Russia in Review, Oct. 28-Nov. 4, 2022

5 Things to Know

  1. Senior Russian military leaders recently discussed when and how Russia might use a non-strategic nuclear weapon in Ukraine, multiple senior American officials told NYT. Putin was not part of the discussions, but the conversations do suggest that his veiled threats to use nuclear weapons “might not just be words,” according to NYT. Last week, the Russian leader offered a broad interpretation of the doctrinal conditions under which Russia could resort to nuclear weapons, including territorial integrity and the safety of the Russian people. This week, Medvedev, Putin’s deputy at the Security Council, also pointed to loss of territory as a possible trigger for a Russian nuclear strike even though neither Russia’s 2014 Military Doctrine nor its 2022 Basic Principles of State Policy on Nuclear Deterrence explicitly identify such loss as a condition for use of nuclear weapons by Russia.
  2. The Russian military might be preparing a retreat from Kherson to the left bank of the Dnipro River…or not. Deputy head of the Kherson region’s Kremlin-installed “administration” Kirill Stremousov said Nov. 3: “Our troops will be leaving to the left-bank part of the Kherson region.” In addition to removing military personnel and civilians from the city of Kherson, Russian commanders are also replacing elite forces with mobilized troops, and abandoning some checkpoints around the city, WSJ reports. In the view of pro-war Russian Telegram channel Dva Mayora (Two Majors), a confluence of signs, such as blowing up cell phone towers and destroying ships on the Dnipro, indicate that “the city will be abandoned” by the Russian troops “in the short-term.” According to Ukrainian military intelligence, however, Russia has deployed some 40,000 soldiers to the western bank to stop the Ukrainian military from reclaiming Kherson, according to NYT.
  3. Global South powers boost trade with Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s trade volume with the U.S., U.K. and Germany declined by 35%, 79% and 3%, respectively, since the beginning of invasion, which caused the collective West to slap multiple rounds of sanctions on Moscow. In contrast, the volume of Russia’s trade with Turkey, India and Brazil increased by 198%, 310% and 106%, respectively. Russia’s trade volume with Spain increased by 57% and trade volume with China increased by 64% over the same period of time, according to NYT.
  4. Russia has cannibalized parts from Western household appliances for military purposes, and it may be one reason why Armenia imported more washing machines from the EU during the first eight months of this year than in the past two years combined, while Kazakhstan imported three times as many European refrigerators through August as in the same period last year, according to Bloomberg.
  5. Russia announced on Nov. 2 that it is resuming its participation in the Ukraine grain deal as Erdoğan credited his personal rapport with Putin for Russia’s quick return to the U.N.-backed pact. Russia suspended its participation in the deal on Oct. 29 after what it said was an attack on vessels of its Black Sea fleet and infrastructure by Ukrainian-operated drones.

NB: Next week’s Russia in Review will appear on Thursday, Nov. 10, instead of Friday, Nov. 11, because of the U.S. Veteran's Day holiday.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant's connection to its main power line and its back-up off-site power supply were lost late on Nov. 2, with its emergency diesel-powered generators automatically switching on to provide the necessary power. The generators have enough fuel to work for 15 days. (WNN, 11.03.22, Currenttv, 11.04.22)
  • The IAEA found no evidence to back Russia’s claims that Ukraine was preparing to use a “dirty bomb” against Moscow’s invading forces. The findings follow an inspection conducted by the U.N. watchdog at Ukraine’s request to challenge Russia’s claims. (FT, 11.04.22)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and related issues:

  • The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should be addressed with the involvement of all parties concerned, including Russia and China, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said. (Interfax, 11.02.22)
  • The White House has accused North Korea of covertly shipping a “significant number” of artillery shells to Russia in support of its invasion of Ukraine. (AP, 11.02.22)
  • North Korea and Russia have resumed cross-border railway trade, ending a two-year hiatus caused by COVID-19 border restrictions. Russian federal customs service data said North Korea had imported 138 horses at a cost of $584,302 between 2010 and 2019. (MT/AFP, 11.02.22)
  • The United States believes China and Russia have leverage they can use to persuade North Korea not to resume nuclear bomb testing, a senior U.S. administration official said Nov. 3. The official spoke after the United States asked the U.N. Security Council to meet publicly to discuss North Korea on Nov. 4 after a spate of missile launches, including what the Pentagon said was an ICBM. (Reuters, 11.03.22)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • What happened in the Ukrainian town of Bucha on March 4 was what Russian soldiers on intercepted phone conversations called “zachistka”—cleansing. The Russians hunted people on lists prepared by their intelligence services and went door to door to identify potential threats. Those who didn’t pass this filtration, including volunteer fighters and civilians suspected of assisting Ukrainian troops, were tortured and executed. (AP, 11.03.22)
  • Ukraine and Russia have carried out a prisoner exchange, the Ukrainian president's chief of staff announced on Oct. 29, saying the action resulted in the release of 52 Ukrainian citizens. Then, in what became the second prisoner exchange in just over a week, 107 captured troops on both sides were swapped, Donbas separatists said Nov. 3 (RFE/RL, 10.29.22, MT/AFP, 11.03.22)
  • Ukraine's new ambassador to Germany, Oleksiy Makeyev, has urged Germany not to shelter Russian men who have fled their country to avoid military mobilization, describing them as a "security risk." (RFE/RL, 10.30.22)
  • The Russian Defense Ministry said Nov. 2 that Moscow is resuming its participation in the Ukraine grain deal, saying it had received "sufficient" guarantees from Kyiv on demilitarizing a maritime corridor. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, credited his personal rapport with Vladimir Putin for Russia’s quick return to a U.N.-backed pact that has enabled Ukraine to ship millions of tons of grain to international markets during the war. Seven ships carrying grain to Asian and European countries departed from Ukrainian ports on Nov. 3, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry said. Russia suspended participation in the U.N.-brokered deal on Oct. 29 after what it said was an attack on vessels from its Black Sea fleet. (RFE/RL, 11.02.22, NYT, 11.03.22. RFE/RL, 11.03.22) See section “Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts” for details of the attack.
  • A record 354,500 tons of agricultural products left Ukrainian ports on Oct. 31 as part of the Black Sea grain deal. (RFE/RL, 10.31.22)
    • More than 800,000 homes across Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed since the war began in February. (NYT, 11.02.22)
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has driven some 14 million Ukrainians from their homes in “the fastest, largest displacement witnessed in decades,” sparking an increase in the number of refugees and displaced people worldwide to more than 103 million, the U.N. said. (RFE/RL, 11.02.22)
  • Negotiations underway to unblock exports of fertilizer from Russia have made "important steps forward," one of the main United Nations negotiators said Nov. 3. (MT/AFP, 11.03.22)
  • The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the deportation of Ukrainian citizens from Russian occupied regions in southern and southeastern Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.03.22)
  • Russia launched more kamikaze drones on infrastructure and civilian targets in southeastern Ukraine, officials said Nov. 4, as extensive damage to the power grid left millions of Ukrainians without electricity, prompting Zelensky to accuse Moscow of "energy terrorism." Nearly 5 million people in Ukraine were without power on Nov. 4 as Russia continued to target the country’s energy infrastructure. (FT, 11.04.22, RFE/RL, 11.04.22)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • An audacious assault by unmanned exploding boats on Russia’s Black Sea fleet over the last weekend has further exposed Moscow’s military’s shortcomings. Russia said the raid on the Sevastopol naval port involved seven maritime and nine aerial drones and claimed to have intercepted all of them, though it admitted minor damage to a minesweeper and its harbor protection system. (FT, 11.02.22)
    • Russia said Oct. 30 it recovered debris from drones that attacked its fleet in Sevastopol, exploiting the "safe zone" of a grain corridor, and could have been launched from a civilian ship. The Russian army accused Ukraine Oct. 29 of the attack, while Britain bluntly rejected Moscow’s accusations that its specialists were involved. Russia’s Foreign Ministry then summoned the British ambassador over the accusation. (MT/AFP, 10.29.22, NYT, 11.03.22)
    • Though U.S. officials said on Oct. 30 that the United States had not assisted with the Oct. 29 attack, they have been consistently vague about the remote-controlled coastal defense ships that Washington first said it would deliver in April. In September, a senior NATO official described the remote-controlled boats as ''torpedo-sized'' but also would not discuss their capabilities or who had supplied them to Ukraine. NATO officials also did not respond to requests for comment on Oct. 31. (NYT, 11.01.22)
  • There is an $8 billion gap between what the Pentagon has pledged to send to support Ukraine and its allies, and the contracts awarded to defense companies. (WSJ, 10.29.22)
  • Ukraine's head of military intelligence claimed Ukraine shot down 222 of 330 Shahed drones as of Oct. 22. The claim couldn't be verified. Ukraine claims it shoots down about 50% of Russian missiles. (WSJ, 10.30.22)
  • The waves of missile and drone attacks that Moscow launched this month have destroyed 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. (FT, 10.31.22)
  • German politicians have called for an end to arms deals with Switzerland as a political dispute deepens over Bern’s refusal to allow arms to be shipped to Ukraine. (FT, 10.31.22)
  • U.S. monitors have conducted in-person inspections for only about 10% of the 22,000 U.S.-provided weapons sent to Ukraine that require special oversight. (WP, 11.02.22)
  • Several dozen Ukrainian air defense troops are completing training in Germany on how to use the sophisticated National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, paving the way for the delivery of the first systems to Ukraine in the next several days. (NYT, 11.01.22)
  • Before the war began Russia reportedly had a fleet of 192 Su-25s. According to Oryx, a Dutch team of independent analysts tracking verified Russian losses, the air force has lost at least 23 Su-25s so far—over one-third of all Russia’s combat aircraft casualties.  (The Economist, 11.01.22)
  • At least 100 mobilized Russians have been killed on and off the battlefield since Putin announced his chaotic military call-up last month. (MT/AFP, 11.02.22)
  • Bulgarian lawmakers approved the first military aid shipments to Ukraine since Russia invaded its neighbor in February, ending months of resistance from Russia-friendly political parties and the nation’s president. (Bloomberg, 11.03.22)
  • Russian forces in the city of Kherson appear to be laying the groundwork for a withdrawal, but Ukrainian officials warn that their enemy could be seeking to suck precious armored units into debilitating urban combat. There are signs Russian forces are preparing to leave the city, moving residents and personnel onto the far bank of the Dnipro River, replacing elite forces with mobilized troops and abandoning some checkpoints around the city and its airport while digging in elsewhere. Putin said Nov. 4 that the remaining civilian population should be evacuated from the city of Kherson as all indicators suggested the battle for the strategically key city on the Dnipro River was imminent. (WSJ, 11.04.22, MT/AFP, 11.04.22)
  • Deputy head of the Kremlin-installed “administration” of the Kherson region Kirill Stremousov told the “Solovyov.Live” rutube channel on Nov. 3: “Today, evacuation of the left-bank [of Dnipro] part of the Kherson region has already been announced today—we are referring to the 15-kilometer zone. Most probably our units, our troops will be leaving to the left-bank part of the Kherson region... people should be leaving for the left bank maximally fast.” He then announced martial law in the city of Kherson on Nov. 4 only to delete the announcement. (RM, 11.04.22)
  • In the view of pro-war Russian Telegram channel Dva Mayora (Two Majors), a confluence of signs, including blowing up cell phone towers, destroying boats and ships and evacuating cultural assets, indicate that “the city will be abandoned” by the Russian troops in the short-term. (RM, 11.04.22)
  • Ukrainian military intelligence says Russia has deployed some 40,000 soldiers to the western bank of the Dnipro River to stop the Ukrainian military from reclaiming Kherson. (NYT, 11.04.22)
  • Top diplomats from the G-7 discussed sending more defensive military equipment to Ukraine to help the country ward off missile and drone attacks by Russia that are damaging critical infrastructure, a senior U.S. State Department official said Nov. 4. The G-7 has also expressed support for Iran’s protests as well as condemning Russia’s use of Iranian drones in their war against Ukraine. (NYT, 11.04.22, J.Post,11.04.22)

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

  • The European Union has frozen Russian assets worth around 17 billion euros ($16.9 billion) since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said. (RFE/RL, 10.29.22)
  • Armenia imported more washing machines from the European Union during the first eight months of the year than the past two years combined. Kazakhstan imported $21.4 million worth of European refrigerators through August, more than triple the amount for the same period last year. Officials in Europe have already said publicly they have seen parts from refrigerators and washing machines showing up in Russian military equipment such as tanks since its invasion of Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 10.29.22)
  • Russia’s trade volume with the U.S. and U.K. declined by 35 and 79% respectively after the beginning of the Russian invasion. Russia’s trade volume with Germany declined by 3% since then, while trade volume with Turkey, India and Brazil increased by 198%, 310% and 106% respectively. The trade volume with Spain increased by 57% and the trade volume with China increased by 64%. (NYT, 10.30.22)
  • Carlyle Aviation Partners, one of the world’s biggest aircraft leasing operators, is seeking $700 million from more than 30 insurers and reinsurers after they failed to pay out over jet seizures by Russian airlines. (FT, 10.31.22)
  • Nikolai Storonsky, the billionaire head of the London-based financial technology firm Revolut, has renounced his Russian citizenship. (RFE/RL, 10.31.22)
  • Japanese tiremaker Bridgestone is seeking a local buyer for its business in Russia. (MT/AFP, 10.31.22)
  • After the September increase in exports, Turkey actually caught up with Germany in terms of exports to Russia. In May-August, Germany's exports to Russia stabilized at $1.1-1.2 billion per month. This is slightly less than Turkey's September figures. If Turkey does overtake Germany, it’d become the third largest exporter to Russia after China and Belarus. (Novye Vedomosti, 11.01.22)
  • Uniper has reported a €40 billion loss, one of the biggest in corporate history, after Russia’s decision to limit European gas supplies pushed the soon-to-be-nationalized German energy group to the brink of collapse. (FT, 11.03.22)
  • The British government has imposed economic sanctions on four Russian businessmen, banning them from entering the U.K. and freezing any assets they hold in Britain: Alexander Frolov, Alexander Abramov, Airat Shaimiev and Albert Shigabutdinov. (RFE/RL, 11.02.22)
  • The Dutch firm that owns Russian telecoms operator Vimpelcom will sell its Russian operations, the company announced. (MT/AFP, 11.02.22)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • There must be no peace with Russia as long as Russian troops remain within Ukraine’s borders, Germany’s president said Oct. 28, in an impassioned state of the nation speech about Berlin’s foreign policy. “In the face of evil, goodwill is not enough,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s ceremonial head of state, said in a public address outlining his country’s place in the world. (FT, 10.28.22)

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

  • Norway raised its military alert level starting Nov. 1, citing Russia's war in Ukraine after suspicious drone sightings put the country on edge. (WP, 11.01.22)
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that since February 2022, NATO has increased its grouping near the borders of Russia by two and a half times, up to 30,000 soldiers. (Meduza, 11.02.22)
  • Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said Nov. 2 that after a telephone call with Hungarian President Viktor Orban, he believes Helsinki "can count on Hungary in our NATO ratification" process. (Reuters, 11.03.22, RFE/RL, 11.02.22)
  • Turkey is unlikely to sign off on Sweden’s bid for NATO membership before the end of the year, and the chances of this happening even before elections due next year are slim, according to officials familiar with the issue. (Bloomberg, 11.03.22)
  • Finland has no plan to host nuclear warheads on its territory when Russia’s neighbor joins NATO and no such offer has been made to the Nordic nation, government officials said.  (Bloomberg, 11.03.22)
  • While Russia's war has not topped Americans' concerns, a growing number of Republican lawmakers—and a smaller number of Democrats—have voiced misgivings about an open-ended financial commitment to Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.04.22)
    • "I think people are going to be sitting in a recession and they're not going to write a blank check to Ukraine," Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who will become leader of the House if Republicans take control, said in an interview. (RFE/RL, 11.04.22)
    • U.S. Sens. Rob Portman and Chris Coons have vowed that bipartisan support will continue for Ukraine after next week's midterm congressional elections, as they travelled to Kyiv. (Reuters, 11.03.22)
  • U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said during a visit to Kyiv on Nov. 4 that the United States' support for Ukraine will remain "unwavering and unflinching" after the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 8. Sullivan met with Zelensky and his chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, saying afterward that President Joe Biden is committed to bipartisan cooperation "under any scenario.” (RFE/RL, 11.04.22)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Beijing considers Russia’s questions on the activities of U.S. biological laboratories in Ukraine legitimate, China’s deputy U.N. envoy Geng Shuang said at the U.N. Security Council meeting Nov. 2. Earlier, the U.N. Security Council rejected the draft resolution readied by Russia, which suggested setting up its commission to investigate into the activities of U.S. biological laboratories in Ukraine. (TASS, 11.02.22)
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he told Chinese President Xi Jinping in talks on Nov. 4 that he wanted Beijing to use its "influence" on Moscow to stop the war in Ukraine. "I told President [Xi] that it is important for China to use its influence on Russia," Scholz said. "Russia must immediately stop the attacks under which the civilian population is suffering daily and withdraw from Ukraine." (AFP, 11.04.22)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms

  • Senior Russian military leaders recently had conversations to discuss when and how Moscow might use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, according to multiple senior American officials. The intelligence about the conversations was circulated inside the U.S. government in mid-October. Putin was not a part of the conversations, which were held against the backdrop of Russia’s intensifying nuclear rhetoric and battlefield setbacks. (NYT, 11.02.22)
  • Dmitry Medvedev wrote in his Telegram channel on Nov. 2: “Ukraine’s goal in this war was named by the Kyiv regime—the return of all the territories that had previously belonged to it. That is, their abruption from Russia. This is a threat to the existence of our state and the collapse of today's Russia. And that means a direct reason for applying clause 19 of the Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence,” which outlines the conditions under which Russia can resort to use of nuclear weapons. (RM, 11.02.22)
  • Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Nov. 2 issued a “Statement of the Russian Federation on preventing nuclear war” that says, “In implementing its policy on nuclear deterrence, Russia is strictly and consistently guided by the tenet that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Russian doctrinal approaches in this sphere are defined with utmost accuracy, pursue solely defensive goals and do not admit of expansive interpretation. These approaches allow for Russia to hypothetically resort to nuclear weapons exclusively in response to an aggression involving the use of weapons of mass destruction or an aggression with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.” (, 11.02.22) This statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry could be interpreted as an attempt to scale back Putin's recent broad interpretation of the conditions under which Russia could resort to nukes, to reaffirm the supremacy of the language on such use in the country’s 2014 Military Doctrine and 2020 Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence. Of course, though, nothing seems to be quite set in stone when it comes to Russian officials' interpretations of the conditions under which Russia could resort to nukes, and Medvedev's recent statement is evidence of that.1
  • A top Kyiv military official said that more than 400 fallout shelters were being readied in the capital and that similar measures were being taken elsewhere around the country to prepare for a possible nuclear attack from Russia. (NYT, 11.02.22)
  • The Russian nuclear submarine Generalissimus Suvorov successfully fired a Bulava ballistic missile from the White Sea at the Kura range as part of the final stage of state tests, the Russian Defense Ministry said Nov. 3. (EurAsian Times, 11.03.22)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security:

  • According to the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center, ransomware attacks remain the biggest threat to British national security and businesses, with most of the criminal groups responsible based in and around Russia. (FT, 11.02.22)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Gas prices in Europe have dropped by almost 65% since hitting an all-time peak in August. (FT, 10.29.22) 
  • In an annual report on long-term energy trends, OPEC said the oil industry would need investments totaling $12.1 trillion by 2045—$300 billion more than expected last year—to satisfy demand and keep global energy-security concerns at bay. (WSJ, 10.31.22)
  • The Kremlin on Nov. 1 accused Britain of "directing and coordinating" explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines. London has rejected the accusations. (AFP, 11.01.22)
  • The Swiss-based operator of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline says it found craters on the seabed more than 200 meters apart in its initial data gathering at the location of damage to the Baltic Sea pipeline. (Reuters, 11.02.22)
  • Russell Hardy, chief executive of Vitol, said that while Russia had made progress in shielding itself from the effects of tougher sanctions affecting its seaborne crude that come into effect in December, exports are still likely to fall by 500,000 barrels a day to 1 million b/d this winter. (FT, 11.02.22)
  • With 946,000 barrels per day Russia came out on top in October among oil exporters to India, leaving behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq, traditional leaders in this area. (TASS, 11.02.22)

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow have visited jailed basketball player Brittney Griner, just weeks after a Russian court rejected her appeal of her nine-year sentence for drug possession. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Biden administration is continuing to press for the immediate release of Griner and Paul Whelan. (AP, 11.03.22)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • The share of Russians who rely on TV as their main source of news decreased from 65% to 64% in September-October, according to the Levada Center’s Oct. 20-26 poll, and the share of those who rely on the Internet also decreased, from 33% to 32%. The share of those who rely on social networks as their main source of news increased from 38% to 39% over the same period of time, while the share of those who rely on Telegram channels remained at 18%. (RM, 11.03.22)
  • Small gatherings have been held in several Russian cities to mark the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions, even as the Russian government continues carrying out the harshest crackdown on dissent in the post-Soviet period. (RFE/RL, 10.30.22)
  • Russia’s Parliament is set to pass a legislative package that would ban all “gay propaganda,” signaling an even more difficult period ahead for a stigmatized segment of society. The laws would prohibit representation of LGBTQ relationships in any media—streaming services, social platforms, books, music, posters, billboards and films—and, activists fear, in any public space as well. (NYT, 11.04.22)
  • Oleg Tinkov, the former banking tycoon who broke with the Kremlin over the war in Ukraine, said on Oct. 31 that he had renounced his Russian citizenship. ''I can't and won't be associated with a fascist country, that started a war with their peaceful neighbor,'' Tinkov, who is also a citizen of Cyprus, wrote on Instagram. (NYT, 11.02.22)
  • Russian tech group Yandex announced on Nov. 3 that its revenues rose 46% compared to the third quarter of last year, reaching 113.2 billion rubles ($2.1 billion). (MT/AFP, 11.03.22)
  • The until-recently highly secretive Wagner mercenary organization continued to grow its public profile on Nov. 4 as it opened a new headquarters and technology center in St. Petersburg.  (MT, 11.04.22)

Defense and aerospace:

  • Russia’s “partial” mobilization drive is over, Putin said late Oct. 31 in an apparent attempt to ease concerns that the Russian military would attempt to call up more reservists than promised for its Ukraine offensive. But the Russian leader appeared to waver on how to formalize the end of Russia’s first mobilization since World War II. Putin then used a National Unity Day appearance on Nov. 4 to announce that 318,000 new soldiers had joined the ranks of the country’s military under his mass mobilization. Most were still in training, but 49,000 were already in combat, he said.  (MT, 10.31.22, NYT, 11.04.22)
  • Putin has signed a law allowing the military mobilization of people who have committed serious crimes as the Kremlin continues to amass troops for its war in Ukraine amid several recent setbacks. (RFE/RL, 11.04.22)
  • More than 100 men mobilized to the war in Ukraine from Russia's Chuvashia region have rebelled, demanding overdue salaries promised to them. (RFE/RL, 11.03.22)
  • Russia has launched a rocket carrying a military satellite into orbit, the Defense Ministry said Nov. 2. (RFE/RL, 11.02.22)
  • See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Medvedev on Nov. 2 called on Russia to reinstate the death penalty for those suspected of wartime sabotage. (MT/AFP, 11.03.22)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • The British government is facing calls for an investigation into newspaper allegations that a personal phone used by Liz Truss while she was foreign secretary was hacked by foreign agents suspected of working for Russia. (FT, 10.31.22)
  • Russia's Foreign Ministry says it summoned the ambassador from the Netherlands to protest what it alleges was an attempt by British intelligence to recruit the Russian military attaché at the Russian embassy in The Hague. (RFE/RL, 10.31.22)
  • Norway's counter-intelligence service on Oct. 28 revealed what it said was the true identity of a Russian spy posing as a Brazilian researcher. The PST named the suspect as Mikhail Mikushin, a Russian born in 1978, who they said had been passing himself off as a 37-year-old Brazilian named Jose Assis Giammaria. (MT/AFP, 10.29.22)
  • Putin congratulated Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Oct. 31 after the leftist ex-president narrowly won a divisive runoff against far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. (MT/AFP, 10.31.22)
  • Putin has ordered to allow visa-free travel from countries regardless of their visa policies toward Russian citizens. (MT/AFP, 11.02.22)
  • The next meeting of the Moscow format on Afghanistan is scheduled to take place in the middle of November, Russian Special Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said. (Interfax, 11.03.22)
  • The U.N. General Assembly First Committee approved the Russian draft resolution "No first placement of weapons in outer space." The document was supported by 123 delegations, with 50 voting against and four abstaining. The draft document is now expected to be reviewed by the General Assembly’s full membership in December. (TASS, 11.02.22)
  • Wagner, the Russian mercenary company owned by the infamous businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, secured and maintained its position in Sudan’s gold sector while working closely with companies affiliated with Sudan’s brutal military. (OCCRP, 11.02.22)
  • Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has secured a majority of parliamentary seats in the country's fifth election in four years. Netanyahu is viewed as having a close working relationship with Putin, having established the close military communication that allows Israel to operate in the Russian-controlled airspace above Syria to take out what it views as Iranian threats. (DW, 11.03.22, The Hill, 11.03.22)


  • Zelensky says he will not take part in a summit later this month in Indonesia of the G-20 if Putin attends. (RFE/RL, 11.03.22)
  • An investigation by the Financial Times into the illicit grain trade out of occupied Ukraine reveals a complex shadow operation managed by private companies and arms of the Russian state itself. In August, the local government said the Zaporizhzhia region was exporting about 5,000 tons of grain a day by rail and about 1,500-2,000 tons by road: much is likely to be shipped out via ports in neighboring Crimea. (FT, 10.30.22)
  • Police in Finland have raised the alarm over the smuggling of Western-donated weapons from Ukraine by criminal gangs, Finland’s Yle broadcaster reported Oct. 30. Weapons originally sent as military aid to Ukraine including assault rifles, pistols, grenades and combat drones, had been found in multiple European countries, Christer Ahlgren, head of organized crime at the Finnish police’s bureau of investigations, told Yle. The authorities believed that "three of the world’s largest motorcycle gangs" had reactivated their smuggling routes for Ukrainian-bound weapons. Finnish police say Bandidos MC is one such gang that has chapters in every Ukrainian city. (MT, 10.31.22, Meduza, 10.30.22)
  • Since the beginning of martial law, the State Border Service of Ukraine has recorded attempts to illegally cross the border by more than 8,000 men liable for military service. More than 5.6 thousand violators were stopped by border guards outside checkpoints, and the rest tried to cheat at passport control. There were 245 attempts to bribe border guards for a total of 3.8 million hryvnia. More than 400 suspicions were announced for illegal transfer and forgery of documents when crossing the border. (, 10.28.22)
  • The IMF has put off a bailout for Ukraine because it is worried the country’s president won’t recoup billions of dollars allegedly looted from banks—including one once controlled by his close supporter Ihor Kolomoisky. IMF officials found “shortcomings in the legal framework, pervasive corruption and large parts of the economy dominated by inefficient state-owned enterprises or by oligarchs,” Ron van Rooden, the fund’s mission chief for the country, said recently.  (WSJ, 11.03.22)
  • The head of Ukraine’s Audit Chamber, Valery Patskan, wrote a letter of resignation after Ukraine’s anti-corruption authorities informed him Oct. 24 that he is suspected of having illegally received 117,650 hryvnia of compensation for housing. (, 11.04.22)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Putin held talks with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to try to broker a settlement to a long-standing conflict between the two countries, but announced no breakthrough. After meetings with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Putin said sticking points remained to reaching a final peace agreement but gave no details. Ahead of the talks, Pashinian said he was "ready" to extend the Russian peacekeepers' presence by up to another two decades. (RFE/RL, 11.01.22)
  • Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh gathered for a massive rally to protest against the possibility that the Armenian government will cede control of the region to Azerbaijan. A crowd officially estimated at 40,000 came together in the main square of Stepanakert, the de facto capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, on Oct. 30. (Eurasianet, 10.30.22)
  • A former Russian citizen of Armenian descent, billionaire Ruben Vardanian, has been appointed to the post of prime minister of Nagorno-Karabakh. (RFE/RL, 11.04.22)
  • Azerbaijan said it arrested 19 citizens that it accused of being trained and funded by Iran in order to spy for its intelligence services. (Bloomberg, 11.02.22)
  • Moscow and Chisinau exchanged diplomatic expulsions after a Russian missile shot down by Ukrainian air defenses fell on a village in northern Moldova on Oct. 31. (RFE/RL, 11.01.22)
  • Thirty-five more activists arrested in Uzbekistan's Karakalpakstan region in July during rallies against constitutional amendments have been released. (RFE/RL, 11.02.22)
  • Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov and his Kyrgyz counterpart, Jeenbek Kulubaev, have signed a number of documents on border delimitation, including an agreement on jointly managing the Kempir-Abad water reservoir, which has been a hot-button issue between the two Central Asian neighbors. (RFE/RL, 11.03.22)
  • Kyrgyz authorities have frozen the bank account of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, known locally as Radio Azattyk, soon after they blocked its website for two months when the broadcaster refused to take down a video of one of its news programs that reported on clashes at the border with Tajikistan. (RFE/RL, 10.31.22)
  • Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has signed a decree granting amnesty to hundreds of people charged and imprisoned in connection with violence amid anti-government protests in January that claimed at least 238 lives. (RFE/RL, 11.02.22)
  • Kazakh authorities have detained journalist Yevgenia Baltatarova who is wanted in her native Republic of Buryatia in Russia for alleged distribution of false information about Russia's armed forces. (RFE/RL, 11.02.22)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • Mikhail Khodorkovsky: “Another problem is that a fairly large part of Western society and politicians who represent that part believe that it would be good if Russia simply ceased to exist.” (Meduza, 11.01.22)
  • In a message marking Russia's Day of National Unity on Nov. 4, Medvedev said the task of the fatherland was to "stop the supreme ruler of hell, whatever name he uses—Satan, Lucifer or Iblis." (RFE/RL, 11.04.22)



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