Russia in Review, Nov. 3-9, 2023

5 Things to Know

  1. The admission by commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces (ZSU) Valery Zaluzhny that his forces’ offensive has reached a stalemate has drawn fire from President Volodymyr Zelensky’s team, revealing friction, if not political competition between the president’s staff and the top brass. Zelensky’s senior adviser Ihor Zhovkva fired one of the first shots at Zaluzhny, claiming on Nov. 3 that the commander’s revelation that the fighting had reached a stalemate—made in a Nov. 1 essay and interview in the Economist—had made Russia’s “work easier” and stirred “panic” among Ukraine’s Western allies, NYT and FT reported. Zelensky has himself weighed in, too, asserting that “this is not a stalemate.” The Ukrainian president then vowed that ZSU would still try to deliver a result on the battlefield this year. If these verbal rebuttals weren’t enough, Zelensky’s team then dismissed one of Zaluzhny’s top deputies and commander of ZSU’s special forces Viktor Khorenko, without bothering with an explanation, according to NYT. This newspaper described the discharge as the “most significant and potentially disruptive political meddling in the military’s prosecution of the war so far,” while Ukrainian opposition MP Oleksiy Goncharenko told FT that Zelensky’s staff “don’t just see Zaluzhny as a general but as political competition.” Not so long ago Ukrainians named Zaluzhny as their second most-liked figure after Zelensky, but the latter has ruled out holding elections next spring since then.*
  2. U.S. and European officials have begun quietly talking to the Ukrainian government about what possible peace negotiations with Russia might entail to end the war, which has reached a stalemate, a senior U.S. official and a former senior U.S. official told NBC. Some of these talks took place last month during a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the officials said, according to NBC’s Nov. 3 report. One day after that report, Zelensky asserted that neither the EU not the U.S. pressure him to hold talks with Russia, Ukrinform reported. However, Zelensky’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba then criticized calls for Zelensky’s government to hold negotiations with the Russian government in a social media post on Nov. 8.
  3. In the past month, Russian forces have gained 17 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukrainian forces have gained 28 square miles, according to the Nov. 7 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. The daily land gains have diminished to a point where the situation can be described as a stalemate, illustrated by the inclusion of the following development in ISW’s daily assessment of the war on Nov. 5: “Geolocated footage posted on Nov. 4 indicates that Ukrainian forces have marginally advanced on the southwestern corner of a solar panel farm near Pidstepne” in the Kherson region.
  4. A Western price cap on Russian  is increasingly losing its punch as half of Russia’s crude-oil exports are shipped with non-G-7 insurance, up from around 35% in January, WSJ reported on Nov. 6. The latest evidence of decreasing effectiveness of the cap, which is meant to curb Moscow's war spending, is that Russia’s October oil and gas tax revenue more than doubled from last month and was up more than 25% over October 2022. The recent influx of oil revenues helps reduce Russia's budget deficit, according to WSJ. Economists now think it is possible the government will hit its deficit target of 2% of GDP. In the spring, some economists expected a deficit of as much as 5% to 6% this year. “The price cap worked as designed, but now is obsolete,” Natasha Kaneva of JPMorgan Chase told WSJ.
  5. U.S. and Mexican authorities have reported a sharp increase in Russians fleeing their homeland for America, WSJ reported. The Russian nationals fly into Mexico from Turkey, with some 12,500 surrendering to U.S. authorities after illegally crossing the southwest border since the invasion of Ukraine. Only 509 Russians were detained by the Border Patrol in fiscal year 2021, according to WSJ.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • No significant developments.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • Even if Moscow was unwilling to transfer fissile material directly, it could instead offer Pyongyang composite carbon fiber materials to upgrade centrifuges used to produce highly enriched uranium. “There are no technical hurdles to [Russia] shipping 100 or even 1,000 kilograms of plutonium . . . to North Korea,”said Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the U.S. Los Alamos national nuclear research laboratory.  (FT, 11.09.23)
  • The U.S. and South Korea condemned North Korea for providing arms to Russia for its war in Ukraine, with the Biden administration’s top diplomat saying cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang has increased global security risks. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to South Korea. (Bloomberg, 11.09.23)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • On Nov. 7, the head of the “DPR” Denis Pushilin announced that six local residents were killed and 11 wounded as a result of shelling in Donetsk, which has been annexed by Russia. Ukrainian journalist Denis Kazansky noted that the video showing the aftermath of the shelling is from a Russian training center for UAV control. (Istories, 11.07.23)
  • On Nov. 8 the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that a Russian missile strike on the port of Odessa killed the pilot of a civilian ship flying the flag of Liberia, and injured some of the ship’s crew, who are citizens of the Philippines. A port worker was also injured. The Kh-31P missile hit the ship as it entered the port. The U.N. said it was the first civilian casualty of a mariner since the war began. (Istories, 11.08.23, Bloomberg, 11.09.23)
  • At least five civilians were killed and several wounded by Russian shelling of residential areas in eastern and southeastern Ukraine over the past day, authorities said on Nov. 8. (RFE/RL, 11.08.23)
  • A military court in southern Russia's Rostov-on-Don on Nov. 8 sentenced a Ukrainian soldier to 19 years in prison for allegedly shooting a civilian he suspected of being a Russian infiltrator in Mariupol last March. (MT/AFP, 11.08.23)
  • The number of Ukrainians being killed by Russian invaders has stretched resources at Morgue No. 4 in the eastern city of Dniepr. All but two of a dozen body bags lay on the floor at the rear entrance one recent morning because there weren't enough gurneys. Local forensic pathologist Vitaliy Levchenko has been taking photos of dead soldiers' front teeth if they were intact. "Teeth help a lot," he said. "People remember their relatives' smiles." (WSJ, 11.06.23)
  • A Ukrainian teenager taken to Moscow from the occupied city of Mariupol has been summoned to a local military registration and enlistment office, media have reported. Bohdan Yermokhin, 17, was one of a group of several dozen children moved from the Donetsk region by the Russian military and placed with foster families in Russia. (MT/AFP, 11.08.23)
  • Russia's war on Ukraine has had a huge negative impact on children's welfare and education, with thousands of schools and kindergartens being destroyed and millions of young people being denied access to education, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report and video released on Nov. 9. (RFE/RL, 11.09.23)
  • European Union countries are considering a backup plan to push through much-needed aid for Ukraine in its fight to repel Russia in case Hungary vetoes the current €50 billion ($53.4 billion) funding proposal. The proposal would involve national guarantees from member states to raise funding in the markets. (Bloomberg, 11.09.23)
  • Ursula von der Leyen pledged to maintain financial aid to Ukraine and backed its EU membership ambitions in an unannounced visit to Kyiv aimed at showing support to the country at a time that Western diplomatic focus is shifting to the Israel-Hamas conflict. (FT, 11.04.23)
  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced a new American infrastructure adviser for Ukraine during a visit to Kyiv on Nov. 8. Robert Mariner will serve as transportation adviser to Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.09.23)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • In the past month, Russian forces have gained 17 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine gained 28 square miles, according to the Nov. 7 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 11.07.23)
    • Imprisoned ardent nationalist and former Russian officer Igor Girkin argued that Russian forces will be “even less capable of offensive operations than they are now” by spring 2024 given the current nature of Russian offensive operations along the frontline. Girkin noted that Russian forces would need to spend the rest of the fall-winter campaign on the defensive to try to eliminate emerging operational crises – such as the Ukrainian presence in the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast. (ISW, 11.06.23)
  • On Nov. 3 a Russian missile strike killed 19 officers and soldiers in the 128th Separate Mountain Infantry Brigade, cutting them down as they congregated, standing in plain sight, to receive medals in a ceremony straight out of a Soviet-era military handbook at a village near the front lines in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia. The congregation was spotted by a Russian drone and then an Iskander missile was launched, according to Russian pro-war Telegram channels. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested the incident signaled the need for reform within the military (NYT, 11.07.23, RM 11.07.23) The call for reforms could be a signal to commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Zaluzhny.
  • On Nov. 3 Russia launched dozens of aerial attacks at targets across Ukraine. Ukrainian officials said the strikes included 40 Iranian-made Shaheed drones as well as missiles that targeted 10 regions, including the city of Lviv near the Polish border, which had not been hit since September. More than half of the drones were shot down, said Zelensky. (FT, 11.04.23)
  • On Nov. 3 Russian pro-war Rybar Telegram channel said that 15 Ukrainian drones had been launched overnight at Crimea. His account could not be independently verified. (NYT, 11.04.23)
  • On the evening and night of Nov. 5 Russian forces conducted missile and drone strikes against rear areas in southern Ukraine as well as the largest series of glide bomb strikes to date against targets in Kherson Oblast on Nov. 5. (ISW, 11.06.23)
  • Ukraine on Nov. 6 confirmed that its forces had inflicted "significant" damage to a Russian missile carrier in Crimea two days earlier, identifying the vessel as the Askold and saying it might not be repairable. (RFE/RL, 11.06.23)
  • "On the morning of Nov. 7, an attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack using 17 unmanned aerial vehicles against buildings on Russian territory was repelled," the Russian Defense Ministry said. "Anti-aircraft defense systems destroyed nine Ukrainian drones and eight others were intercepted over the Black Sea and the territory of Crimea," it added. (MT/AFP, 11.07.23)
  • Commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces Valery Zaluzhny’s admission that his forces’ offensive has reached a stalemate, which he made in his  Nov. 1 essay and interview published by the Economist, has been rebutted by Zelensky and his top aides, while an opposition MP said the whole incident revealed frictions between Zelensky’s staff and the Ukrainian top brass, if not political competition:
    • Signs of friction [between the Ukrainian military and Zelensky’s staff] surfaced on Nov. 2 when Zelensky’s office dismissed one of Zaluzhny’s top deputies, the commander of Ukraine’s special operations forces, Gen. Viktor Khorenko, without initially providing an explanation. Commentators including a member of Ukraine’s Parliament said Khorenko’s firing appeared to be the most significant and potentially disruptive political meddling in the military’s prosecution of the war so far. (NYT, 11.04.23)
      • Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said that he could not publicly describe the reasons for Khorenko's dismissal because such revelations could aid Russia. Former vice prime minister Pavlo Rozenko criticized Umerov's handling of the issue. "You made a very big mistake when you made this submission behind Zaluzhny's back," Rozenko wrote. "And it is precisely such mistakes that weaken Ukraine in this war! … It is very unfortunate that political intrigues prevail in this situation!" (WP, 11.08.23)
      • Ukrainian field commanders and military analysts had noted grumbling in the ranks over what were perceived as politically guided decisions on strategy, including the launch of an amphibious assault across the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine that has yet to secure a bridgehead on the Russian-held eastern bank. Another point of tension was the firing of battalion commanders who had led units in the counteroffensive in southern Ukraine over the summer.  (NYT, 11.04.23)
    • Ihor Zhovkva, one of Zelensky’s senior advisers, appeared on Ukraine’s national news broadcaster on Nov. 3 to denounce Zaluzhny’s assessment that the war with Russia was at a “stalemate.” Zhovkva said there were private forums where Zaluzhny could voice his opinions. Zaluzhny’s essay had “made [Russia’s] work easier,” he added. In addition, Zhovkva, said the comments stirred “panic” among Ukraine’s Western allies. (NYT, 11.04.23, FT, 11.07.23)
    • “There are difficulties, there are different opinions,” Zelensky said in his appearance with Ursula von der Leyen on Nov. 4. “I believe that we have no right to even think about giving up, because what’s the alternative?” he added. Zelensky disputed Zaluzhny’s characterization of the fighting. “Time has passed, people are tired, regardless of their status, and this is understandable,” he said, adding: “But this is not a stalemate, I emphasize this once again.” (NYT, 11.04.23)
    • Over the weekend Zelensky repudiated the assessment of Zaluzhny that the war with Russia was at a “stalemate.” Zelensky and his closest aides believe that by using the word stalemate, Zaluzhny gave the wrong signal to Western allies—that there was no point in sending more weapons to Ukraine because it cannot win the war. (FT, 11.07.23)
    • On Nov. 6 Zelensky said in his video address: “We need to pull ourselves together. ... We cannot relax or allow ourselves to be divided by disputes or different priorities.”  It was a message to the Ukrainian people feeling the heavy strains of 19 months of Russia’s war of aggression. It was also a message to his own team of advisers and military officers whose morale has been hammered by limited progress on the battlefield and deep concern over faltering Western support for Ukraine’s war effort. (FT, 11.07.23)
    • Speaking in an interview on Nov. 8, Zelensky said Ukrainian forces would still try to deliver a result on the battlefield this year, and that he was sure they would be successful. Ukraine has a plan to continue fighting against Russian forces, he said. (RFE/RL, 11.08.23)
    • “There is a definite political crisis happening in the presidential administration,” said Oleksiy Goncharenko, an opposition MP. “I don’t really understand their reaction because Zaluzhny wrote about things that are obvious. I think the reaction reflects the fact that they don’t just see Zaluzhny as a general but as political competition.” Past opinion polls have shown Zaluzhny to be the best-placed figure who could challenge the president and that Ukrainians want to see former soldiers take on a bigger role in political life. (FT, 11.07.23)
  • A gloomy account of Ukraine’s prospects—and a less than flattering picture of a stubborn Zelensky—appeared in a report by Simon Shuster in Time magazine. In the article, Shuster recalls one of Zelensky’s closest aides saying that the president “deludes himself . . . We’re out of options. We’re not winning. But try telling him that.” The reaction to the article in Zelensky’s entourage was confused. Andriy Yermak, head of the presidential office, described it on Telegram as a “very important text” before deleting the post. Others said it reached the wrong conclusions or questioned the veracity of its sources. (FT, 11.07.23)
  • Maj. Gennadiy Chastyakov, an aide to Zaluzhny, died when a grenade given to him as a gift blew up in what the authorities portrayed as a tragic accident. The incident occurred in Chaykiy village in the Kyiv region. Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko later called the incident an accident, saying Chastyakov had been showing a gift—a box of Western-manufactured grenades—to his son when a grenade exploded (NYT, 11.07.23, RFE/RL, 11.06.23)
  • Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Vadym Skibitskyi stated on Nov. 6 that Russian forces have a total of 870 high-precision operational-strategic and strategic missiles in reserve. Skibitskyi previously stated on Aug. 28 that Russian forces had a total of 585 long-range missiles in reserve, indicating that Russian forces have increased their missile reserves by 285 missiles since August. (ISW, 11.06.23)
  • Zelensky has announced the deployment of more Western-supplied NASAMS air-defense systems as Ukraine prepares for an expected increase in Russian air strikes targeting its energy infrastructure during the cold season. (RFE/RL, 11.07.23)
  • About 43,000 women now serve in the Ukrainian military, according to the ministry of defense, an increase of about 40% since 2021, the year before Russia's full-scale invasion. The proportional increase is less than the male fighting force, which has more than tripled over the same period. (NYT, 11.09.23)
  • Biden administration officials are worried that Ukraine is running out of forces, while Russia has a seemingly endless supply, officials said. Ukraine is also struggling with recruiting and has recently seen public protests about some of Zelensky’s open-ended conscription requirements. "Manpower is at the top of the administration’s concerns right now,” one official said. The U.S. and its allies can provide Ukraine with weaponry, this person said, “but if they don’t have competent forces to use them it doesn’t do a lot of good.” (NBC, 11.03.23)
  • On Nov. 6 a group of Senate Republicans, including Sens. James Lankford (R., Okla.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), was reported to have demanded crackdown on asylum claims at the southern border and other policy changes as a condition for backing U.S. President Joe Biden's $106 billion request for supplemental funding for Israel and Ukraine, the first move in what is expected to be a wrenching fight over approving the package. (WSJ, 11.06.23)
  • On Nov. 7 U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Congress to provide $11.8 billion in direct budget support to Ukraine. The figure is “the minimum amount needed to help cover Ukraine’s baseline needs, after accounting for other possible international support,” they wrote in a letter to lawmakers. The letter was also signed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and USAID Administrator Samantha Power. (Bloomberg, 11.07.23)
  • On Nov. 7 U.S. Senate Democrats blocked a Republican effort to win quick approval for a bill providing emergency aid to Israel that passed the House of Representatives last week, but that provides no assistance for Ukraine's war against Russia. Democrats stressed the importance of providing aid to Ukraine as well as Israel, in addition to humanitarian aid, border security funding and money to push back against China in the Indo-Pacific that was in a $106 billion funding request Biden sent to Congress last month. (RFE/RL, 11.08.23)
  • On Nov. 9 the Senate was reported to be weighing Biden's request for an emergency $105 billion national security spending package to provide military aid to Israel and Ukraine, as well as to address threats to the Indo-Pacific region and security at the U.S.-Mexico border.  (NYT, 11.09.23)
    • There is growing consensus on Capitol Hill and at the White House that any deal to fund foreign wars, and possibly the entire government, must include significant new measures to address the U.S.-Mexico border, but Republicans and Democrats are deeply split over what changes to make. (NYT, 11.09.23)
  • "If someone wants another dollar for Ukraine, they gotta come make the case to me, and that includes Mitch McConnell," Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) said. (WP, 11.04.23)
  • Slovakia's new government on Nov. 8 rejected a previously drafted plan to donate rockets and ammunition to Ukraine, following through on a pledge by incoming Prime Minister Robert Fico to halt military aid to Kyiv. (Reuters, 11.08.23)

Punitive measures related to Russia’s war against Ukraine and their impact globally:

  • The EU is set to move ahead with a long-stalled ban on Russian diamonds next week after securing sufficient backing from the G-7, according to the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. (FT, 11.08.23)
  • Britain on Nov. 8 imposed sanctions on 29 individuals and entities in Russia's gold and oil sectors. Those sanctioned include a United Arab Emirates-based network that Britain said was responsible for channeling more than $300 million in gold revenues to Russia. Also sanctioned are two of Russia's largest gold producers, Nord Gold Plc and Highland Gold Mining Ltd, as well as oligarchs Vladislav Sviblov and Konstantin Strukov. The latest sanctions are meant to block individuals and entities from helping Russia evade the impact of international sanctions, Britain said. (Reuters, 11.08.23)
    • The United Kingdom's National Crime Agency on Nov. 8 issued a red alert to the financial sector warning that Russia was using gold to evade sanctions imposed after it invaded Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 11.08.23)
  • More than 100 U.K. companies have admitted breaching British sanctions against Russia since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, official data shows. The U.K. has placed more than 1,600 individuals and companies under sanctions since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. (FT, 11.06.23)
  • Since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, over 7,000 civilian firearms from Western manufacturers and almost eight million rounds of ammunition have reached Russia due to a gap in sanctions, according to an investigation by Correctiv. Some of them were then deployed during the Ukraine war. The weapons have been manufactured by Smith & Wesson, Barrett Firearms, Desert Tech, Glock, Steyr, Merkel Jagd- und Sportwaffen GmbH. (Correctiv, 11.07.23)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allowing Western investors to swap their stranded Russian assets in exchange for Russian-held assets frozen by the West following his invasion of Ukraine. The edict, signed by the Russian president on Nov. 8, allows Russian retail investors to sell up to 100,000 rubles ($1,089) each of frozen securities in exchange for Western funds held in restricted accounts in Russia that cannot be spent outside the country. However, Western officials have said they are holding no talks with Moscow on a potential asset swap. (FT, 11.08.23)
  • A Russian court fined three foreign companies a total of 15 million rubles ($163,200) on Nov. 9 for what it said was a repeated failure to comply with data-storage law, Russian news agencies reported. U.S.-based package delivery company United Parcel Service was fined 3 million rubles, while the Airbnb marketplace for homestays and the Spotify Technology streaming service were each fined 6 million rubles ($65,300). (RFE/RL, 11.09.23)
  • Russian fertilizer tycoon Dmitry Mazepin lost his legal challenge to EU sanctions imposed on him soon after the invasion of Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 11.08.23)
  • EU lawmakers on Nov. 9 urged the bloc to ban imports of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) and to close loopholes present in existing sanctions against Moscow. (MT/AFP, 11.09.23)

Ukraine-related negotiations: 

  • Zelensky has emphasized that neither EU leaders nor the United States pressure him to hold talks with Russia. “I do not know who is doing this. But, as a person who bears this responsibility and powers regarding certain negotiations, I will answer you very frankly. Everyone knows that my attitude coincides with the attitude of Ukrainian society, and therefore no one is putting pressure on me today. […] Today, none of the leaders of the EU, the United States, from among our partners, are pressuring us to hold talks with Russia and give it something. There will be no such thing,” Zelensky stressed. (Ukrinform, 11.04.23)
  • Ukraine on Nov. 9 criticized calls for Kyiv to hold negotiations with Russia, following media reports that its Western allies were pushing for peace talks in the wake of an underwhelming Ukrainian counteroffensive. "Those who argue that Ukraine should negotiate with Russia now are either uninformed or misled," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on social media. (MT/AFP, 11.09.23)
  • U.S. and European officials have begun quietly talking to the Ukrainian government about what possible peace negotiations with Russia might entail to end the war, according to one current senior U.S. official and one former senior U.S. official familiar with the discussions. The talks began amid concerns among U.S. and European officials that the war has reached a stalemate and some of these talks took place last month during a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the officials said. (NBC, 11.03.23)
    • Biden administration officials expect Ukraine to want more time to fight on the battlefield, particularly with new, heavier equipment, “but there’s a growing sense that it’s too late, and it’s time to do a deal,” the former senior administration official said. It is not certain that Ukraine would mount another spring offensive. (NBC, 11.03.23) 
    • As incentive for Zelensky to consider negotiations, NATO could offer Kyiv some security guarantees, even without Ukraine formally becoming part of the alliance, officials said. That way, officials said, the Ukrainians could be assured that Russia would be deterred from invading again. (NBC, 11.03.23) 
    • The Biden administration does not have any indication that Putin is ready to negotiate with Ukraine, two U.S. officials said. (NBC, 11.03.23) 
  • Polls of Ukrainians show that readiness for a negotiated settlement with Russia has increased in a small but still significant way for the first time since the invasion began, polling and focus group studies show, rising to 14% from 10%, though the vast majority of Ukrainians still staunchly reject trading territory for peace. (NYT, 11.05.23)

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

  • NATO member countries that signed a Cold War-era security treaty limiting key categories of conventional armed forces on Nov. 7 suspended their obligations under the pact just hours after Russia pulled out. (RFE/RL, 11.07.23)
  • Germany is ready to take on the leadership role in NATO that allies have been urging for decades and Europe’s biggest economy and most-populous nation is committed to protecting the military alliance’s eastern flank against Russian aggression, according to Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. (Bloomberg, 11.06.23)
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Nov. 6 said he was convinced that there would be progress on Sweden's NATO membership bid after talks with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara. (Reuters, 11.06.23)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Putin hosted China’s Gen. Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, on Nov 8.
    • "Russia and China are not building military alliances on the model of Cold War alliances. And our interaction with you is constructive and a serious factor in stabilizing the international situation," Putin told Zhang. (TASS, 11.08.23)
    • NATO aspires to expand its geographical boundaries, including into Asia, Putin told Zhang. (TASS, 11.08.23)
    • Putin told Zhang that Moscow and Beijing should expand their cooperation on military satellites and other prospective defense technologies. Putin emphasized the importance of developing closer military links, noting that cooperation in high-tech spheres now takes priority. “I mean space, including high-orbit assets, and new prospective types of weapons that will ensure strategic security of both Russia and the People's Republic of China,” Putin said. (RFE/RL, 11.08.23)
  • The relationships between Russia and China are at the highest level, Zhang said at talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu. Zhang said that this time he was leading the Chinese delegation precisely for the purpose of implementing all the accords reached between the leaders of Russia and China and "promoting practical cooperation in the military sphere and contributing to further strengthening of inter-army relationships." (TASS, 11.08.23)
    • "Unlike some aggressive Western countries, we are not creating a military bloc. Relations between Russia and China are a model of strategic interaction based on trust and respect," Shoigu told Zhang (TASS, 11.08.23)
  • The trade turnover between Russia and China in January-October increased by 27.7% year on year and reached $196.48 billion, the General Administration of Customs of China reported. According to released data, exports from China to Russia increased by 52.2% over 10 months and amounted to about $90.08 billion, while imports of Russian goods and services increased by 12.4% to $106.4 billion. Russia's balance for the reporting period amounted to $16.32 billion, having decreased by about 53%, compared to the same period in 2022. (TASS, 11.07.23)
  • More than 105,000 tourists from China visited Russia in January-September 2023, representing one-fourth of all tourist visits made by foreigners to the country in the first nine months of the year. Germany was the second country in terms of tourist flow to Russia in January-September (42,100 visits). (TASS, 11.07.23)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • Washington is seeking to deploy missile systems prohibited by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in Europe and Asia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Kommersant. "Now, they are moving rapidly in the direction of deploying said systems. I think it will soon happen both in the Asian theater of war … and in the European one," he said. "Hence, our moratorium, which was declared by the Russian president, cannot stay in place in light of such developments,” he said. (TASS, 11.03.23)
  • The U.S. has not invited Russia to inspect the nuclear tests carried out at the testing ground in Nevada, Ryabkov said. "We took note of several public statements on this matter by high-ranking American officials in various corners," he said in an interview with Kommersant. "This topic was raised by the U.S. side behind closed doors on the margins. We don’t think that this can be seen as an official invitation." (TASS, 11.03.23)
  • Russia assumed a rather strict position to matters of strategic stability and this will not change until the U.S. reconsiders its hostile position, Ryabkov said in an interview for Kommersant. "For us, the situation is quite unambiguous. Until some real shifts happen in the U.S.’s current extremely hostile course toward Russia, until we see that something there is changing toward common sense and a more adequate perception of the world, they should not expect any changes in our—admittedly, rather strict—approach as well," he said. (TASS, 11.03.23)
  • Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council said: “For the first time in the history of the existence of nuclear missile weapons, our country is ahead of its competitors in this area, becoming the owner of unique strategic weapons, including hypersonic weapons.” Such weapons “guarantee secretary for decades ahead.” (Kommersant, 11.04.23)
  • On Nov. 5, Imperator Alexander III, a submarine of the Project 955A/Borey-A class, conducted a successful launch of a Bulava missile. The submarine was deployed in the White Sea, and the warheads reached their targets at the Kura test site. (, 11.05.23)
  • The U.S. and China had a rare meeting regarding nuclear arms control as Washington urges Beijing to disclose more information about its growing nuclear capabilities. Officials from the two nuclear powers on Nov. 6 took part in a “candid and in-depth” discussion about arms control and nonproliferation, the State Department said. (Bloomberg, 11.07.23)
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz held a video conference with the leader of China, Xi Jinping. One of the topics discussed was the war in Ukraine, according to the press secretary of the German government, Steffen Hebestreit. According to his words, in the context of the war in Ukraine, the leaders of the two countries agreed that "nuclear war should not be fought and can never be won." Scholz and Xi Jinping also discussed the war in Israel against Hamas. (, 11.03.23)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • The Biden administration uses a ''deconfliction'' line with Russia to try to manage escalation in Iraq and Syria, two officials said. Russia has troops in Syria, and American officials say they expect that telling Russia before a strike in Syria, as officials did before the latest U.S. strike, is the same as telling Iran, because Russian officials often inform Tehran of what is coming. (NYT, 11.09.23)

Cyber security/AI: 

  • Hackers affiliated with Russia’s military intelligence agency penetrated and disrupted parts of Ukraine’s electricity grid late last year using sophisticated new hacking tools, a new report said. The findings, by the U.S. cybersecurity firm Mandiant, add further evidence about the tools used by, as well as the sophistication of, the agency known as the GRU in targeting not only Ukraine, but other places around the globe as well. (RFE/RL, 11.09.23)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • A Western price cap on Russian oil meant to curb Moscow's war spending is increasingly losing its punch as half of Russia’s crude-oil exports are shipped with non-G-7 insurance, up from around 35% in January, according to data from S&P Global. The latest evidence of decreasing effectiveness of the cap is that Russia’s October oil and gas tax revenue more than doubled from last month and was up more than 25% over October 2022, according to data released Nov. 3. That represents a stark turnaround from the beginning of the year when energy revenues tumbled. The recent influx of oil revenues helps reduce Russia's budget deficit. Economists now think it is possible the government will hit its deficit target of 2% of gross domestic product. In the spring, some economists expected a deficit of as much as 5% to 6% this year. “The price cap worked as designed, but now is obsolete,” said Natasha Kaneva, head of commodities strategy at JPMorgan Chase. (WSJ, 11.06.23)

Climate change:

  • Ancient pathogens that have been preserved in northern Russia’s permafrost for millennia could reawaken as global temperatures rise, scientists warn, potentially putting humanity at risk of never-before-seen diseases. (MT/AFP, 11.07.23)

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • During the third Republican primary debate on Nov. 8: 
    • Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy said : “I’m actually enjoying watching the Ukraine hawks quietly, delicately tiptoe back from their position as this thing has unwound into a disaster. … Ukraine is not a paragon of democracy. This is a country that has banned 11 opposition parties. It has consolidated all media into one state TV media arm. That is not democratic. It has threatened not to hold elections this year unless the U.S. forks over more money. That is not democratic. It has celebrated a Nazi in its ranks, a comedian in cargo pants – a man called Zelensky.” (YouTube, 11.09.23)
    • Ramaswamy said : “The regions of Ukraine that are occupied by Russia right now, in the Donbas, Luhansk, Donetsk, these are Russian-speaking regions that have not even been part of Ukraine since 2014.” (YouTube, 11.09.23)
    • Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said : “We all remember what that thug did when he invaded Ukraine. We all know that half a million people died because of Putin. And here’s a freedom-loving, pro-American country that is fighting for its survival and its democracy. No, I don't think we should give them cash, I think we should give them the equipment and the ammunition to win. And I’ll tell you, if Biden had done when they’d first asked for it, this war would be over.” (YouTube, 11.09.23)
    • Sen. Tim Scott said : “I believe that, ultimately, we should make sure that the president of the United States, what is America’s national vital interest in Ukraine, it is actually in degrading the Russian military. We have been very effective using our resources and our weaponry, and the incredibly high price of Ukraine blood to achieve that objective. Every day we get closer to the degradation of the Russia military, and that’s good news.” (YouTube, 11.09.23)
    • Scott said : “Where’s the accountability? Where are those dollars, how are those dollars being spent? We need those answers for us to continue to see the support for Ukraine.” (YouTube, 11.09.23)
    • Scott said : “Bottom line is we have to first have the level of accountability that allows the American people to understand where the resources have gone. Number two, after we have that responsibility taken care of, and accountability, then we have the opportunity to look at the overall strategy that helps us degrade the Russian military while we use our resources for, frankly, keeping our NATO partners safe from the Russian military.” (YouTube, 11.09.23)
    • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said : “In 1992, this country made a promise to Ukraine. We said, if you return nuclear missiles that were part of the old Soviet Union to Russia, and they invade you, we will protect you. An American promise that is 31 years old is no different than American promises made tonight on this stage. We need to stand by it, and those of us who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” (YouTube, 11.09.23)
    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said : “Any suggestion by Zelensky or anyone else that we send U.S. troops there, I’m gonna tell the American people, when I'm president, that will not happen. We are not going to send your sons and daughters to Ukraine.” (YouTube, 11.09.23)
    • Haley said : “I am telling you: Putin and President Xi are salivating at the thought that someone like [Vivek Ramaswamy] could become president.” (WP, 11.09.23)
    • Haley said : “This unholy alliance between Russia, [Iran] and China is real. There's a reason that Taiwanese want us to support the Ukrainians. It’s because they know that China is coming after them next. There's a reason Ukrainians want us to support Israelis, because they know if Iran wins, Russia wins. We have to see the combination of the three.” (YouTube, 11.09.23)
    • Christie said : “This alliance is not just with Russia and China. Iran is in the middle of this as well, and so is North Korea, and they are all working to support Russia right now, and the reason they're doing it is because dictators work together. People who believe in democracy work together. We must stand with all of those that are standing up for democracy and freedom in this world.” (YouTube, 11.09.23)
    • DeSantis said : “We need to bring this war [in Ukraine] to an end, we need the Europeans to step up and do their fair share, and we need to get serious about the top threat that this country faces, which is the Chinese Communist Party.” (YouTube, 11.09.23)
  • U.S. and Mexican authorities have also reported a sharp increase in Russians fleeing their homeland. They fly into Mexico from Turkey, with some 12,500 surrendering to U.S. authorities after illegally crossing the Southwest border since the invasion of Ukraine. Only 509 Russians were detained by the Border Patrol in fiscal year 2021. (WSJ, 11.04.23)
  • The husband of detained U.S. journalist Alsu Kurmasheva says his wife is a "political prisoner" and he called on the United States to classify her as "wrongfully detained" as she remains behind bars in Russia on a charge of failing to register as a foreign agent. (RFE/RL, 11.08.23)


II. Russia’s domestic policies 

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • The Kremlin has neither confirmed nor denied a report on Nov. 6 that Putin has decided to run in the March 2024 presidential election, saying only he has "not made any statement" on the issue. Reacting to a report by Reuters that quoted multiple sources as saying Putin had decided to run, a move that would keep him in power until least 2030, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that the start of the election campaign had yet to officially begin. (RFE/RL, 11.06.23)
    • Putin will avoid centering his 2024 presidential campaign on the war in Ukraine and will rather focus on Russia’s alleged stability and criticisms of the West, according to Meduza. (ISW, 11.08.23)
  • Putin will hold his end-of-year press conference and televised call-in show in a “combined format” this year, the Kremlin announced on Nov. 9. The Russian leader did not hold his Direct Line call-in show or his annual press conference last yearand his annual state-of-the-nation address was delayed to February. (MT/AFP, 11.09.23)
  • Russia’s budget deficit, aided by an increase in oil and gas revenue, shrank for the third straight month despite rising expenditures due to the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. The fiscal gap narrowed to 1.2 trillion rubles ($13 billion), or just 0.7% of Russia’s gross domestic product, at the end of October, Finance Ministry data showed. Despite sweeping sanctions imposed by the US and its allies to limit the Kremlin’s proceeds from key commodity exports, oil and gas revenue surged in October by more than 27%, leading to a budget surplus for the third month in a row, according to Bloomberg calculations. (Bloomberg, 11.07.23)
  • The most mentioned events in October were events in the Middle East (37%), the “special military operation” (SVO; 13%) and Vladimir Putin’s visit to China (5%), according to Levada Center’s polls. At the same time, events related to the SVO have been mentioned by no more than 10-15% of respondents for several months. (Levada, 11.07.23)
  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is serving a total of 19 years in prison on extremism and other charges, has been placed in punitive solitary confinement for the 22nd time since August 2022. (RFE/RL, 11.08.23)
  • The Supreme Court of Russia’s Republic of Bashkortostan on Nov. 7 rejected an appeal filed by Lilia Chanysheva—the former regional leader of Navalny’s team—of the guilty verdict and the 7 ½ year prison term she was handed in June amid a brutal crackdown on civil society and dissent across Russia. (RFE/RL, 11.07.23)
  • A Moscow court on Nov. 7 issued an arrest warrant for ex-Moscow municipal lawmaker Lyusya Shtein, who is also a member of the Pussy Riot protest group, on a charge of distributing “fake news” about Russian armed forces involved in Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. (Current Time, 11.07.23)
  • Dozens of women rallied in Moscow on Nov. 7, demanding that their husbands, who have been mobilized to fight in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, return home in a rare display of protest amid a crackdown on any dissent over the conflict. (Current Time, 11.07.23)
  • The Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration has launched an undergraduate program to train experts who can monitor and detect “extremism” online. (MT/AFP, 11.08.23)

Defense and aerospace:

  • Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev said that since January 1, about 410 thousand people have been accepted into the Russian army under contract. (NVO, 11.09.23) 
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin promoted commander of the Vostok group of the Russian forces in Ukraine, Andrei Kuzmenko to colonel general. In addition, three officers of the RF Armed Forces received the rank of lieutenant general, and 11 officers received the rank of major general. (Meduza, 11.08.23)
  • Russia’s army and its weapons factories are sucking in a growing number of workers as Moscow braces itself for a long war in Ukraine. Russia’s unemployment rate has fallen to 3 percent, its lowest level in 30 years, leaving businesses struggling to find workers for the labor-intensive industries that dominate the country’s economy. “We have seen a 30-40 percent surge in [the purchasing managers’ index] in military-related industries since January 2023,” said Pavel Luzin, a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis. (FT, 11.09.23)
  • See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Mikhail Filiponenko, a member of the regional assembly in the Russian-occupied Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, was killed in a car bombing, his son said on Nov. 8. No further details were immediately available. Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence claimed responsibility for what it called the “liquidation of a war criminal.” (RFE/RL, 11.08.23)
  • Media reports in Russia on Nov. 7 said police have detained the deputy interior minister of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Dagestan, Rufat Ismailov, on suspicion of corruption. The reports cited sources close to Daghestani officials as saying police searched Ismailov’s home and office. Shamil Khadulayev of the Public Monitoring Commission in Dagestan said Ismailov is suspected of accepting a significant amount of money as a bribe from an unspecified person, adding that Ismailov was transferred to Moscow for interrogation. (RFE/RL, 11.07.23)
  • Since Vladimir Putin signed a bill introducing torture into the list of criminal offensives in the country’s criminal code last July, only 32 criminal cases have been opened in Russia to investigate alleged torture by security and law-enforcement officials. (Mediazona, 11.09.23) 
  • The authoritarian leader of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, said on Telegram on Nov. 6 that former Wagner Group mercenaries were training in Chechnya with his forces. (RFE/RL, 11.06.23)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has pardoned a man convicted in the murder of his ex-girlfriend after he is believed to have signed up to fight in Ukraine, women’s rights activist Alyona Popova said on Nov. 8. Last summer, Vladislav Kanyus was sentenced to 17 years in a maximum-security prison over the 2020 murder of Vera Pekhteleva in the Siberian city of Kemerovo. (MT/AFP, 11.08.23)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • “Amid the unprecedented escalation of violence in the zone of the Palestinian-Israel conflict, there are more and more calls for collective action to de-escalate the situation in the Middle East, including an international conference,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. (MT/AFP, 11.06.23)
  • Russia said on Nov. 9 it was “shocked” by the Israeli ambassador saying it could take up to two weeks to evacuate Russian citizens from the Gaza Strip. Israel’s envoy to Moscow told Russian state media this week that with 500-600 people leaving each day, and 7,000 waiting to be evacuated, it could take two weeks to get Russian citizens out of Gaza. “ (MT/AFP, 11.09.23)
  • Last April, a delegation of Russian officials visiting Cairo asked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to give back more than a hundred engines from Russian helicopters that Moscow needed for Ukraine, three people with knowledge of the incident said. Sisi agreed and deliveries of about 150 engines are likely to start next month, say the people. Throughout the year, Russia held talks with officials from Pakistan, Belarus and Brazil to try to acquire engines for the Russian attack and transport helicopters its forces lost to Ukrainian defenses early in the war. (WSJ, 11.08.23)
  • The head of Russia’s navy met Myanmar’s junta chief ahead of joint naval exercises due to begin, according to Myanmar state media, the first combined drills by the two countries at loggerheads with the West. (MT/AFP, 11.07.23)
  • The conflict between Israel and Hamas is fast becoming a world war online. Iran, Russia and, to a lesser degree, China have used state media and the world’s major social networking platforms to support Hamas and undercut Israel, while denigrating Israel’s principal ally, the United States. Officials and researchers say the deluge of online propaganda and disinformation is larger than anything seen before. (NYT, 11.06.23)
  • French prosecutors are investigating a possible Russian connection to more than 200 Jewish stars spray painted on buildings in France, where antisemitic acts have been sharply rising. French prosecutors said on Nov. 7 they are probing whether a person based abroad may be behind the graffiti, after police detained a man and a woman, born in Moldova, who were seen painting a blue Star of David on a building in Paris late last month. Prosecutors said they found a conversation, apparently in Russian, on the couple’s phone in which they were instructed to tag the star in exchange for a payment. (WSJ, 11.08.23)
    • Russia on Nov. 9 dismissed accusations that Moscow was behind the daubing of dozens of Stars of David on buildings in Paris and its suburbs as “stupid.” (MT/AFP, 11.09.23)
  • More than one in five Germans said they would now vote for AfD at the federal level, making the party the second-most popular after the CDU. In two regional elections in October, the AfD scored breakthrough victories in Bavaria and Hesse. In three further regional elections next year the party is expected to extend its support. (FT, 11.07.23)
  • Finland has informed Russia about its investigation into the damage on Oct. 7 to the subsea Balticconnector gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland, the Finnish foreign minister said on Nov. 8. Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen told a news conference Russia had not asked for Finland’s help in investigating the damage to a Russian telecommunications cable that happened the same night. (Reuters, 11.08.23)
  • Russia has issued an arrest warrant for Judge Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godinez, a judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) who in March issued a warrant for President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges. (Reuters, 11.08.23)
  • The United States has accused Russia of financing a Latin America-wide disinformation campaign, which feeds media contacts with propaganda and fake news aimed at weakening support for Ukraine and boosting anti-U.S. and anti-NATO sentiments. (RFE/RL, 11.07.23)
  • Around the world, dictators are dispatching assassins, kidnappers, secret police and private investigators to abduct, harass, intimidate and harm dissidents, journalists, academics and others far beyond their borders. Freedom House has built a database of incidents over the past nine years involving direct physical repression. It had 608 cases when unveiled in February 2021 and now contains 854 incidents by 38 perpetrators in 91 countries. The top 10 perpetrators in the database are China (253), Turkey (132), Tajikistan (64), Russia (46), Egypt (45), Turkmenistan (36), Uzbekistan (36), Belarus (30), Iran (23) and Rwanda (18). (WP, 11.09.23)
  • Russian and Ukrainian activists have taken over a vacant building in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam that purportedly belongs to the Russian government, the Dutch newspaper Het Parool reported on Nov. 5. (MT/AFP, 11.06.23)
  • Some 429,000 foreigners declared tourism as the purpose of their visits to Russia in January-September 2023. In contrast, Russia welcomed 4.3 million foreign tourists in the same period in 2019, but just 147,400 tourists in the same period in 2022. (TASS, 11.07.23)


  • Zelensky ruled out holding elections next year, calling for political unity as his government seeks to retain Western support and public trust after a disappointing counteroffensive. Zelensky said in a video address late on Nov. 6 that "now is not the time for elections," as Ukraine should direct its resources toward defense. The brigade commander had been suspended while an investigation took place. Zelensky said in his address that the country needed to focus on the war and that political disagreements should be put aside, as Russia would seek to take advantage of any splits. (WSJ, 11.07.23)
    • Trust in Mr. Zelensky, though still shared by a majority of Ukrainians, has slumped, falling to 76 percent in October from 91 percent in May, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology survey showed. Other polls have shown Mr. Zelensky’s job approval ratings at 72 percent. Only 48 percent of Ukrainians say they trust the government-controlled television news channel, called the Telemarafon, which aired upbeat reporting of the military operation in the south. (NYT, 11.05.23)
    • In a January 2023 survey by the National Democratic Institute, 91% of respondents said they liked Zelensky. In second place was Zaluzhny, with 87% of respondents saying they liked him. (NDI)
  • The European Union recommended on Nov. 8 that the bloc begins membership talks with Ukraine soon, boosting President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has made EU accession a central goal. Even though membership talks would take years to complete, the positive EU recommendation offers Zelensky and Ukraine rare good news at a tense time. (WSJ, 11.08.23, NYT, 11.08.23)
    • The final decision on opening the talks rests with the leaders of the 27 E.U. member nations, and they are expected to discuss the question at a summit next month. Diplomats say some EU leaders still need convincing. At the heart of European concerns about Ukraine—echoed by Washington—is whether the country can overhaul its governance and political culture to rein in the power of big tycoons and eradicate endemic corruption that has impeded economic growth and social cohesion. The European commission said Kyiv had completed four of the seven reforms and would need to complete the other three before membership negotiations begin. Over 90% of the work is done, von der Leyen said. (WSJ, 11.08.23, WSJ, 11.08.23, NYT, 11.08.23)
    • Addressing the corruption issue in a Nov. 8 interview, Zelensky said: "We did a lot, mostly in anti-corruption infrastructure, and we voted on the laws. Now we have a law on the special anti-corruption prosecutor. It is a new law and it is already registered in parliament. ... I hope our parliamentarians will vote for this law in the nearest time," (Reuters, 11.08.23)
    • Ursula von der Leyens’ trip to Ukraine took place just four days before her commission released a report assessing Ukraine’s progress towards meeting EU membership. “I must say, you have made excellent progress, it is impressive to see. We will testify to this next week when the commission will present its report,” von der Leyen said alongside Zelensky after their meeting. “You have reached many milestones . . . This is the result of hard work.” (FT, 11.04.23)
  • Ukraine's parliament approved the 2024 state budget on Nov. 9, allocating more than half of the funding for the army to withstand Russia's ongoing invasion. Lawmakers said the budget forecasts revenues of 1.77 trillion hryvnias ($48.4 billion), while spending is expected to be 3.35 trillion hryvnias, of which 1.7 trillion hryvnias are planned for the defense sector to fund the efforts against Russia. That would leave the 2024 deficit at around $43.6 billion. (RFE/RL, 11.09.23)
  • Polish truckers have blocked three border crossings with Ukraine to protest against competition from Ukrainian drivers, in a dispute that complicates Kyiv’s war effort against Russia and its vital relations with the EU. (FT, 11.08.23)
  • Ukraine’s allies must stand firm in backing Kyiv or risk emboldening populist forces across Europe with a victory for Vladimir Putin, Romania’s prime minister said. The far-right Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR), which has emerged as Romania’s main opposition force. AUR, which translates as “gold” in Romanian, has capitalized on simmering anti-Ukrainian sentiment, promoting disinformation and lies to double its support among voters since the 2019 elections to about 20 per cent—just behind the ruling Social Democrats. AUR has focused on Ukraine, declaring that the war is “not ours” and urging the government to stop aiding Kyiv and rethink its relationships with Washington and Brussels. (FT, 11.07.23, Bloomberg, 11.07.23)
  • Officials have yet to confiscate the valuable assets of Viktor Medvedchuk, a former Ukrainian politician and oligarch, who was widely believed to be Putin’s right-hand man in Ukraine, according to Ukrainian investigative outlet Bihus.Info. Despite being under sanctions, Medvedchuk, both personally and through his wife Oksana Marchenko, still owns vast assets in Ukraine, including two mansions in Kyiv, a spa hotel in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, and a summer house in the Carpathian Mountains, according to the journalist investigation. (Kyiv Independent/Yahoo News, 11.08.23)
  • Energoatom and Holtec International are planning to build a plant in Ukraine for the production of containers, which are currently made in the USA, for storage of used nuclear fuel. The two already have joint plans for the construction of a plant in Ukraine to manufacture equipment for Holtec small modular reactors. (WNN, 11.08.23)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi held talks in Dushanbe on Nov. 8 to discuss bilateral ties, the Tajik presidential press service said. The two signed several documents, including an agreement on visa-free visits between citizens of the two countries. (RFE/RL, 11.08.23)
  • Georgia’s acting central bank governor said the country is poised soon to revive a $289 million program with the International Monetary Fund, halted earlier this year amid questions over threats to the regulator’s independence and local enforcement of sanctions. (Bloomberg, 11.09.23)
  • European diplomats on Nov. 7 condemned the killing of a Georgian man near the administrative boundary with Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia by Russian troops while they were trying to detain him, renewing calls for Moscow to withdraw its "illegal" presence" in the area. (RFE/RL, 11.07.23)
  • A military court in Baku on Nov. 7 sentenced Vagif Khachatrian, an ethnic Armenian from Nagorno-Karabakh, to 15 years in prison after finding him guilty of genocide and the forced deportation of civilians, charges he vehemently denies. (RFE/RL, 11.07.23)
  • Incumbent Ion Ceban has been reelected as mayor of Moldova's capital, Chisinau, preliminary results showed on Nov. 6, in a potential setback for pro-Western President Maia Sandu's ruling Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) as the government presses ahead with reforms to advance the country's candidacy to join the European Union and leave Moscow's orbit. (RFE/RL, 11.06.23)
  • Belarusian IT expert Dzmitry Mastavy has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of treason and collaboration with extremists over a drone attack at the Machulishchy Air Base near Minsk in late February that damaged a Russian military cargo plane. (RFE/RL, 11.09.23)
  • Putin arrived in Astana on Nov. 9. The two leaders are expected to discuss bilateral cooperation and strategic partnership issues. (RFE/RL, 11.09.23)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • Jeremy Konyndyk, who served as the director of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance said in an interview with Politico about the Israel/Hamas conflict: “What the rest of the world sees is that when civilian apartment buildings are bombed by Russia in Ukraine, the U.S. government forcefully condemns this as illegitimate.” (NYT, 11.08.23)
  • Fiona Hill: “Russia ... and China [are] now trying to play a broader global card of anti-Americanism, the Global South vs. the Global North. The U.S. and the West vs. the rest. And Russia is trying to present itself, as it did during the Cold War, as the standard flag bearer of the non-aligned movement. ... Russia is dashing [into the Gaza conflict] and trying to exploit the situation. In part because it wants to ... capitalize on anti-Americanism.” (The News Agents, 11.08.23)


The cutoff for reports summarized in this product was 2:00 pm East Coast time on the day it was distributed.

*Here and elsewhere, the italicized text indicates comments by RM staff and associates. These comments do not constitute RM editorial policy.

Photos shared by the Ukrainian presidential press service via a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license, and by the Ukrainian military via CC BY 4.0 DEED respectively. Collage created by RM.