Russia in Review, Nov. 4-10, 2022

5 Things to Know

  1. Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Nov. 9 that it was withdrawing its forces to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region. If executed, the withdrawal, which Russia’s top brass began to hint about in mid-October, would include abandoning the city of Kherson—the only Ukrainian regional capital Russian forces have captured since February. It would represent not only a significant military setback for Russia, but also a major embarrassment for Russia’s political leadership, whose members repeatedly declared that Russia will stay in Kherson forever. Significantly, some of the most outspoken representatives of Russia’s party of war are concerned that the retreat will be followed by negotiations with the Ukrainian authorities. Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials have cautioned that the withdrawal could in fact be a trap for Ukrainian forces in Kherson.
  2. Three days after U.S. media reported that the Biden administration had privately encouraged Ukraine’s leaders to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia, Zelensky did just that. However, he conditioned Ukraine’s entry into such negotiations on the talks being focused on safeguarding Ukraine's territorial integrity, compensating Kyiv and bringing to justice perpetrators of war crimes. It is difficult to fathom how Russian can accept such conditions, dimming prospects of negotiations even as some have speculated that the withdrawal of Russian forces from Kherson could pave the way for talks.
  3. Newly mobilized Russian soldiers in eastern Ukraine report being abandoned under deadly fire, while their comrades in a well-established unit disclose being sent into ill-planned offensives only to be decimated. First, Russia’s Verstka reported that relatives of individuals who had been recently mobilized from Russia’s Voronezh region are reporting that these new recruits were abandoned by their commanders upon coming under deadly fire in the Svatove district of the Luhansk region. As a result, 500 recruits have been killed, according to one of the survivors. Then, media reports emerged of a letter written by servicemen of the Pacific Fleet’s 155th Marine Brigade, in which they lamented having lost 300 men in what they saw as an ill-planned offensive on Pavlivka in the Donetsk region. On Nov. 10, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, put Russian and Ukrainian military causalities at 100,000 each.
  4. The Biden administration won’t give Ukraine advanced Gray Eagle MQ-1C drones despite pleas from Kyiv, but it will send mobile Avenger Air Defense Systems in the next package of military aid that would be worth $400 million, according to WSJ and AP. Along with National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems and Aspide air defense systems, which Ukraine has already received, the Avenger systems should enhance Ukraine’s ability to defend against scores of Iranian-made attack drones, which Russia has been using extensively in recent weeks to target energy infrastructure and other objects in Ukraine.
  5. China goes public with its concerns over Russia’s conduct in Ukraine, warning against the use of nuclear weapons. The international community should “oppose the use of or the threat to use nuclear weapons, advocate that nuclear weapons cannot be used and that nuclear wars must not be fought and prevent a nuclear crisis in Eurasia,” Chinese leader Xi said during his Nov. 4 talks with German Chancellor Scholz, according to Xinhua. Xi’s comment became the first rebuke of its kind attributed to the Chinese leader since Russia invaded Ukraine, and it was followed by Scholz's Nov. 5 call on Putin to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine. Three days later, Russian diplomats were reported to have circulated a statement at the IAEA, which appears to repeat their ministry’s Nov. 2 statement, underscoring that the language in Russia’s doctrinal documents allows Russia to resort to a nuclear strike only in response to first use by another country or if the “very existence of the state is in jeopardy.”


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • Rafael Grossi, the head of the IAEA, said Nov. 5 external power has been restored to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Grossi also repeated his call for a safety and security zone around the plant. (RFE/RL, 11.05.22)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • A train has crossed into Russia from North Korea amid reports from U.S. officials that Russia might be turning to North Korea for help in resupplying its weapons stocks. (RFE/RL, 11.05.22)
  • North Korea denied providing Russia with artillery shells, days after the Biden administration alleged Pyongyang sought covert ways to supply weapons for Moscow's war with Ukraine. (WSJ, 11.07.22)
  • Russia and China, at a U.N. meeting last week, accused the U.S. of instigating the North's recent missile launches by resuming large-scale military exercises. (WSJ, 11.08.22)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • The IAEA reported that Iran’s stockpile of highly-enriched uranium swelled to a record in the last three months. As of Oct. 22, Iran has an estimated 62.3 kilograms (137.3 pounds) of uranium enriched to up to 60% fissile purity. That amounts to an increase of 6.7 kilograms since the IAEA’s last report in September. (AP, 11.10.22, Bloomberg, 11.10.22)
  • Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Nov. 5 acknowledged for the first time that his country has supplied Russia with drones, insisting the transfer came before Moscow's war on Ukraine. (AP, 11.05.22)
  • A spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force said the Kremlin had plans to buy Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar ballistic missiles from Iran. (WP, 11.08.22)
  • Russia secretly flew $141 million in cash and Western weapons seized in Ukraine, including a  British NLAW anti-tank missile, a U.S. Javelin anti-tank missile and a Stinger anti-aircraft missile, to Iran this summer in exchange for 166 Iranian drones, Sky News reported. (MT/AFP, 11.09.22)
  • Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev met with top Iranian leaders in Tehran on Nov. 9. Russia regards “strategic cooperation” with Iran as an important element of its national security, Patrushev said at talks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Raisi said Iran remains opposed to the war as a fundamental policy, according to state media. Patrushev and his Iranian hosts also discussed the two countries’ trade ties and their cooperation in the Middle East. (Bloomberg, 11.09.22, Lenta, 11.09.22, al Jazeera, 11.09.22)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • In remarks on Nov. 9, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested that around 40,000 civilians had died after being caught up in the conflict. (BBC, 11.10.22)
  • Last month, Ukrainian national Tetyana Mudryenko paid the ultimate penalty for proclaiming the town of Skadovsk, in the Kherson region, as Ukrainian territory. According to several witnesses, she was hanged in a public execution, FT reported. According to Russia’s Istories, however, the woman’s sister confirmed the detention and death of Mudryenko in Russian custody, but “no one has seen a public execution.” (RM, 11.06.22)
  • Ukraine's Russian-occupied city of Kherson and a number of settlements in the Kherson region were cut off from water and electricity supplies after an air strike, a local official and Kherson city's Russian-installed administration said Nov. 6. (RFE/RL, 11.06.22)
  • Twenty percent of Ukraine’s protected areas and 3 million hectares of forests have been affected by the war in the country, according to the Ukrainian branch of the World Wildlife Fund. (RFE/RL, 11.06.22)
  • The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has said he can’t rule out that the Ukrainian capital could be left without water and power as a result of Russia's devastating strikes on energy infrastructure. (RFE/RL, 11.06.22)
  • Ukrainian gunmen seriously injured Alexander Nikulin, a judge in Russian-controlled Donetsk who sentenced three foreigners to death in June. (RFE/RL, 11.05.22)
  • Emergency services in Moscow-occupied Ukraine claimed Nov. 6 the key Kakhovka dam in the Russian-controlled region of Kherson was "damaged" by a Ukrainian strike. (MT/AFP, 11.06.22)
  • More than 1,500 new graves have been dug at a mass burial site near the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. (BBC, 11.07.22)
  • From Aug. 4 to Oct. 3, the U.S. made new pledges of assistance to Ukraine worth just under 12 billion euros, bringing the total to just over 52 billion euros in military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. EU countries and institutions expanded their commitments by only about 1.4 billion euros over the same period, now collectively totaling just over 29 billion euros, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. (RM, 11.06.22)
  • The European Commission has unveiled a new package of €18 billion in financial assistance to Ukraine to be disbursed over the course of 2023. To unlock the money, Ukraine will be asked to carry out reforms related to the rule of law, anti-corruption and anti-fraud. Hungary signaled it would oppose the package. (Euronews, 11.09.22, NYT, 11.09.22)
  • Amnesty International has accused Russia of committing war crimes, and "likely" crimes against humanity, through the forcible transfer and deportation of civilians from Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.10.22)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • The Russian Defense Ministry said Nov. 9 it was withdrawing its forces over the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine’s Kherson region, abandoning the only Ukrainian regional capital to have been captured since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. (MT, 11.09.22)
    • The Russian Defense Ministry said Nov.10 that it had begun to pull its troops back across the Dnipro River. Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said that Moscow’s announcement of a withdrawal from the capital of the Kherson region could be a trap meant to lure their forces into brutal urban combat. (NYT, 11.10.22, MT/AFP, 11.10.22)
    • U.S. President Joe Biden has said Russia's decision to withdraw from the Ukrainian city of Kherson shows its military has "some real problems." Biden observed that it was "interesting" that Moscow had "waited until after the election" to announce the withdrawal. (BBC, 11.09.22)
    • Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Nov. 9 that 20,000 to 30,000 Russian troops would need to be withdrawn to south and east of the river, and that the retreat would be slow if Moscow went through with it. “It won’t take them a day or two,” he said. “This is going to take them days and perhaps even weeks to pull those forces south of that river.” (NYT, 11.10.22)
    • Britain’s defense intelligence agency said Nov.10: “It is likely that the withdrawal will take place over several days with defensive positions and artillery fires covering withdrawing forces.” (NYT, 11.10.22)
    • Commenting on the withdrawal, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, said, “It’s a perfectly logical military decision to pull back behind the Dnipro river,” he said. “But fundamentally Russia has now lost the only objective they achieved. Basically it’s Russia 0 and Ukraine 1 so far.” (FT, 11.09.22)
  • Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander of the Ukrainian military, said on Nov.10 that his forces continued “conducting offensive operations,” and in a separate statement the military asserted it had recaptured 12 settlements in the Kherson region in the past day, reclaiming about 60 square miles. (NYT, 11.10.22)
    • The Ukrainians "managed to gain a foothold on the northern outskirts of Snihurivka [in the Mykolaiv region]," Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Moscow-installed administration in the neighboring Kherson region, wrote shortly before he was killed in a car accident. Ukrainian forces then claimed to have liberated the town of Snihurivka on Nov. 10. (Meduza, 11.10.22, WSJ, 11.09.22, Meduza, 11.09.22)
  • Relatives of those mobilized from Russia’s Voronezh region say soldiers were abandoned on the front line and decimated in Ukraine. Alexei Agafonov, one of the surviving servicemen, told Verstka that the losses as a result of shelling on the line of contact near Makiivka in the Svatove district of the Luhansk region could exceed 500 people. (Verstka, 11.05.22)
  • An elite Russian naval infantry unit has blasted its superiors’ decision-making after suffering massive losses in what its members called a “baffling” assault on an eastern Ukrainian village. Russian forces launched an offensive on the Ukrainian garrison in Pavlivka southwest of Donetsk on Nov. 2 to seize control of a key supply route. Four days later, the 155th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade blamed its military leaders for the loss of 300 men in a letter to the governor of their home region in the Far East. The letter specifically criticized Rustam Muradov, the commander of Russia's Eastern Military District. (WP, 11.07.22, MT/AFP, 11.07.22)
  • "You're looking at well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded," Milley said. "Same thing probably on the Ukrainian side." (BBC, 11.10.22)
    • Jake Sullivan said on Nov. 10 that Russian war casualties are "quite staggering" and called for an end to the war in Ukraine. (Washington Examiner, 11.10.22)
  • Compensation payments for Russian soldiers killed in action in Ukraine were received by more than 15,800 people, according to the Mozhem Obyasnit telegram channel. (RM, 11.08.22)
  • At least 21 soldiers—most of them hailing from Moscow and the surrounding Moscow region—were captured by Ukrainian forces near Svatove in the Luhansk region, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko claimed in a Telegram post on Nov. 7.  (MT/AFP, 11.08.22)
  • The rector of the Russian Orthodox Church at the headquarters of the Strategic Missile Forces, Mikhail Vasilyev, was killed in action in Ukraine. He had encouraged women to have more babies so they would feel less distressed about sending their sons to fight in Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 11.07.22, Meduza, 11.07.22)
  • An update from the British Defense Ministry Nov. 7 quoted the Ukrainian top brass as claiming that Russia has lost 278 aircraft in Ukraine. (RM, 11.07.22)
  • Russia has probably lost half its main battle tanks and used up the majority of its precision-guided weapons in Ukraine, Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, estimated Nov. 8. “They’ve bogged down more than 80% of their land force in Ukraine. They’ve spent down a majority of their precision guided munitions in Ukraine and the sanctions and export controls will make it very difficult for them to rebuild their military,” he said. (CNN, 11.09.22)
  • Col. Gen. Alexander Lapin, who was publicly bashed by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin over his performance in Ukraine, is no longer in his post. TASS reported that Maj. Gen. Alexander Linkov was now the interim commander of the Central Military District. (NYT, 11.07.22)
  • An update from the British Defense Ministry on Nov. 8 stated that Russia has started to build defensive structures around Mariupol. (RM, 11.08.22)
  • The Biden administration's efforts to check on the billions of dollars of weapons sent to Ukraine, though limited in scope, haven't found any evidence of large-scale malfeasance, U.S. officials say. (WSJ, 11.05.22)
  • Ukraine has received its first NASAMS air defense systems from the U.S. and Aspide units from Spain. (FT, 11.07.22)
  • Ukraine will receive 90 Soviet-designed T-72 tanks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. "We are sincerely grateful to the Netherlands, the United States, and the Czech Republic for providing significant and urgently needed support,” he tweeted. (RFE/RL, 11.05.22)
  • The Biden administration won’t give Ukraine advanced Gray Eagle MQ-1C drones despite pleas from Kyiv and a bipartisan group of members of Congress. The Pentagon declined the request based on concerns that providing these drones could escalate the conflict. (WSJ, 11.09.22)
  • The U.S. will send $400 million more in military aid to Ukraine, several U.S. officials said Nov. 10. The aid package will contain large amounts of ammunition for HIMARS and, for the first time, highly mobile Avenger Air Defense Systems. There also will be mortars and missiles for the Hawk surface-to-air anti-aircraft system. (AP, 11.10.22)

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

  • A Spanish court moved to seize a superyacht valued at $140 million that’s linked to Rostec State Corp.’s chief executive officer, Sergey Chemezov, after the owner stopped paying maintenance fees in June. (Bloomberg, 11.03.22)
  • German police have raided offices of the Swiss bank UBS in connection with a money laundering investigation into Uzbek-born Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov. Meanwhile Uzbekistan is lobbying the EU to lift sanctions on Usmanov and his sister as the Uzbek-Russian billionaire struggles to disentangle himself from the fallout of Moscow’s war in Ukraine. (FT, 11.08.22, FT, 11.09.22)
  • British steelmakers have called on the government to follow the EU in closing a loophole in the sanctions regime against Moscow that allows indirect imports of Russian steel from third countries. (FT, 11.04.22)
  • The European Central Bank has clashed with UniCredit over the Italian lender’s plans to return cash to shareholders and its failure to leave Russia. (FT, 11.06.22)
  • The port of St Petersburg—formerly Russia's largest container port and an important hub for trade with Europe—achieved less than 10% of the previous year's volume in October, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. The port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea recorded a decline in business of about 50%. (RFE/RL, 11.07.22)
  • A group of PwC partners has launched a breakaway firm in Cyprus to take on work from Russia-linked clients that the Big Four accountants will no longer touch. (FT, 11.07.22)
  • Japanese carmaker Mazda said Nov. 10 it is pulling out of its joint venture in Russia because of the war in Ukraine, having ceased operations in the country earlier this year. (MT/AFP, 11.10.22)
  • Western sanctions forced an award-winning crematorium in the Russian city of Voronezh to suspend operations, according to Russia’s 7x7 Telegram channel. (RM, 11.09.22)
  • The British government says it has frozen assets together worth 18 billion pounds ($20.5 billion) held by Russian oligarchs, other individuals and entities under sanctions for Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. (Reuters, 11.10.22)
  • The European Union has announced it won't accept Russian travel documents issued in Ukraine and Georgia. (RFE/RL, 11.10.22)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • The Biden administration privately encouraged Ukraine’s leaders to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia and drop their public refusal to engage in peace talks unless Putin is removed from power, according to people familiar with the discussions. They called it a calculated attempt to ensure the government in Kyiv maintains the support of other nations facing constituencies wary of fueling a war for many years to come. Zelensky subsequently said he was open to negotiations with Russia if they are focused on safeguarding Ukraine's territorial integrity, compensating Kyiv and bringing to justice perpetrators of war crimes. (WP, 11.05.22., WSJ, 11.08.22)
    • "We've always made clear our readiness for such talks," Russia's deputy foreign minister, Andrei Rudenko, said. "From our side there are no preliminary conditions whatsoever, except the main condition—for Ukraine to show goodwill." (WSJ, 11.08.22)
    • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Nov. 7 that, while Russia remains "open" to talks, it was unable to negotiate with Kyiv due to its refusal to hold talks with Moscow. (RFE/RL, 11.07.22)
  • Washington and its allies see little prospect of a negotiated end to the war in Ukraine soon given the high stakes for Moscow and Kyiv, and the fact that both sides believe they can win, Western diplomats say. (WSJ, 11.06.22)
  • Sullivan made a surprise visit last week to Kyiv, where he met with Zelensky and top Ukrainian officials. Two people familiar with the meetings and a Ukrainian government official said Sullivan did broach the idea of how the conflict can end and whether it could include a diplomatic solution. “He was testing the waters a bit,” a person familiar with the meetings said. (NBC, 11.09.22)
  • Milley said that for any talks to be successful, both Russia and Ukraine would have to reach a "mutual recognition" that a wartime victory "is maybe not achievable through military means, and therefore you need to turn to other means." (BBC, 11.10.22)
  • The number of supporters for continuing hostilities in Ukraine is declining, according to polls conducted by the Russian Field pollster. According to their results, reported by Meduza, the “war party” in Russia has significantly decreased (from 25% in spring to 16% in September) and the “peace party” has slightly increased (from 23% to 27% over the same period). (RM, 11.08.22)

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

  • "This Ukraine crisis that we're in right now, this is just the warmup," said U.S. Strategic Command head Adm. Charles Richard. "The big one is coming. And it isn't going to be very long before we're going to get tested in ways that we haven't been tested in a long time. … As I assess our level of deterrence against China, the ship is slowly sinking,” he said. (J. Post, 11.06.22)
  • Tens of thousands of Italians marched through Rome on Nov. 5 calling for a halt to arms shipments to Ukraine and a ceasefire, highlighting the resistance that Giorgia Meloni’s new government could face in providing further military support for Kyiv. (FT, 11.05.22)
  • According to a poll published Nov. 3 by the Wall Street Journal, 48% of Republicans said the United States was doing “too much” to support Ukraine, up from 6% in March. (WP, 11.05.22)
  • Polls conducted as part of a study of Germans’ susceptibility to Russian propaganda by German think-tank CeMAS show that 40% of respondents questioned in October either partially or fully agreed with the proposition that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine came as a reaction to NATO’s behavior. (RM, 11.06.22)
  • NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has denied that the Republicans' advance in U.S. midterm elections would undermine Western military backing for Ukraine. (AFP, 11.10.22)
  • One prime candidate for the job of NATO’s next chief has surfaced in Washington: Chrystia Freeland, 54, the Canadian-Ukrainian deputy prime minister and finance minister of Canada. (NYT, 11.05.22)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • China has become Russia’s main trading partner as imports from the EU contracted sharply. The Germany-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy calculated that in June, July and August, Russia’s trade with the EU was down 43%. Separate official Chinese data released on Nov. 7 showed that the value of China’s imports and exports with Russia rose by an annual rate of 35% in October. (FT, 11.07.22)
  • Also see the Nuclear arms section below.

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • The international community should “oppose the use of or the threat to use nuclear weapons, advocate that nuclear weapons cannot be used and that nuclear wars must not be fought and prevent a nuclear crisis in Eurasia,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Nov. 4, according to Xinhua. China has warned Russia against threatening to use nuclear weapons in the conflict in Ukraine, in a rare departure from its usual tacit support for Moscow’s positions. The warning came during talks Xi’s talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing. It became the first rebuke of its kind attributed to the Chinese leader since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, WSJ reported. (WSJ, 11.04.22. RM, 11.07.22) During a meeting with Xi on Sept. 15, Putin publicly acknowledged that China had concerns over the Ukraine crisis, but it was not until November that Xi confirmed and specified these concerns. In contrast, India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh explicitly told Sergei Shoigu in October that “the nuclear option should not be resorted to by any side” in the Ukraine conflict, as the use of nuclear or radiological weapons “goes against the basic tenets of humanity.”1
  • In separate comments on Nov. 5, Scholz called on Russia to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine. "It is not permitted, it is unjustifiable, to use nuclear weapons in this conflict," Scholz said at a convention of his Social Democrats party in Berlin. "We call on Russia to clearly state that it will not do so. That would be a line that must not be crossed." (DPA, 11.05.22)
  • U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan has been in contact with Yuri Ushakov, a foreign-policy adviser to Putin [in recent months]. Sullivan also has spoken with his direct counterpart in the Russian government, Nikolai Patrushev, officials said. The aim has been to guard against the risk of escalation and keep communications channels open, and not to discuss a settlement of the war in Ukraine, U.S. and allied officials said. (WSJ, 11.07.22)
    • Sullivan said Nov. 7, said it was "in the interests" of Washington to maintain contact with the Kremlin. (RFE/RL, 11.08.22)
  • U.S. and Russian officials are planning to hold meetings of the Bilateral Consultative Commission, which was established by the New START treaty to discuss its implementation, according to U.S. officials and a Russian media report. One aim is to discuss resuming inspections under New START that were suspended when the COVID-19 pandemic began, U.S. officials say. Plans are being made to hold the meeting in Cairo in late November, officials said. (WSJ, 11.07.22)
    • U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price confirmed on Nov. 8 that the United States and Russia are expected "in the near future" to meet soon and discuss resuming inspections under New START. (Reuters, 11.08.22)
    • Kommersant reported Washington is expected to raise the resumption of on-site inspections under New START. According to Kommersant, Russia and the U.S. have continued to hold remote discussions on New START in lieu of in-person talks. (MT/AFP, 11.08.22)
  • Russian diplomats sought to ease concerns over the potential deployment of nuclear weapons, clarifying that their use against conventional forces would only occur if their nation’s existence was threatened. While Russia’s nuclear strategy allows it to “hypothetically resort to nuclear weapons,” an attack would be launched only in response to first use by another country or if the “very existence of the state is in jeopardy,” authorities wrote in a note circulated among IAEA diplomats in Vienna. (Bloomberg, 11.09.22) This note could be the same as the “Statement of the Russian Federation on Preventing Nuclear War” published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website on Nov. 2.
  • The U.S. observed Russian naval vessels preparing for a possible test of a new nuclear-powered torpedo in recent weeks, according to a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge. Among the vessels which took part in the preparations was the Belgorod, a cruise missile submarine modified for special operations that is able to launch unmanned underwater vehicles including the Poseidon torpedo. (CNN, 11.10.22) 


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security:

  • One of the surprises of the Russia-Ukraine war has been that Ukraine’s cyber security has, so far, proved as resilient as its military. Kyiv’s cyber tactics—including switching data to the cloud, partnerships with Western companies and using Elon Musk’s mobile Starlink terminals to connect to the internet via satellite—have proved highly effective. (FT, 11.09.22)
  • No instances of digital interference are known to have affected the counting of the U.S. midterm vote. A few state and local governments appeared to be hit by a relatively rudimentary form of cyberattack that periodically made public websites unreachable. But U.S. and local officials said Nov. 9 that none breached vote-counting infrastructure. (AP, 11.09.22)
  • The European Commission has proposed two action plans to address the deteriorating security situation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to bolster cyber-defense and to allow armed forces to move faster and better across borders. The policy proposed would boost EU cyber-defense capabilities and strengthen coordination and cooperation between the military and civilian cyber-communities. (Reuters, 11.10.22)     
  • Mikhail Vasiliev, a dual national of Russia and Canada who authorities say participated in a ransomware campaign that extracted tens of millions of dollars from victims, has been charged in the United States. (RFE/RL, 11.10.22)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • A plan to cap the price of Russian oil exports is close to being finalized, the G-7 said Nov. 4, with details emerging of how they aim to reduce a vital source of revenue for the Kremlin while limiting the impact on supply and global prices. (FT, 11.04.22)
  • U.S. oil producers have raked in more than $200 billion in profits since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (FT, 11.05.22)
  • Russia’s Lukoil has turned down an offer to sell its Italian refinery to a U.S. private equity group in a decision that risks bankrupting the Sicilian plant and costing thousands of jobs. (FT, 11.04.22)
  • Russia’s seaborne crude shipments jumped to a five-month high last week, as time runs short for vessels leaving Baltic and Arctic ports to reach key destinations before European Union sanctions kick in. Cargoes shipped from Russia rose to 3.6 million barrels a day, the highest since early June, while the less volatile four-week average was also up, reaching the most since August. (Bloomberg, 11.07.22)
  • Russia sent its second-ever crude oil shipment east through the Arctic Circle toward China, a route that could one day give the country a faster way to buyers in Asia. The Vasily Dinkov, a specialized ice-breaking tanker hauling a relatively tiny cargo, is due to arrive at the Chinese port of Rizhao on Nov. 17. (Bloomberg, 11.08.22)
  • Russia has surpassed Iraq and Saudi Arabia as India’s largest supplier of oil, according to independent research companies, as Asia’s third-largest economy cashes in on steep price discounts caused by sanctions against Moscow. (FT, 11.08.22)
  • Analytics company Vortexa Ltd. calculates that shifting all of Russia’s European crude flows to “friendly” countries—essentially China, India and Turkey—would require 219 tankers of various sizes. That’s three times as many as were used to transport its crude in October, driven by the much longer voyages involved. (Bloomberg, 11.09.22)

Climate change:

  • The last eight years have each been warmer than all years before that period on record, according to a report by the World Meteorological Organization that was released Nov. 6 as the United Nations opened two weeks of climate talks. (WSJ, 11.06.22)
  • Speaking the international climate conference known as COP27, the U.N. secretary general called on China and the United States—the world’s two biggest polluters—to cooperate in addressing climate change, saying that the nations had “a particular responsibility to join efforts.” Putin is not attending the summit. Nor are Xi or Modi. (NYT, 11.07.22)
  • Speaking virtually to COP27 on Nov. 8, Zelensky said "there can be no effective climate policy without the peace." He added that the Russian aggression against Ukraine has destroyed 5 million acres of woodland and brought about an energy crisis, forcing some Ukrainians to resume using coal. (RFE/RL, 11.08.22)
  • Russia's climate envoy Ruslan Edelgeriyev has said the country remains committed to meeting its climate commitments despite the imposition of Western sanctions. (RFE/RL/Reuters, 11.09.22)

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Putin, has admitted Moscow interferes with U.S. elections and vowed to continue to do so. (RFE/RL, 11.07.22)
  • Peskov said Nov. 9 that Moscow's ties with Washington were likely to remain at rock bottom regardless of the results of the U.S. midterm elections, with relations at a historic low over the conflict in Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 11.09.22)
  • Biden said Nov. 9 that he hopes Putin will be more willing to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner now that the U.S. midterm elections are over. He spoke hours after Griner's lawyers revealed that she had been sent to a penal colony to serve her sentence for drug possession. (AP, 11.09.22)
  • A Russian court has ordered the deportation of U.S. citizen Sarah Krivanek, who spent almost 11 months in detention in Russia on charges of assaulting her Russian partner. (RFE/RL, 11.10.22)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles in Russia fell by 62.8% in October 2022 year-on-year to 45,228 units, the Association of European Businesses said. (TASS, 11.07.22)
  • Since Russia lifted all pandemic-related travel restrictions in the summer, the number of domestic flights has surged and was up 4% on 2019 levels in October this year, according to data from IBA, the aviation consultancy. (FT, 11.07.22)
  • Annual inflation in Russia declined to 12.52% as of Nov. 7, the Ministry of Economic Development says in its price review. (TASS, 11.10.22)
  • During a discussion of the current state of the Russian economy at the Finopolis forum, Elvira Nabiullina, the head of Russia’s Central Bank, said that she prefers not to “look for rock bottom” in any question, including questions of the economy. “If the world finds itself in crisis, our own path will also become more difficult,” she noted. (Meduza, 11.10.22)
  • Russia is planning to ease restrictions on child labor, removing rules that had made it hard for teenagers to get jobs as the economy struggles under sanctions and the impact of the mobilization of 300,000 reservists for the war in Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 11.10.22)
  • Russia on Nov. 9 vowed to defend its "traditional" values against threats from the United States and so-called "gay propaganda" in a document signed by Putin. The presidential decree, setting out official policy and entering force immediately, stresses the importance of "traditional values as the basis of Russian society." (MT/AFP, 11.10.22) 
  • Russian journalist and TV personality Ksenia Sobchak has reportedly returned to Russia, almost two weeks after she left to avoid possible arrest. (RFE/RL, 11.07.22)
  • Russia's Interior Ministry added Dmitry Kolezev, the chief editor of the online newspaper Republic, to its wanted list on Nov. 9, saying he is a suspect in an unspecified case. Reports say Kolezev is accused of discrediting Russia's armed forces and may face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. (RFE/RL, 11.09.22)
  • Viktor Cherkesov, an old associate of Putin and the former chief of the Federal Drugs Control Service (FKSN), has died at the age of 72. (RFE/RL, 11.09.22)
  • Spanish company Bell-67, controlled by Robert Gndolyan, who is associated with the family of Russia’s first deputy head of the presidential administration, Sergei Kiriyenko, owns two forest plots in Spain with a total area of 2.4 hectares, "Important Stories" has discovered. According to the publication, at least 50 State Duma deputies, governors, presidential administration employees and other high-ranking Russian officials own real estate in Western countries. (Meduza, 11.09.22)

Defense and aerospace:

  • Prigozhin announced on Nov. 6 the funding and creation of “militia training centers” in Russia’s Belgorod and Kursk regions in the southwest. (Current Time, 11.07.22)
  • A mother of a resident of the Omsk region, who was mobilized in September, claims that her son and several other men mobilized in the region were sent to serve in the Wagner PMC. (Meduza, 11.08.22)
  •  See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • A fire Nov. 5 killed at least 15 people at a bar in the Russian city of Kostroma.  The night-time fire at the popular bar could have been started after a drunk man, allegedly by a veteran of Russia’s war in Ukraine, fired a "flare gun" on the dance floor. (MT/AFP, 11.05.22, Meduza, 11.05.22)
  • A Russian court has handed down the country's first jail sentence for arson of a military enlistment office to Ilya Farber, amid a string of attacks nationwide sparked by the invasion of Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 11.10.22)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • "A decision has been made that Sergei Lavrov will represent Russia at the G-20 summit," Peskov told reporters. Putin may take part in the Nov. 15-16 summit by video link, officials said. Both Biden and Xi will be attending the summit, and they intend to meet on its sidelines. (MT/AFP, 11.10.22, AP, 11.10.22)


  • In July 2016, Konstantin Kilimnik, a friend and business associate of Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, shared a secret plan whose significance would only become clear six years later, as Putin’s invading army pushed into Ukraine. Known loosely as the Mariupol plan, it called for the creation of an autonomous republic in Ukraine’s east, giving Putin effective control of the country’s industrial heartland. The new republic’s leader would be none other than Yanukovych. The trade-off: “peace” for a broken and subservient Ukraine. (NYT, 11.02.22)
  • Zelensky will take part in next week’s G-20 summit in Bali “in some kind of format,” most likely online. (Bloomberg, 11.08.22)
  • Zelensky said he may expand an intervention into the economy after authorities used special wartime powers to seize control of five companies, all of which have ties to some of the country’s most powerful oligarchs.  The president spoke after his government secured shares in engine maker Motor Sich PJSC and public oil producer Ukrnafta PJSC, which is backed by billionaire Igor Kolomoisky. Authorities also targeted truck maker Avtokraz, industrial company Zaporizhtransformator PJSC and an oil-refining company Ukrtatnafta.  (Bloomberg, 11.07.22)
  • Former head of the National Bank Kyrylo Shevchenko, who is wanted for alleged involvement in embezzlement of over UAH 200 million and was put on the international wanted list, has left Ukraine. (, 11.09.22, Kyiv Post, 10.09.22)
  • Employees of the State Bureau of Investigations of Ukraine reportedly detained a prosecutor of the Zaporizhzhia district prosecutor's office while receiving a bribe in the amount of $2,000. (, 11.10.22)
  • Volodymyr Ariev, a lawmaker in Ukraine’s opposition European Solidarity Party, is organizing a delegation of Ukrainian lawmakers to visit Washington in December. (NYT, 11.10.22)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has paid an official visit to Moldova, where she announced a 250 million-euro ($250 million) financial package to help one of Europe's poorest countries overcome a severe energy crisis amid Russia's war in Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.10.22)
  • Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of violating a truce along their tense border ahead of another round of talks. (RFE/RL, 11.07.22)
  • Following talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Ararat Mirzoyan and Ceyhun Bayramov, hosted by U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken in Washington on Nov. 7, State Department spokesman Ned Price told a news briefing that the United States remains "committed to promoting a peaceful future for the South Caucasus region." (RFE/RL, 11.09.22)
  • Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Putin have discussed an upcoming summit of the CSTO on Nov. 23 in Armenia. (RFE/RL, 11.10.22)
  • Armenia has proposed creating a demilitarized zone with international guarantees around Nagorno-Karabakh. (RFE/RL, 11.10.22)
  • A Belarusian court has sentenced businessman Stanislau Kuzmitsky to 15 years in prison for administering more than two dozen social media chats on protests that followed a disputed presidential election in August 2020. (Current Time, 11.07.22)
  • Ten members of the Rabochy rukh (Workers' Movement) group in Belarus have gone on trial for high treason and other charges as a crackdown against dissent continues in the country led by the authoritarian Alexander Lukashenko. (RFE/RL, 11.09.22)
  • The Kazakh government has prepared a bill under which knowledge of the Kazakh language, the country's history and legislation will be mandatory for individuals seeking naturalization, Prime Minister Alikhan Smaiylov said Nov. 8. (RFE/RL, 11.08.22)
  • Oraz Vazirbekov, a Tajik activist, has been sentenced by a court in Dushanbe to 16 years in prison for extremism and calls on social media to overthrow the constitutional order. (RFE/RL, 11.07.22)
  • According to the FSB’s border service, in July-September, Russian citizens made 9.7 million trips abroad. This is almost twice as much as in the period from April to June (4.9 million). In the third quarter of 2022, Russians made a record number of trips to Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and also to Armenia and Mongolia. The sudden interest in Asia and the Caucasus is clearly related to the military mobilization in Russia. (Media Zone, 11.08.22)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • No significant developments.


Table du jour: As the West ponders whether Putin's Russia is in long-term decline and what the consequences of such a trend would be, it is important to ask: Compared to whom?

share in world GDP, PPP








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