Russia in Review, Sept. 2-9, 2022

6 Things to Know 

1. Ukrainian forces make significant gains in the east. This week Ukraine’s armed forces, pursuing counteroffensives in the south and east, captured an important town of Balakliya, as well as several adjacent settlements in the eastern Kharkiv region. These gains threaten Russian forces’ ability to hold not only the nearby town of Kupyansk but also, ultimately, the town of Izyum, where a significant grouping of Russian forces may face encirclement, according to one pro-Kremlin war journalist. While Russia’s Defense Ministry has stayed mum on the subject, several pro-Kremlin war correspondents and the Donbas separatists’ ex-defense chief acknowledged the loss of Balakliya. One of them also posted a photo he claimed to show Ukrainian soldiers outside of Kupyansk. Meanwhile, Kremlin-installed officials ordered the "evacuation" of civilians from both Kupyansk and Izyum.

2. U.S. pledges another $2.8 billion for Ukraine, NATO allies. Blinken made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Sept. 8 to meet Zelensky and announce an additional $2.8 billion in U.S. aid for Ukraine and 18 other U.S. allies. The majority of the funds, approximately $2.2 billion, will finance long-term investments. The remainder, some $675 million, will come in the form of rockets for multiple-launch rocket systems, 105mm howitzers, Humvees, antitank systems, small arms, ammunition, armed ambulances and other arms, according to the Pentagon’s account of a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. 

3. Xi, Putin to meet on sidelines of SCO next week as Russians show record-high affection for China. The Xi-Putin talks will be just one of the Russian leader’s bilateral meetings during the Sept. 15-16 Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan, according to the Kremlin. As for the summit as a whole, its participants intend to sign a memorandum on Iran’s commitments as a new member of the organization. Speaking this week, Putin predicted Russia and China can soon reach $200 billion in bilateral trade. Meanwhile, Russia’s Levada pollster reported that the share of Russians with a positive attitude toward China has reached a record high 88% as Russia hosted troops from China and elsewhere as part of its annual strategic command-staff exercise. 

4. Russia has indefinitely suspended gas flows to Europe through Nord Stream 1. Putin’s spokesman Peskov said the pipeline will not resume supplies in full until the West lifts sanctions against Moscow, while Putin himself threatened to cut supplies to Europe completely if price caps are imposed on its oil and gas exports. EU members remained divided this week on whether to introduce a cap on gas prices even as some of them reported making progress in weaning themselves off Russian gas ahead of winter. Meanwhile, Putin revealed that Moscow and Beijing had agreed on the main parameters of a new gas pipeline to China while Gazprom announced that China will start paying for deliveries through the existing pipeline in Russian rubles or Chinese yuan.

5. Only 1 in 5 Americans views Ukraine as a top-three global issue. A poll of 21,000 people in 22 countries, commissioned by the Open Society Foundations and conducted in July-August, shows that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the second-highest concern overall, but only 22% of U.S. respondents listed it in the top three of global issues. To find out the opinions of U.S. policymakers and policy influentials about the importance of Ukraine to U.S. interests, see our Sept. 8 compilation.

6. Russia may force change of routes for U.N.-brokered exports of Ukrainian grain. Speaking at an economic forum Sept. 7, Putin claimed that “almost all the grain exported from Ukraine is sent not to the poorest developing countries” and warned that Moscow will "have to think about changing [the] routes." U.N. data show 28% of grain shipments from Ukraine going to lower-middle income countries, 21% to Turkey, 7% to China and 44% to high-income nations, according to the FT. Politico earlier reported that the first supplies of grain from Ukraine have not all gone to the world’s neediest people.



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

Nuclear security and safety:

·      Ukraine’s Russian-held Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant (ZNPP) was once again knocked offline Sept. 3 amid sustained shelling that destroyed a key power line and penetrated deep into the plant, local Russian-installed authorities said. Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom said Sept. 7 that the plant remained disconnected from the Ukrainian grid and warned that this could force operators to resort to diesel generators. IAEA director general Rafel Grossi said Sept. 9 that shelling the night before had caused a complete black-out in Enerhodar; as a result, Energoatom is considering shutting down the only remaining operating reactor, Grossi said. (RFE/RL, 09/03.22, RFE/RL, 09.07.22, IAEA, 09.09.21)

·      Upon completing its inspection of the ZNPP, the IAEA released a report warning that the situation there was "untenable" and there was "an urgent need for interim measures" to avoid a nuclear accident. As of mid-week there were two IAEA members at the ZNPP to monitor the situation. (RFE/RL, 09.05.22)

o   Speaking at an economic forum in Vladivostok on Sept. 7, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he "trusted" the IAEA's report and said he had asked Rosatom to present its own security proposals. Earlier, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said the report needed "further clarification" and Russia had requested it from Grossi, according to Interfax. (RFE/RL, 09.07.22)

·      A draft resolution that diplomats say Poland and Canada have prepared ahead of next week's meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog's Board of Governors calls on Russia to cease all actions at Ukraine's nuclear facilities, the text shows. (Reuters, 09.09.22)

·      Petro Kotyn, head of Energoatom, has accused Russian occupation troops at the ZNPP of torturing and killing some of the facility's Ukrainian staff and abducting around 200 of them. (RFE/RL, 09.08.22)

·      Construction has started on the first of four floating nuclear power plants for the Cape Nagloynyn project that will power a huge mining development in the Russian Arctic. At a Chinese shipyard, the keel-laying ceremony was held for a barge that will later be fitted with two RITM-200S reactors. (WNN, 08.31.22)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

·      North Korea has passed a law enshrining the right to “automatically” use preemptive nuclear strikes to protect itself, a move leader Kim Jong-un said makes its nuclear status “irreversible” and bars any denuclearization talks, state media has reported. The move comes as observers say North Korea appears to be preparing to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017. (Guardian, 09.08.22)

·      North Korea has seized upon Russia’s international isolation following the invasion of Ukraine to foster closer ties, threatening international efforts to pressure Pyongyang over its illicit nuclear weapons program. U.S. officials said Sept. 6 that Russia has purchased “millions of rockets and artillery shells” from North Korea as Western sanctions begin to choke Moscow’s supply of weapons. (FT, 09.09.22)

o   Russian permanent representative to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzya asked the United States and United Kingdom to provide evidence following claims that Russia is allegedly buying weapons from Iran and North Korea. (Interfax, 09.09.22)

o   Reports that Russia is buying weapons from the DPRK are not true, Russia's permanent representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov has said. (Meduza, 09.07.22) 

Iran and its nuclear program:

·      U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Tehran's latest response in negotiations on reviving the JCPOA has pushed the talks a step back. (RFE/RL, 09.09.22)

·      The United States has imposed sanctions on Tehran-based Safiran Airport Services, which it accused of coordinating military flights to transport drones to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 09.09.22)

·      Russia and Iran will eliminate visas for tourist groups, according to RIA Novosti. Groups of five to 50 people will be able to travel without visas, provided they stay in the country for up to 15 days. The new regime will come into effect Jan. 1. (Meduza, 09.05.22) 

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

·      Russia’s interrogation, detention and forced transfers of Ukrainian civilians through a system of so-called filtration to Russia or areas that it controls in Ukraine constitute war crimes and potential crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch has said in an extensive report documenting the abuses. (NYT, 09.03.22)

·      The U.N. Security Council heard testimony Sept. 7 about the alleged removal of children from Ukraine to Russia. Ilze Brands Kehris, the assistant secretary-general for human rights, told the Council there had been "credible allegations" of such transfers. (RFE/RL, 09.08.22)

·      A senior Ukrainian official says the body of British national Paul Urey, a humanitarian volunteer who died in the custody of Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine's Donetsk region in July, shows signs of torture and severe beatings. (RFE/RL, 09.08.22)

·      Matilda Bogner, the chief of the U.N. human rights mission in Ukraine, has accused Russia of failing to allow access to POWs and said there is evidence of ill treatment and torture of Ukrainian prisoners that may constitute war crimes. (RFE/RL, 09.09.22)

·      Speaking in Vladivostok on Sept. 7 Putin criticized grain exports from Ukraine under a U.N.-brokered deal. "Almost all the grain exported from Ukraine is sent not to the poorest developing countries but to EU countries," Putin said. He added that, “with this approach, the scale of food problems in the world will only grow.” Putin suggested that Moscow will “have to think about changing routes” for Ukrainian grain shipments. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan echoed Putin’s criticism of the deal. (RFE/RL, 09.07.22, FT, 09.08.22)

o    U.N. data show 28% of grain shipments from Ukraine have gone to lower-middle income countries, 21% to Turkey and 7% to China. About 44% went to high-income nations. (FT, 09.08.22)

o   The U.N.’s Black Sea Grain Initiative Joint Coordination Center has approved the departure on Sept. 9 of four vessels carrying corn, barley and rapeseed from Ukrainian ports. (Interfax, 09.09.22)

·      The German government has asked a research institution it helps finance, the Washington-based German Marshall Fund, to come up with proposals for donor countries aiming to help rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure. Its report envisages a total of some $100 billion over time, far less than the $750 billion over 10 years that Ukraine has cited. (NYT, 09.07.22)

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

·      On Sept. 7 President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country’s troops had recaptured several settlements in the Kharkiv region in a northeastern counteroffensive they had pursued in addition to a southern counteroffensive around the city of Kherson. On Sept. 8 Zelensky claimed that “more than a thousand square kilometers have been liberated since Sept. 1.” He also announced the recapture of the town of Balakliya in the Kharkiv region. The loss of Balakliya threatens the Russian forces’ ability to hold not only the town of Kupyansk but also, ultimately, the town of Izyum. (MT/AFP, 09.09.22, RM, 09.07.22, FT, 09.08.22, MT/AFP, 09.09.22) If Zelensky’s estimate is accurate, then the recaptured area exceeds the size of Volgograd.

o   “The total area of the territory returned to Ukraine in the Kharkiv and [Kherson] directions exceeds 700 square kilometers,” Brig. Gen. Oleksiy Gromov, deputy chief of the operational unit at Ukraine’s general staff, claimed in an interview with FT. In the area around Kharkiv, Ukrainian forces penetrated 50 kilometers (30 miles) beyond Russian lines and "liberated" more than 20 towns and villages, he said. (FT, RM, 09.08.22, MT/AFP, 09.09.22, RM, WSJ, 09.08.22)

o   A Moscow-installed official in the Kharkiv region, Vitaliy Ganchev, said Sept. 9: "We do not control Balakliya." (MT/AFP, 09.09.22)

o   Vladlen Tatarsky, a pro-Kremlin Russian journalist covering the war, suggested in a Sept. 9 post on Telegram that Russian forces in the Izyum-Kupyansk area need to withdraw beyond the Oskil river. (RM, 09.09.22)

o   Former “defense minister” of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic Igor Girkin (Strelkov) acknowledged the loss of Balakliya in what he called an “alles kaput” of Russian/pro-Russian forces’ organized defense south of Kharkiv and warned that Russian forces might have to abandon Izyum. (RM, 09.09.22)

o   A pro-Kremlin Russian journalist covering the war under the pseudonym Voyenkor Kotyonok Z (Военкор Котенок Z) has acknowledged that Ukrainian forces have captured Balakliya; on Sept. 9 he also reposted a photo that, he said, showed Ukrainian soldiers posing at a sign marking the entrance to the town of Kupyansk. He also wrote in the early hours of Sept. 9 (U.S. East Coast time) that Russian forces had so far failed to stop a Ukrainian breakthrough in the direction of Izyum, which most recently led to the capture of the village of Senkovo (about 50 kilometers north of Izyum) and warned that “a full-fledged encirclement” of Russian forces in Izyum may become a distinct possibility. (RM, 09.09.22)

o   The Russian-controlled administration of the occupied part of the Kharkiv region announced that it had begun the "evacuation" of civilians from the city of Izyum. Residents of Kupyansk were also reportedly being evacuated. (MT/AFP, Meduza, 09.09.22)

o   Russia said Sept. 9 that it was dispatching reinforcements to the Kharkiv region. (MT/AFP, 09.09.22)

o   The Russian Ministry of Defense, in its daily report on the course of hostilities in Ukraine, chose not to comment on the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region. (Meduza, 09.09.22)

o   Blinken noted “positive” signs that Kyiv was retaking territory. “It is demonstrably making real progress… a significant advance, moving some 45 to 50 kilometers in one area past what had been the existing Russian line,” he said. In Prague Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also noted “success in Kherson now” and “some success in Kharkiv,” adding it was “very, very encouraging.” (FT, 09.09.22)

·      Blinken made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Sept. 8 to meet Zelensky and announce an additional $2.8 billion in U.S. military aid for Ukraine and 18 other U.S. allies. The majority of the funds, approximately $2.2 billion, will finance long-term investments. The remaining funds of some $675 million will come in the form of weapons and military equipment directly from U.S. arsenals. The military aid will include rockets for multiple-launch rocket systems, 105mm howitzers, Humvees, antitank systems, small arms, ammunition and armed ambulances, Austin said in Germany. Washington has provided Kyiv with more than $14.5 billion in military assistance since Moscow launched its invasion in February. (CNBC, 09.09.22), RFE/RL, 09.08.22, FT, 09.08.22, WSJ, 09.08.22, WSJ, 09.08.22)

o   U.S. officials said Blinken’s visit to Kyiv was also intended to set the stage for the "diplomatic Super Bowl" later this month at the U.N. General Assembly, where the Biden administration will attempt to hold together global support for Ukraine. (WP, 09.08.22)

o   Speaking at Ramstein, top U.S. General Mark Milley said there was "significant consumption of munitions" by Ukraine that will need to be addressed by allies. Norway offered 160 Hellfire missiles and night-vision equipment, Germany offered winter supplies and The Netherlands joined Germany with demining training. (MT/AFP, 09.09.22)

·      In an article published Sept. 7, Ukrainian commander Gen. Valeri Zaluzhny and Mykhaylo Zabrodskiy, first deputy chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Defense and Intelligence, for the first time admitted that Ukraine carried out missile strikes that hit Russian military bases in Crimea. (RFE/RL, 09.07.22)

·      On Sept. 7, Ukrainian commander in chief Zaluzhny wrote that a "limited" nuclear war between Russia and the West cannot be discounted. "As long as the current situation persists, this [Russian-Ukrainian] war can last for years,” he wrote. (WP, 09.07.22)

·      Authors of a new report by Conflict Armament Research examined the Russian matériel in July at the invitation of the Ukrainian government. “Russian guided weapons are full of non-Russian technology and components, and most of the computer chips we documented were made by Western countries after 2014,” said Damien Spleeters, an investigator for the group who contributed to the report. (NYT, 09.04.22)

·      A Russian shipping line with ties to the country's Defense Ministry has been ferrying weapons and supplies through the Bosporus to ports on the Black Sea in support of Moscow's war effort, according to Ukrainian officials. (WSJ, 09.02.22)

·      An explosion rocked the headquarters of a pro-Russia movement in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol amid reports of attacks against officials appointed by Moscow in the southeast of the country. (RFE/RL, 09.08.22)

·      Since Russian forces invaded in late February and began seizing Ukrainian cities and towns, close to 20 Kremlin-backed officials or their local Ukrainian collaborators have been killed or injured in a wave of assassinations and attempted killings. (WP, 09.08.22)

·      Russian prisoner Ivan Neparatov, who was sentenced to 25 years for murder but then released in exchange for a commitment to fight in Ukraine, was killed in fighting and posthumously awarded by Putin. (Meduza, 09.03.22)

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

·      The fleet of Russian aircraft that can legally fly to other countries now consists of about 200 aircraft. (IStories, 08.30.22)

·      IStories reports that the Russian military-industrial complex is using intricate schemes with intermediaries and shell companies to get around sanctions and import microelectronics that Russia doesn’t produce but needs for modern high-precision weapons and ammunition. Having studied the suppliers of microelectronics for the Russian defense industry, IStories has allegedly found among their founders employees of Zara clothing stores and upmarket drinking water brand Bozhya Rosa. (RM, 09.01.22)

·      Civil servants in the UK will reproduce documents using carbon paper if Britain is hit by energy blackouts this winter under emergency plans stress-tested in Whitehall in recent days. (FT, 09.02.22)

·      Russia’s banks lost 1.5 trillion rubles ($25 billion) in the first half of 2022 after the West imposed sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, deputy central bank chair Dmitry Tulin said. (FT, 09.02.22)

·      Over the past year, Windward, a large maritime data company that provides research to the U.N., has uncovered more than 500 cases of ships manipulating their satellite navigation systems to hide their locations. Tampering this way with satellite location trackers carried by large ships is illegal under international law and, until recently, most fleets are believed to have largely followed the rules. (NYT, 09.03.22)

·      Russia barred 25 U.S. citizens from entering the country Sept. 5, including actors Ben Stiller and Sean Penn, in its latest round of personal sanctions. (MT, 09.05.22)

·      Chinese tech giant Huawei has moved some of its staff from Russia to Central Asia over fears of Western sanctions. (MT, 09.05.22)

·      Russia and China have slowed construction of what would have been the world’s first cross-border cable car, Blagoveschensk-Heihe, due to EU sanctions. (MT, 09.05.22)

·      In August, Russians' concern about sanctions slightly increased compared to May, according to Levada. The share of respondents who are not worried about sanctions at all was 31% (versus 29% in May), not worried too much 26% (versus 32% in May), quite worried 19% (21%) and very worried 22% (17%). The share of those concerned about the sanctions was highest among residents of Moscow, at 46%. (RM, 09.08.22)

·      Zelensky announced that the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine had passed sanctions against 606 individuals who belong to the Security Council of Russia, the Federation Council of Russia and the State Duma. (RFE/RL, 09.08.22)

·      Hungary will support the renewal of EU sanctions against Russia, diplomatic sources say, after dropping a threat to derail the move if three oligarchs weren’t removed from a list of more than 1,000 people targeted with restrictive measures such as visa bans and asset freezes. Hungary is reported to have wanted the delisting of Alisher Usmanov, Pyotr Aven, and Viktor Rashnikov. (RFE/RL, 09.08.22)

·      Speaking in Vladivostok on Sept. 7, Putin claimed that “we have not lost anything, nor will we lose anything. As to our gains, I can say that primarily we have strengthened our sovereignty, which is the inevitable result of what is happening now.” Putin predicted that Russia’s GDP will contract by a mere 2% in 2022. (RM, 09.09.22)

·      Western sanctions for Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine have "failed" to undermine the "financial stability" of Russia, the country's Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Sept. 8. According to Mishustin, Russia's GDP dropped by just over 1% year-on-year in the first half of 2022. (MT/AFP, 09.08,.22)

·      Poland and the three Baltic states said Sept. 8 they would temporarily restrict access for Russian citizens holding EU visas by Sept. 19 to address "public policy and security threats." (MT/AFP, 09.08.22)

·      Sony Music has announced it has “decided to leave the Russian market completely” and transfer its Russian division, along with employees, to local management. (Meduza, 09.08.22)

·      After the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, the cost of basic roaming services abroad from Russian telecom operators rose by some 5%-40%, according to Kommersant. (Meduza, 09.09.22)

·      Lloyd’s of London is bracing itself for a £1.25 billion hit from the grounded planes, stranded cargoes and bad debts caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine, as the specialist insurance market starts to feel the losses caused by the conflict. (FT, 09.09.22)

·      A court in Moscow has rejected an appeal by Google against an order to pay a fine of more than 21.7 billion rubles ($352 million) over information distributed about Russia's invasion of Ukraine on its YouTube video-sharing platform. (RFE/RL, 09.09.22)       

·      Putin signed a decree authorizing Russian banks that fell under sanctions to fulfill their obligations in rubles on foreign currency deposits of Russian companies. By the same decree, the president forbade transactions with shares in Russian LLCs owned by foreigners from countries declared "unfriendly" without government permission. (Meduza, 09.09.22)

·      Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman is reportedly offering to transfer $1 billion of his personal wealth into Alfa Bank-Ukraine, which he co-founded—a proposal that people familiar with the issue said is intended to persuade the U.K. to lift sanctions against him. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raged this spring, Fridman called Kristina Kvien, then the most senior U.S. envoy to Kyiv, with a proposal that proved unsuccessful, according to unnamed sources: to donate part of his wealth toward repairing damage from the war in return for the U.S. government’s help to avoid the sanctions that were being imposed on Russian oligarchs.  (WSJ, 09.08.22, FT, 09.09.22)

·      At least 21 Russian businessmen are now suing the EU in an effort to overturn sanctions against them, according to filings at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and people familiar with the matter. (FT, 09.09.22)

·      Ukraine has so far seized at least $1.1 billion from Russian oligarchs, prosecutors said in July. (FT, 09.09.22) 

Ukraine-related negotiations:

·      When asked by Levada in August whether Russia should continue hostilities or start negotiations, 48% of Russian respondents said it was necessary to continue hostilities and 44% that there should be negotiations. (RM, 09.03.22)

·      "Right now the Ukrainians do not have a viable map from which to negotiate," a senior State Department official has said: "20% of their territory has gone; something like 30% of their industrial and agricultural potential is gone." (WP, 09.08.22)

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

·      Joined at the economic forum in Vladivostok by the heads of Myanmar, Mongolia and Armenia, Putin said Russia had no need for ties with the West. Speaking on Sept. 7, Putin said: “The Chinese economy is bigger than the American… Over the past 10 years Asian countries’ GDP has been increasing by approximately 5% every year, while the figure is 3% in the world, 2% in the U.S. and 1.2% in the EU. But it is even more important that this trend persists. What will this ultimately lead to? As a result, the share of Asian economies in global GDP will grow from 37.1% in 2015 to 45% in 2027, and I am sure that this trend will persist.” (FT, 09.07.22,, 09.07.22) This crunching of numbers (or rather estimates) illustrates why, perhaps, even in the absence of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Kremlin would have been busy trying to refocus Russia economically and geopolitically towards the east.[1]

·      “I think if you take a step back now, it's hard to see the record of the war—Putin's record—as anything other than a failure so far,” CIA Director Bill Burns said Sept. 8. “Not only has the weakness of the Russian military been exposed, but there's going to be long-term damage done to the Russian economy and to generations of Russians as a result of this,” he said. (CNN, 09.08.22) Burns’s assessment contrasts with Putin’s and his team’s hopes of a modest economic contraction in Russia in 2022 (see “Domestic politics, economy and energy” section below).

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

·      China’s President Xi Jinping will travel to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan this month, setting the stage for a meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a Sept. 15-16 meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand. The Xi-Putin talks will be just one of the bilateral meetings Putin will have on the summit’s sidelines, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters. This would be Putin’s first in-person meeting  with Xi since February. A traditional trilateral summit of Russia, China and Mongolia is also planned, Ushakov said. (FT, RM, 09.05.22, TASS, 09.08.22)

o   Heads of state from the SCO will sign a memorandum on Iran’s commitments in light of the Islamic Republic’s entry into the organization at the summit. (TASS, 09.09.22)

o   One day before landing in Uzbekistan, Xi will pay an official visit to Kazakhstan in his first trip abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic. (RFE/RL, 09.07.22)

·      The share of Russians with a positive attitude toward China reached a record high 88% in August, while only 5% expressed a negative attitude, according to a poll conducted by Levada Aug. 25-31 in 50 regions of Russia. In March these figures were 83% and 8%, respectively. The August poll also showed 86% of respondents holding a positive attitude toward the Chinese people, compared to 77% in 2016. (RM, 09.08.22)

·      Putin said Sept. 7 that Moscow and Beijing had agreed on the main parameters of a new pipeline to China, which will be fed by gas from Siberian fields that was once intended for European countries. “Our Chinese friends are tough negotiators,” Putin said. “However, they are stable and reliable partners and the market is colossal.” (NYT, 09.07.22)

·      Russian energy giant Gazprom announced Sept. 6 that China will start paying for its natural gas deliveries in Russian rubles or Chinese yuan. (MT/AFP, 09.08.22)

·      China imported $72.9 billion worth of goods from Russia between January and August, a 50% increase on the same period last year, according to Chinese customs. Its exports to Russia grew by only 8.5% to $44.2 billion over the same period. (MT/AFP, 09.08.22)

·      Russia and China will fight together against the expansion of NATO and the "double containment" of Moscow and Beijing, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China (NPC) Li Zhanshu said at a meeting with leaders of Russian State Duma factions Sept. 9. (TASS, 09.09.22)

·      Russia and China can soon reach the $200 bln level in mutual trade, President Vladimir Putin said at the meeting with Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People's Congress Li Zhanshu at the Eastern Economic Forum. Said. Russia is fighting back well against the United States in the situation around Ukraine, he said. (TASS, 09.09.22, TASS, 09.07.22)

Missile defense:

·      Spanish and German missile manufacturers are leading an effort to develop a new hypersonic defense interceptor as part of the European Defense Fund’s initial batch of sponsored projects. (Defense News, 09.05.22)

Nuclear arms control:

·      No significant developments. 


·      The Kremlin positively assesses the fact that U.S. President Joe Biden has spoken out against designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. (TASS, 09.06.22)

Conflict in Syria:

·      No significant developments. 

Cyber security:

·      Ukraine’s prewar IT industry, with 300,000 professionals working in cyber security or outsourced back offices, proved to be a crucial pool of talent in the world’s first large-scale cyber war. In one example, they identified a remote Russian base near occupied Melitopol in southern Ukraine; then, using fake profiles of attractive women on Facebook and Russian social media websites, they tricked soldiers into sending photos that they geolocated and shared with the Ukrainian military. (FT, 09.04.22)

Energy exports from CIS:

·      Russia has indefinitely suspended natural gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, exacerbating a squeeze on Europe’s energy supplies and deepening the recession risks faced in the EU. Nord Stream 1 remained shut as of Sept. 9 and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said Russia’s supplies via the pipeline will not resume in full until the “collective West” lifts sanctions against Moscow. Putin on Sept. 7 threatened to cut off Russian energy supplies to Europe if price caps are imposed on its oil and gas exports, saying Gazprom will resume supplies through Nord Stream 1 if a turbine is supplied and sent directly to Russia.  (FT, 09.03.22, Reuters, 08/09.22, FT, 09.05.22. RFE/RL, 09.07.22)

·      The E.U.’s economy commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni, said Sept. 3 that the bloc was “well prepared to resist Russia’s extreme use of the gas weapon” this winter. (NYT, 09.03.22)

·      Laurent Ruseckas, an analyst at S&P Global, said that Russian flows to Europe were now down more than 80% since the start of 2021. Sales to Europe previously made up more than 70% of Russia’s gas export total. “In the long term Russia is losing forever its largest and most reliable export market,” said Greg Molnár, an analyst at the International Energy Agency. (FT, 09.07.22, FT, 09.05.22)

·      Germany’s dependency on cheap Russian gas—once more than half its overall gas imports—decreased to less than 10% in August. In Italy, consumption from Moscow has dropped to 23% from 40%. European nations that used to rely on Russian gas imports for big chunks of their domestic energy production have been racing to fill gas storage facilities. Germany’s are now at 86% capacity, Italy’s at almost 84%. (NYT, 09.07.22)

·      An internal Russian government economic forecast estimated that a full cutoff of gas to Europe would cost as much as $6.6 billion in lost tax revenues. But with Gazprom netting a record profit of $41.75 billion in the first half of the year—$10 billion of which it passed on to the Kremlin—that is a cost Putin has calculated to be acceptable. (NYT, 09.07.22)

·      Brussels is facing pressure from at least 10 EU countries to implement a cap on gas prices for all suppliers. Member states that oppose European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s proposal to apply a cap solely on Russian gas imports include Italy, Poland and Greece, according to officials. (FT, 09.09.22)

·      Officials of OPEC and its major allies agreed Sept. 5 to modestly cut oil production by 100,000 barrels a day, rolling back the increase they approved a month ago. The trim is small—about a tenth of a percent of world output. (NYT, 09.05.22)

·      An analysis of available data from Chinese and Indian customs statistics shows the countries imported 11 million tonnes more oil from Russia in the second quarter of 2022 compared with the first quarter. Payments for Russian oil from the countries increased by $9 billion. (FT, 09.08.22)

·      Myanmar has begun buying petroleum products from Russia and is expecting the delivery of diesel fuel in the coming days, military leader Min Aung Hlaing said Sept. 7. (MT/AFP, 09.07.22)

Climate change:

·      No significant developments. 

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

·      No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

·      Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzia has said it’s “alarming” that no one from the 56-member Russian advance team and delegation headed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has received a U.S. entry visa to attend a U.N. General Assembly debate in New York later this month. (RFE/RL, 09.03.22)

·      U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan has completed his assignment as envoy to Moscow and has departed the Russian capital, the embassy said Sept. 4. Elizabeth Rood will serve as charge d'affaires until a replacement is named. (RFE/RL, 09.04.22)

·      Of the many falsehoods that the Kremlin has spread since the war in Ukraine began more than six months ago, some of the most outlandish and yet enduring have been those accusing the United States of operating clandestine biological research programs to wreak havoc around the globe. (NYT, 09.04.22)

·      The attitude of Russians toward the United States as a state remains negative, according to a Levada poll conducted Aug. 25-31 in 50 regions of Russia. The share of respondents holding a positive view of the U.S. was 19% (versus 14% in May), while 71% had a negative attitude (vs. 75% in May); negative attitudes toward the U.S. were more prevalent only in 2015. At the same time, about half of respondents (48%) held a positive attitude toward Americans in the August poll, while 40% held a negative attitude. (RM, 09.08.22)

·      A federal judge in Florida has dismissed a sprawling lawsuit former President Donald Trump filed earlier this year alleging Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats illegally linked him to Russia, calling the former president's complaint a "political manifesto" rather than a viable lawsuit. (WSJ, 09.09.22)

II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

·      According to Levada, in August the share of those who believe things are going in the right direction in Russia was 67% and those who believe the country is moving in the wrong direction 24%. This ratio, with slight shifts, has been maintained since March of this year. Putin's approval rating also has not changed since March: 83% approve of his actions, 15% disapprove. (RM, 09.03.22)

·      Thousands of people lined up in Moscow on Sept. 3 to pay their final respects to the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, an architect of drastic reforms that helped end the Cold War. (RFE/RL, 09/03.22)

·      A Moscow court sentenced reporter Ivan Safronov to 22 years in prison Sept. 5, Russia’s first treason conviction for a journalist since 2001. His legal defense team said they would appeal the verdict, which was two years less than the 24 years requested by prosecutors. (MT, 09.05.22)

·      A Moscow court on Sept. 5 revoked the print license of independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. (MT, 09.05.22)

·      Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been placed in punitive solitary confinement for the fourth time since mid-August. (RFE/RL, 09.07.22)

·      Seven lawmakers in Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg, have been summoned by the police after they demanded the State Duma charge Putin with high treason over his decision to invade Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 09.09.22)

·      An investigation by Russia’s Important Stories news outlet says that at least seven members of the Russian parliament and/or their family members continue to own real estate and other assets in Western countries, even as they blast the West in public statements. The lawmakers include Alexei Chepa, Denis Maidanov, Alexander Remezkov, Konstantin Zatulin, Sergei Pakhomov, Rifat Shaikhutdinov and Nikolai Valuev. (RM, 09.08.22)

·      Some 41% of Russians have been abroad as of August—an increase of 9 percentage points compared to 2018, according to a Levada poll. Of these, only 2% visited the U.S. and about 14% visited Eastern and Western Europe. (RM, 09.09.22)

·      Oligarchs under sanctions who remain outside the country regularly field calls from the Kremlin encouraging them to return home since the invasion, according to two people who have received such calls and several others familiar with the approaches. (FT, 09.09.22)

·      In 82 regions of Russia, on Sept. 9, three days of voting began in elections at various levels. The main and last voting day will be Sept. 11. Gubernatorial elections will be held in 14 regions, in one other—Adygea—the head of the republic will be elected by the legislative assembly. Regional parliaments will be elected in six constituent territories. Municipal elections will be held in 12, including Moscow. (Meduza, 09.09.22) 

Defense and aerospace:

·      The Vostok-2022 strategic command-staff exercise engaged over 50,000 troops and 5,000 arms and hardware units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships, boats and supply vessels. The drills were held Sept. 1-7 at seven ranges of the Eastern Military District, as well as in the seas of Okhotsk and Japan. Besides Russian troops, airborne units and long-range aviation and airlifters, military contingents and observers from CSTO and SCO countries participated, including Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Syria and Tajikistan. Over 2,000 foreign soldiers joined the wargame. (TASS, 09.07.22, 09.09.22)

·       See section “Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts” above. 

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

·      Two employees of Russia's embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul were killed Sept. 5 and several people wounded in an attack, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said, when "an unidentified militant set off an explosive device in the immediate vicinity of the entrance to the consular section." (MT, 09.05.22)

·      Putin on Sept. 8 offered his condolences to King Charles III following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, wishing the new monarch "courage and resilience" after his mother's passing. The Kremlin said Sept. 9 that Putin is "not considering" attending her funeral. (MT/AFP, 09.09.22)

III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

·      EU Ambassador Markus Ederer has left Russia, according to an unnamed diplomatic source in Brussels quoted by TASS on Sept. 4. French Ambassador to Malaysia Roland Galharague will replace Ederer as part of a “planned change” in the near future, the report said. (MT, 09.05.22)

·      In recent months, Russians’ negative attitude toward the European Union has abated somewhat. According to a Levada poll conducted Aug. 25-31 in 50 regions of Russia, 23% of Russians (versus 16% in May) held a positive attitude toward the EU, while 65% held a negative attitude (69% in May). (RM, 09.08.22)

·      Russia said Sept. 8 that it was ordering a Romanian diplomat out of the country in response to a recent expulsion by Bucharest. (RFE/RL, 09.08.22) 


·      The share of Russians closely following the situation around Ukraine continues to decline: 21% followed it “very closely” in August (25% in July, 29% in March) and another 30% followed it “rather closely” (31% in July, 35% in March), according to Levada. The level of concern about events in Ukraine has also decreased; in August they worried 74% of respondents—37% are very worried (in July 44%, in March 46%) and another 37% are rather worried (same in July, in March 36%). (RM, 09.03.22)

·      Of Russians polled by Levada in August, two-thirds would support the inclusion of Zaporozhye and Kherson regions in Russia if such a decision is made in referendums. (RM, 09.03.22)

·      A Levada poll conducted Aug. 25-31 in 50 regions of Russia showed that 23% of respondents held a positive attitude toward Ukraine, while 66% held a negative attitude. That said, 68% of the August poll respondents had a positive attitude toward Ukrainians, while 23% viewed them negatively. (RM, 09.08.22)

·      A poll of 21,000 people in 22 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, commissioned by the Open Society Foundations and conducted in July-August showed that:

o   Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the second-highest concern overall, but only 22% of respondents in the U.S. listed Ukraine as a top-three global issue. In contrast, 50% of respondents in Japan included Ukraine as a top-three issue, but only 21% held that view in Nigeria and India, and less than 20% in Colombia, Egypt, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

o   Some 56% of respondents in India, 54% in Nigeria and 49% in South Africa agreed that Russia is “justified in wanting to have greater influence over its neighbor Ukraine.” By contrast, 78% in Britain and 58% in both France and the United States disagreed, though in Germany that figure was only 53%. (RM, 09.08.22, NYT, 09.07.22)

·      The leader of Russia's governing party said that people in occupied regions of Ukraine are to vote on Nov. 4 on whether they want to become part of Russia. Andrei Turchak of United Russia said it would be "correct and symbolic" to hold votes on that date, Russia’s Day of National Unity. (RFE/RL, 09.08.22)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

·      A poll released by Central Asia Barometer on Sept. 6 showed that 49% of Kyrgyzstani respondents blame Ukraine and/or the United States for the war (14% blame Russia).  (Eurasianet/BNE, 09.08.22)

·      Environmental remediation of former uranium mining sites at Yangiabad and Charkesar in Uzbekistan is set to begin following the signing of a €7 million ($7 million) grant agreement between the Environmental Remediation Account for Central Asia (ERA) and the Uzbek government. (WNN, 09.05.22)

·      Moldova’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Russia’s interim chargé d'affaires in Chisinau on Sept. 1 to explain statements by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who previously stated that Moscow “will do everything to protect the interests of the Russian-speaking population of the Republic of Moldova,” reported, quoting a Telegram post from Russian Smotri Media. (BNE, 09.05.22)

·      Air Moldova has announced that it will resume flights to Moscow following a seven-month suspension. (RFE/RL, 09.09.22)

·      A court in Minsk has convicted Yuras Zyankovich, a Belarusian-born lawyer who also holds U.S. citizenship, and four co-defendants of allegedly planning to assassinate authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenka and his family and seize power in the country. (RFE/RL, 09.05.22)

·      Belarusian defense officials have announced the start of military exercises near the Russian ally's western border with EU member Poland and farther east. (RFE/RL, 09.08.22)

·      Yegor Kuroptev, director of the Free Russia Foundation in the South Caucasus, told the publication that Georgia tightened border controls for visiting Russians a few weeks ago; now several dozen people are banned from entering every day. (Meduza, 09.08.22)

Quotable and notable

·      According to Russian journalist Andrei Loshak, champion of Eurasianism Alexander Dugin concluded his 2014 article on the ideology of a new Russia by asserting that “Russia will either be Russian, that is, Eurasian, that is, the core of the great Russian World, or it will disappear. But then it’s better to let everything disappear. In a world without Russia there is simply no reason to live.” In 2018, Putin asked: “And why do we need such a world if there is no Russia?” (New Tmes, 09.03.22)

·      “To do a palace coup and overthrow the tsar, you need to be in the palace first. None of these people are there,” says one Russian businessman under sanctions. “How is Fridman supposed to affect the president’s decisions from the UK? And if Fridman was in his house in Moscow, he still wouldn’t have any contact with the president. How could he affect his decisions?” (FT, 09.09.22)



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

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