Russia in Review, Nov. 9-17, 2023

5 Things to Know

  1. The U.S. Congress’ interest in financing Ukraine’s fight against invading Russian forces has “dipped lower than ever,” according to WP. Moreover, rising competition from other national security priorities could “sound the death knell for continued American aid” for Kyiv, this newspaper predicted shortly before Biden signed a bill that is designed to avoid a government shutdown, but contains no money for Ukraine. The soonest Congress could complete negotiations and pass new Ukraine assistance is mid-December, according to Bloomberg. Zelensky acknowledged this week that without continued Western military support, Ukraine “will move backward,” saying the shift in its allies’ focus to the Israel-Hamas war has slowed deliveries of artillery shells to Kyiv, Bloomberg reports. Zelensky’s warning came as EU members acknowledged this week that they risk failing to honor their pledge to provide Ukraine with 1 million rounds of ammunition by spring 2024. 
  2. In the week of fighting preceding Nov. 14, Ukrainian forces had made a net territorial gain of nine square miles, according to the latest issue of the Belfer Center’s Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. This week has seen units of the Ukrainian armed forces continue their efforts to expand bridgeheads on the Russian-held side of the Dnipro River, including the village of Krynky in the Kherson region. FT described these bridgeheads as Ukrainian forces’ “most significant territorial gains for weeks in their otherwise stalled counteroffensive.” However, this week has also seen Russian forces advance in their effort to capture Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, which Ukrainian  leaders mentioned among the territories Ukrainian soldiers found most challenging to defend.
  3. After a lull of more than 50 days, the Russian military resumed attacks on Kyiv, but Ukrainian officials said that the drones aimed at the capital had been shot down,  ISW and NYT reported on Nov. 11, citing the city’s authorities. The Ukrainian capital was targeted along with other parts of Ukraine in a Nov. 10-11 attack that featured at least 31 drones and five missiles, according to ISW. The Ukrainian authorities said that they had shot down 19 of the 31 Iranian-made Shahed drones. The fate of the other 12 drones remained unclear, but local officials reported damage in several areas after the attacks, NYT reported. Three days after the attack, Zelensky warned citizens to brace for a winter onslaught of Russian missiles aimed at knocking out power and heat, WSJ reported. Last winter saw Russian attacks damage 50% of Ukraine's energy production and transmission, according to WSJ.
  4. The U.S. says Biden and Xi discussed Russia’s war against Ukraine and its cooperation with North Korea, but there were no accounts of the two leaders condemning nuclear threats this time. During the Nov. 15 meeting, President Biden raised concerns regarding China’s support for “Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine,” according to Sarah Beran, senior director for China and Taiwan Affairs at NSC. When asked whether Biden raised concerns about Russia’s military cooperation with North Korea, Beran said, “We’ve been pretty consistent in raising those concerns and urging the Chinese to think seriously about what it means.” According to the White House’s readout of the meeting, Biden reaffirmed to Xi that the U.S. will “continue to support Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression, to ensure Ukraine emerges from this war as a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous nation that can deter and defend itself against future aggression.” Biden himself then said after the meeting that he and Xi “exchanged views on a range of regional and global issues, including Russia’s refusal and brutal war to stop the war—and brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.” In contrast, a Nov. 15 account of the meeting by Xinhua contained no references to either Russia or Ukraine. During their meeting, the leaders agreed to restore communications between their countries' militaries, according to WP. They also affirmed the need to address the risks of advanced AI systems through U.S.-China government talks, according to White House’s readout. During their meeting one year ago, Biden and Xi reiterated their “agreement that a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” according to the White House’s readout of that meeting on Nov. 14, 2022. No such language can be found in the White House’s readout of the Nov. 15, 2023 meeting.*
  5. Russian authorities have forecast several consecutive years of economic growth. The country’s GDP is to grow by 2.3% in 2024, 2.3% in 2025 and 2.2% in 2026, according to the three-year budgetary plan approved by the State Duma on Nov. 17, Interfax reported. In contrast, the IMF forecasts Russian GDP to grow by 2.24% in 2023, 1.05% in 2024 and 0.95% in 2025. As for this year, Russia’s Federal Statistics Service sees the annual economic growth accelerated to 5.5% in the third quarter from 4.9% in the second quarter, with Putin predicting a growth of 3% for the entire year, according to Bloomberg and Forbes. In more potentially good news for the Russian authorities, the MoEx Russia stock index—which is calculated based on prices of the most liquid Russian stocks traded on the Moscow Exchange—has jumped 50% this year, one of the best performances among stock indexes tracked by Bloomberg, while the Russian banking sector’s total profit for the first nine months of the year has already exceeded the previous annual record from 2021. 

NB: Next week’s Russia in Review will appear on Tuesday, Nov. 21, instead of Friday, Nov. 24, because of the U.S. Thanksgiving holidays.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • Ukraine stated that the continued Russian occupation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) has resulted in equipment and maintenance failures that threaten the plant’s security. Ukrainian nuclear energy operator Energoatom reported on Nov. 16 that Russian ZNPP authorities transferred reactor no. 5 to a hot shutdown state from a cold shutdown state in violation of Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory orders, resulting in a leak of a boric acid solution that entered all the reactor’s steam generator. (ISW, 11.16.23)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned that Russia and China are cooperating closely with North Korea to mutually expand military capabilities. However, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed the warning, arguing that “all such charges are absolutely unfounded.” (Fox News, 11.14.23, Interfax, 11.16.23)
  • A Russian delegation led by Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov visited Pyongyang, this week, The delegation arrived in Pyongyang on Nov. 14, the Korean Central News Agency reported, to discuss "cooperation in trade, economy, science and technology." (MT/AFP, 11.15.23)

  • North Korea tested new engines for intermediate-range ballistic missiles, its state media said, a move that could help Pyongyang deliver quick strikes on U.S. bases in places such as Guam. (Bloomberg, 11.15.23)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • The use of antipersonnel land mines continues to cause a large number of casualties despite the devices being banned by most countries, according to Landmine Monitor 2023. Ukraine recorded the second-largest number of casualties—608 in 2022, according to the monitor. (RFE/RL, 11.14.23)

  • On the night of Nov. 10, Russian forces launched a large-scale series of missile and drone strikes against Ukraine, targeting Kyiv for the first time in 52 days. Ukrainian military sources reported on Nov. 11 that Russian forces launched 31 Shahed 131/136 drones, two Kh-59 missiles, one Kh-31 missile, one P-800 Onyx anti-ship missile, and an S-300 missile against various targets in Ukraine, and specifically targeted Kyiv Oblast with either an Iskander-M or an S-400 missile. The Ukrainian authorities said that they had also shot down 19 of the 31 drones launched by Russian forces overnight. The fate of the other 12 drones remained unclear, but local officials reported damage in several areas after the attacks. (NYT, 11.12.23, ISW, 11.11.23)
    • Air raid sirens sounded only six times in Kyiv last month, the smallest number since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion last year. Some 170 people have been killed in Kyiv since the attacks began last year, according to city officials, but health experts say that the repeated attacks have also taken a toll on those who survive, causing sleep disorders and chronic stress. (NYT, 11.16.23)
  • On Nov.12, Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out a series of attacks in the border regions of Bryansk and Belgorod, causing one injury. (MT/AFP, 11.12.23)
  • On Nov. 13, Russian attacks on Ukraine's southern region of Kherson killed three civilians and injured 15, including a two-month-old child, officials said. (MT/AFP, 11.13.23)
    • Last month, Russia fired 2,706 shells at urban settlements in the Kherson region, killing eight people and injuring 80, according to the local administration. (WP, 11.14.23)
  • On Nov. 14,  Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned citizens to brace for a winter onslaught of Russian missiles aimed at knocking out power and heat, as Moscow seeks to capitalize on a shift in momentum in the war. (WSJ, 11.14.23)
    • In the past few weeks, Russia attacked Ukrainian infrastructure 60 times, Ukraine said this week, raising concerns that Moscow may have already started to target the power grid for a second winter at war. (Reuters, 11.12.23)
      • Between October 2022 and March 2023, Moscow launched more than 1,000 missiles and 1,000 attack drones into Ukraine, most of them targeting urban areas and infrastructure, Ukraine's air force said. About 50% of Ukraine's energy production and transmission was damaged during last winter, said Herman Halushchenko, Ukraine's energy minister. (WSJ, 11.14.23)
      • Ukraine will have enough energy resources to get through the coming winter, but an expected surge in Russian attacks may disrupt the supply networks, Ukraine's Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said late on Nov. 11. (Reuters, 11.12.23)
  • More than 1,500 Kherson prisoners still remain in prisons in Russia, while many others, who long ago completed their Ukraine-issued jail sentences, have been released but are unable to get home without a passport. Ukraine argues that the transfer of its prisoners into Russia’s prison system was an example of “forced deportation.” (MT/AFP, 11.15.23)

  • Ukraine faces a massive budget deficit of $35 billion for next year, only a third of which is expected to be covered by its other principal backer, the European Union. “At this time there is no funding left for direct budget support,” Erin McKee, the assistant administrator of USAID told senators on the Foreign Relations Committee. “Ukraine’s economic stability … is as vital as winning the war. If the economy collapses, Putin will have won,” McKee added later. (WP, 11.14.23)
  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is closing in on a decision to approve a capital increase of €4 billion ($4.3 billion) to support Ukraine’s reconstruction, according to people familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg, 11.14.23)
  • Staff from IMF and Ukrainian officials reached agreement on an updated set of economic and financial policies for the second review of the four-year Extended Fund Facility to allow disbursement of $900 million in funding, subject to approval by the IMF board. (RFE/RL, 11.11.23)
  • The EU is planning $54 billion in economic aid to Ukraine over the next four years and is discussing a regional security commitment for Ukraine that comes with additional funding. (WSJ, 11.17.23)
  • Ukraine and Britain have agreed on a special mechanism for discounts on war risk insurance on exports through the Black Sea corridor. The new public-private partnership of Ukraine and insurance broking giant Marsh McLennan will offer up to $50 million each of hull and liability insurance from Lloyd’s of London firms for ships carrying agricultural commodities, providing so-called war risk cover in case of losses coming from the conflict. Ukrainian transport authorities last week said 91 vessels exported 3.3 million metric tons of agricultural and metal products as of Nov. 9. (Reuters, 11.14.23, FT, 11.15.23)
  • Ukraine’s government expects a harvest of 79 million tons of grain and oilseeds in 2023, with its 2023/24 exportable surplus totaling about 50 million tons. (Reuters, 11.14.23)

Military and security aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • In the past month, Russian forces have gained 14 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine gained 23 square miles, according to the 11.14.23 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 11.14.23)
    • "It's a trench deadlock," said a senior Ukrainian security official. "A general offensive is impossible for either side. Neither side can break through." (WSJ, 11.12.23)
    • Former company commander of the 47th separate mechanized brigade of the armed forces of Ukraine Nikolai Melnik said: The entire plan for [Ukraine’s summer] big counteroffensive was based on simple things: a Muscovite sees a, Bradley [fighting vehicle], a Leopard [tank], and runs away. That’s it.” (, 11.15.23)

  •  Over the last weekend Ukrainian partisans killed three Russian officers in a bomb attack in the southern city of Melitopol, military authorities said, in a sign that Kyiv is stepping up its harassment of Moscow's forces in the absence of decisive territorial progress on the battlefield. (NYT, 11.14.23)
  • On Nov. 10, the Russian Defense Ministry said that air-defense forces had intercepted two Ukrainian drones over the territories of the Moscow and Smolensk regions. (RFE/RL, 11.11.23)
  • On Nov. 12, Oleksandr Syrskiy, the commander of Ukraine's eastern forces, said Russian forces were seeking to "regain lost positions" around Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. (RFE/RL, 11.12.23)
  • On Nov. 13, Commander-in-chief of Ukrainian armed forces Valery Zaluzhny, spoke to General Charles Brown, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to tell him that "Avdiivka, Kupiansk and Marinka fronts remain the most intense. The situation is complicated, but remains under control,” he said. Brown and Zaluzhny discussed Ukraine's plans for the winter period and separately focused on the urgent needs of the Ukrainian army. First of all this concerned ammunition, air defense and drones. (Ukrainska Pravda, 11.13.23)
  • On Nov. 13, Zelensky said: "Avdiivka, Marinka, Bakhmut front, Lyman front, Kupiansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson oblasts—[the situation in] each of those areas is difficult." (Ukrainska Pravda, 11.13.23)
    • Ukrainian DeepState Telegram channel acknowledged on Nov. 16 that the Russian forces broke through Ukraine’s defenses near Yasynuvata, which is about 7 km away from Avdiivka. (RM, 11.17.23)
  • On Nov. 15, Russian military said it launched eight missile and 59 air strikes and fired 49 salvoes of rockets at both Ukrainian military positions and civilian areas in Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.15.23)

  • On Nov. 15, Russia said for the first time that some Ukrainian troops had established positions on the Moscow-held side of the Dnipro River. "Small groups" of Ukrainian soldiers were stretched along the eastern bank of the Dnipro river, and had been "blocked" in the tiny village of Krynky, the Moscow-installed head of Ukraine's Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, said. (MT/AFP, 11.15.23)

    • On Nov. 17, Ukraine’s military confirmed having established several fortified bridgeheads on the Russian-occupied left bank of the Dnipro river in their most significant territorial gains for weeks in their otherwise stalled counteroffensive. “The Ukrainian marines, in cooperation with other units of the defense forces, managed to gain a foothold on several bridgeheads,” read the statement. (FT, 11.17.23)

    •  “The Kherson’s region’s left bank. Our warriors,” Zelensky said in a posting to X, formerly Twitter. “I thank them for their strength and for moving forward.” Zelensky’s comment seemed designed to emphasize what the nation’s Marine Corp. said earlier on Nov. 17 were successful operations this week. (Bloomberg, 11.17.23)

    • A Western official on Nov. 16 said Ukraine had moved “elements of three brigades” with a total strength of hundreds of soldiers to the Russian-occupied east bank of the river, and confirmed reports last week by Russian military bloggers that Ukraine has moved some vehicles across. (FT, 11.17.23)

    • A private in Ukraine's 38th Marine Brigade who crossed to the eastern bank of the Dniper reiver at the start of November said his unit had advanced 100 yards in the six days he was there before he was evacuated for treatment of a concussion. (WSJ, 11.15.23)

    • Russian pro-war Telegram channel “Rybar” acknowledged that Ukrainian forces continued to hold a bridgehead in the center of the Krynky village as of Nov. 17. (RM, 11.17.23)

    • Ukrainian marines slip across the Dnipro River at night in small groups to reinforce a growing contingent of troops engaged in a daring operation to reinvigorate Kyiv's military efforts in the occupied south. "This is our last chance for a breakthrough until the war becomes a total stalemate," said Yaroslav, who said the Kherson campaign has been his hardest battle since Russia's invasion in February 2022. "If we don't get support, this operation could be our swan song." (WSJ, 11.15.23)

  •  Zelensky said the shift in focus to the Israel-Hamas war has slowed deliveries of artillery shells to Kyiv. Combatants in the Middle East have sought 155-millimeter shells, a key component to weapons deliveries Ukraine needs to press back Russia’s invasion, the president said. “Without the support, we will move backward,” he said. (Bloomberg, 11.16.23)
    • Zelensky said Moscow is also seeking to sow division in Ukrainian society, by creating “chaos” domestically and ultimately to remove the president. “Our intelligence has information, which also came from our partners,” Zelensky said, describing a disinformation plan known internally as “Maidan 3,” which he said was a “coup for them, so the operation is understandable.” (Bloomberg, 11.16.23)
  • Russian state-news agencies published, then abruptly retracted a news item suggesting Russian forces had ordered a tactical withdrawal in a location of intense fighting in southern Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.13.23)
  • Vice Adm. Oleksiy Neizhpapa, the Ukrainian naval commander, said that the Russian naval blockade of Odesa had been broken. In addition, Ukraine has effectively turned around 10,000 square miles in the western Black Sea off its southern coast into what the military calls a “gray zone” where neither side can sail without the threat of attack. About two dozen Russian ships and one submarine have been damaged or destroyed since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, he said. (NYT, 11.13.23)
  • BBC and Media Zone have identified 37,052 Russian military servicemen killed in Ukraine as of Nov. 17, which is 1,272 more than they identified as of Nov. 3. Researchers note a significant increase in the number of obituaries: if in the summer and early autumn there were approximately 80 of them per day, now there are 100-110. This could be one result of Russian offensive aimed at taking Avdiivka, according to Media Zone. (RM, 11.17.23)
  • American officials estimate that at least 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in the war, and that up to 120,000 more have been wounded. (The Economist, 11.12.23) 
  • About 20 thousand men of military age left Ukraine illegally after the outbreak of hostilities with Russia, the BBC reports. Another 21,113 men tried to do this, but were caught by law enforcement officers. (Kommersant, 11.17.23)
  • Some of the riskiest battles in Ukraine are being fought not by soldiers but by cops. In many recent operations on the eastern front—including the liberation of a key village near Bakhmut—police officers boldly advanced on occupying Russian forces, attacking with grenades and gunfire. (WP, 11.17.23) 
  • President Joe Biden signed a temporary spending bill a day before a potential government shutdown, pushing a fight with congressional Republicans over the federal budget into the new year. The spending bill does not include the White House’s nearly $106 billion request for wartime aid for Israel and Ukraine. (AP, 11.17.23)
  • Congressional interest in financing Ukraine’s fight against invading Russian forces has dipped lower than ever, and rising competition from other national security priorities—including Israel and the U.S. southern border—could sound the death knell for continued American aid for its embattled European ally. As of Nov. 14 Congress had less than a week to hash out a short-term bill to avert a government shutdown before federal funding expires after midnight on Nov. 18. (WP, 11.14.23)
  • New U.S. aid for Ukraine risks slipping to mid-December and maybe longer, casting doubt on Washington’s ability to keep up the flow of weapons that both the Biden administration and the Ukrainian government say is vital. The soonest Congress could complete negotiations and pass new Ukraine assistance is mid-December, nearly two months after President Joe Biden first requested $61 billion for the country in its war against Russia. (Bloomberg, 11.17.23)

    • “I want to be frank with you about our problem,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told three administration officials who appeared at last week’s hearing. “People come up to me and say the following: ‘We have five, six thousand people a day crossing our border; we’ve got all these other needs. … Why is Ukraine important in that context?’ I hear that constantly,” Rubio added. (WP, 11.14.23)

    • Senior officials from Baltic nations expressed disquiet in interviews about tensions over funding in the U.S. Congress that threaten to leave Ukraine without sufficient aid to beat back Russia’s invasion, as a slower-than-expected counteroffensive grinds to a stalemate. (Bloomberg, 11.15.23)

  • Biden’s request for Ukraine is part of a $106 billion national security package that would provide emergency funding for Israel; for China-deterrence initiatives throughout the Asia-Pacific region; and to address the surge in illegal immigration through the U.S.-Mexico border. (WP, 11.14.23)
    • The uncertainty in Congress has prompted the Defense Department to “meter out” the appropriated funds that remain available for Ukraine security assistance, which as of Nov. 16 stood at about $1 billion, said Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokeswoman. Recent aid packages have totaled less than $200 million compared with earlier weapons deliveries that totaled $1 billion or more. WP, 11.14.23)
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised delegates from Kyiv, including the head of the President's Office, Andriy Yermak, that the United States would continue funding Ukraine through what could be another difficult winter. "A turning point in the war is approaching. Next year will be decisive," Yermak told the Hudson Institute. He also said Ukraine needs arms right now, pledging to account for each piece of ammunition, Istories reported. The delegation spoke with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and members of the House Intelligence Committee. Yermak also met with national security advisers from key allies during his visit to DC. It remains unclear whether Yermak has been able to secure any additional military or other aid. (Kyiv Post,11.14.23, RM, 11.14.23, Bloomberg, 11.15.23, Bloomberg, 11.14.23, RM, 11.17.23)
    • Zelensky assured allies that his military was preparing to take the war with Russia into next year after Yermak’s delegation’s visit to DC. “It will not be easy, we are aware of this,” Zelensky said. “But we are doing everything to ensure that Ukraine’s position remains solid.” (Bloomberg, 11.15.23)
  • European Union nations acknowledged on Nov. 14 that they risk failing to provide Ukraine with 1 million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine’s front line by spring next year. “The 1 million will not be reached, you have to assume that,” said German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, ahead of a meeting of EU defense and foreign affairs ministers in Brussels. Some 300,000 rounds have been delivered from existing stocks in the EU so far. (AP, 11.14.23)
    • “Look at Russia. They are producing today more than ever. They are getting shells from North Korea. Europe cannot say that … ‘Russia and North Korea can deliver and we cannot,’” said Estonia’s defense minister, Hanno Pevkur. (AP, 11.14.23)
  • German chancellor Olaf Scholz's governing coalition has agreed in principle to double the country's military aid for Ukraine next year to 8 billion euros ($8.5 billion). (Reuters, 11.13.23)
  • The Romanian and Dutch defense ministers on Nov. 13 opened a training center for F-16 pilots some 150 kilometers east of Bucharest where Ukrainian pilots will learn how to fly the U.S.-made fighter jets. (RFE/RL, 11.13.23)
  • Hungary rejected demands from EU states to unblock €500 million ($534 million) of the bloc’s military assistance for Ukraine, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters. Hungary wants Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency to “guarantee” that no Hungarian company will ever be put on its list of international war sponsors before unblocking the latest tranche, he said. (Bloomberg, 11.13.23)
  • During a two-day visit to Ukraine, former Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, in his new role as foreign secretary, vowed that his country would maintain military support for Kyiv “however long it takes,” an effort to offer reassurance amid fears that Ukraine is being forgotten as much of the world's attention focuses on the war in Gaza. Cameron chose Kyiv as the destination for his first trip abroad since returning to government. (NYT, 11.17.23, Bloomberg, 11.16.23)
  • The Russian Field (RF) pollster’s Oct. 21-29 poll of Russians found that when asked whether their country’s so-called special military operation (SVO) in Ukraine was going successfully, 56% answered in the affirmative (compared to 58% in June 2023 and 50% in November-December 2022), while 25% answered in the negative (compared to 21% in June 2023 and 33% in November-December 2022). (RM, 11.16.23)
    • The poll has also revealed that 58% of Russians believe RF parties should fully support RF's special military operation' in Ukraine; 13% believe RF parties should actively oppose the war and 9% believe RF parties should focus on other/have no position, Kommersant reported. (RM, 11.14.23)
  • A poll conducted for ECFR and Oxford University this autumn in 21 countries shows that majorities in Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey believe it is likely that Russia will win its war in Ukraine within the next five years. Only in the U.S. does a view clearly prevail that Ukraine will win this war. Even in Europe, 30 percent of respondents expressed a view that Russia is likely to win the war within five years, while only 38 percent say that Ukraine is likely to win. (ECFR, 11.15.23)
  • Also see the Energy exports section.

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

  • The U.S. is directly targeting Russia’s ability to export LNG for the first time. In early November, the U.S. State Department announced sanctions on a new Russian development known as Arctic LNG 2—in effect blocking countries in Europe and Asia from buying the project’s gas when it starts producing next year. Francis Bond, sanctions specialist at law firm Macfarlanes, said that by targeting the project operator, the U.S. was seeking to “toxify the project in its entirety” and would put “pressure on any non-U.S. companies planning to purchase the flows from Arctic LNG 2.” (FT, 11.12.23)
  • US House of Representatives Speaker Johnson told the New York Post last week that it would be “eminently responsible” to fund the aid using $300 billion in seized Russian assets, an idea that he said was popular with Republicans. (WP, 11.14.23)
  • The European Union has proposed banning the export of machine tools and machinery parts that Russia uses to make weapons targeting Ukraine, according to documents seen by Bloomberg. (Bloomberg, 11.15.23)
  • The incoming chair of the international certification scheme for conflict diamonds has hit out at a plan by the G7 group of developed nations to track and trace Russian diamonds, warning of “irreparable harm” to African producers. Ahmed bin Sulayem of the Kimberley Process said any proposed scheme “must take into account African diamond producing nations.” Four proposals had been put forward for a system to track and trace diamonds through the supply chain, which would pave the way for an EU ban on Russian stones. One from Belgium, one from France, one from India and one from the World Diamond Council. The EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell last week said the bloc was set to move ahead with a ban on Russian diamonds after securing sufficient backing from the G7 group of developed nations. (FT, 11.14.23)
  • The Czech government on Nov. 15 froze property owned by Russia on Czech soil as it put a company managing Russian property abroad on its sanction list. (AFP, 11.15.23)

  • On Nov. 17, Finland will close several checkpoints along its border between Russia’s Leningrad region, including Valimaa/Torfyanovka, Nuyamaa/Brusnichnoe and Iamtra/Svetogorsk, as well as the Niirala/Vyartsilya checkpoint on its border with Karelia. They will remain closed until at least Feb. 18. Applications for asylum will continue to be accepted at the Salla checkpoint (bordering the Murmansk region) and the Vartius checkpoint (bordering Karelia). (Istories, 11.16.23)
    • Finland has earlier said that Russia is allowing undocumented migrants to cross its eastern border, vowing action against what it said was a sharp increase in the number of arrivals. Finland’s border guards said 39 asylum seekers without documents crossed from Russia on Nov. 13 and another 21 on the morning of Nov. 14. That compares with a normal weekly total of less than 10. The migrants were originally from countries such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Turkey, the border guards said. Mari Rantanen, Finland’s interior minister said would soon put forward a proposal to limit border crossings or centralize asylum applications. (FT, 11.14.23)
    • The European Union on Nov. 17 accused Russia of making a "shameful" use of migrants to put pressure on other countries, saying it had noted an increased number of undocumented asylum seekers crossing Russia's border to Finland. (AFP, 11.17.23)

  • The world’s largest crypto exchange Binance said on Nov. 10 that it will stop providing Russian ruble deposits starting next week as it prepares to leave the Russian market. “From Nov. 15, 2023, we will stop offering fiat deposits in Russian rubles,” Binance said in a statement. Ruble withdrawals will continue to be available until Jan. 31, 2024, the exchange added. (MT/AFP, 11.10.23)
  • Cyprus vowed on Nov. 14 to investigate new allegations by a group of international journalists that it was a hub for Russian money-laundering enabling oligarchs to bypass sanctions. According to an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the east Mediterranean island "plays an even bigger role than was commonly known in moving dirty money for Putin and other brutal dictators." (MT/AFP, 11.14.23)

  • French police believe that more than 13,500 chips were sent to Russia using falsified customs documents in 2021 alone. The French authorities found invoices for a total of 34,000 chips, worth €4.5 million. Investigators also found invoices for €6.6 million in payments which, they believe, related to shared research on sensitive gallium nitride technology between 2015 and 2021. (FT, 11.13.23)
  • Five Bulgarian nationals in custody in Britain will face trial next year on charges they spied for Russia, a judge ruled on Nov. 10. Orlin Roussev, Bizer Dzhambazov, Katrin Ivanova, Ivan Stoyanov, and Vanya Gaberova are alleged to have been part of a "network" conducting surveillance for Russia "with another person known as Jan Marsalek and others unknown." (AFP, 11.10.23)
  • A German businessman has been charged by prosecutors with smuggling millions of euros of sensitive engineering equipment to Russia to manufacture sniper rifles. Referred to in the prosecution as Ulli S, the executive is accused of having used a network of shell companies in Switzerland and Lithuania to hide the sales of equipment to an unnamed Russian arms company. (FT, 11.13.23)
  • Lithuania's Interior Ministry has moved to strip Russian-Lithuanian ballerina Ilze Liepa of her citizenship after she praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Baltic country’s media reported. (MT/AFP, 11.13.23)
  • Almost two decades after stepping down as president of Russia’s largest brewer, businessman Taimuraz Bolloev is back in charge at Baltika and has set out to restore it to what he considers its 1990s heyday, before its acquisition by Denmark’s Carlsberg. As Carlsberg reckons with the loss of its second-largest market. (FT, 11.10.23)
    • Russia on Nov. 11 denied stealing Carlsberg's business, saying its seizure was legal, in reaction to remarks made almost two weeks ago by the head of the Danish brewery company. (MT/AFP, 11.11.23)
    • Russian authorities have arrested senior executives at Carlsberg’s seized subsidiary Baltika Breweries under criminal charges of fraud as the battle over the rights to the Danish brewer’s brand licenses escalates. The two managers that have been detained are former chief executive Denis Sherstennikov, who had stepped down from the Russian subsidiary following its seizure by the Kremlin, and Anton Rogachevsky, the company’s legal vice-president. (FT, 11.16.23)
  • Also see the Energy exports section.

Ukraine-related negotiations: 

  • Zelensky said: "If there is a stalemate and a frozen conflict, we have to honestly say that our children, or our grandchildren, will have to fight. … We've already lost too many people. Do we want to live like this, knowing that we will raise children who will certainly have to fight?” He went on: "The stalemate is a temporary weakness. If we want to end the war, we must end it. … We cannot afford any stalemate," he told African journalists in Kyiv. (Kyiv Post, 11.15.23, RFE/RL, 11.15.23)
  • Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) told NV on Nov. 13 that the war might persist due to Russia's reluctance to negotiate, foreseeing a prolonged war with sporadic shelling from both sides. He drew parallels with Japan and Russia's unresolved issues since 1945."There are instances in history where longstanding wars between states have remained legally unresolved. A clear example is the situation between the Russian Federation and Japan," Budanov said. "Since 1945, they have never signed a peace treaty concerning the northern islands (referred to by Russia as the Kuril Islands). This territorial issue has persisted for more than 70 years," he added. (Kyiv Post, 11.17.23)
  • "We have to keep giving the Ukrainians the weapons they need to stay strong on the battlefield today, so they can be strong at the negotiating table tomorrow," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. "These contributions help Ukraine defend its freedom and they help keep Europe safe," he said. (RFE/RL, 11.10.23)
  • "The ideas being proposed by China to resolve [the Ukraine crisis] are well thought out and, in general, align with our vision," Russian Ambassador to China Igor Morgulov said. (TASS, 11.16.23)
  • The share of Russians who advocate for peace talks with Ukraine has overtaken the share of those who favor continuing the war for the first time since the Russian Field (RF) pollster1 began taking stock of Russians’ attitudes toward their country’s so-called special military operation (SVO) in Ukraine in April 2022. When asked by this pollster on Oct. 21-29, 2023, if Russia should continue the so-called special military operation (SVO) or move to peace talks, 48% chose the latter, while 39% said Russia should opt for the former. Moreover, when asked in October whether they would support Vladimir Putin’s decision to sign a peace deal and stop the SVO if he were to do so tomorrow, only 18% answered in the negative, while 74% answered in the affirmative, the highest such share in the history of RF’s polling on the subject since April 2022. (RM, 11.16.23)
  • A poll conducted for ECFR and Oxford University this autumn shows there remains a clear preference in China, India, and Turkey (and obviously Russia) that the war in Ukraine should end as soon as possible, even if Ukraine has to relinquish control of some of its territory. The new ECFR new poll shows that this is also the prevailing view in Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. (ECFR, 11.15.23)
  • Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan wrote: “Ukraine’s counteroffensive appears to have stalled ... Ukraine and the West are on an unsustainable trajectory, one characterized by a glaring mismatch between ends and the available means. The United States should begin consultations with Ukraine and its European partners on a strategy centered on Ukraine’s readiness to negotiate a cease-fire with Russia and to simultaneously switch its military emphasis from offense to defense.” (FA, 11.17.23)

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

  • "I think we have to have the ability to talk to friends. We have to have the ability to talk to adversaries. It's important to have those channels open. Even in the height of all the things that have happened with respect to Russia and Ukraine, I've had the ability to pick up the phone and talk to the minister of defense of Russia. And I think that's a critical capability that we have to maintain, to manage crisis going forward, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. (TASS, 11.16.23)
  • Eugene Rumer and Andrew S. Weiss wrote: “Now is the time to transition to a long-term strategy that increases and sustains the pressure on the rogue regime in the Kremlin. There should be no illusions that any possible combination of short-term steps will be sufficient to force Putin to abandon his war.” (WSJ, 11.16.23)
  • Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas threw her hat in the ring for NATO’s top job, confirming a broadly suspected ambition by the hawkish Baltic leader for the post. (Bloomberg, 11.15.23)
  • Turkey's parliament opened debate on Nov. 16 on Sweden's NATO aspirations as it neared meeting a major Western defense alliance objective despite its fury at Israel's war with Hamas, designated a terrorist group by Western governments. (AFP, 11.16.23)

  • A poll conducted for ECFR and Oxford University this autumn shows that a remarkably large number of people outside Europe believe the EU will fall apart within the next 20 years. This is a majority view in China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia—but elsewhere many people believe this too, including no less than a third of Americans. Shockingly, a third of the Europeans we polled also believe this—although 50 percent disagree. Outside Europe, 73 percent of those seeing EU collapse as likely also expect a Russian victory, compared to 53 percent of those who see EU collapse as unlikely. Many people across the world—including majorities in China and Saudi Arabia, and over 40 percent in Russia and Turkey—also believe that the U.S. could stop being a democracy within the next two decades. (ECFR, 11.15.23)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • President Biden raised concerns regarding China’s support for “Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine” during his Nov. 15 meeting with President Xi in San Francisco, according to Sarah Beran, Senior Director for China and Taiwan Affairs at NSC. When asked whether Biden raised concerns about Russia’s military cooperation with North Korea, Beran said, “We’ve been pretty consistent in raising those concerns and urging the Chinese to think seriously about what it means.” According to the White House’s readout of the meeting, Biden reaffirmed to Xi that the United States will “continue to support Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression, to ensure Ukraine emerges from this war as a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous nation that can deter and defend itself against future aggression.” Biden himself then said after the meeting that he and Xi “exchanged views on a range of regional and global issues, including Russia’s refusal and brutal war to stop the war — and brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.” In contrast, a Nov. 15 account of the meeting by Xinhua contained no references to either Russia or Putin or Ukraine. During their meeting, the leaders agreed to restore communications between their countries' militaries, according to WP. They also affirmed the need to address the risks of advanced AI systems through U.S.-China government talks, according to White House’s readout.  (RM, 11.17.23)
  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Nov. 10 that the U.S. government had seen evidence that Chinese firms may be aiding in the flow of equipment to Russia's war effort despite Western sanctions, and said she had urged China to crack down. Yellen said she raised the issue during two days of meetings with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, expressing concern that equipment "helpful to Russia's military" was evading sanctions and getting to Moscow to aid its war against Ukraine. (Reuters, 11.11.23)
  • Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov will head the Russian delegation at the meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Investment Cooperation in Beijing on Nov. 20. (TASS, 11.17.23)
  • Hong Kong imported 68 tons of Russian gold this year, four times as much as the whole of 2022. The shift to Hong Kong was driven by U.S. sanctions on Russia’s top gold miners, as well as a crackdown by the United Arab Emirates on illicit activities in its bullion market, according to people familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg, 11.15.23)

  • A poll conducted for ECFR and Oxford University this autumn in 21 countries, including the CITRUS countries (China, India, Turkey, Russia, and the Ukraine) and 11 European countries (Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Switzerland) showed that if they were forced to choose, people in almost all of the countries polled would prefer to be part of an American bloc rather than a Chinese bloc. This is the prevailing view among the people we polled in Brazil, India, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey. Russia is the only outlier, with a majority of 56 percent choosing the Chinese bloc. (ECFR, 11.15.23)
  • When it comes to a potential conflict with China over Taiwan, not even Europeans are ready to commit to their transatlantic ally. In fact, previous ECFR polling, conducted earlier this year, showed that an average of 62 percent of people across 11 EU member states would prefer to remain neutral in such a conflict—while only 23 percent would be ready to support Ukraine. In the latest poll, just 8 percent of Europeans said they would support troops from their country fighting in a future war over Taiwan, compared to 32 percent of Americans, although in both places a majority opposed such a scenario. (ECFR, 11.15.23)
  • A poll conducted for ECFR and Oxford University this autumn shows that majorities in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey believe the Ukraine and Russia are at war. People in the U.S. and Europe are joined only by those in India and Brazil in having a prevailing view that the U.S. is not at war with Russia. (ECFR, 11.15.23)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • Plans are in place to finalize the deployment of the Russian segment of the global monitoring system of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) before the end of this year, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Nov. 17. A bill signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Nov. 2, 2023, de-ratifies the CTBT. (Interfax, 11.17.23)
  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov discussed arms control and the non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons with Israeli Ambassador in Moscow Alexander Ben Zvi. “The talk focused on pressing issues of international security with the emphasis on arms control and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” the Russian foreign ministry said. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier that the recent statements by Israel’s Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu to the effect that it was possible to use nuclear weapons against residents of the Gaza Strip were “provocative and absolutely unacceptable.” The statements also confirm that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, she said. (TASS, 11.10.23)
  • A poll conducted for ECFR and Oxford University this autumn in 21 countries shows that majorities in China, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the U.S. believe that their own country should have access to nuclear weapons. Only in Brazil, Europe, and Indonesia does a clear majority oppose gaining nuclear weapons. (ECFR, 11.15.23)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • Russia said it carried out air strikes in Syria's Idlib province that killed more than 30 members of a "terrorist group." (MT/AFP, 11.13.23)

Cyber security/AI: 

  • On Oct. 21, Russian Telegram channels reported the first alleged use of “Izdelie-53,” a new model of the Lancet attack drone. “We have already conducted battlefield tests (of Izdelie-53) in fully autonomous mode, without the involvement of humans,” ZALA Aero’s chief constructor Aleksandr Zakharov claimed on Russian TV. these new drones are also claimed to be able to fly in swarms of up to several dozen at once. Ukrainian military intelligence spokesperson Andrii Yusov said that there was no evidence of the mass use of Izdelie-53 on the battlefield, and that the claims made about the drones in Russian media cannot be verified. (The Kyiv Independent, 11.08.23)
  • Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport has installed an AI-powered radar system to detect and deter drones, Russian state media reported on Nov. 14. (MT/AFP, 11.14.23)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Roman Chervinsky, a decorated 48-year-old colonel who served in Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces, was the “coordinator” of the Nord Stream operation on 2022, people familiar with his role said, managing logistics and support for a six-person team that rented a sailboat under false identities and used deep-sea diving equipment to place explosive charges on the gas pipelines. The officer took orders from more senior Ukrainian officials, who ultimately reported to Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, but the operation was designed to keep Zelensky out of the loop, people familiar with the operation said. Chervinsky denied any role in the sabotage of the pipelines, but he oversaw an unsuccessful plan to lure fighters for Russia’s Wagner mercenary group into Belarus and a plot to lure a Russian pilot to defect to Ukraine in 2020. The Wagner plot failed and Chervinsky blamed Zelensky’s chief of staff Yermak for that. (WP, 11.11.23)
  • The U.S.-led price cap on Russia’s oil sales is being almost completely circumvented, according to Western officials and Russian export data, forcing countries to explore ways to reinforce one of their key economic sanctions against Moscow. One senior European government official said “almost none” of the shipments of seaborne crude in October were executed below the $60-a-barrel limit that the G7 and its allies have attempted to impose. In October, only 37 of the 134 vessels that shipped Russian oil held Western insurance and officials say the number operating below the cap is now likely to be much lower. Exports from major Russian ports reached an average price of $79.40 a barrel at the point of export, according to the institute, which is part of the Kyiv School of Economics that’s pushing for stiffer sanctions against Russia. (Bloomberg, 11.16.23, FT, 11.14.23)

    • The U.S. Treasury Department has sent notices to ship management companies requesting information about 100 vessels it suspects of violating Western sanctions on Russian oil, according to a source who has seen the documents. (Reuters, 11.13.23) 

    • Denmark will be given the task of inspecting and potentially blocking tankers of Russian oil sailing through its waters under new EU plans, as Western powers scramble to enforce a price cap. All of Russia’s oil shipped through the Baltic Sea, roughly 60 percent of its total seaborne oil exports, crosses the narrow Danish straits on its way to international markets. (FT, 11.15.23)

    • The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned three shipping companies based in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly violating the $60-a-barrel price. The Treasury Department on Nov. 16 said it placed sanctions on three companies based in the United Arab Emirates: Kazan Shipping, Progress Shipping and Gallion Navigation. Vessels owned by those companies transported Russian crude without respecting a $60-a-barrel price cap imposed by the U.S. and allies, the Treasury said. (WSJ, 11.17.23)

    • The drop in oil prices has sent the value of Russia’s flagship Urals crude grade back into the $60 range. Urals crude was assessed as low as $66.19 at the port of Primorsk in the Baltic Sea last week, according to Argus Media Ltd. (Bloomberg, 11.13.23)

  • Russia became the largest supplier of crude oil to China and India again in September 2023, OPEC said in its November report. Moscow ensured almost 19% of China’s total oil imports in the reporting period, the organization said. Saudi Arabia accounted for 14% of supplies, while Malaysia accounted for around 11% of deliveries. Overall, China’s oil imports went down by 11% in September month-on-month to 11.2 million barrels per day. (TASS, 11.13.23)
  • Russia received $18.34 billion from crude oil and petroleum-product exports last month, down $25 million from September “as lower international oil prices more than offset a narrowing discount for Russian grades,” IEA said. (Bloomberg, 11.14.23)
  • Russia will cut the export levy on crude its producers pay for the first time since July following a drop in global oil prices. The government will lower the duty to $24.7 a ton next month as the price of the country’s key export blend Urals declined, the Finance Ministry said on Nov. 15. That’s down by 5.7% from November and equates to about $3.37 a barrel. (Bloomberg, 11.15.23)

Climate change:

  • The Earth has just endured its hottest 12 months in the modern era, and probably the hottest in 125,000 years. That means nearly 3 in 4 people experienced more than a month's worth of heat so extreme, it would have been unusual in the past, but became at least three times more likely because of human-caused climate change, scientists at Climate Central found. (WP, 11.15.23)

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • Russia believes the United States' presidency of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) this year has thus far not produced any breakthrough solutions, which Moscow explains with Washington's inability "to adhere to an unbiased policy and the collective nature of work" within the forum, the Russian delegation to the APEC summit in San Francisco said in its materials for the media. Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk to head Russia's delegation to the APEC summit in San Francisco. (Interfax, 11.16.23)
  • The current poor relations between Russia and the United States do not mean a confrontation between Russians and Americans, it is a confrontation with the U.S. ideology, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. (TASS, 11.17.23)


II. Russia’s domestic policies 

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Putin’s annual press conference is scheduled for Dec. 14, according to RBC. This year it will be combined with the annual call-in show, during which Putin has in the past taken questions from common Russians, according to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Russian laws require the next presidential elections to take place on March 17, 2024, and the decision on their date should be made by the Federation Council between Dec. 8 to 18, 2023, according to Kommersant. (RM, 11.13.23) The merger of the hotline and press conference make it more likely that Putin will announce his decision to run for election on Dec. 14. 
  • Asked about Putin’s eventual successor, presumably after his sixth and final term ends in 2036, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO)'s student-run channel: “The same. Or different, but the same.” (MT/AFP, 11.17.23)

  • The work of Putin’s official campaign headquarters, if the head of state decides to nominate his candidacy for the elections, will be led by the head of the Kremlin Department of Internal Policy (DVP), Andrei Yarin. (RBC, 11.14.23)
  • The Kremlin has begun compiling a list of influential figures that would campaign on behalf of Putin as he seeks re-election next year. (MT/AFP, 11.13.23)
  • Putin has signed into law a bill on amendments to the law on presidential elections, which restrict coverage of the poll scheduled for March next year by the media. The bill permits only those journalists working for officially registered media outlets to attend sessions held by the country's election commissions. The law also says that only those "who have a right by the Russian Federation's laws" to take pictures and record video at voting sites can do so, while such photo and video coverage must not violate the secrecy of the ballot and confidentiality of personal data. (RFE/RL, 11.15.23)

  • Russia’s GDP is to grow by 2.3% in 2024, 2.3% in 2025 and 2.2% in 2026, according to the three-year budgetary plan approved by State Duma on Nov. 17, Interfax reported. In contrast, IMF expects the Russian GDP to grow by 2.24% in 2023, 1.05% in 2024 and 0.95% in 2025. As for this year, Russia’s Federal Statistics Service sees the annual economic growth accelerated to 5.5% in the third quarter from 4.9% in the second quarter, according to Bloomberg, while Putin predicts a growth of 3% in 2023. In more potentially good news for Russia, the MoEx Russia stock index – which is calculated based on prices of the most liquid Russian stocks of the largest and dynamically developing Russian issuers presented on the Moscow Exchange – has jumped 50% this year, one of the best performances among stock indexes tracked by Bloomberg, while the Russian banking sector’s total profit for the first nine months of the year has already exceeded the previous annual record from before the war, in 2021. (RM, 11.17.23)

    • “Most likely, this year will indeed be the most successful in history for us,” said Sberbank Chief Executive Officer Herman Gref, who’s sanctioned by the U.S., the EU and the U.K. (Bloomberg, 11.15.23) 

  • Russia’s current-account surplus widened, providing support to the ruble as a recovery in oil exports continued despite unprecedented international sanctions over the war in Ukraine. The surplus—roughly the difference between exports and imports—amounted to $53.8 billion for the first 10 months of the year, still around four times less than the record set in the same period in 2022. (Bloomberg, 11.14.23)

  • Retail investors have pushed Moscow’s benchmark index to levels last seen before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The MoEx Russia stock index has jumped 50% this year, one of the best performances among stock indexes tracked by Bloomberg globally. (Bloomberg, 11.10.23)
  • Russia’s ruble rose 1.3% against the dollar on Nov. 14, trading 90.76 rubles, to reach its strongest level since July, as capital controls, higher oil prices and aggressive rate hikes trickled down to the currency. (FT, 11.14.23)
  • Russian weekly price growth accelerated by the most this year in the beginning of November as inflation continues to advance, posing a potential challenge for policymakers. Prices increased by 0.42% from Oct. 31 to Nov. 7, according to Federal Statistics Service data published Nov. 10. (Bloomberg, 11.10.23)
  • Dozens of Russian business leaders expressed alarm to Putin about the “frightening” number of nationalizations that have taken place since the invasion of Ukraine, the Vedomosti business daily reported Nov. 17, citing four anonymous sources familiar with their late-night meeting this week. (MT/AFP, 11.17.23)

  • The proportion of Russians who report being in a great or normal mood has increased slightly, from 74% in June to 81% in October, while the proportion of those who experience tension or fear has decreased from 25% to 18%. (Levada, 11.14.23)
  • Russian government officials made a number of misleading statements when presenting the country’s annual national report on the observance of human rights in Russia to the U.N., Verstka reported. For instance, Ministry of Justice employee Ekaterina Kudelich claimed  that in Russia, the status of a foreign agent is not aimed at persecuting citizens and is only a formality, according to Verstka. In reality, 38 individuals, whom Kudelich’s ministry classified as foreign agents, were subjects of criminal investigation as of late 2022, according to Verstka. Of these 38, 30 were either in pre-trial detention facilities or on Russia’s wanted list. In her turn, an employee of Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Office, Natalya Emelkina, claimed Russia has no problems with freedom of speech per the report’s assertion that “Under Russian law, a comprehensive and integrated approach is followed to the protection of freedom of speech and expression.” In reality, 19,000 individuals were detained for speaking or writing to oppose Russia’s war in Ukraine in 2022, according to Verstka. Moreover, the first year of that war saw criminal investigations launched into 190 individuals for criticizing that war, according to Verstka. Fourteen Russians were convicted of spreading “fake” information about the Russian armed forces in 2022 alone. (RM, 11.14.23)
  • The Russian Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit filed by the Justice Ministry calling for the "international LGBT movement" to be designated "extremist" and its activities in Russia banned. (RFE/RL, 11.17.23)

  • A court in St. Peterburg has sentenced Aleksandra Skochilenko, a 33-year-old Russian artist, to seven years in prison for using price tags in a city store to distribute information about Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.16.23)

  • A Moscow municipal deputy who was imprisoned under Russia’s wartime censorship laws faces additional criminal charges of justifying terrorism, his supporters said Nov. 13. Alexei Gorinov was sentenced to seven years in prison in April 2022 for spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian military. (MT/AFP, 11.13.23)
  • A court in Siberia on Nov. 13 ordered Ksenia Fadeyeva, a local lawmaker and the former head of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny's regional team, to be sent to pretrial detention. (RFE/RL, 11.13.23)
  • The prosecution asked a Moscow court on Nov. 14 to convict and sentence in absentia former Deputy Energy Minister Vladimir Milov, an associate of Navalny, on a charge of distributing fake information about Russian armed forces involved in the Kremlin's attack on Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.15.23)

  • Navalny's Telegram channel said on Nov. 13 prison administration has been blocking correspondence from his wife Yulia Navalnaya. (RFE/RL, 11.13.23)
  • A court in the Russian city of Tolyatti has sentenced a man to six years in prison for damaging posters depicting soldiers in the latest attempt by the authorities to muffle dissent. Alexei Arbuzenko, a 46-year-old teacher, was charged with discrediting the Russian Army and involving a minor in a crime. (RFE/RL, 11.14.23)

  • Russia's financial watchdog, Rosfinmonitoring, on Nov. 16 added three of Navalny's lawyers—Vadim Kobzev, Igor Sergunin and Alexei Lipster—to its list of extremists and terrorists. (Current Time, 11.16.23)

  • Russia has sentenced Igor Orlovsky, a resident of the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, to 7 1/2 years in prison for posts he made criticizing Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as well as the invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.14.23)

  • The wife of imprisoned Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza has expressed concern over his health, saying he is being kept in punitive solitary confinement in a Siberian prison despite having a serious medical condition resulting from when he was poisoned in 2015 and again in 2017. (RFE/RL, 11.16.23)

  • The mayor’s office of Krasnoyarsk has rejected an application by relatives of mobilized soldiers fighting in Ukraine to hold a demonstration, citing measures instituted to combat the spread of COVID-19. (RFE/RL, 11.11.23)
  • Russia plans to block certain Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and protocols which are deemed by a commission of experts to pose a threat, the RIA state news agency reported, citing correspondence from the Digital Ministry. (Reuters, 11.12.23)
  • The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has called for the adoption at federal level of a law banning the "inducement" of women to have abortions that was previously adopted by local authorities in two regions. (RFE/RL, 11.13.23)
  • Margarita Pavlova, a representative of the Chelyabinsk region in the Russian Senate, suggested that young Russian women should forego higher education and focus on giving birth to babies. “We should stop orienting girls toward obtaining higher education ... their search for themselves drags on for many years, while their reproduction function is lost,” the female senator – who has three children and a master’s degree – said. (Kommersant, 11.13.23)
  • Russian authorities have started collecting the personal data of academics who are in contact with foreigners, the independent investigative outlet Mozhem Obyasnit reported Nov. 16. (MT/AFP, 11.16.23)

  • Putin’s oldest daughter has been appointed to the board of the Moscow Society of Medical Genetics, the independent news outlet Mozhem Obyasnit reported Nov. 13. (MT/AFP, 11.13.23)
  • Two companies controlled by Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich sold shares in a lucrative advertising firm in 2010 to two men whom Western governments claim are nominal holders for Putin, the BBC reported, citing leaked financial documents from Cyprus, a well-known offshore haven for Russian businessmen. (RFE/RL, 11.15.23)

Defense and aerospace:

  • The Kremlin has admitted for the first time to recruiting inmates to fight in the war against Ukraine, saying the recruits "are atoning for their guilt with blood," a phrase first used by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin during World War II. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the admission on Nov. 10 when a journalist asked him about comments by a Siberian family this week that questioned how it was possible that a man convicted of their daughter's murder was now being treated as a hero in his hometown after receiving a pardon from Putin. (RFE/RL, 11.10.23)
  • Russia may charge volunteer fighters who surrender, desert or refuse to carry out orders with a crime as the Kremlin seeks to maintain discipline on the front lines in Ukraine. Russian lawmakers have proposed amendments to the criminal code that would equate punishments for volunteers with those of professional soldiers, according to a document published on the parliament’s website. (RFE/RL, 11.13.23)
  • Officials in Russia’s Far Eastern republic of Sakha (Yakutia) have failed to meet quotas on recruitment of military volunteers for the war in Ukraine set by the Kremlin, according to leaked recordings of closed-door government meetings published by the Free Yakutia Foundation anti-war movement. Officials managed to recruit only 36 men by September despite being expected to send 176 soldiers to the frontlines by the end of this year. Only 34 of 143 spots were filled in the Lenskiy district. (MT/AFP, 11.13.23)
    • A Russian defense official has requested that Yakutia send 500 men to the Ukrainian front on a weekly basis to improve its ranking. (RFE/RL, 11.14.23)

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

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Four former Russian inmates who fought with Wagner in eastern Ukraine said they had received calls and messages offering new military contracts in recent weeks, confirming recent reports by Russian military bloggers. Three former fighters said they were specifically urged to join Rosgvardia, Russia's militarized national guard. ''Wagner is officially becoming a unit of Rosgvardia,'' read a recruitment text received by a former Wagner fighter last week and seen by The New York Times. ''The entire structure, methods of work and commanders remain the same.'' (NYT, 11.10.23)
  • Abakar Abakarov, the alleged administrator of the Telegram channel “Morning of Dagestan,” has been put on the wanted list in Russia. The Morning of Dagestan channel was created with the support of former State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev, who left for Ukraine. On Oct. 28 and 29, reports began to appear on that channel that “refugees from Israel” were allegedly arriving in the North Caucasus. The channel called to “meet” them at the Makhachkala airport. On the evening of Oct. 29, anti-Semitic riots occurred at the airport.  (Meduza, 11.14.23)
    • Russian authorities have failed to appropriately tackle several anti-Semitic incidents that took place late last month in Russia's North Caucasus region, including some violent episodes that caused intimidation among the region's few Jewish inhabitants, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. (RFE/RL, 11.10.23)
  • Putin has pardoned one of the convicted organizers of the murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya in return for his service in Ukraine. Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, a former law enforcement officer who was sentenced in 2014 to 20 years in prison over the killing of Politkovskaya in 2006, was pardoned in a decree issued by Putin, his lawyer, Alexei Mikhalchik, said in a phone interview. (NYT, 11.15.23)
  • An “improvised explosive device” was behind the Nov. 11 freight train derailment southeast of Moscow in which 19 cars were thrown off the tracks, according to Russian authorities. A criminal case has been opened into possible terrorism. (Bloomberg, 11.11.23)
  • Darya Trepova, accused of killing military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, pleaded partially guilty during a court hearing on Nov. 15. (MT/AFP, 11.15.23)

  • Russia's FSB accused a resident of Tyumen in Siberia of handing military information to Ukraine and detained him, state-run news agencies reported Nov. 15. (MT/AFP, 11.15.23)

  • Russian authorities have launched a criminal investigation into terrorism over a blast at an explosives factory in central Russia’s Tambov region, the Kommersant business daily reported Nov. 15, citing unnamed sources. (MT/AFP, 11.15.23)

  • A Moscow court on Nov. 16 sentenced in absentia Denis Kapustin (aka Nikitin), a commander of the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) that fights alongside Ukrainian forces against Russian troops invading Ukraine, to life in a special-regime prison. (RFE/RL, 11.16.23)

  • Telegram channel VCHK-OGPU and later news agency reported that officers of FSB's Moscow area branch have been detained on suspicion of extorting a bribe of a whooping 5 billion rubles ($56 million) from the company "Merlon” in exchange for discontinuing a criminal investigation. VCHK-OGPU claims all five detained FSB officers worked for the local branch of the FSB's M directorate, which is tasked with supervising the Interior Ministry. That's almost twice as much as the $24 million that an investigator of Russia’s Investigative Committee was busted for extorting this past summer in what Kommersant described as a record bribe for this committee. (RM, 11.17.23)

  • A Moscow court on Nov. 14 sentenced Viktor Baturin, the brother of the widow of former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, to six years in prison on charges of attempted fraud and forgery. (RFE/RL, 11.14.23)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • The President of Palestine (Palestinian National Authority) Mahmoud Abbas may visit Russia in the near future, RIA Novosti reported. (Kommersant, 11.17.23)
  • Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry on Nov. 12 announced the start of the evacuation of Russian citizens from the war-torn Gaza Strip. Some 70 Russians have already crossed into Egypt. (RFE/RL, 11.12.23)
  • An Iraqi television network on Nov. 13 broadcast a video showing a captive Israeli-Russian academic, the first sign of life from her since she was abducted in Baghdad nearly nine months ago. Israeli authorities revealed in July that Elizabeth Tsurkov had been kidnapped, blaming pro-Iranian militants. (MT/AFP, 11.14.23)

  • Russia has been spreading "disinformation" about the situation in the Middle East, the president of Microsoft Brad Smith said on Nov. 11. "We are getting very good at identifying a Russian campaign, like when they tried to tell people not to get the COVID vaccine," he said. "Or today, when we see Russian disinformation in the Middle East." (AFP, 11.11.23)
  • Mali’s army, which is backed by Russian mercenaries, recaptured a northern town that’s been the stronghold of separatist rebels for the past decade. (Bloomberg, 11.15.23)
  • Russia has sent the first of its promised shipments of free grain to Africa, the country's agriculture minister said Nov. 17. Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev said the two ships were carrying 25,000 tons of grain each. (MT/AFP, 11.17.23)

  • Russia’s wheat exports are slowing from their record pace as traders see lower demand from key importers. Wheat exports could fall to 4.6-4.7 million tons in November, Interfax reported, citing rail carrier Rusagrotrans, down from 5.1 million tons in October. (Bloomberg, 11.14.23)

  • Yandex NV plans to sell its entire Russian business, including the nation’s most popular search engine, after its founder’s criticism of the war in Ukraine made potential investors wary of a partnership with the Dutch-domiciled parent company. (Bloomberg, 11.14.23)

  • A Russian judge on Nov. 16 lost his re-election bid for the U.N.’s top court, marking the first time in the legal body's 78-year history that a justice from Russia has not served on the bench. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, was created after the end of World War II to settle disputes between countries. Five of the 15 sitting ICJ judges are up for re-election every three years. (MT/AFP, 11.10.23)
  • One of Germany’s most influential journalists, portrayed as an expert commentator on Russia, has received hundreds of thousands of euros in secret payments from a Kremlin-linked oligarch. German public broadcaster NDR said it was considering legal action against Hubert Seipel, maker of the documentary “I, Putin — a portrait,” after the revelations against its former star became public on Nov. 14. Hoffmann & Campe, a Hamburg publishing house, said on Nov. 15 it was withdrawing all copies of two biographies of Putin written by Seipel, pending an investigation into his conduct. In its statement, NDR said Seipel had admitted that he had received two payments from sanctioned Russian oligarch Alexei Mordashov worth €600,000 in 2014 and 2018, in what he claimed was a “sponsorship” arrangement. The funding was first reported by Der Spiegel magazine and in a documentary broadcast by West German television channel ZDF. (FT, 11.15.23)
  • The leader of the United Arab Emirates toured the Dubai Air Show on Nov. 15 as a sanctioned Russian arms supplier displayed an attack helicopter used in its war on Ukraine, highlighting his country’s continued ties to Moscow despite Western sanctions targeting it. Outstanding on the runway, Russian pilots sat inside a KA-52 attack helicopter as it was pulled down the runway at Al Maktoum International Airport. (Bloomberg, 11.15.23)
  • Located on the outskirts of Redditch, once an industrial heartland, the Russian titanium-maker VSMPO’s British subsidiary employed 28 staff as of the end of last year. It has distributed Russian-made titanium products to U.K. customers since Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. (FT, 11.17.23)
  • The number of real estate deals made by Russians in Spain has reached its highest level since the 2014 annexation of Crimea. The 2,137 transactions on the purchase and sale of housing made by Russian nationals in January-June 2023 mark a 50% increase from the same period last year. (MT/AFP, 11.16.23)


  • Ukrainian police and prosecutors have accused two politicians and a former prosecutor of treason, saying they colluded with a Russian intelligence agency in aiding an effort by Rudolph Giuliani several years ago to tie the Biden family to corruption in Ukraine Those accused include Kostyantyn Kulyk, a former Ukrainian deputy prosecutor general who had drafted a memo in 2019 suggesting Ukraine investigate Hunter Biden, President Biden's son, for his role serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Also implicated were a current member of Ukraine's Parliament, Oleksandr Dubinsky, and a former member, Andriy Derkach, who had publicly advocated for an investigation in Ukraine into Hunter Biden. They had also promoted a spurious theory that it was Ukraine, and not Russia, that had meddled in the 2016 presidential election in the United States. The three were indicted on charges of treason and belonging to a criminal organization. (NYT, 11.14.23)
  • Veon Ltd. has named former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the board of its Ukrainian subsidiary Kyivstar, weeks after it challenged a freeze on its corporate rights in a local court. (Bloomberg, 11.14.23)

  • Of the 36,000 small- and medium-sized companies registered in Ukraine so far this year, 51% are run by women, says Yulia Svyrydenko, the country’s economy minister. More women are starting to work in industry, construction and mining. (The Economist, 11.12.23)
  • France’s top court refused to extradite Ukrainian businessman Kostyantin Zhevago to Ukraine in a blow to the government in Kyiv, which is under increasing pressure to fight corruption. (Bloomberg, 11.10.23)
  • A court in Ukraine’s eastern city of Kharkiv sentenced a local resident to life in prison for helping coordinate a deadly Russian missile attack in March 2022, the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office said on Nov. 13. Media reports identified the man as Denys Panikarov, who was found guilty of treason, justifying Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.13.23)
  • A court in Ukraine's western city of Lviv on Nov. 13 sentenced former lawmaker Illya Kyva to 14 years in prison in absentia after finding him guilty of high treason and public calls to seize power and change the constitutional order among other crimes. Kyva has been known for his pro-Russia stance. (RFE/RL, 11.13.23)
  • Yevgeny "Eugene" Vindman, a retired Army colonel who along with his twin brother raised alarms about President Donald Trump's actions toward Ukraine, plans to announce that he will run for Congress in Virginia's 7th District, where Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) has declined to seek another term to run for governor instead. (WP, 11.16.23)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Britain is a “leading enabler” of corrupt elites and its failure to prosecute money laundering crimes in effect “constitutes facilitation” of kleptocratic regimes in central Asia, according to a report by MPs. The report by parliament’s cross-party foreign affairs committee stressed that British engagement with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan was a “geopolitical imperative” and had to be “clear-eyed.” (FT, 11.10.23)
  • The Kazakh-Chinese agreement on visa-free travel, signed in May, took force on Nov. 10. (RFE/RL, 11.10.23)
  • Presidents Shavkat Mirziyoev of Uzbekistan and Sergio Mattarella of Italy issued a joint statement in Tashkent on the development of a partnership and cooperation between the two nations, the Uzbek presidential press service said Nov. 10. (RFE/RL, 11.10.23)
  • A 19-year-old Uzbek man has been sentenced by a Samarkand regional court to 2 1/2 years in prison for insulting President Shavkat Mirziyoev in an Instagram post under a video of the presidential family. (RFE/RL, 11.12.23)
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an interview accused the EU of attempting to drive his country out of Central Asia, and said the bloc was failing. (AFP, 11.12.23)
  • Moldova may seek to enter the European Union before it resolves the issue of its Russian-controlled breakaway region, President Maia Sandu said. (Bloomberg, 11.14.23)

  • Orthodox priests in at least 13 parishes in Moldova expect to be accepted into the local branch of a Romanian church this week. (RFE/RL, 11.12.23)
  • Belarus's customs body says a government document is being prepared that will expand the authority to inspect all postal parcels and other items originating from European Union countries and addressed to Belarusians. (RFE/RL, 11.12.23)
  • The Kazakh Foreign Ministry said on Nov. 15 that 92 Kazakh citizens and members of their families had left Gaza for Egypt and will be evacuated to Kazakhstan as soon as they reach Cairo. (RFE/RL, 11.15.23)

  • The Kazakh parliament's lower chamber, the Mazhilis, approved in its first reading on Nov. 15 a bill on creating a military reserve that would allow, in case of emergency, to quickly organize their mobilization. According to the bill, the first group of 2,000 reservists will start serving in 2025. (RFE/RL, 11.15.23)

  • The U.N. top court on Nov. 17 issued an order calling on Azerbaijan to ensure the safety of people who leave, return to or remain in Nagorno-Karabakh, following the Azerbaijani military’s retaking of the separatist region in September. (AP, 11.17.23) 
  • The United States is preparing a comprehensive and transparent report on what happened in Nagorno-Karabakh ahead of Azerbaijan’s offensive in September, James O’Brien, assistant secretary at the department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, said. (RFE/RL, 11.15.23)

  • Washington has reaffirmed its support for peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia after Baku pulled out of an upcoming U.S.-hosted meeting citing allegedly “biased” remarks by a U.S. State Department official. Azerbaijan pulled out of the planned peace talks after it accused Assistant Secretary of State James O’Brien of making “unacceptable” criticism of Baku’s military takeover of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. (Bloomberg, 11.16.23, RFE/RL, 11.17.23)

  • Armenia will formally become a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Feb. 1, 2024. (Interfax, 11.17.23)
  • Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has informed Belarus that he will not participate in a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) scheduled for Nov. 23 in Minsk. (RFE/RL, 11.14.23)

  • Armenia reiterated its readiness to attend a trilateral meeting with Azerbaijan in Brussels under the mediation of European Council President Charles Michel as the second high-level Armenia-EU Political and Security Dialogue session ended in the Belgian capital on Nov. 15. (RFE/RL, 11.16.23)

  • The European Union’s foreign ministers approved a proposal to expand the border-monitoring mission deployed in Armenia and activate discussions on visa liberalization with the South Caucasus country, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said in Brussels on Nov. 13. (RFE/RL, 11.13.23)
  • Armenia and Britain are discussing defense cooperation among "a range of global and regional issues of mutual concern," as part of a "strategic dialogue" launched during Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan's visit to London this week. A joint statement issued following a first meeting on Nov. 13, said it was "an opportunity to mark the strong cooperation and friendship between our two democracies." Bilateral defense cooperation "continues to expand," the statement said. It added that Britain "will soon begin working to support Armenia's border management capacities to tackle security and migration issues." (RFE/RL, 11.15.23)

  • The family of a London-based academic arrested in Azerbaijan has accused Western capitals of failing to press for his release because of Baku’s role in supplying energy to Europe as it weans itself off Russian supplies, warning the situation is urgent as his health is declining. Gubad Ibadoghlu, an economist working as a visiting professor with the London School of Economics, was arrested on July 23 after travelling to Azerbaijan for family reasons. He is being held on charges of religious extremism and owning or dealing with counterfeit cash, accusations his family says are fabricated. (FT, 11.15.23)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • ''As a refugee, I stand with the people of Ukraine,'' Aye Chan Mon said. ''But sometimes I think, if we got even a little bit of the money Ukraine gets from the U.S., then our revolution in Myanmar would succeed.'' (NYT, 11.13.23)


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.

Slider photo shared by the White House (obtained via Wikimedia) under the Public Domain.