Russia in Review, Oct. 6-13, 2023

5 Things to Know

  1. As violence escalated between Israel and Hamas after the latter’s indiscriminate attacks against the former, top Russian officials seized the opportunity to blame the crisis on what they described as America’s repeated failure to use its “monopoly” on mediation between the two sides to reach a fair peace deal. Vladimir Putin has also called for a cessation of hostilities and expressed a willingness to mediate. Russian opposition-minded analysts likewise called for a cessation of hostilities with the aim of stemming mounting casualties, but some of them also argued that the Kremlin actually stands to benefit from the fighting as it distracts the U.S. and its allies from aiding Ukraine in its defense against Russia. Of editors of the hardline Russian-language Telegram channels that support Putin’s war in Ukraine, and which our team has surveyed this week, many argued that the fact that Hamas had been able to launch multiple attacks from Gaza into Israel constitutes an intelligence failure. Some also claimed that the Israeli side had been repeating mistakes that the Russian military committed at the beginning of its offensive against Ukraine, engaging in schadenfreude.[1]
  2. The lower chamber of Russia’s rubber-stamp parliament has scheduled the passing of a bill that would revoke Russia’s ratification of CTBT in three readings for Oct. 17-19, as a US congressional commission called for missile defense capable of deterring and defeating “coercive attacks by Russia and China.” In its report the bipartisan Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture also said the U.S. must expand or restructure its nuclear arsenal to tackle the “existential challenge” posed by the growing nuclear threat from China and the existing risk from Russia, FT reported.
  3. Russian forces launched multi-pronged offensives this week to try to overrun the Donetsk region town of Avdiivka whose capture by Russia would ease the way to the larger cities of Pokrovsk and Kostiantynivka, according to NYT. However, while Russian pro-war Telegram channels claimed a breach of the Ukrainian defenses in the area, Ukrainian Telegram channels insisted the Russian attacks were “unsuccessful.” As for actual land gains across the entire Russian-Ukrainian front, they have been minimal recently, according to the Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force. In the week preceding Oct. 10, Russia gained one square mile, while Ukraine gained six square miles, according to the 10.10.23 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card.
  4. Putin’s victory in Ukraine would increase “the probability of a great power war in the next 10 to 15 years” and may require a doubling of America’s defense budget, ex-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told CBS News.
  5. Of multiple technologies being developed for the Ukraine war, it is the “drone innovation” that is particularly notable, having emerged as a response to the World War I style warfare that persists in that conflict, Eric Schmidt, ex-Google CEO, told a forum at Harvard Kennedy School on Oct. 11. Schmidt, who has visited Ukraine multiple times to discuss technological solutions that could help Ukraine in its fight, also commented on the implications of the AI revolution, warning that if no guardrails are placed, thousands may end up dying as a result of the application of AI in future attacks. Even if world leaders “act now to face the challenges posed by AI as squarely as their predecessors did in addressing nuclear threats in earlier decades,” chances are that they won’t be as successful, former U.S. national security advisor/secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger and Harvard’s Graham Allison write in their FA commentary, in which they explore possible avenues to AI arms control.

 

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

Russian reactions to Hamas’ attack on Israel and Israel’s response:

  • At least two Russian citizens have been killed and at least four others remain missing following the Hamas militant group’s surprise attack on Israel over the weekend, Russia’s Ambassador in Tel Aviv said Tuesday. (MT/AFP, 10.10.23)
  • Around 400 Russian nationals are seeking to evacuate the Gaza Strip. An additional 110 citizens of Palestine, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Kazakhstan have also requested assistance from the Russian office with evacuations. (MT/AFP, 10.12.23)
    • Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel says about 1,000 Ukrainian citizens have turned to the Ukrainian Embassy in Tel Aviv asking for help to be evacuated to Ukraine to escape the war between Hamas and Israel. There are 15,000 Ukrainian citizens registered at the consulate, (RFE/RL, 10.12.23)
  • Vladimir Putin, President:
    • “I think that many will agree with me that this is a clear example of the failure of the policy of the United States in the Middle East, which tried to monopolize the resolution [of the conflict] but, unfortunately, was not concerned with finding compromises acceptable to both sides.” (Kremlin.ru, 10.10.23)
    • “What is happening is terrible. We understand that there is a lot of violence on both sides, but no matter what level of violence there is on both sides, we must strive to minimize or reduce to zero casualties among the civilian population, among women, children and the elderly.” (TASS, 10.11.23)
    • “I hear Iran is being accused of all grave [sins], as usual, without evidence.” (TASS, 10.11.23)
    • “We are hearing about plans to prepare for a ground operation in Gaza. Well, we understand that…the use of heavy equipment in residential areas is a complex matter fraught with serious consequences for all parties.” (TASS, 10.13.23)
    • “Israel … has been subjected to an attack of unprecedented brutality and, of course, has the right to defend itself, has the right to ensure its peaceful existence.” (TASS, 10.13.23)
    • “[Israel] has the right to protect itself [after being] subjected to an attack that was unprecedented in its cruelty.” (NYT, 10.13.23)
    • Criticized a possible Israeli ground operation in Gaza using heavy military equipment as “semi-professional,” saying: “Without that equipment in the same residential areas, it will be even more difficult to carry out such operations. … Civilian casualties would be completely unacceptable.” (NYT, 10.13.23)
    • When asked to comment on a Tweet by U.S. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene in which she asked whether any U.S. weapons used by Hamas against Israel came from Ukraine, Putin said he has no doubt that weapons are “leaking from Ukraine,” but said he doubts that “this is being done at the level of the leadership of Ukraine.” (RM, 10.13.23)
    • “What matters now is to stop the bloodshed. … Russia is ready to coordinate with all constructive partners.... we need to find a  way out of the situation. In my opinion, it, of course, can also be achieved as a result of some kind of mediation efforts.” (MT/AFP, 10.13.23, Kremlin.ru, 10.13.23)
  • Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister:
    • “[Moscow is] deeply concerned that hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians have died…and that the Gaza Sector has been declared a target for Israeli retaliation.” (Mid.ru, 10.09.23)
    • “Creating a Palestinian state would have been the “most reliable” solution for peace in Israel and fighting terrorism alone would not ensure security.” (MT/AFP, 10.09.23)
    • “I cannot help but mention the destructive policy of the United States, which is frustrating collective efforts within the quartet of international mediators.” (Mid.ru, 10.09.23)
    • When asked about U.S. military aid to Israel, “If there are fewer Western weapons on the battlefield on the part of the Ukrainian Nazi regime, probably the tasks set by… Putin will be solved faster. But they will be solved in any case.” (Mid.ru, 10.09.23)
  • Mikhail Bogdanov, special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the Middle East and Africa:
    • “This is a recurrence of a conflict that has lasted for 75 years. … We call for an immediate ceasefire and peace.” (TASS, 10.07.23)
    • “We call for the immediate start of the peace process based on existing internationally recognized agreements. UN Security Council resolutions have not been implemented, the work of the Middle East Quartet has been torpedoed, negotiations have not taken place, and this is the result.” (TASS, 10.07.23)
  • Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Putin’s Security Council:
    • “Clashes between Hamas and Israel on the 50th anniversary of the start of the Yom Kippur War could have been expected. That’s what Washington and its allies should have been focused on.” (MT/AFP, 10.09.23)
    • “What can stop America’s maniacal passion to stoke conflict across the entire planet? Probably only a civil war on the territory of the United States.” (MT/AFP, 10.09.23)
  • Dmitry Peskov, deputy head of the presidential administration and Kremlin spokesman:
    • “First, everything there [in Israel and Gaza] should get out of the active combat phase of war. While this active phase is ongoing, it is difficult to talk about anything for now. … The risk of third forces becoming involved in this conflict is high.” (MT/AFP, 10.09.23)
    • “We need to put the situation back on the peace track as quickly as possible—if this violence goes on like this, the conflict could spiral further. This is a great danger for the region,” Putin has not spoken to Israeli or Palestinian leaders but could do so “if necessary.” (FT, 10.09.23)
  • Tatyana Stanovaya, founder of  R.Politik:“While some believe this war might push Russia closer to Iran, Moscow is more likely to keep its position as a mediator, aiming to counter Western influence and interact as a constructive peace broker.” (R.Politik, 10.08.23)
  • Voyenkor Kotyonok’s Z Telegram channel edited by military reporter Yuri Kotyonok:“For Israel, it’s Pearl Harbor...“The behavior of the IDF during the sweeps shows an inability to operate in urban areas. I’m surprised by what I see. I don’t understand Israel’s readiness. They work in urban environments all the time. And yet here they are at a loss, acting in a crowd – I am astounded .” (“Voyenkor Kotyonok”/Telegram, 10.07.23)

Nuclear security and safety:

  • IAEA experts at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have inspected the rooftop of the second unit and did not observe any mines or explosives, but continue to seek access to the rooftops of all six reactor buildings and to the turbine halls. (WNN, 10.11.23)
  • The fuel division of the State Corporation "Rosatom" has supplied nuclear fuel for reactor plant No. 1 of the world's only floating nuclear thermal power plant in Pevek, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. (Rosatom, 10.12.23)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • “In recent weeks North Korea has provided Russia with more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions,” National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby said. The US released imagery showing the movement of the containers from North Korea into Russia by ship, he said. (FT, 10.13.23)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • On Oct. 6-7, the Russian military carried out overnight missile strikes on the southern region of Odesa, Ukrainian officials said, injuring four people and damaging port infrastructure as part of a broader effort to strangle the Ukrainian economy. (NYT, 10.07.23)
  • On Oct. 7, Ukrainian shelling on the Russian border region of Belgorod killed one person, local authorities said. (MT/AFP, 10.07.23)
  • On Oct. 7, Russia struck multiple targets in Ukraine’s Odesa region with missiles, damaging port facilities and grain stockpiles in Chornomorsk and injuring at least four people in a strike on residential buildings, the region’s governor said. (Bloomberg, 10.07.23)
  • On Oct. 8, a Russian attack on the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson 8 left a dozen people wounded. Elsewhere, Ukrainian officials said four people including a nine-year-old girl were injured in a Russian rocket strike on Kostyantynivka near the front line in the Donetsk region. (RFE/RL, 10.08.23)
  • On Oct. 10, Two people were killed in Ukrainian shelling of Russia's western Belgorod region, the governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. (MT/AFP, 10.10.23)
  • On Oct. 12, the governor of Russia's Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov said debris from a drone that was hit by air defense systems fell on a house, killing three, including a child, and severely injuring two people. (RFE/RL, 10.12.23)
  • On Oct. 12, Odesa regional Governor Oleh Kiper said that air defenses shot down 28 out of 33 Iranian-made drones launched by Russia at the Odesa and Mykolaiv regions. (RFE/RL, 10.12.23)
  • On Oct. 12, Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko wrote on Telegram that all 59 people killed in a suspected Russian missile strike on a grocery store and cafe in the Kharkiv region last week had been identified. The missile hit the site in the village of Hroza on Oct. 5 as people were attending a memorial for a fallen soldier. The Security Service of Ukraine said on Oct. 11 that two former Kharkiv region residents, brothers Dmytro and Volodymyr Mamon, are suspected of assisting Russia to coordinate the attack. (RFE/RL, 10.12.23)
  • On Oct. 13, Kherson Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said Russian forces used artillery, mortars, Grad missiles, tanks, and drones to pound the region and its capital. "Two people were killed and six more were wounded, one of them a child," Prokudin said, (RFE/RL, 10.13.23)
  • On Oct. 13, Ukraine accused Russian forces of using phosphorus during their current assault on Avdiivka. (RFE/RL, 10.13.23)
  • After an initially balmy fall, temperatures are dropping in Ukraine—and Russia has already begun pummeling Ukraine's energy system, in a reprise of its brutal attempt last autumn and winter to demoralize Ukrainians by plunging them into darkness and cold. (WP, 10.10.23)
    • "What we are seeing now is that … Putin is preparing once again to use winter as a weapon of war, meaning attacking the energy system, the gas infrastructure. We need to prevent that," NATO SG Stoltenberg said. (RFE/RL, 10.11.23)
  • The United Nations has voiced concern over Moscow's "mass conferral" of Russian passports in Ukrainian territory it controls, saying that those who refuse the documents are "ensnared in a web of exclusion." (MT/AFP, 10.09.23
  • Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told a conference in Kyiv Ukraine expects between $300 billion and $500 billion to be used for reconstruction projects. (Bloomberg, 10.12.23)
    • A slow economic recovery could add to postwar reconstruction costs already estimated by the World Bank at $411 billion, much of which the West is likely to finance. (WSJ, 10.07.23)
  • Ukraine’s commodities are again heading directly to traditional buyers across Europe and Asia via its new shipping corridor in the Black Sea. Three vessels are en route to Spain and one each to the Netherlands, Egypt and Singapore, ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg show. Ships that left Ukraine’s Black Sea ports have already arrived in Romania, Israel, Italy and Bulgaria with cargoes such as grain and metals. (Bloomberg, 10.10.23)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • In the past month, Russian forces have gained seven square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine gained 15, according to the 10.10.23 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 10.10.23)
  • On Oct. 10, Russian forces closed in on the frontline town of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region. Pro-war Russian telegram channel “Rybar” claimed that on that day Russian forces had broken through Ukrainian defenses near villages outside Avdiivka in a maneuver seeking to surround the town. His claims could not be independently verified. (AFP, 10.10.23, NYT, 10.11.23)
    • On Oct. 10 at least three Russian battalions -- between 2,000 and 3,000 men -- moved with tanks and armored infantry vehicles – towards Ukranian positions in the Advyivka area. (RFE/RL, 10.13.23)
  • On Oct. 11, Russia said its forces had strengthened their position on the frontline near Avdiivka, which is symbolically and strategically important to Kyiv. (MT/AFP, 10.11.23)
  • As of Oct. 12 Russia continued to be mounting the biggest attack on Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region since its invasion of Ukraine started, city administration head Vitaliy Barabash said on local TV. (Bloomberg, 10.12.23)
    • As of Oct. 12 Russian forces were yet to achieve major breakthroughs near Avdiivka, according to ISW. (ISW, 10.12.23)
    • Ukraine’s DeepState Telegram channel reported in its Oct. 12 assessment of the situation in the Avdiivka area that Russian attacks there were not successful. (RM, 10.12.23)
    • Pro-war Russian Telegram channel “Rybar” wrote on Oct. 12 that Russians were attacking the suburbs of Avdiivka, but did not mention any territorial gains. Nor did Pro-war Russian Telegram channel “Voyenkor Kotyonok” report such gains in its Oct. 12 estimate of the fighting near this settlement, claiming it was “too early to say.” (RM, 10.12.23) 
  • On Oct. 13, Russian and Ukrainian forces were locked in fierce fighting around Avdiivka. Ukraine’s top military command said that it had repelled more than 20 attacks over the past day around the town, a linchpin of regional defenses whose capture by Russia would ease the way to the nearby, larger cities of Pokrovsk and Kostiantynivka. The attack on Avdiivka has coincided with Russian ground troop assaults near Kupiansk, another frontline town in the east, local officials said. (NYT, 10.13.23)
    • In an Oct. 13 message on Telegram, President Volodymyr Zelensky commended the defenders of Avdiivka, where Ukrainian forces repelled 20 attacks in 24 hours, according to the General Staff on Oct. 13. (RFE/RL, 10.13.23)
  • On Oct. 13, a Ukrainian intelligence told Reuters the Buyan missile carrier was attacked on that day and the Pavel Derzhavin missile carrier was attacked on Oct. 11 in joint operations carried out by the Ukrainian Security Service and naval forces. Reuters could not immediately verify the reports. (RFE/RL, 10.13.23)
    • Pro-war Russian Telegram channel “Rybar” wrote on Oct. 13 that the Pavel Derzhavin warship had been indeed attacked by Ukrainian sea drones, but claimed that the damage to its rudder system was minor. (RM, 10.13.23)
    • Ukraine’s threat in August to break Russia’s navy in the Black Sea appeared toothless. But, more than two months on, Kyiv’s seemingly quixotic campaign to end Moscow’s “safe waters or peaceful harbors” appears to be bearing fruit. Kyiv has pushed back Russia’s Black Sea fleet, hit its bases in Crimea, and achieved a degree of success that has eluded Kyiv’s stalled counteroffensive on land. (FT, 10.10.23)
  • The number of Russian military personnel killed in Ukraine is nearly 34,000, according to a tally of names confirmed through open sources by the BBC and Mediazona. The names and burial sites of 33,904 Russian military personnel were known as of Oct. 6, according to the two media outlets. (RFE/RL, 10.07.23)
    • In total, 18,000 Russian men aged 20-29 died in Russia in 2022. Of these deaths, more than 13,000 were from external causes—that is, caused not by diseases, but by external influences (murders, suicides, poisonings, road accidents, and so on, including military operations). Of these, every second death occurred in war, according to estimates by Istories. (Istories, 10.13.23)
  •  Alongside Ukraine's assault on Russian front lines, Ukraine is conducting a second—and potentially more critical—campaign: destroying enemy command centers, ammunition depots and logistics lines that Moscow relies on to keep fighting. The arrival of the ATACMS could shift the balance. In a sign of how seriously Russia takes the risk to its logistics infrastructure, it has begun building new rail lines across territory it occupies in case Ukraine manages to damage the ones Moscow currently uses to deliver supplies to troops. (WSJ, 10.12.23)
  • Ukraine has increased drone production a hundredfold in the past year following the full-scale invasion by Russia, according to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. (DPA, 10.07.23)
  • The White House and pro-Ukraine lawmakers are growing increasingly alarmed about the future of U.S. funding for Kyiv in the wake of Kevin McCarthy’s ousting as speaker of the House of Representatives, which has left military aid in limbo. House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) will again run for Speaker, after narrowly losing the nomination to Majority Leader Steve Scalise His challenger will be Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA.), who filed to run Friday. (The Hill, 10.13.23, FT, 10.07.23)
    • “Jim Jordan is a real candidate to take over the House speakership and he voted against Ukraine funding. So I would be worried if I were [Volodymyr] Zelensky and his team watching U.S. domestic politics unfold from afar,” said Rachel Rizzo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center, referring to the Ukrainian president. (FT, 10.07.23)
    • “Time is not our friend. We have enough funding authorities to meet Ukraine’s battlefield needs for a bit longer, but we need Congress to act to ensure that there is no disruption in our support,” John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communication sat the National Security Council, told reporters. (FT, 10.07.23)
    • “Your administration has failed to articulate a strategy outlining how U.S. assistance to Ukraine will help them achieve victory over Russia, while also prioritizing and advancing American interests,” Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate foreign relations committee, and Michael McCaul, the chair of the House foreign affairs committee, wrote in a letter to Biden on Oct. 7. “A pledge to support Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’ is not a strategy,” they added. (FT, 10.07.23)
  • The United States said it would give Ukraine a new military aid package worth $200 million as President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to NATO’s headquarters in Belgium to press for more support for his war-ravaged country ahead of the onset of the cold season. “I’m proud that the United States will announce its latest security assistance package for Ukraine, valued at $200 million,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said alongside Zelensky at the opening of a meeting of the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group. (RFE/RL, 10.11.23)
    • The Pentagon has about $5.2 billion left in an account for Ukraine, which under spending rates for the last several months should give the Pentagon enough Ukraine funding for at least another six months. But Biden administration officials say they only have about two more months of funding for Ukraine left as part of their plea to Congress to pass a new Ukraine funding bill. (WSJ, 10.11.23)
      • U.S. artillery stockpiles are running low, forcing Washington to send controversial cluster munitions to Ukraine instead. The U.S. is aiming to boost 155mm shell production capacity from 28,000 month to 60,000 next year and 100,000 by summer 2025. (FT, 10.12.23)
    • Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen told the Defense Contact Group that his country will deliver the first U.S.-made F-16 warplanes to Ukraine in the spring of next year. (RFE/RL, 10.11.23)
    • Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said after meeting with Zelensky that Belgium will send F-16s to Ukraine from 2025 and provide their maintenance. (RFE/RL, 10.11.23)
    • Germany unveiled on Oct. 10 fresh support package for Ukraine worth around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), its Defense Ministry said, adding that the program covered air defense, weapons, and ground vehicles. (RFE/RL, 10.11.23)
  • CQ Brown, the U.S.’s top general, on Oct. 11 said Washington had equipment deliveries to Ukraine planned until at least Jan. 1, 2024. He said the combined commitments of the U.S. and its allies would allow Ukraine to keep its plans intact. “I don’t see that their plans will change,” Brown said. (FT, 10.12.23)
    • Gen. Mark A. Milley’s Sept. 30 retirement from JCS marked the end of a working relationship that Ukrainian commander-in-chief Gen. Valery Zaluzhny has described as critical to Ukraine's battlefield successes. Milley voiced confidence that his exit would not disrupt the partnership between the U.S. and Ukrainian militaries." (WP, 10.08.23)
    • When asked “how long is this gonna look like this” with regard to Ukraine’s efforts to expel Russian military, ex-chief of JCS Mark Milley said: “t's gonna be long and hard and very bloody. Russia occupies 41,000 square miles of Ukraine. The frontline extends about the distance from Atlanta to Washington, DC.” (CBS News, 10.08.23)
  • Gen. Christopher Cavoli—double-hatted as commander of U.S. European Command and NATO supreme allied commander—reports that “one-way attack” drones have produced “huge results on the battlefield” for both Ukraine and Russia. Inexpensive and difficult to detect, a small attack drone “gives people a feeling of insecurity on the other side,” Cavoli observes. “It’s not just that you got hit with the drone, it’s that you kind of didn’t hear it coming…it fills you with dread,” leaving behind “a paralytic effect.” (Real Clear Defense, 10.07.23)
    • Eric Schmidt, ex-Google CEO, told a forum at Harvard Kennedy School on Oct. 11 that a lot of new war technology is being invented the Ukraine war. Schmidt - who has visited Ukraine multiple times to discuss technological solutions that could help Ukraine in its fight - especially with “drone innovation” that has emerged as an innovative response to the World War I style warfare that persists in that conflict. (RM, 10.12.23)
  • Zelensky urged Ukraine’s backers to keep lethal assistance flowing “without any pauses” as U.S. Congressional dysfunction threatens future assistance and allies are preoccupied by Hamas’s assault on Israel. “We are now in a special situation on the front line . . . where it is important to put pressure, and without any pauses,” the Ukrainian president said on Oct. 11. (FT, 10.11.23)
  • Zelensky said after talks in Bucharest with his Romanian counterpart Klaus Iohannis on Oct. 10 that the two sides discussed military aid for Ukraine, and that "there will soon be very good news about artillery and air defense." He also confirmed that a center for training Ukrainian pilots on U.S.-made F-16 warplanes will be established in Romania. (RFE/RL, 10.10.23)
    • Faced with threats from nationalist, pro-Russian lawmakers of something "bad" happening if they "caught" Zelensky in the Romanian Parliament, official plans were abandoned for the Ukrainian head of state to give a speech to lawmakers. (RFE/RL, 10.12.23)

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

  • U.S. Treasury secretary Janet Yellen has backed European proposals to use profits generated by Russian assets frozen at international financial institutions to help Ukraine. The comments mark a strong show of support from the U.S. for European plans to access more than €200 billion of Russian central bank assets immobilized in Europe in response to Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. The bulk of those funds is held at the world’s largest clearinghouse, Belgium’s Euroclear. (FT, 10.12.23)
    • Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo said the country would launch a €1.7 billion fund to help finance the war in Ukraine. “The source of that fund are the billions of Russian assets that are being frozen in Belgium,” De Croo said during a visit by Zelensky, adding that the money would be used to buy military equipment and for humanitarian support. (FT, 10.12.23)
  • Bulgaria has arrested 12 people who officials say were part of a criminal group illegally exporting goods to Russian troops in Ukraine. Deputy Prosecutor-General Maria Pavlova said on Oct. 10 that the group exported "dual-use goods"—products intended for civilian use that can also be used for military purposes—in violation of sanctions imposed by the EU on Moscow because of it (RFE/RL, 10.10.23)
  • Latvia said it’s closing a border crossing point that Russia announced would be the sole entry point for most Ukrainians arriving from the European Union by land. Russia’s government said this month that from Oct. 16 it would only allow entry from the EU of Ukrainian citizens that are at least 14 years old via the crossing in Vientuli and Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. (Bloomberg, 10.12.23)
  • Veon Ltd. said on Oct. 9 that it has completed the sale of its Russia unit to senior country managers, capping months of negotiations to exit the country after its 2022 invasion of Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 10.09.23)
  • Google says it has worked hard to disrupt the ability of Vladimir Putin’s government to use its services to spread disinformation since the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. But a widely used Android service called Discover continues to serve up misleading propaganda to Russian audiences. (Bloomberg, 10.12.23)
  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended the Russian Olympic Committee over its decision to incorporate sports bodies in eastern Ukrainian areas that it occupies. (RFE/RL, 10.12.23)
  • Russia will not after all play in Under-17 European Championship qualifying games this month, European soccer body UEFA said on Oct. 10 after being unable to make its preferred new policy work. (Bloomberg, 10.10.23)
  • The Russian investigative group Proyekt (Project) said on Oct. 11 that several Russian tycoons obtained citizenship from the Caribbean island nation of Dominica to evade sanctions imposed on them by the West over their links to the Kremlin and Moscow's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. According to Proyekt, Russian oligarchs God Nisanov, Zarakh Iliyev, Omar Murtuzaliyev, Aleksandr Abramov, Vasiliy Anisimov, Mikhail Yanchuk, Roman Vasilenko, and Demyan Kudryavtsev in recent months received passports from Dominica, where a $100,000 investment into the country's economy qualifies a person for citizenship. (RFE/RL, 10.11.23)
  • Of more than 820,000 Russians left the country in the first year after President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine at least 75,000 left for Israel, where many Jewish Russians were eligible for citizenship on arrival, as well as funding under a government repatriation program. (FT, 10.12.23)
    • . Russia’s state commission on foreign investment had initially approved a $250-million payoff to Yandex N.V. The commission then cut Yandex N.V.’s payout to around $70-80 million after Yandex’s Israel-based co-founder Arkady Volozh in early August condemned the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 10.07.23)
  • Also see section Energy exports from CIS

Ukraine-related negotiations: 

  • No significant developments.

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

  • “If Ukraine loses and Putin wins, I think you would be—certainly increasing if not doubling your defense budget in the years ahead. And you will increase the probability of a great power war in the next 10 to 15 years. I think it would be a very dangerous situation if—if Putin's allowed to win,” ex-chief of JCS Mark Milley said. (CBS News, 10.08.23)
  • The U.S. and EU will use a joint summit in Washington on Oct. 20 to underscore their support for Ukraine and reiterate calls for Moscow to end its war. (Bloomberg, 10.13.23)
  • Russia is targeting the export routes that run from the ports around Odesa. That’s forcing grain ships on a new path that hugs the Romanian coastline and bringing the threat of attacks closer and closer to NATO’s shores. Romanian radar detected a breach of its territory last weekend, the latest in a string of such incidents, while Bulgaria next door has found drone debris on its soil. (Bloomberg, 10.07.23)
  • Romania's Defense Ministry said a crater caused by the possible explosion of a drone was found early on Oct. 12 near the NATO member's Danube border with Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 10.12.23)
  • Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria are discussing the creation of a joint force to clear any mines that drift into their waters from Russia’s war against Ukraine, according to three officials familiar with the talks. (Bloomberg, 10.10.23)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • Europeans feel that China “maybe has not been using its strong influence to persuade Russia to halt this aggression,” European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said in a speech Friday to university students in Beijing. “We consider it essential that China makes a major effort to convince the people of Ukraine that China is not Russia’s ally in this war,” he said. “I think China should step up humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.” (Bloomberg, 10.13.23)

Missile defense:

  • The bipartisan Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the U.S. issued a report that called on the U.S. to invest more in missile defense, including systems that could “deter and defeat coercive attacks by Russia and China.” (FT, 10.12.23)

Nuclear arms:

  • The head of the Committee on International Affairs, Leonid Slutsky, said that the State Duma will adopt the law on revoking Moscow’s ratification of CTBT on Oct. 19. The prepared bill will be considered in the first reading on Oct. 17 (Istories, 10.11.23)
    • Amid international concerns over Russia's intention to de-ratify CTBT, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Oct. 10 that Moscow would resume nuclear tests "only after the United States carries out similar testing. (RFE/RL, 10.10.23)
    • Alexei Arbatov, head of the Centre for International Security at the IMEMO, said that globally (primarily in the West), Russia's de-ratification of the CTBT would be interpreted as a step towards a complete withdrawal from the treaty. He said, "given that the Americans are really doing nothing to ratify the treaty, such a measure may be justified. But it is a serious demonstrative political gesture.” (R.Politik, 10.08.23)
  • Russia's decision to station nuclear weapons in Belarus is part of a campaign to "threaten" and "scare" neighboring countries while highlighting Moscow's dominance over Minsk, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said. (RFE/RL, 10.10.23
  • The apex of Washington’s anxiety [abut Russian use of nuclear weapons] came exactly a year ago, when Russia was reeling on the battlefield in Ukraine. At the time Pentagon and White House officials made a flurry of calls to their Russian counterparts, warning of unspecified but major consequences if a nuclear weapon was detonated. (WSJ, 10.07.23)
    • “I don’t think we should be lulled into any kind of false complacency,” said Fiona Hill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “I don’t rule out that he would decide to use a nuclear weapon.” Ms. Hill said that because Mr. Putin is cautious about crossing China’s leader, Xi Jinping, “he has to be extraordinarily careful about the circumstances.” (NYT, 10.07.23)
  • NATO will hold a major nuclear exercise next week, the alliance's chief said on Oct. 12, an announcement that came after Russia warned it would pull out of a global nuclear test-ban “This is a routine training event that happens every October,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. "This year, the training will take place over Italy, Croatia, and the Mediterranean Sea." (AP, 10.13.23)
  • The U.S. must expand or restructure its nuclear arsenal to tackle the “existential challenge” posed by the growing nuclear threat from China and existing risk from Russia, a new 160-page report by a congressionally mandated commission has said. The bipartisan Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the U.S., which is tasked with examining American strategic policy, warned that Washington was “ill-prepared” to tackle the challenge posed by having two peer nuclear adversaries for the first time. The commission was led by Madelyn Creedon, a former top nuclear official, and Jon Kyl, a retired senator. (FT, 10.12.23)

Counterterrorism:

  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security/AI: 

  • The U.S. last year sanctioned a Moscow-based crypto exchange to stymie Russian efforts to evade the financial blockade imposed after the invasion of Ukraine. A year on, the exchange is booming. Garantex’s growing role as a global conduit for illicit funds was underscored this month by evidence that Palestinian militants in part financed their operations through crypto in the lead-up to the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel (WSJ, 10.13.23)\
  • In an report released annually on security conditions, the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service Supo said it expects more influencing operations from neighboring Russia after the Nordic country joined NATO, with the Kremlin seen focusing on information gathering in the cyber environment. (Bloomberg, 10.12.23
  • Russian ride-hailing app Yango is under investigation over concerns that it’s a conduit for President Vladimir Putin’s secret service to gather data on customers in Europe. Yango, a unit of internet firm Yandex NV, faces a Dutch probe under the European Union’s data protection rules, following concerns previously already highlighted by Finnish and Norwegian authorities about the risks stemming from a controversial law that took effect Sept. 1, giving Russia access data processed through taxi operators. (Bloomberg, 10.12.23)
  • “If Biden, Xi, and other world leaders act now to face the challenges posed by AI as squarely as their predecessors did in addressing nuclear threats in earlier decades, will they be as successful? Looking at the larger canvas of history and growing polarization today, it is difficult to be optimistic. Nonetheless, the incandescent fact that we have now marked 78 years of peace among the nuclear powers should serve to inspire everyone to master the revolutionary, inescapable challenges of our AI future,” Henry A. Kissinger and Graham Allison write in FA. (FA, 10.13.23)
  • Eric Schmidt, ex-Google CEO, told a forum at Harvard Kennedy School on Oct. 11 that extreme risks could become associated with AI in the future. If no guardrails are placed on AI models, thousands may end up dying from the application of AI in cyberattacks and biological attacks in the future. Unlike with the four-year-long nuclear advantage the U.S. had in 1945-1949, AI changes fast, he said. Who has an advantage will change rapidly, according to Schmidt who chaired the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board in 2016-2020. Schmidt predicted that an AI-enabled war would be incredibly fast, severely limiting or could remove human interaction altogether in the absence of the aforementioned guardrails. (RM, 10.12.23)
    • Even if world leaders “act now to face the challenges posed by AI as squarely as their predecessors did in addressing nuclear threats in earlier decades,” chances are that they won’t be as successful, former U.S. national security advisor/secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger and Harvard’s Graham Allison write in their FA commentary, in which they explore possible avenues to AI arms control. (RM, 10.13.23)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. is preparing to crack down on evasion of the Group of Seven’s price cap on Russian oil, as recent market prices signal that the mechanism may no longer be working as hoped. Yellen said the U.S. is “looking at enforcement very carefully and we want to make sure that market participants are aware we take this price cap seriously, and, to the extent Western services are used, we mean business about abiding by the cap.” (Bloomberg, 10.09.23)
  • The Justice Department is conducting a broad effort to crack down on violations of sanctions imposed on Russia's energy exports and has homed in on the possible activities of a prominent oil trader. The effort includes an investigation of Murtaza Lakhani, founder and chief executive of Mercantile & Maritime Group, a major oil trading and shipping company with head offices in Bahrain and Singapore. (WSJ, 10.09.23)
  • A probe into a leak from an undersea gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia is proceeding on the assumption that it was a deliberate act of destruction, according to people familiar with the matter. The gas leak was in Finnish waters, according to one of the people. (Bloomberg, 10.10.23)
  • The U.S. has imposed sanctions on two companies shipping Russian oil, in its first enforcement of measures designed to choke off revenues to the Kremlin as continues its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The Treasury said it had imposed sanctions on UAE-based Lumber Marine for shipping Russian crude bought for more than $75 a barrel aboard its ship SCF Primorye. It is also sanctioning Turkey’s Ice Pearl Navigation Corp, whose Yasa Golden Bosphorus ship handled Russian crude bought for more than $80 a barrel. Both companies used U.S.-based service providers while shipping the oil. (FT, 10.12.23)
  • Russian Vladimir Putin on Saturday announced the start of gas supplies to Uzbekistan via Kazakhstan, a boost for Russia's industry hit by a flurry of Western sanctions over the offensive in Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 10.07.23). 

Climate change:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • A Moscow court has rejected Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s appeal against the extension of his pre-trial detention on widely criticized spying charges, Interfax reported on Oct. 10.Gershkovich, 32, a U.S. citizen and former Moscow Times journalist, was in August ordered to stay in pre-trial detention until Nov. 30. He challenged that ruling, having lost two previous appeals in April and June. (MT/AFP, 10.10.23)
  • Donald J. Trump has claimed in a lawsuit in a London court that Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, inflicted “personal and reputational damage and distress” on him by leaking a dossier detailing unsavory, unproven accounts of links between him and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. (NYT, 10.10.23)

 

II. Russia’s domestic policies 

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • The IMF now expects the Russian economy to grow by 2.2% in 2023 and then by 1.1%. in 2024. Previously, the IMF has forecast that Russia’s economy would grow by 1.3% in 2024. In comparison the IMF forecasts Chinese economic growth of 5% in 2023 and 4.2% in 2024. The IMF also expects the Euro area to grow by 0.7% in 2023 and by 1.2% in 2024. IMF has also raised its U.S. growth projection for this year by 0.3 percentage points compared with its July update, to 2.1%. (Reuters, 10.10.23, CNBC, 10.10.23, RM, 10.10.23)
    • The Russian Central Bank estimates that Russia’s total output may rise as much as 2.5 percent this year, could outpace the European Union and possibly even the United States. (NYT, 10.09.23)
    • Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that the country's economy is expected to grow by around 3 percent in 2023, noting that it is a good result. (Xinhua, 10.13.23)
  • The ruble climbed as much as 4 per cent against the dollar on Thursday, before falling back to trade around 2 per cent higher at Rbs97.35.after the Kremlin reintroduced capital controls for the first time since the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. “The mandatory requirement to sell export revenues will be effective if it applies to exporters generating a high share of total export revenues,” Tatiana Orlova, lead emerging markets economist at Oxford Economics. Despite Thursday’s bounce, the currency remains 23% lower against the dollar this year and has fallen by about a quarter since the war’s outset after Western sanctions battered the country’s economy. (FT, 10.12.23) 
  • A total of 45.85 billion rubles ($450 million) will be allocated toward various youth movements, school officials engaged in “patriotic” education, state insignia, and monitoring of youth online. Spending on “patriotic education” in 2022—the first year of Russia's war on Ukraine—went over its initial budget of 4.9 billion rubles ($48.5 million) and ultimately stood at 11.4 billion rubles ($113 million). (MT/AFP, 10.10.23)
  • Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s Chechnya region and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, has said that a presidential election due next March should either be postponed because of the war in Ukraine or limited to Putin. (RFE/RL, 10.08.23)
    •  Dmitry Peskov responded to Kadyrov’s Oct. 7 proposal, remarking that this will not happen because Putin has “emphasized the need to comply with all of the requirements of democracy, the constitution, and accordingly, to hold these elections.” (ISW, 10.09.23)
  • The attitude towards Russians who return home from abroad will depend on how they behaved outside the country towards Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said when asked to comment on the return of businessman Mikhail Fridman to Russia. (MT/AFP, 10.13.23)
  • Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, announced that returning Russians who sympathized with Ukraine would be guaranteed a visit to Magadan, a notorious hub for Gulag prison camps in the desolate north-east. (FT, 10.12.23)
  • The satirical app, created by an anonymous exiled Russian IT specialist, aimed to trick the public into submitting denunciations through its system. My Denunciation, whose design mimics the state services portal where Russians can file complaints, received over 5,000 reports since its launch in January 2023. One in five were genuine attempts to report friends, family or neighbors to law enforcement. (MT/AFP, 10.11.23)
  • Nikita Zhuravel, who publicly burned a Koran in the Russian city of Volgograd, appeared in court in the North Caucasus region of Chechnya on October 13 with what appeared to be bruises on his face as his trial started. (RFE/RL, 10.13.23)
  • Three lawyers who have defended imprisoned Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny have been detained by law enforcement after their houses were searched, according to associates of the Kremlin critic who added that the lawyers are suspected of participating in an extremist community. (RFE/RL, 10.13.23)
  • The family of Russian businessman Mkrtich Okroyan owns real estate in the U.K. and a two-story villa on the Mediterranean coast in Marbella, Spain, worth about 20 million euros. according to an investigation by Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. Okroyan and his family own the Moscow Aeromotor Scientific and Technical Complex "Soyuz.” Soyuz produces engines for civil and military aviation, including engines for a number of cruise missiles used in Ukraine. In September, the Soyuz engine-maker, Okroyan himself and his relatives were included in the U.S. sanctions lists. (Mediazona, 10.12.23)
  • The following offices/institutions enjoyed the greatest levels of trust in Russia in September: the president (76%, in August 2022—80%), the army (72%), state security agencies (60%), government (56%) and religious organizations (55%), according to Levada polling. (Levada, 10.12.23)
  • The most mentioned events in Russia in September were a special military operation (13%, in August—9%), events in Nagorno-Karabakh (11%) and elections in Russian regions (7%), according to Levada polling. (Levada, 10.10.23)

Defense and aerospace:[3]

  • The Russian Armed Forces recruited more than 357 thousand people this year, said Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev. (NVO, 10.12.23)
  • Russian legislation currently forbids the military to register convicted prisoners for the draft or call them up for duty. But last month, the Defense Ministry submitted a proposal to remove that restriction from the law, potentially making tens of thousands of convicts fair game for deployment to Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 10.07.23)
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Oct. 7 called for more Su-34 fighter jets to be produced, as Moscow pursues its offensive in Ukraine. "These planes are real workhorses. They can make four to five flights a day," Shoigu said during a visit to an aeronautical manufacturing base in Novosibirsk in Siberia. (MT/AFP, 10.07.23)
  • The Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) sprung its third coolant leak in under a year on Oct. 9, raising new questions about the reliability of the country's space program even as officials said crew members weren't in danger. (MT/AFP, 10.10.23)
  •  See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • A knifeman fatally stabbed a teacher and wounded two other people in an attack at a school in the northern France city of Arras on Friday in an attack that President Emmanuel Macron condemned as "barbaric Islamic terrorism.” The suspect was arrested. He is a 20-year-old former student of the Lycee Gambetta high school where the attack happened, a police source said. He was described by some as a Russian-born Chechen and by others as a Russian-born Ingush. On Oct. 16, 2020, Samuel Paty, a French secondary school teacher, was killed and beheaded in a suburb of Paris, France, by Abdoullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old Russian Muslim refugee of Chechen ethnic origin. (Reuters, 10.13.23, France24, 01.13.21)
  • FSB said on Oct. 9 that it has launched a probe on a high treason charge against noted Russian lawyer and outspoken Kremlin critic Ilya Novikov, saying he "joined Ukrainian territorial defense groups" fighting against Russian troops invading Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 10.09.23)
  • A former fighter from the Wagner mercenary group who was recruited from prison last year has been accused of killing a woman after returning home to the Far Eastern region of Primorye Krai from the Kremlin's ongoing war against Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 10.10.23)

 

III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Russia's attempt to regain its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council has failed in the UN General Assembly. Russia won 83 votes, considerably less than 160 for Bulgaria and 123 for Albania. (RFE/RL, 10.10.23)
  • Burkina Faso's government said Friday that it had signed an agreement with Russia to build a nuclear power plant that will "cover the energy needs of the population," less than a quarter of which has access to electricity. (MT/AFP, 10.13.23)
  • Determining the nuclear infrastructure development needs for Myanmar and identifying priority areas of work for the development of a small modular reactor project were the subject of a fresh memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Russia. (WNN, 10.11.23)
  • Slovakia's former Prime Minister Robert Fico reached a deal on Oct. 11 with center-left and nationalist parties to form a new government that is expected to scale back the country's support for Ukraine. (Reuters, 10.11.23)
  • Authorities in Cyprus on Oct. 6 said they had arrested a Russian journalist for “security reasons,” prompting the Russian Foreign Ministry to demand a formal apology. Russian news agency RIA Novosti identified the journalist as Aleksandr Gasyuk of the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper. He reportedly already flew back to Russia. (AP, 10.07.23)
  • Muneo Suzuki, a former parliamentary vice-minister of foreign affairs of Japan, left his opposition party on Oct. 10 after facing criticism for making a surprise visit to Moscow and declaring his support for Russia in its war against Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 10.10.23)
  • One day after police in Paris said an investigation had been launched into her possible poisoning, exiled Russian television journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who staged a high-profile protest against the war in Ukraine, wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, on Oct. 13 that blood tests show no evidence of poisoning. (RFE/RL, 10.13.23)
    • The journalist, now living in France, felt unwell when she opened the door to her apartment in the center of Paris and noticed a powder substance, according to a source close to the investigation who asked not to be named. (AFP, 10.12.23, Le Figaro, 10.12.23)
  • Europe’s top human rights body on Friday passed a resolution calling on its members to no longer recognize President Vladimir Putin as Russia's legitimate leader after his fourth term in office ends next year. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said Putin’s 23-year rule as either president or prime minister “has turned the Russian Federation into a de facto dictatorship.” (MT/AFP, 10.13.23)

Ukraine:

  • Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigations says the men are suspected of embezzling some $7 million, which was allocated for the purchase of body armor. Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigations (DBR) said on Oct. 10 that its officers officially informed a former deputy defense minister and an ex-chief of a department at the ministry that they are suspected of embezzlement. (RFE/RL, 10.10.23)
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for Western unity and more engagement in solving international crises, drawing a parallel between the unprecedented attack on Israel by Hamas militants and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 10.09.23)
  • Estonia is ready to eventually become a net contributor to the EU budget if Ukraine joins the bloc, according to the Estonian prime minister, who called on other EU countries to start work on budgetary reforms that would enable Kyiv’s membership. (FT, 10.10.23)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • The main purpose of Putin’s trip to Kyrgyzstan this week was a summit of the Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States. Russia’s position in the bloc has been tarnished by its failed mediation efforts in Nagorno-Karabakh and its 20-month full-scale war on Ukraine which most allies have refrained from backing. The Kremlin spared no cost on security precautions aimed at preventing his arrest (per the ICC warrant) and the threat of potential attacks, sources with knowledge of the trip’s planning told The Moscow Times. (MT/AFP, 10.13.23)
    • Armenian PM Pashinyan skipped the summit. On Oct. 14, Putin held talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Thursday evening. Russia insists that the agreement to station its peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh is valid until 2025 and intends to extend it, Putin’s foreign affairs aide Yuri Ushakov said on the eve of the Bishkek visit. (MT/AFP, 10.13.23, Gazeta.ru, 10.13.23)
    • Kyrgyzstan's parliament on Oct. 11 ratified an agreement for a common air defense system with Russia, just a day before a planned visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Central Asian country. (MT/AFP, 10.11.23)
    • Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Edil Baisalov said on Oct. 11 that the Cabinet had decided to allow Chinese citizens, including residents of Hong Kong and Macao, to enter the country without visas. (RFE/RL, 10.11.23)
  • At least eight senior Karabakh Armenian leaders have been arrested since the de facto leadership's surrender and now face serious charges in Azerbaijani courts. To many Azerbaijanis, it is long-awaited justice. But to Armenians, it amounts to revenge in a politicized court system. Up to the end, Ruben Vardanian remained defiant: Nagorno-Karabakh could not be part of Azerbaijan. (RFE/RL, 10.12.23)
  • Armenia has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to take measures to protect the rights of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh to ensure Azerbaijan does not "ethnically cleanse" the breakaway region. (RFE/RL, 10.12.23)
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Oct. 12 during his visit to Georgia that the South Caucasus nation deserves to obtain European Union candidate status, adding that Hungary was “disappointed” by the EU's refusal to grant Georgia the status last year. (RFE/RL, 10.12.23)
  •  Moldova has labelled Russia a threat to its national security, the first time the former Soviet republic has made such an overt accusation against Moscow, warning that it intends to “liquidate our statehood.” The Russian designation was announced in the country’s new national security strategy unveiled by President Maia Sandu on Oct. 11. It must be approved by parliament before being formally adopted. (FT, 10.11.23)

Quotable and notable

  • Phillips O'Brien, the military historian and Ukraine war student from the University of St. Andrews, puts it aptly in his Substack: "The return of conventional war is perhaps the single most important strategic development of this era, and it's one that we must try to understand, prepare for (and ultimately try and prevent)." (WSJ, 10.11.23.)
  • Henry Kissinger on how minority in Berlin cheer Hamas’ attacks on Israel: "It was a grave mistake to let in so many people of totally different culture and religion and concepts, because it creates a pressure group inside each country that does that.” More broadly, Kissinger said, Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine coupled with Hamas’ attack on Israel represent a “fundamental attack on the international system.” (Politico, 10.11.23)
  • Pro-Kremlin Russian political expert Sergei Karaganov said: “Europe is the origin of all major evils of mankind.” (MK, 10.09.23.)

The cutoff for reports summarized in this product was 12.00 pm East Coast time on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023.

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 National Police of Ukraine via Wikimedia Commons under a CC BY 4.0 license.   

[1] For a detailed compilation of Russians’ reaction to Hamas’ attack on Israel and Israel’s response, please visit Russiamatters.org at 6.00 pm (Eastern Daylight Time) on Oct. 13, 2023.

[2] For a detailed compilation of Russians’ reaction to Hamas’ attack on Israel and Israel’s response, please visit RussiaMatters.org at 6.00 pm (Eastern Daylight Time) on Oct. 13, 2023.

[3] For a detailed description of the Russian regular ground forces’ order of battle, see this ISW report.