macron also said that the timing and terms of negotiations to end Russia’s war must be up to Ukraine. “It’s only legitimate that President Zelensky sets some conditions to talk. We need to work on what could lead to a peace agreement, but it is for him to tell us when the time comes and what the choices of the Ukrainians are,” Macron said after holding talks with Biden on Dec. 1. (Bloomberg, 12.01.22, Bloomberg, 12.02.22, White House, 12.02.22)
    • The Kremlin on Dec. 2 rejected Biden’s conditions that Russian troops fully withdraw from Ukraine before he speak with Putin. Responding to Biden’s conditions, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow does not accept Biden's requirement that Russian forces withdraw completely from Ukraine before he speaks with his Russian counterpart, but remains open for talks “to achieve our goals.”  (MT/AFP, 12.02.22, Bloomberg, 12.02.22, Newsweek, 12.02.22)
    • Putin spoke with Olaf Scholz for an hour on Dec. 2 during which the German chancellor pushed for a diplomatic solution. Putin told Scholz that further attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure are "inevitable.” (Bloomberg, 12.02.22, RFE/RL, 12.02.22)
  • Zelensky on Nov. 30 invited Elon Musk to visit Ukraine to see the damage done to the country by Russian forces. Zelensky’s comments were an implicit rebuke of Musk, the entrepreneur who last month proposed a peace plan for Ukraine that included ceding territory to Russia. (NYT, 11.30.22)
  • Meduza acquired the results of the latest closed opinion polls conducted by Putin’s Federal Guard Service (FSO) in Russia to gauge Russians’ support for Putin’s war in Ukraine. According to these results, 55% of Russians are “now” supporting peaceful negotiations with Ukraine, while only 25% support continuation of the war. (RM, 11.30.22)
  • In November, the share of Russians supporting the continuation of hostilities in Ukraine increased slightly, according to the Levada Center. In October, 36% of respondents were in favor, while in November 41% were, according to Levada’s polls. Nevertheless, the relative majority of respondents (53%) in November support the transition to peace talks (57% in October). (RM, 12.02.22)
  • Pope Francis defended his practice of not naming Russia as the aggressor in Ukraine, saying that his condemnation of Moscow has been clear even though not explicit. The pope, speaking to a U.S. Catholic magazine, emphasized the value of diplomacy in the Vatican's approach to the Ukraine war. (WSJ, 11.28.22)
  • Angela Merkel said that her diminished political power in the run up to her retirement prevented her from setting up diplomatic talks aimed at dissuading Putin from launching Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February. (DPA, 11.25.22)

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

  • Foreign ministers from the NATO alliance who met in Bucharest, where NATO leaders first pledged in 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia would eventually become members of the alliance, said on Nov. 29 that they “firmly stand behind our commitment” to both countries despite Russia’s military aggression. (FT, 11.30.22)
  • NATO countries must avoid repeating mistakes they made in relations with Russia to ensure they limit dependence on China, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said. “I believe in free trade and member states should continue to trade with China but we cannot make these decisions only based on commercial considerations,” Stoltenberg said. (Bloomberg, 11.30.22)
  • NATO countries have discussed economic measures to contain the “challenge” posed by China to the Western military alliance, as the U.S. steps up pressure on its allies to take a tougher line toward Beijing. Foreign ministers from the alliance on Nov. 30 discussed potential action, including export controls and ways to protect strategic infrastructure from Chinese investment, in talks that the U.S. said showed “growing convergence” among NATO countries on the issue. (FT, 11.30.22)
  • Germany and Norway want to start a NATO-led alliance to protect critical underwater infrastructure, their leaders said on Nov. 30, weeks after explosions hit two key gas pipelines in the fallout from the war in Ukraine. (AFP, 11.30.22)
  • “The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the U.S. because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons,” one senior EU official said. The explosive comments—backed in public and private by officials, diplomats and ministers elsewhere—follow mounting anger in Europe over American subsidies that threaten to wreck European industry. (Politico, 11.24.22)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping urged efforts to resolve the war in Ukraine during talks with European Council President Charles Michel. “Solving the Ukraine crisis through political means is in the best interest of Europe and the common interest of all countries in Eurasia,” Xi said after the meeting on Dec. 1 in Beijing, according to Chinese media. He added that “it is necessary to avoid escalation and expansion of the crisis.” Speaking alone following his meeting, Michel said Xi had also “made very clear” that China isn’t providing weapons to Russia. Michel also said Xi agreed "that nuclear threats are not acceptable and highly dangerous and endanger the international community." No such nuclear references appeared, however, in the Chinese media’s account of the meeting. (Bloomberg, 12.01.22, Yahoo, 12.01.22,, 12.01.22, Xinhua, 12.01.22)
  • The Russian Defense Ministry said that Tu-95 bombers of the Russian Air Force and Chinese H-6K bombers flew over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea during an eight-hour joint mission on Nov. 30. As part of the drills, the Russian bombers for the first time landed in China and the Chinese bombers flew to an air base in Russia, the ministry said. (AP, 11.30.22)
    • South Korea's military said it scrambled fighter jets Nov. 30 as six Russian and two Chinese warplanes entered its air defense zone without notice. Japan's military also said it had scrambled jets in response to flights over the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, by Russian and Chinese aircraft. (MT/AFP, 11.30.22)
  • At a summit in Beijing on Feb. 4 this year, Xi and Putin announced a “friendship without limits” with “no forbidden areas” of cooperation. In a confidential annexe to the “friendship without limits” was a mutual security guarantee that Russia had sought from China for decades but hitherto been unable to obtain, long-time Russia watcher Owen Matthews’ claims in his forthcoming book on the Ukraine war. Russian and Chinese leaders have repeatedly denied any short-term plans to have their countries enter a formal alliance, but would not rule it out completely. (RM, 12.01.22)
  • China and India now purchase two-thirds of all the crude exported by sea from Russia and they do so at discounts reaching 39%. (Bloomberg, 11.28.22)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms control:

  • On Nov. 28, Russia said the New START talks scheduled to take place in Cairo between Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 would be held "at a later date." Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova then blamed U.S. "toxicity and animosity" for the postponement of the meeting of the Bilateral Consultative Commission. She said arms control talks could not be divorced from "geopolitical realities." A U.S. State Department spokesperson said Washington was ready to reschedule the meeting of the BCC at the earliest possible date. (AFP, 11.30.22, WP, 11.30.22, Bloomberg, 11.28.22, Reuters, 11.28.22) Zakharova's comments on why Russia cancelled consultations on New START/strategic stability with the U.S. constitute one strong and public signal that Russia may have decided it is no longer going to compartmentalize issues in relations with the U.S. even when Moscow has until recently been presumed to benefit from engaging Washington on these issues. If this decision has indeed been made, it will obviously impact not just arms control, but most of the entire spectrum of U.S.-Russian relations, including Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea’s nuclear program, deconfliction and, perhaps, intelligence-sharing, but, perhaps, not exchange of prisoners.2
  • A 10-minute miscommunication on Slack between journalists at the Associated Press resulted in an erroneous report that Russian missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, killing two people in what appeared momentarily to bring tensions between NATO and Russia to their highest point since the Cuban Missile Crisis. AP then fired James LaPorta, the national security reporter for the wire service who got the initial tip that set the story in motion. But the messages where the incident played out tell a story of mistakes, confusion and a lack of a clear process that led to a disaster for the AP. (Semafor, 11.22.22)
  • Russia is likely removing nuclear warheads from aging air-launched nuclear cruise missiles and firing unarmed munitions at Ukraine, Britain's military intelligence claimed Nov. 26. (Reuters, 11.26.22)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • The chief of Russian forces in Syria has met with a Kurdish commander over threats by Turkey to launch a new incursion into northern Syria, a Kurdish spokesman and an Arab TV station said Monday. (AP, 11.28.22) 

Cyber security:

  • No significant developments.

Energy exports from CIS:

  • EU governments have tentatively agreed on a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil, according to an EU diplomat. At meetings in Brussels, diplomats agreed to $60 per barrel as an upper limit, with regular reviews to make sure the ceiling stays at least 5% below average market prices for Russian oil. If the Group of Seven nations and Australia agree, the cap would be implemented starting Dec. 5, the day the European Union’s embargo on Russian seaborne crude goes into force. (RFE/RL, 12.01.22, WP, 12.02.22)
    • The $60 a barrel figure EU diplomats agreed to, however, is well above Russia’s cost of production. For instance, consultancy Rystad Energy estimates that the cost of production for Russia is between $20 and $50 a barrel. To defund Putin, that cap would need to be not higher than $45 a barrel, according to Bloomberg columnist Javier Blas. (RM, 12.02.22, WP, 12.02.22, CNN, 10.25.22)
    • “The main losses will be from the embargo on Russian seaborne crude,” said Vladimir Milov, a former Russian deputy minister of energy who is now a leading opposition politician in exile. “Because the EU will stop buying, Russia will have to send crude to Asia. This is more expensive, and there will be big losses on price.” (WP, 12.02.22)
  • Europe’s imports of Russian liquefied natural gas, which is typically transported on big tankers, rose more than 40% between January and October this year, compared with the same period in 2021. Russian LNG made up 16% of European seaborne imports during the period. While the total volume of 17.8 billion cubic meters represented a fraction of the 62.1 bcm pipeline gas flows during this time, it nevertheless leaves Europe exposed to Putin’s weaponization of energy. (FT, 11.29.22)
  • Putin has proposed creating a "gas union" with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to establish a mechanism to ship natural gas between the three countries and to other nations, including China. (RFE/RL, 11.29.22) 
  • Gazprom withdrew a threat to reduce gas supplies to Moldova starting Nov. 28 but said it reserves the right to lower or halt flows in the future if Moldova fails to make agreed payments. (Reuters, 11.28.22)
  • The threat of U.S. sanctions in 2022 jeopardized completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia. So Gazprom and German officials concocted a phony climate foundation to get the job done. It was called the Foundation for the Protection of the Climate and Environment. (NYT, 12.02.22)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • The United States has seen a 4,500% rise in asylum requests from Russian nationals this year as Russia’s war in Ukraine has forced critics to flee the country. U.S. authorities processed 21,763 Russian asylum requests in October 2021-September 2022, compared with just 467 in the 2020 fiscal year. (MT/AFP, 11.29.22)
  • Russia and the United States have been on the verge of agreement on a prisoner exchange. Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, said a deal is still possible before the year's end. (AP, 11.29.22)
  • Biden's nominee for ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, has pledged to make the release of detained Americans a priority if she is confirmed. Tracy, a career diplomat, promised to visit detained Americans, including basketball star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan. (Reuters, 12.01.22)
  • The family of Paul Whelan, a U.S. man imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges, has confirmed that he has resumed contact with them after more than a week of silence that caused alarm at the White House. (Al Jazeera, 12.02.22)
  • American whistleblower Edward Snowden has received a Russian passport. (MT/AFP, 12.02.22)
  • Durham University has announced that Dr. Fiona Hill will become the next Chancellor of the University in a formal ceremony next summer. Having studied at the likes of St. Andrews and Harvard Universities, Hill spent a large part of her career serving as a presidential advisor in the U.S., having served under the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations. (Palatinate, 11.28.22)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Russia's economy contracted by 4.4% in October on a year-on-year basis, the country's economy ministry said on Nov. 30. The ministry expects Russia’s GDP to decline by 2.9%. (Reuters, 11.30.22, Vedomosti, 11.30.22)
  • Russian manufacturing firms recorded their fastest improvement in almost six years as the S&P Global Russia Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) posted 53.2 in November, up from 50.7 in October. (BNE, 12.01.22)
  • Figures released by the Finance Ministry last week show a key economic indicator—tax revenue from the non-oil and gas sector—fell 20% in October compared with a year earlier, while the statistics agency Rosstat reported that retail sales fell 10% year on year in September, and cargo turnover fell 7%. (WP, 11.26.22)
  • Oil and gas exports are likely to account for 42% of Russia’s revenues this year, around 11.7 trillion rubles ($191 billion), the country’s finance ministry has said. (FT, 12.02.22)
  • Yandex, the company often described as “Russia’s Google,” has received Putin’s blessing to restructure. Putin gave his preliminary approval to the plans on Dec. 2 at a meeting with Alexei Kudrin. Kudrin stepped down Nov. 29 as the head of the country's Audit Chamber amid reports he will oversee the reconstruction of Yandex. (FT, 11.25.22, MT/AFP, 11.29.22)
  • The mobilization push has created the biggest labor shortage in Russia since 1993, according to a Gaidar Institute study this month. (FT, 11.28.22)
  • Amid sharply rising prices, inflation at 12.7% and disruption to supply chains due to Western sanctions, around 35% of Russian citizens say they are trying to reduce the cost of their weekly food shop, according to a survey published on Nov. 28. (MT/AFP, 11.28.22)
  • Fewer Russians said they believe things in the country are going in the right direction in November (61%) than in October (64%), according to Levada Center polls. In November, 27% of respondents said they believe that the country is moving in the wrong direction, compared with 24% in October. Meanwhile, Putin’s approval rating has not changed compared to October, with 79% of respondents approving of his activities as president and 18% disapproving. (Levada Center/RM, 12.01.22) 
  • Election campaigns in Russia are currently being managed by the head of the Kremlin administration for ensuring the affairs of the State Council, Alexander Kharichev, a close associate of the head of the Kremlin's political bloc, Sergei Kiriyenko. According to Meduza's sources, Kharichev will retire soon, however. (Meduza, 11.25.22)
  • A Russian law that expands the definition of so-called foreign agents has come into force that rights groups say will make it easier for the state to target its domestic critics. (RFE/RL, 12.01.22)
  • A Russian court on Nov. 30 extended by six months the detention of opposition politician Ilya Yashin, who risks being jailed for 10 years for denouncing Putin's assault on Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 11.24.22)
  • Russia's Justice Ministry has placed former Yekaterinburg Mayor Yevgeny Roizman and TV Dozhd journalist Anna Mongait on its list of "foreign agents." (RFE/RL, 11.25.22)
  • The Primorye regional court in Russia's Far East has rejected an appeal filed against the extension of forced psychiatric treatment filed by Yakut shaman Alexander Gabyshev, who became known across Russia for his attempts to march to Moscow to drive Putin out of the Kremlin. (RFE/RL, 11.30.22)
  • A journalist in Russia's Tatarstan, Nailla Mullayeva, has been sentenced to six days in jail and fined $490 on a charge of discrediting the Russian armed forces and violating the law on public gatherings. (RFE/RL, 12.02.22)
  • A court in Moscow has issued arrest warrants for two former coordinators of groups in Siberia associated with jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny. (RFE/RL, 12.02.22)
  • Navalny has been placed in a punitive solitary confinement cell for the eighth time since August. (RFE/RL, 12.01.22)
  • One of the most influential voices bolstering Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine belongs to 71-year-old billionaire Yuri Kovalchuk who argued that a war could prove Russia’s strength. (WSJ, 12.02.22)

Defense and aerospace:

  • In the nine months since the invasion of Ukraine began, Russia has spent $82 billion on the war, a quarter of its annual budget revenues, according to the Ukrainian edition of Forbes. (Meduza, 11.25.22)
  • The State Duma adopted the draft budget for 2023; 43% more will be spent on national defense compared to the draft budget for 2022 (from 3.5 to 4.9 trillion rubles). National security and law enforcement will also receive 50% more funds. (Suverennaya Ekonomika Telegram Channel, 11.24.22)
  • The Russian military should deploy next-generation weapons in its campaign in Ukraine, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Nov. 30. Shoigu did not specify which types of innovative weapons systems he was referring to or whether this marked a strategic shift in Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. Shoigu also said his agency’s procurement budget will increase by 1.5 times in 2023 compared to 2022. (MT/AFP, 11.30.22, RM, 11.30.22)
  • Russia has successfully test-launched a new missile defense system at its Sary Shagan firing range in neighboring Kazakhstan, the country’s Defense Ministry announced Dec. 2. “The anti-missile defense system is in service with the Aerospace Forces and is designed to protect against air and space attacks,” the ministry said. (MT/AFP, 12.02.22)
  • “The task of a new stage in the horizon of the current decade is to ensure the mass introduction of artificial intelligence. It should cover all sectors of the economy, the social sphere and the public administration system... [I]n the field of introducing artificial intelligence, we will definitely strengthen cooperation with our interested partners,... including both the BRICS and the SCO,” Putin said. (, 11.24.22)
  • The relatives of Russian servicemen fighting in Ukraine have accused Putin of avoiding them after they were not invited to a meeting between the Kremlin chief and soldiers’ families reportedly set to take place on Dec. 2. (MT/AFP, 11.24.22)
  • Russian soldiers who die in combat in Ukraine “belong to the state,” Igor Kobzev, the head of the Irkutsk region in southeast Siberia, said. (MT/AFP, 11.25.22)
  • Russian authorities have banned public discussions of a wide range of non-classified military subjects that activists say will effectively prevent the public from learning crucial information about the Armed Forces. (MT/AFP, 12.01.22)
  • See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • A court in Moscow on Dec. 1 sentenced former Russian lawmaker Magomed Magomedov and his brother, an ex-tycoon, Ziyavudin Magomedov, to 18 years and 19 years in prison, respectively, on embezzlement charges. (RFE/RL, 12.01.22)
  • Police in Russia's southwestern Astrakhan region have started an investigation into an animal shelter after activists found dozens of mutilated dead dogs in the facility and nearby. (RFE/RL, 12.02.22)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi hinted at Russia’s war in Ukraine as one of the crises that will face the G20 as his South Asian nation took over the group’s presidency Dec. 1. The world remains “trapped in the same zero-sum mindset,” Modi wrote in an editorial in the Times of India newspaper. “We see it when countries fight over territory or resources. We see it when supplies of essential goods are weaponized.” (Bloomberg, 12.01.22)
  • Sanctions-hit Moscow has asked India to sell it at least 500 different products it urgently needs, including parts for cars, aircraft and trains. A source in Moscow told Reuters that Russia's Ministry of Industry and Trade had asked large companies to supply lists of raw materials and equipment they needed and that the outreach was not limited to India. (MT/AFP, 11.29.22, Reuters, 11.29.22)
  • Two Swedish brothers, Payam and Peyman Kia, went on trial in Stockholm on Dec. 2 accused of "aggravated espionage" for allegedly spying for Russia's GRU military intelligence service between 2011 and 2021. (MT/AFP, 11.25.22)
  • The son of a Russian businessman close to President Putin denied any wrongdoing as his trial started in northern Norway, where he is accused of violating a law that bars Russians from flying drones. Andrei Yakunin, who holds both Russian and British passports, was arrested on Oct. 17. (AP, 11.29.22)
  • A Russian man was sentenced to 90 days in jail in Norway on Nov. 30 for flying a drone over the country in violation of a ban adopted in response to the war in Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 11.24.22) 
  • Jailed Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who faces a prison sentence of up to 24 years on high treason and other charges, has been honored with an award for courage by the Berlin-based Axel Springer Foundation. (RFE/RL, 11.29.22)
  • Canada's foreign minister, Melanie Joly, has ordered her officials to summon Russia's ambassador in Ottawa, Oleg Stepanov, over a series of "hateful" anti-LGBT tweets. (AFP, 11.29.22)


  • Moscow said Dec. 1 it has issued more than 80,000 Russian passports to residents of four Ukrainian territories since Putin claimed to have annexed the regions in September. (MT/AFP, 11.24.22)
  • On Nov. 26, President Katalin Novak became the highest Hungarian official to travel to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February. She noted that Hungary had “150,000 reasons” to support Ukraine, a reference to the country’s ethnic Hungarian population. “I am horrified by what is happening in our neighborhood,” she said, noting that Putin’s responsibility for the war is “crystal clear.”  (NYT, 11.26.22)
  • Ukraine’s foreign ministry has spoken of a “well-planned campaign of terror and intimidation” after more than a dozen threatening packages, some containing explosive devices and animal parts, were sent to the country’s foreign diplomatic missions. The Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid has been targeted twice in the past three days. A “bloodstained package” was sent to the mission Dec. 2, said foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko. Two days earlier a letter sent to the ambassador, Serhii Pohoreltsev, exploded in the hands of an embassy employee as he handled it. He suffered minor injuries. (FT, 12.02.22)
  • Starlink terminals, which are made by Elon Musk-owned SpaceX, will increase in price to $700 for new Ukrainian consumers, according to the company’s website. This represents a rise from about $385 earlier this year, screenshots of past pricing data shared by users inside the country show. The consumer cost of the monthly subscription to Starlink will increase from $60 to $75. (FT, 11.30.22)
  • In an interview with a U.S. Catholic magazine, the Pope suggested that the worst atrocities in Ukraine have been committed by soldiers of non-Russian ethnicities. "Generally, the cruelest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryati and so on," the Pope claimed. (WSJ, 11.28.22)
    • Russian Ambassador to the Vatican Alexander Avdeyev has said he visited the Vatican’s diplomatic officials Nov. 28 to lodge a protest. (RIA Novosti, 11.29.22)
    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the Pope’s comments as "un-Christian.” (MT/AFP, 12.01.22)
    • The Free Nations League, an exiled group representing some of the dozens of non-Russian ethnic groups inside Russia, has sent a letter to Pope Francis protesting against his comments. (RFE/RL, 11.30.22)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Speaking on Nov. 29, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the 30-member alliance would hold talks with Moldova, Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, countries "facing pressure from Russia." (Reuters, 11.30.22)
  • Moldova is not aiming to become a member of NATO, Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said Nov. 30, pointing out that its neutrality is enshrined in the country's constitution. (RFE/RL, 11.30.22)
  • Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev met with Putin in the Kremlin on Nov. 28, with the allies reaffirming historic ties following public disagreements over Ukraine. The visit to Moscow was the Kazakh leader's first foreign trip since being inaugurated for a second term last week. (MT/AFP, 11.28.22)
  • Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission has approved the schedule for senate elections, which will be held Jan. 14. (RFE/RL, 11.28.22)
  • The licensee of McDonald's in Kazakhstan has been forced to temporarily suspend operations because of supply chain problems sparked by Russia's war against Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.29.22)
  • The trial of 22 people accused of undermining Uzbekistan's constitutional order for taking part in unprecedented anti-government protests earlier this year has opened in the southwestern city of Bukhara. (RFE/RL, 11.28.22)
  • Kyrgyzstan announced Nov. 30 that it was looking into the possibility of building its first nuclear power plant, with Russian help, to tackle frequent energy shortages. (MT/AFP, 11.24.22)
  • Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov has signed into law several documents on the delimitation of the border with Uzbekistan, including an agreement to jointly manage the Kempir-Abad water reservoir, a hot-button issue in the country. (RFE/RL, 11.30.22)
  • Former Tajik Vice President Narzullo Dustov, wanted in his native country over the organization of a mutiny against the government in 1998, died in Uzbekistan last month at the age of 82. (RFE/RL, 12.02.22)
  • Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, who had led a failed attempt to thaw diplomatic relations between the nation’s Kremlin-allied government and the West, died suddenly over the weekend. State media reported that he was 64 but didn’t mention the cause of death. (NYT, 11.28.22)
  • Trade turnover between Russia and Belarus increased by 9% in the first nine months of 2021 and reached $30.5 billion, Russia’s Deputy Economic Development Minister Dmitry Volvach said Nov. 30. (TASS, 11.23.22)
  • Jailed Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova, who led historic anti-government demonstrations in the country and was recently hospitalized, is "getting better," her allies said Dec. 1. (MT/AFP, 12.01.22)
  • For years Europe’s largest furniture retail chains have been profiting from the torture of political prisoners in Belarus, while their purchases have also served to personally enrich the country’s brutal dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, at the expense of some of Europe’s last primal forests, according to an investigation by Earthsight. (Earthsight, 11.25.22)
  • A key summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization ended in Yerevan without an agreement on providing defense aid to Armenia after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan refused to sign a declaration to that effect because it did not include a "clear political assessment" condemning Azerbaijan's recent incursions into Armenian territory this year. Pashinyan demanded the CSTO take a clear stand against Azerbaijan to ensure Armenia's sovereignty over its territory. The CSTO has been dismissive, downplaying the incursions, with some leaders even siding with Azerbaijan. (BNE, 11.25.22)
    • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Nov. 27 said attempts to break up a Russia-led security alliance had always existed and would continue, but he insisted the alliance remained in high demand. (Reuters, 11.28.22)
  • Armenia and Hungary have agreed to fully restore diplomatic relations, which were severed in 2012 after Hungary extradited Azerbaijani military officer Ramil Safarov to Baku. (RFE/RL, 12.01.22)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • Putin on Dec. 2 told a group of women whom the Kremlin identified as mothers of soldiers who had been fighting in Ukraine: “In our country about 30,000 people die in traffic accidents and about the same number from alcohol. … What matters is that we are all mortal, we are all in God’s hands. And one day, we will all leave this world. This is inevitable. The question is how we lived. With some people, it is unclear whether they live or not. It is unclear why they die—because of vodka or something else. When they are gone it is hard to say whether they lived or not—their lives passed without notice. But your son [Nina Pshenichkina’s] did live, do you understand? He achieved his goal. This means that he did not leave life for nothing.” (, 11.25.22) So, essentially, Putin is saying that Russian mothers should be happy having their sons dying in his war of choice because the alternatives could be their dying from drinking too much vodka. Also, note the religious overtones in his justification of these casualties.



  1. Crimea and Sevastopol are excluded.
  2. Here and elsewhere, italicized text represents contextual commentary by RM staff.