Russia in Review, Sept. 29-Oct. 6, 2023

7 Things to Know

  1. Putin has shot down proposals to lower the threshold for nuclear weapons use in Russia’s doctrinal documents, but called for Russia to de-ratify the CTBT. When asked by Sergei Karaganov at the Valdai Club meeting on Oct. 5 whether Russia should “modify the doctrine on using nuclear weapons, lowering the nuclear threshold,” Putin said: “[T]here are two reasons stipulated in the Russian Military Doctrine for the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia. The first is the use of nuclear weapons against us, which would entail a so-called retaliatory strike ... The second reason for the potential use of these weapons is an existential threat to the Russian state.” “Do we need to change this? Why would we? Everything can be changed, but I just don't see that we need to,” Putin asserted. While rejecting a lower threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, Putin made clear in his Valdai remarks that he was not going to abandon nuclear saber-rattling altogether. “The United States signed the treaty [Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty] without ratifying it, while we both signed and ratified it. As a matter of principle, we can offer a tit-for-tat response in our relations with the United States,” he said. Putin’s decision to stick to the doctrinal language on the conditions for first use is remarkable, given that he has previously said Russia can initiate a nuclear strike when its “territorial integrity,” “sovereignty, and the “safety of our people” are threatened (none of these threats are explicitly identified in Russia’s military doctrine as conditions for use of nuclear weapons). That the Russian commander-in-chief has publicly rejected the suggestion by Karaganov—who sits on the scientific council of the Russian Security Council, which is run by Putin’s hawkish confidant, Nikolai Patrushev—to lower the threshold, on paper, may also indicate Putin’s decision to conclude internal debates on this issue. That said, Putin’s call for de-ratifying the CTBT indicates that, at the very least, he is not going to stop invoking Russia’s nuclear weapons in his attempts to coerce the West. In the run-up to this call, Russian officials and pundits had made a number of statements on resuming nuclear tests, while top officials visited a former nuclear test site, where construction has been going on,  in what, in hindsight, looks like a coordinated campaign meant to prepare internal and external audiences for Putin’s announcement on CTBT.
  2. In the past month, Russian forces have gained 35 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine gained 16, according to the Oct. 4 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. When both sides’ gains are added up, Russia now controls nearly 200 square miles more territory in Ukraine compared with the start of the year, according to NYT’s analysis of the Institute for the Study of War’s data. Belfer researchers’ analysis of metrics such as the percent of Ukraine’s territory occupied, monthly change in territorial control, number of daily territorial change reports, fatality rate and artillery fire support the proposition that there was a relative stalemate for much of 2023 so far.  
  3. Of three potential GOP candidates for the speaker of the House of Representatives, two have consistently voted against Ukraine funding since the war began, according to NPR. Most recently, both Jim Jordan and Kevin Hern voted against the $300 million in aid for Ukraine that was separated from the defense bill last week. In contrast, the third candidate, Steve Scalise, voted in favor of the $300 million package for Ukraine. While the House is yet to vote on more aid for Ukraine, the Pentagon still has more than $5 billion remaining in its coffers to provide military aid to Ukraine, according to WSJ. That Congress will approve more aid to Ukraine is something that even top officials in Moscow are confident about. “Interparty squabbles are one thing, and support is another thing...they will find the money,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by NYT as saying.
  4. Americans’ support for military assistance to Ukraine has declined by one-fifth, from 79% in March 2022 to 63% in September 2023, according to polls conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The decline in support among Republicans was especially pronounced, falling from 80% in March 2022 to 50% in September 2023. More than eight in 10 Republican voters now support candidates—Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy—who would sever aid to Ukraine, according to FT
  5. Putin may announce he’s running for reelection in 2024 on Unity Day Nov. 4, Russia’s leading daily Kommersant reported, citing sources close to the Kremlin administration. The announcement may occur during the opening of the Rossiya exhibition-forum event in Moscow. This event is to be launched at Moscow’s VDNKh exhibition center on Nov. 4, when Unity Day is celebrated in Russia. Meanwhile, the Kremlin administration has already begun compiling a list of individuals who would serve as Putin’s trusted representatives in the 2024 elections, RBC reported. 
  6. Sanctions or not, American and French companies topped the list of biggest earners among foreign companies in Russia, according to Forbes Russia’s recently-released rankings of the 50 foreign companies with the largest revenues in Russia. The list’s top five comprised Leroy, JT Group, Philip Morris, Pepsico and Auchan. The U.S. had more companies on the list than any other country (eight), while China came second (six) with France and Turkey sharing the third spot (five each), according to MT’s analysis of the Forbes’ rankings.
  7. The EU is to announce the launch of negotiations with Ukraine on its future accession to the bloc in December, according to Politico. That accession would entitle Kyiv to about €186 billion ($197 billion) over seven years, according to internal estimates cited by FT. Ukraine would also qualify for €61bn in payments from the EU’s cohesion funds, which aim to improve infrastructure in poorer member states, according to FT. With nine additional member states, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta would no longer be eligible for cohesion funding, according to FT.Not everyone supports Ukraine’s quick ascent to the EU, however. Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has slammed the possibility of Ukraine joining the EU, lambasting the country as massively “corrupt” in an interview with Politico. This media organization has also reported that Biden administration officials are far more worried about corruption in Ukraine than they publicly admit.  


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant "continue to request" access to all six turbine halls "one after the other to be able to confirm the absence of any materials and equipment" that contravenes the agreed safety and security principles. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said "We will insist until we get the access we need in order to monitor compliance" with the five safety principles agreed at the United Nations earlier this year—which includes the plant not being used as storage or a base for heavy weapons. (WNN, 10.05.23)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • North Korea has begun transferring artillery to Russia, bolstering Vladimir Putin's forces as they continue their 20-month invasion of Ukraine, a U.S. official tells CBS News. (CBS. 10.05.23)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant developments.

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • On Oct. 1, Russian attacks on the Kherson region in southern Ukraine killed at least one man, local military authorities said on Oct. 1, while Russia said its air defenses shot down six Ukrainian drones over two western and southern regions. (RFE/RL, 10.01.23)
  • On Oct. 1, Russia was targeted by another wave of Ukrainian drones and shelling, wounding three people and forcing an airport to divert flights, officials said. (MT/AFP, 10.01.23)
  • On Oct. 2, Russia accused Ukraine of using cluster munitions to attack the border town of Rylsk. (MT/AFP, 10.05.23)
  • On Oct. 5, at least 52 people, including children, were killed by a Russian air strike in the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkov, marking the deadliest single attack this year. A Russian missile hit a grocery store and an adjacent café in the village of Hroza, where locals had gathered after a funeral, said Ukraine’s interior affairs minister Ihor Klymenko. The strike in the tiny village of Hroza, where the population had dwindled from about 500 before the war, killed about one in six of the town’s remaining 300 residents, Ukrainian officials said. The village is 23 miles from the front line but without any obvious military or industrial targets in the vicinity. Klymenko, said that a preliminary investigation had indicated that the attack involved an Iskander missile. (NYT, 10.06.23, FT, 10.06.23)
  • On Oct. 6, Russia launched a fresh attack on Kharkiv, killing at least two people, including a child, regional officials said. (RFE/RL, 10.06.23)
  • A deadly blast at Moscow-controlled Olenivka jail in occupied eastern Ukraine on July 29, 2022, which Kyiv and Moscow blamed on each other, was not caused by Ukrainian HIMARS rockets, United Nations investigators have determined. On July 29, 2022, at least 51 Ukrainian prisoners of war died in the bombardment in the eastern Donetsk region. Russia and Ukraine have both accused each other of being behind the attack. (MT/AFP, 10.05.23)
  • More than 26,000 people have gone missing—almost half of them civilians—since the start of Russia's unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ukrainian Deputy Interior Minister Leonid Tymchenko told state television on Oct. 5." (RFE/RL, 10.05.23)
    • Victoria Roshchyna, a Ukrainian freelance journalist, has been missing since she went on a reporting trip to Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine two months ago, raising concerns among family, colleagues and advocates that Russia could be holding her captive. (WP, 10.05.23)
  • Ukrainian authorities are pursuing more than 100,000 war crimes charges against Russia. Nearly 600 days into the war, Kyiv estimates that almost 10,000 civilians have been killed, including 504 children. (FT, 10.06.23)
  • The Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitri A. Muratov said on Oct. 5 that 47 other Nobel laureates have signed a letter urging the world’s billionaires to donate $100 million to help children displaced by the war in Ukraine and other conflicts. (NYT, 10.06.23)
  • United Nations investigators have verified six additional Russian executions of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the year after Moscow’s full-scale invasion. The additional cases come on top of 15 Russian executions of Ukrainian soldiers during the war that were documented in a previous U.N. report in March. The earlier report found that Ukrainian forces had executed 25 Russian prisoners of war; the new one documents no additional cases on the Ukrainian side. (NYT, 10.04.23)
  • The bodies of 64 Ukrainian personnel killed in the war have been returned in an exchange with Russia. Last month, the bodies of 51 Ukrainian soldiers were returned. (RFE/RL, 10.06.23)
  • The international Red Cross called for the ouster of the head of the Belarusian Red Cross, who stirred international outrage for boasting it was actively ferrying Ukrainian children from Russian-controlled areas to Belarus. (AP, 10.04.23)
  • Since Russia first invaded parts of Ukraine in 2014, the number of drug-resistant infections in Western Europe has been rising—and a significant portion of those have been in Ukrainians, according to a flurry of scientific papers. (FT, 10.02.23)
  • The U.S. funding system for Ukrainian salaries and Kyiv government expenditures is expected to run out in the next month absent a fresh infusion of money from Congress, Ukrainian and American government officials said. The U.S. and other donor nations effectively pay the salaries of 150,000 civil servants in Ukraine and more than half a million teachers, professors and school workers, not to mention government expenses ranging from health care to housing subsidies. (WSJ, 10.04.23)
  • The U.K. Ministry of Defense estimates Russia has destroyed 280,000 tons of Ukrainian grain since its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain initiative. (RM, 10.06.23)
  • Ten ships have completed journeys to major Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea without incident in the past few weeks, defying Russia’s threats to target vessels in the area. (Bloomberg, 10.02.23)
  • Warsaw and Kyiv announced on Oct. 3 that they had agreed to speed up the transit of Ukrainian cereal exports through Poland to third countries, a first step in resolving their "grain war." (AFP, 10.03.23)
  • The European Bank for Reconstruction is working on a plan to boost its capital to be able to invest about €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) in Ukraine annually, its president said. (Bloomberg, 10.02.23)
  • Denmark plans to open a diplomatic mission in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, which the Nordic country has pledged to help rebuild after Russian attacks. (Bloomberg, 10.02.23)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • In the past month, Russian forces have gained 35 square miles of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine gained 16, according to the 10.04.23 issue of the Russia-Ukraine War Report Card. (Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, 10.04.23)
    • Less territory changed hands in August than in any other month of the war, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the Institute for the Study of War. When both sides’ gains are added up, Russia now controls nearly 200 square miles more territory in Ukraine compared with the start of the year. (NYT, 09.28.23)
  • On Oct. 3, the Institute for the Study of War, citing satellite imagery, said that the Russian military “recently transferred several Black Sea Fleet vessels from the port in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea to the port in Novorossiysk . . . likely in an effort to protect them from continued Ukrainian strikes on Russian assets in occupied Crimea.” (FT, 10.05.23)
    • A Ukrainian military spokeswoman claimed on Oct. 4 that Ukraine had pushed back the front line in the Black Sea to at least 100 nautical miles from Ukraine's shorelines. (WSJ, 10.05.23)
    • Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia has signed a deal with Moscow to establish a permanent naval base in the Ochemchira district on the region’s Black Sea coast, its leader said, as Russia shifts its vessels in the area following Ukrainian missile attacks. (FT, 10.05.23)
      • Georgia's Foreign Ministry has condemned reports that Russia plans to establish a naval base in the breakaway region of Abkhazia. (RFE/RL, 10.05.23)
  • On Oct 4 Ukraine said W it struck a Russian anti-aircraft system in the border region of Belgorod overnight." (MT/AFP, 10.04.23)
  • On Oct 4 Russia said it repelled Ukrainian drone attacks against three western regions, while also thwarting an attempted landing in Crimea. Air defenses intercepted and destroyed 31 drones over the regions of Kursk, Bryansk and Belgorod bordering Ukraine, the Defense Ministry in Moscow claimed. (Bloomberg, 10.04.23)
  • Russia launched a record number of kamikaze drones against Ukraine in September (521). That’s 108 more than the previous record set in May, according to Istories. (RM, 10.02.23)
  • Kyiv’s forces have run up against a Russian tactic of ceding ground before striking back. Rather than holding a line of trenches at all costs in the face of Ukraine’s assault, security experts say, Russian commanders have employed a longstanding military tactic known as “elastic defense.” The tactic sees Russian forces pull back to a second line of positions, encouraging Ukrainian troops to advance, then strike back when the opposing forces are vulnerable—either while moving across open ground or as they arrive at recently abandoned Russian positions. (NYT, 10.03.23)
  • The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) says it has "neutralized" a Russian intelligence network in the southern region of Mykolayiv following a "large-scale" special operation. "[The network] included 13 local residents who worked for the [Russian Federal Security Service] FSB," the SBU said in a statement on Oct. 3. (RFE/RL, 10.03.23) 
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced the creation of an industrial alliance to increase weapons manufacturing and develop a more modern defense. Zelensky made the announcement at an event in Kyiv, billed as the Defense Industries Forum, which he said included industry representatives from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. (RFE/RL, 09.30.23)
    • On Oct. 4, Zelensky said Ukrainians will "do everything" in their power to prevail over invading Russian forces despite all difficulties as Britain urged the West to beef up its military assistance to help Ukraine "finish the job." (RFE/RL, 10.04.23)
  • On Sept. 30, Congress blocked new aid for Ukraine in its government spending deal, a rebuke to Kyiv with geopolitical reverberations that came despite a concerted lobbying push from senior Biden officials and the highest-ranking GOP senator. Although the White House said Ukraine needed $20.6 billion in aid to fight Russia's invasion, then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA.) stripped all funds for the U.S. ally from the government spending bill, under immense pressure from a GOP caucus that has increasingly turned against Biden. (WP, 09.30.23)
    • U.S. aid to Ukraine is emerging as the biggest potential casualty from Kevin McCarthy's ouster as House speaker, as GOP candidates jostle for support from a conference that has grown increasingly hostile to the war effort. (Axios, 10.04.23)
    • The Pentagon has more than $5 billion remaining in its coffers to provide weaponry and other security assistance to Ukraine even after Congress declined to include more funding for the war in a weekend bill to keep the government open, Pentagon officials said. (WSJ, 10.03.23)
    • On Oct. 1, U.S. President Joe Biden said America would “not walk away” from Ukraine after Congress jettisoned $6 billion in aid to avert a government shutdown. On Oct. 2, Biden hosted a call with Western leaders to coordinate assistance for Ukraine on Oct. 3 following a compromise to keep the U.S. government open in a deal that excluded more aid for Kyiv. Included on the call were leaders from Canada, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, the U.K., France, NATO, the European Commission and the European Council. The participants discussed providing Ukraine with necessary ammunition and weapons, strengthening its air defenses and preparing to repair Ukrainian energy infrastructure during the winter, the White House said. (FT, 10.04.23, FT, 10.02.23)
      • While on a visit to Kyiv on Oct. 2 along with European foreign ministers Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said he was “surprised” by the decision [to exclude Ukraine from the abovementioned funding bill], which, he said, “we have to regret, deeply and thoroughly.” Europe would continue to back Kyiv regardless, he said. “We haven’t waited for this decision to be taken . . . our support to Ukraine not only continues but increases.” He also said on Oct. 1: "Europe is facing an existential threat" from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (FT, 10.02.23, WSJ, 10.02.23)
      • On Oct. 2, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told European Union foreign ministers that Ukraine's victory in the war with invading Russian forces depended "directly" on Kyiv's cooperation with the EU." (RFE/RL, 10.02.23)
    • With EU economic growth set to be just 0.8% this year and regional powerhouse Germany expecting an economic contraction this year, European governments would struggle to provide enough assistance to cover any U.S. shortfalls. In a sign of those challenges, EU officials said Borrell's proposal of a $21 billion, four-year military package for Ukraine looks unlikely to be approved. EU governments appear only ready to make a commitment for next year. (WSJ, 10.02.23)
    • Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, suggested that the lack of Ukraine funding in the U.S. bill was an “individual case” as a shutdown loomed, not a “systemic” change in the level of U.S. aid. “We do not believe that U.S. support has faltered,” Mr. Kuleba said at a news conference in Kyiv, according to local news media reports. He added that the Ukrainian government was in “deep discussions” with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. (NYT, 10.02.23)
    • Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, said on Monday that he did not expect U.S. support for Ukraine to change, calling the congressional negotiations “nonsense” and “just a performance for the public.” He also told reporters: “Interparty squabbles are one thing, and support is another thing … They will find the money.” (NYT, 10.02.23)
  • The next speaker of the House will have the power to decide what policies come up for a vote in the House of Representatives, leaving funding for U.S. involvement in Ukraine in the balance. Last week, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., made a last-minute decision to move ahead with a short-term government spending bill without the $24 billion for military, humanitarian and economic aid for Ukraine requested by President Biden. That move avoided an impending. The issue of Ukraine funding divides the three potential candidates who have emerged so far, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-OH, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-LA., and Rep. Kevin Hern, R-OK. Roughly half of House Republicans recently opposed a relatively small $300 million aid package for Ukraine. (NPR, 10.06.23).
  • Jordan told reporters Wednesday that he was "against" moving forward with an aid package for Ukraine. "The most pressing issue on Americans' minds is not Ukraine," he said. (NPR, 10.06.23).
  • Jordan and Hern have both consistently voted against Ukraine funding since the war began, and both voted against the $300 million in aid that was separated from the Defense bill last week. (NPR, 10.06.23).
  • Scalise, however, did vote for the $300 million in aid last week, as well as $40 billion in supplemental funding for Ukraine in 2022. (NPR, 10.06.23
  • The Pentagon said on Oct. 3 that it could continue to offer aid to Ukraine for “a little bit longer,” with roughly $5 billion left to draw down U.S. stocks. But the account that lets the Pentagon backfill U.S. military weapons that have been donated to Ukraine is down to $1.6 billion. “We have already been forced to slow down the replenishment of our own forces to hedge against an uncertain funding future,” the Pentagon’s comptroller said in a letter to Congress. (WSJ, 10.04.23)
  • On Oct. 2, the U.S. government transferred approximately 1.1 million 7.62mm rounds to the Ukrainian armed forces. The government obtained ownership of these munitions on July 20, 2023, through the Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture claims against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). These munitions were originally seized by U.S. Central Command naval forces from the transiting stateless dhow MARWAN 1, Dec. 9, 2022. (, 10.03.23)
  • The Pentagon’s ambitious plan to accelerate production of the most widely used artillery shell in Ukraine depends on a series of near-simultaneous actions across the U.S. unlike anything seen since World War II. The U.S. goal is to produce 155mm artillery shells at a pace of 100,000 rounds per month, compared with 28,000 currently. (Bloomberg, 10.04.23)
  • General CQ Brown takes over as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the high-profile and polarizing Mark Milley at a time when air defense has become crucial in the Ukraine war and as the U.S. faces off against China. Brown will hold the role for four years, meaning that he too may serve under Trump, the leading Republican candidate, should he win the 2024 election. (FT, 09.30.23) See RM’s compilations of Gen. Brown’s views on Russia and the Ukraine war here.
  • In March 2022, 79% of Americans supported military assistance to Ukraine, according to a poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Since then that support has declined, as measured in July 2022 (72%), in November 2022 (65%) and in September 2023 (63%). The decline in support among Republicans was especially pronounced: From 80% in March 2022 to 50% in September 2023. The Chicago Council’s September poll found 53 percent of Americans overall believe the infusion of U.S. weapons, equipment and training has been worth the cost, compared with 45 percent who said it has not. Nearly 7 in 10 Democrats said the support has been worthwhile, while about 6 in 10 Republicans said it has not. Independents were divided about evenly on this question. Majorities of Americans continue to support providing economic assistance (61%) and sending additional arms and military supplies to the Ukrainian government (63%), according to the poll. Overall, 66 percent said the United States and its European allies should be "equally responsible" for helping Ukraine and 30 percent said European countries should be more responsible. (Chicago Council, 10.04.23, RM, 10.04.23, WP, 10.04.23)
  • More than eight in 10 Republican voters now support candidates—Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy—who would sever aid to Ukraine. (FT, 10.04.23)
  • Slovak President Zuzana Caputova said on Oct. 5 that she is against a new package of military aid for Ukrainian armed forces that are fighting Russia's full-scale aggression. Caputova said the results of last weekend's parliamentary elections in Slovakia, in which pro-Russian leftist politician Robert Fico's party placed first, should be respected. (RFE/RL, 10.05.23)
  • Spain has said it will give Ukraine six new Hawk missile launchers to bolster its defenses after Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez met Zelensky in Granada on the sidelines of an EU security summit which was also attended by several leaders of former Soviet states, such as Ukraine and Armenia. (FT, 10.06.23, RM, 10.06.23)
  • Sweden will send Ukraine a new military support package worth 2.2 billion crowns ($199 million), consisting mainly of ammunition and spare parts to earlier donated systems, Defense Minister Pal Jonson said on Oct. 6. (Reuters, 10.06.23)
  • After meeting Zelensky in Granada on Oct. 5, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany “will supply another Patriot air defense system to help ward off aerial and drone attacks during the coming winter months.” Berlin will also send one extra IRIS-T air defense system and more than a dozen Gepard anti-aircraft guns. (Bloomberg, 10.04.23. FT, 10.06.23)
    • Ukraine is seeking more air defense systems ahead of winter to protect its energy infrastructure from the type of Russian attacks that caused massive blackouts across the country last year, Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff Ihor Zhovkva said. (Bloomberg, 10.06.23)
  • While Iran and Turkey produce large, military-grade drones used by Russia and Ukraine, the cheap consumer drones that have become ubiquitous on the front line largely come from China, the world’s biggest maker of those devices. That has given China a hidden influence in a war that is waged partly with consumer electronics. (NYT, 09.30.23)

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

  • In spite of sanctions, American and French companies topped the list of biggest earners among foreign companies in Russia, according to Forbes Russia’s rankings of the 50 foreign companies with the largest revenues in Russia in 2022. The list’s top 5 comprised Leroy, JT Group, Philip Morrris, Pepsico and Auchan. The United States was the most-represented country on the ranking, with eight of the 10 U.S. companies listed in 2022 reappearing in the latest ranking, according to MT’s analysis of the list. China, which has six companies on the 2023 ranking, ranked second, while last year's No. 2 Germany shares third place with France and Turkey at five companies each, according to MT. (RM, 10.06.23)
  • The U.S. Commerce Department on Friday added 42 Chinese companies to a government export control list over support for Moscow's military and defense industrial base, including supplying the Russian sector U.S.-origin integrated circuits. (Reuters, 10.06.23)
  • Danish brewer Carlsberg A/S is terminating all license agreements to sell its beer brands in Russia and said it sees no path to a negotiated exit from the country after its assets were seized by the government. (Bloomberg, 10.03.23)
  • Damen Shipyards Group NV, Netherlands’ largest shipbuilder is suing the Dutch government for losses inflicted on its business by sanctions against Russia. (Bloomberg, 10.03.23)
  • Japan has cut off a lucrative $2-billion backchannel for used-car exports to Russia, Reuters reported Monday, citing trade data and market participants. Japan, initially banned the export of luxury vehicles and heavy trucks to Russia after Moscow invaded Ukraine last year. In August, Tokyo expanded the ban to include new and used cars with gasoline and diesel engines above 1.9 liters, as well as hybrids and electric vehicles, in alignment with EU sanctions. (MT/AFP, 10.02.23)
  • Bulgaria announced plans to ban the entry of cars with Russian license plates by the end of the day on Oct. 2, according to the head of Bulgaria's border police, Anton Zlatanov. (Current Time, 10.02.23)
  • Norway will introduce the latest round of sanctions against Russia, joining similar measures by the European Union, its foreign ministry said. The ministry said on Oct. 6 that Norway will join the EU ban on entry of Russian passenger cars with nine or fewer seats since Oct. 2. It was the last of European nations bordering on Russia to do so. (Bloomberg, 10.02.23)
  • Finland has become a transit country for the export of luxury cars to Russia in violation of EU sanctions, according to an investigation conducted by Finnish publication Yle. Its journalists planted radio beacons attached to two cars, a BMW X3 and a Lexus RX350, to ascertain that they were transported to Finland, and then sent to Russia through the Finnish port of Kotka, Istories reported. (RM, 10.03.23)
  • German police and customs officers searched several properties in southern Germany, which a source familiar with the matter said belonged to a Russian national targeted by European Union sanctions over Ukraine. The source told Reuters that Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov was the target of the operation. (Reuters, 10.05.23)
  • Russia's branch of the global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International said on Oct. 3 it has relaunched operations from abroad after being labeled “undesirable” by the authorities. (MT/AFP, 10.03.23)
  • Financial transactions between billionaire LVMH owner Bernard Arnault and Russian businessman Nikolai Sarkisov are being investigated by the Paris prosecutor’s office. Prosecutors said that potentially suspicious financial transactions between Arnault and Sarkisov had been added to the inquiry after the office received an alert from Tracfin, the French finance ministry’s financial investigation service. (FT, 09.30.23).

Ukraine-related negotiations: 

  • Turkey is preparing to host the third international gathering of national security advisers working to build support for a peace summit Ukraine wants to hold later this year. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for later this month in Istanbul, according to the people who spoke on condition of anonymity to share information about the plans for the summit. It follows similar gatherings in Denmark in June and in Saudi Arabia in August. Participants will discuss ideas for reaching a lasting peace in Ukraine. (Bloomberg, 10.04.23)
  • In his remarks at the Valdai Club meeting on Oct. 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “The Ukraine crisis is not a territorial conflict, and I want to make that clear. Russia is the world’s largest country in terms of land area, and we have no interest in conquering additional territory. … The issue is much broader and more fundamental and is about the principles underlying the new international order. Lasting peace will only be possible when everyone feels safe and secure, understands that their opinions are respected, and that there is a balance in the world where no one can unilaterally force or compel others to live or behave as a hegemon pleases even when it contradicts the sovereignty, genuine interests, traditions, or customs of peoples and countries.” (, 10.06.23)
  • The share of Russians who favor peace negotiations with Ukraine has continued to exceed the share of those who favor the continuation of war in September, according to Russia’s leading independent pollster, Levada Center. While similar to last month's numbers, this center’s polls show that the share of proponents of peace talks increased by one percentage point from 50% in August to 51% in September. Similarly, the share of ‘war hawks’ grew by one percentage point from 38% in August to 39% in September. As in previous months, the attention of the Russian domestic audience to developments in Ukraine remains low. 18% of respondents stated that they follow developments very closely, compared to 17% in August. Another 30% said they follow relatively closely, compared to 31% in August. 37% said they do not follow particularly closely, and 15% do not follow at all, compared to 17% in August. (Levada, 10.04.23)

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

  • Majorities of Americans consider U.S. alliances with European countries (64%), East Asian partners (60%), and countries in the Middle East (54%) to mostly benefit either the United States alone, or to benefit both the United States and its allies, according to a recent poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. About eight in 10 Americans (78%) also say that the United States should maintain or increase its commitment to NATO. Overall majorities continue to support using U.S. troops if Russia invades a NATO ally like Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia (57%, compared to 56% in 2022), or Germany (64%, new question in this survey),” according to the poll. A majority of Americans continue to support U.S. bases in Germany (61%), Poland (54%), and in NATO allies like Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia (53%). Yet support has declined from 2022 for all three: six points for Poland, down seven points for Germany, and down 12 for the NATO Baltic nations, according to the Chicago Council poll. (Chicago Council, 10.04.23, WP, 10.04.23)
  • American officials said they are convinced that Mr. Putin intends to try to end U.S. and European support for Ukraine by using his spy agencies to push propaganda supporting pro-Russian political parties and by stoking conspiracy theories. The Russian disinformation aims to increase support for candidates opposing Ukraine aid with the ultimate goal of stopping international military assistance to Kyiv. Mr. Putin, the officials said, appears to be closely watching U.S. political debates over Ukraine assistance. Russians may believe they can stir up enough debate over Ukraine aid that a future Congress could find it more difficult to pass additional support, U.S. officials said. (NYT, 10.03.23)
  • In his remarks at the Valdai Club meeting on Oct. 5, Putin claimed that the U.S. sparked the war in Ukraine by trying to assert a worldwide hegemony. Russia drew a line in Ukraine, he said. "We didn't initiate the so-called war in Ukraine," he said. "On the contrary, we are striving to bring it to an end." Russia’s mission is to “build a new world,” he said. (WSJ, 10.06.23, MT/AFP, 10.05.23)
  • President Vladimir Putin and his lockstep deputy chairman of the federal Security Council Dmitry Medvedev issued separate statements on Sept. 30 aimed at whitewashing the unrecognized annexation one year ago of four partially occupied regions of Ukraine and seemingly threatening another land grab. (RFE/RL, 09.30.23)
  • "Fatigue over this conflict—fatigue from the completely absurd sponsorship of the Kyiv regime—will grow in various countries, including the U.S.," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. (MT/AFP, 10.02.23)
  • Romania's National Defense Ministry said on Sept. 30 that an army surveillance system had detected a "possible unauthorized entry into national airspace" overnight around Galati, although authorities said they were still looking for fragments of any possible intrusion. (RFE/RL, 09.30.23)
  • Romania is working with its NATO partners to boost defense on its border with Ukraine at the Danube River following several incidents where Russian drone debris fell on its soil. (Bloomberg, 10.05.23)
  • Each year, some 20,000 or so men are subject to universal male conscription in Finland, while another 1,000 or so women volunteer. (NYT, 10.05.23)

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • In his remarks at the Valdai Club meeting on Oct. 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “ We are interested in establishing new logistics routes, and China is also interested in this. Our trade is growing. We are now talking about the North-South corridor. China is developing supply chains through Central Asian states. We are interested in supporting this project.” (, 10.06.23)
  • Russian mercenary group Wagner in 2022 signed a contract with a Chinese firm to acquire two satellites and use their images, aiding its intelligence work as the organization sought to push Russia's invasion of Ukraine. According to this source, Wagner even ordered images of Russian territory at the end of May 2023, all along the route between the Ukrainian border and Moscow that was seized by Wagner's forces at the end of June, during the brief mutiny. (AFP, 10.05.23)
  • Russia is turning to China for help developing the Arctic as Western energy companies are trying to pull out of Russian projects. The newfound cooperation is most evident in surging shipments of crude through the Northern Sea Route, which traverses the Arctic from northwestern Russia to the Bering Strait. The volume, while still small compared with what is carried via southern routes, has shot up in recent weeks. (WSJ, 10.01.23)
  • Russia's western enclave of Kaliningrad on Oct. 6 received its first cargo ship via the Northern Sea Route, long touted by Moscow as an alternative shipping lane to the Suez Canal. The vessel made a stop in the port town of Baltiysk while en route to St. Petersburg from Shanghai, Kaliningrad region Governor Anton Alikhanov said. (MT/AFP, 10.06.23)
  • About 150,000 excess shipping containers are piling up at Russia’s train depots amid a surge in Chinese exports, sending the price of new and used boxes plunging in Moscow, according to a recent analysis from Container xChange. (Bloomberg, 10.03.23)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms:

  • When asked by Sergei Karaganov at the Valdai Club meeting on 10.05.23. whether Russia should “modify the doctrine on using nuclear weapons, lowering the nuclear threshold,” Putin said “there are two reasons stipulated in the Russian Military Doctrine for the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia. The first is the use of nuclear weapons against us, which would entail a so-called retaliatory strike.[1] … The second reason for the potential use of these weapons is an existential threat to the Russian state—even if conventional weapons are used against Russia, but the very existence of Russia as a state is threatened.” These are the two possible reasons for the use of the weapons you mentioned. Do we need to change this? Why would we? Everything can be changed, but I just don't see that we need to.” (, 10.05.23)  [2]
  • Putin said at the Valdai Club meeting on 10.05.23: “The latest test launch of Burevestnik was a success. This is a nuclear-powered cruise missile with a basically unlimited range. By and large, Sarmat, the super heavy missile, is also ready. All we have left is to complete all the administrative and bureaucratic procedures and paperwork so that we can move to mass production and deploy it in combat standby mode. We will do this soon.” (, 10.05.23)
    • Russia previously conducted 13 known tests of Burevestnuk between 2017 and 2019, all of which were unsuccessful, according to a report from the Nuclear Threat Initiative. In previous tests, the missile failed to fly a distance anywhere close to the designed range, estimated to be around 14,000 miles. (NYT, 10.02.23)
  • Putin said at the Valdai Club meeting on Oct. 05: “I am already hearing calls, for example, to start or in fact to resume nuclear tests… Specialists tend to argue that these are new kinds of weapons and we need to make sure that their special warheads are fail-free, so we need to test them. I am not ready to tell you right now whether we need or do not need to carry out these tests. What we can do is act just as the United States does… the United States signed the [CTBT] treaty without ratifying it, while we both signed and ratified it. As a matter of principle, we can offer a tit-for-tat response in our relations with the United States.” (, 10.05.23)  
    • Speaker of State Vyacheslav Volodin quickly heeded Putin’s call, saying via his Telegram channel: “At the next meeting of the State Duma Council, we will definitely discuss the issue of revoking ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. … The situation in the world has changed. … Washington and Brussels have launched a war against our country. Today's challenges require new solutions." (WSJ, 10.06.23, RM, 10.06.23)
    • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Oct. 6 that the aim of revoking ratification of the CTBT treaty didn't necessarily mean that Russia intended to resume testing, but rather it would place Russia on equal terms with the U.S. The treaty isn't legally in force because not enough nations have ratified it, though major powers, including the U.S. and China, say they are abiding by its terms. (WSJ, 10.06.23)
    • Pavel Podvig, senior researcher on weapons of mass destruction at the United Nations disarmament agency in Switzerland, said: "I don't believe that this reflects the intent to actually go and test.” (WSJ, 10.06.23)
    • Satellite imagery and aviation data suggest that Russia may be preparing to test an experimental nuclear-powered cruise missileor may have recently tested one—with a theoretical range of thousands of miles. Movements of aircraft and vehicles at and near a base in Russia’s remote Arctic region are consistent with preparations that were made for tests of the missile, known as the Burevestnik or SSC-X-9 Skyfall, in 2017 and 2018, according to a New York Times analysis. (NYT, 10.02.23)
    • Siberian political figures have slammed the chief editor of the state-run RT news outlet for her calls to drop a nuclear bomb over Siberia as a way of sending a message to the West. RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan proposed detonating a thermonuclear device “on our own territory, somewhere over Siberia,” claiming that there would be no impact on the humans living below. In her proposal, Simonyan said that a nuclear detonation over Siberia was needed to send a “painful” message to the West amid a “nuclear ultimatum that’s becoming more and more impossible to avoid.” (MT, 10.04.23)    


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • Dozens of Syrians were killed and hundreds wounded after a drone strike on a military graduation ceremony in central Syria, in one the deadliest attacks against the war-devastated state’s army. Syria’s health ministry said on Oct. 6 that 89 people were killed in the attack, including 31 women and five children, and 277 were wounded. Funerals were held on Oct. 6 for the victims. (FT, 10.06.23)
  • A U.S. fighter jet has shot down a Turkish drone in north-eastern Syria in what the Pentagon described as a “regrettable incident” that comes at a time of increased tension between the NATO allies. Pat Ryder, spokesperson for the Pentagon, said the action had been taken in “self-defense” by an F-16 jet. (FT, 10.06.23)


  • A hacking group known as SiegedSec has released more than 3,200 documents it said it stole from NATO in its second cyberattack on the military alliance’s computer systems in less than three months. (NYT, 10.05.23)
  • Rights watchdog Freedom House said global Internet freedom declined for the 13th consecutive year in 2023 as attacks on freedom of expression grew more common. (RFE/RL, 10.04.23)
  • Artyom Sheikin, a member of the Russian parliament's Federation Council, said on Oct. 3 that the country’s Roskomnadzor media watchdog plans to block virtual private networks (VPNs) across the country as of March 1, 2024. (Reuters, 10.03.23)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that recent market prices for Russian oil suggest that the Group of Seven’s price cap is no longer working as hoped, her first such public acknowledgment of challenges with the program. “It does point to some reduction in the effectiveness of the price cap,” Yellen told reporters while on a visit to Savannah, Georgia, when asked about reports that prices for Russian crude are now closer to $100 a barrel than to the $60 set in the cap. (Bloomberg, 09.30.23) 
  • Saudi Arabia and Russia reaffirmed that they will stick with oil supply curbs of more than 1 million barrels a day until the end of the year as a rally in prices falters. Oil prices surged to almost $100 a barrel in London last week as the two nations choked supplies just as global demand hit a record, draining inventories at the fastest pace in years. In addition, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Russia will maintain its 300,000 barrel-a-day cut in crude exports this month. (Bloomberg, 10.04.23, Bloomberg, 10.04.23)
  • Russia allowed a return to seaborne exports of diesel just weeks after imposing a ban that roiled global markets, taking other steps instead to keep sufficient fuel supplies at home. Shipments can resume provided that the fuel is delivered to the nation’s ports by pipeline, according to a statement on the government’s Telegram account. (Bloomberg, 10.06.23)
  • Shipments of Russian oil to India jumped 15% in September from a seven-month low in August, boosted by plentiful supply and price discounts, according to Kpler SAS. Cargoes arriving from Russia amounted to 1.78 million barrels a day last month, the data intelligence firm said. (Bloomberg, 10.03.23)
  • Azerbaijan may not be able to deliver on ambitions to double natural gas exports to Europe by 2027, having failed to secure long-term sales deals it needs before investing billions of dollars to boost production, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. (Bloomberg, 10.06.23)

Climate change:

  • Moscow last month experienced its hottest September in 176 years, scientists from the Meteorological Observatory at Moscow State University have said. (MT/AFP, 10.02.23)
  • Russia has warned it will oppose a global deal to reduce the use of fossil fuels, as tensions with Western powers following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine threaten to derail this year’s UN climate summit. The U.S. and EU member states are among a large group of countries calling for a timeline to phase out the use of fossil fuels where emissions are not captured and stored ahead of the COP28 climate summit, which begins in late November in Dubai. However, in a submission to the UN’s climate body, Russia said: “We oppose any provisions or outcomes that somehow discriminate or call for phaseout of any specific energy source or fossil fuel type.” (FT, 10.05.23)
  • The United Arab Emirates is proffering itself as host of a second annual UN climate summit. Russia has pushed back against any EU member country hosting the summit in the wake of the Ukraine war. (FT, 10.02.23)
  • Russia’s first-ever climate litigation case is currently moving through the European Court of Human Rights as activists make a last-ditch attempt to challenge the president and the government for failing to meet global climate goals. (MT/AFP, 10.02.23)

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • The U.S. has expelled two Russian diplomats in response to Moscow’s decision to kick out two American diplomats, a State Department official tells Al Arabiya English. (Al Arabiya English, 10,06.23)
  • The bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee has led the introduction of a call by 27 senators for the immediate release by Russian authorities of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who they say has been "wrongfully detained in Russia for merely doing his job. (RFE/RL, 09.30.23)
  • Donald Trump has claimed in a lawsuit filed in London that he suffered “reputational damage and distress” as a result of the controversial Russia dossier compiled by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele. The former US president is suing Orbis Business Intelligence, co-founded by the former British intelligence officer. (FT, 10.06.23)


II. Russia’s domestic policies 

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Putin may announce he’s running for reelection in 2024 as as soon as November, Russia’s leading daily Kommersant reported, citing sources close to the Kremlin administration. The announcement could occur during the opening of  the Rossiya exhibition-forum event in Russian capital. This event is to be launched at Moscow’s VDNKh exhibition center on Nov. 4, according to Russia’s telecommunications ministry.  Meanwhile, the Kremlin administration has already begun compiling a list of individuals who would serve as Putin’s trusted representatives in the 2024 elections, RBC reported. (RM, 10.06.23)
  • The Russian government has said it aims to spend a staggering 10.8 trillion rubles ($108 billion) on defense next year. To cobble together that sum, the cabinet is relying to a greater extent on irregular revenues stemming from one-off taxes and levies, including “voluntary donations” Western businesses have to pay when leaving Russia. (FT, 10.05.23)
  • The ruble sank beyond 100 to the U.S. dollar on Oct. 3. It then fell further on Oct. 6, The Russian currency fell by as much as 101.46 rubles to the dollar in morning exchanges before paring down some losses. The ruble last broke through the 100 mark in August, sparking alarm in state media and forcing the central bank into an emergency interest rate rise of 3.5 percentage points. A further rate increase of 1 percentage point—to 13 percent—and talk of capital controls have failed to halt the currency’s decline. (FT, 10.03.23, MT/AFP, 10.06.23)
  • About half of the leadership positions in the regional authorities of the occupied territories in Ukraine are filled by officials from “greater Russia.” A significant of them are trying to “cleanse themselves” from criminal prosecution and claims by taking up jobs with these authorities. (Vyorstka, 10.03.23)
  • The protest potential of Russians remains relatively low and largely unchanged since the summer, according to the Levada Center’s September polling, which revealed that 17% of Russians said they would participate in an economically motivated protest, up from 15% in June, and 13% of respondents said they would participate in a politically motivated protest, up from 10% in June. (RM, 10.05.23)
    • Prominent jailed Russian opposition figures—including Aleksei Navalny, Vladimir Kara-Murza, and Ilya Yashin—called on fellow political prisoners and backers to conduct a one-day hunger strike to protest oppression in the country. (RFE/RL, 10.05.23)
  • The share of Russians who know what happened during the constitutional crisis of October 1993 declined from 58% in Sept. 2017 to 57% in September 2023, according to Levada. The share of those who believed the supporters of the Russian parliament were right increased from 16% in 2017 to 20% in 2023, setting a record since Levada began measurements in 2006. The share of those who thought President Yeltsin was right decreased from 13% in 2017 to 7% in 2023. (RM, 10.02.23)
  • In his remarks at the Valdai Club meeting on Oct. 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin said fragments of hand grenades were found in the victims of a plane crash that killed the Wagner Group's founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and suggested that the flight was brought down by an explosion from within. Putin said members of the Wagner group who died aboard the aircraft should have been tested for drugs, alleging that a search of Wagner's office in St. Petersburg had turned up 5 kilograms of cocaine. (WSJ, 10.06.23)
    • Russians have commemorated the founder and leader of the Wagner mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin on the 40th day since his death, a Russian Orthodox tradition to honor those who have passed away. People brought flowers on Oct. 1 to makeshift memorials in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Abakan, Sochi, Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, and at least nine other cities across Russia. (RFE/RL, 10.02.23)
    • General Sergei Surovikin said he continues to serve Russia amid reports of his dismissal from the Defense Ministry after Yevegny Prigozhin's failed mutiny in late June. (MT/AFP, 10.04.23)
    • RBE Group, owned by Andrei Shokin, instead of the Concord Group of Companies of Yevgeny Prigozhin, will provide power to the structures of the Russian Ministry of Defense. This was reported to Kommersant by a source close to RBE. He did not specify the details of the contracts or their total amount. The company itself did not comment on this topic. (Kommersant, 10.05.23)
  • Marina Ovsyannikova, a former Russian state television journalist who staged an on-air protest after the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine was sentenced in absentia on Oct. 4 to eight and a half years in a prison colony on charges of spreading false information about Russia’s army. (NYT, 10.04.23)
  • Russian LGBTQ+ activist and artist Yulia Tsvetkova—who is involved in a high-profile pornography case involving nude drawings and other artwork—said a court has issued a warrant for her arrest and added her to a wanted list. (Current Time, 10.04.23)
  • Russian athletes training at schools in St. Petersburg have been banned from unauthorized travel abroad. (MT/AFP, 10.05.23)

Defense and aerospace:

  • Russia’s budget, under which the nation will spend more on its military than social policies next year, is oriented toward one main goal—victory in the war on Ukraine, according to the country’s finance minister. Under the plan, defense spending will comprise 6% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2024, up from 3.9% in 2023 and 2.7% in 2021, before the Kremlin’s invasion of its neighbor. Expenditure on classified or unspecified items is forecast to nearly double, as the war continues to reshape Russia’s finances and economy. (Bloomberg, 10.03.23)
    • The Russian budget figures suggest that "Russia is preparing for multiple further years of fighting in Ukraine," the U.K. Ministry of Defense said. (WSJ, 10.06.23)
  • In his remarks at the Valdai Club meeting on Oct. 5, Putin continued to deny the existence of private military companies (PMC) in Russia. He said that the Russian military was also absorbing former Wagner fighters, and that several thousand had signed contracts with formal Russian defense units to rejoin the fight in Ukraine. "If they want, they can take part in the fighting," he said. (WSJ, 10.06.23, ISW, 10.05.23)
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Oct. 3 that there are no plans for an additional military mobilization for the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, launched in February last year. (RFE/RL, 10.03.23)
  • Shoigu indicated that the Russian MoD may be establishing training regiments that can also serve as in extremis operational or strategic reserves, although this is a low-confidence assessment. (ISW, 10.05.23)
  • Shoigu on Oct. 6 called for more Su-34 fighter jets to be produced. (MT/AFP, 10.06.23)
  • The continuous radar field created along the borders of Russia makes it possible to detect, among other things, hypersonic aircraft. This was announced by Colonel Evgeniy Ponomarenko, Deputy Commander of the 15th Army of the Special Purpose Aerospace Forces (VKS OSN) for armament. (NVO, 10.06.23)
  • Russia blamed a malfunction in an on-board control unit for causing its lunar lander to crash into the moon in August. Russia's first moon mission for 47 years ended in failure on August 19 with the crash of its Luna-25 spacecraft, dashing Moscow's hopes of beating India to the unexplored south pole of the moon. Russian space corporation Roskosmos said on Oct. 3 that the control unit had failed to turn off the propulsion system, which blasted for 43 seconds longer than necessary as the craft hurtled toward the moon. (Reuters, 10.03.23)
  • See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • In 2023, the number of prisoners in Russian colonies decreased by 54 thousand people. This is a record. It is impossible to say exactly how many prisoners were sent to war. But last year, according to journalists’ estimates, two-thirds of the “discharged” prisoners ended up at the front. (Istories, 10.06.23)
  • Russia this year has seen a huge uptick in the number of its soldiers facing trial for murders committed outside the conflict zone in Ukraine, the independent news outlet Vyorstka reported on Oct. 5, citing military court records. At least 147 Russian soldiers went on trial for murder between January and September, representing an almost 10-fold increase compared to the 15 murder cases heard against soldiers in military courts for the entirety of 2022. (MT/AFP, 10.05.23)
  • Publicly available records have revealed the hidden locations of Russia’s military and intelligence agencies across the country, the independent investigative outlet Dossier Center reported. According to Russian law, it is illegal to share any information about military, intelligence and other areas where public disclosure could harm national security. But Dossier said it had found properties linked to the Russian Defense Ministry, Federal Security Service (FSB), Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and other high-security sites posted online by the authorities as part of lists of energy consumers whose power supplies cannot be cut. (MT/AFP, 10.04.23)
  • A former fighter from the Wagner mercenary group who was recruited from prison last year has been accused of killing two women and burning their house down after returning home to Siberia from the ongoing war against Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 10.03.23)
  • A Russian court dropped a case against sanctioned billionaire Andrey Melnichenko and the companies linked to him after an agreement was reached with prosecutors. The charges related to energy assets that companies linked to Melnichenko purchased in 2018 from businesses connected to Mikhail Abyzov, who was arrested in 2019 in an alleged embezzlement case. (Bloomberg, 10.06.23)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • Russia is seeking election to the United Nations’ top human rights body in a vote next week that will offer the latest test of international support for the Western-led diplomatic isolation imposed on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. The vote scheduled for Tuesday in the U.N. General Assembly could be close, in part because of Russia’s support among some countries of the global south. (NYT, 10.06.23)
  • In his remarks at the Valdai Club meeting on Oct. 5Putin heaped praise on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and backed India’s inclusion in a reformed United Nations Security Council. (Bloomberg, 10.06.23)
  • Bangladesh on Oct. 5 received the first uranium shipment from Russia to fuel the country's only nuclear power plant, which is still under construction by Moscow. Moscow has funded the construction with a $11.38 billion loan, to be repaid over two decades, starting from 2027. (AP, 10.05.23)
  • Tokyo on Oct. 3 condemned a surprise visit to Moscow by a Japanese lawmaker who met with Russia's deputy foreign minister. Muneo Suzuki's trip, the first known visit by a Japanese lawmaker since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, comes after Japan joined Western allies in sanctioning Moscow over the conflict. "The government wasn't briefed by Suzuki on the Russia visit this time, before or after," spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said. (MT/AFP, 10.03.23)
  • Among the sea of flags flying high in a burst of patriotic fervor in Burkina Faso, Mali and lately Niger, countries that have recently undergone military coups, the red, white and blue flag of the Russian Federation has become commonplace. While it carries political overtones, it has emerged as a trendy accessory, much like a Che Guevara illustration a generation ago in the West. (NYT, 10.02.23)
  • Russian-born U.S.-based physicist Alexei Ekimov on Oct. 4 won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry alongside French-born Moungi Bawendi and American scientist Louis Brus for their research on tiny particles known as quantum dots. In 1981, Ekimov discovered quantum dots at St. Petersburg’s Vavilov State Optical Institute. (MT/AFP, 10.05.23)


  • Biden administration officials are far more worried about corruption in Ukraine than they publicly admit, a confidential U.S. strategy document obtained by Politico suggests. The “sensitive but unclassified” version of the long-term U.S. plan lays out numerous steps Washington is taking to help Kyiv root out malfeasance and otherwise reform an array of Ukrainian sectors. It stresses that corruption could cause Western allies to abandon Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion, and that Kyiv cannot put off the anti-graft effort. “Perceptions of high-level corruption” the confidential version of the document warns, could “undermine the Ukrainian public’s and foreign leaders’ confidence in the war-time government.” (Politico, 10.02.23)
  • The European Union is gearing up to open negotiations with Ukraine on its future accession to the bloc with a formal announcement expected as soon as December. According to three diplomats with knowledge of the plans, leaders are preparing to give Kyiv the green light to begin formal talks on joining the 27-country bloc before the end of the year. (Politico, 10.04.23)
    • Ukraine’s accession to the EU would entitle Kyiv to about €186 billion over seven years, according to internal estimates of the union’s common budget, turning “many” existing member states into net payers for the first time. Ukraine would qualify for €61bn in payments from the EU’s cohesion funds, which aim to improve infrastructure in poorer member states, according to FT. With nine additional member states, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta would no longer be eligible for cohesion funding, according to FT.EU officials this summer estimated the potential financial ramifications in a study seen by the Financial Times, which used existing rules for the union’s 2021-27 budget. These were applied to an enlarged union including Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and six western Balkan states. The financial tally of adding all nine members to the existing budget, known as the multiannual financial framework, would be €256.8 billion. (FT, 10.04.23)
    • Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has slammed the possibility of Ukraine joining the EU, lambasting the country as massively corrupt. “Anyone who has had anything to do with Ukraine knows that this is a country that is corrupt at all levels of society. Despite its efforts, it is not ready for accession; it needs massive internal reform processes,” Juncker said during an interview with German outlet Augsburger Allgemeine published on Oct. 5. “Making false promises” to Ukrainians regarding EU accession “would be neither good for the EU nor for Ukraine,” added Juncker, who was boss at the Berlaymont in Brussels from 2014 to 2019. (Politico, 10.06.23)
  • The European Union is considering unlocking billions of euros for Hungary that were frozen over rule-of-law concerns as it seeks to win Budapest's approval for aid to Ukraine including a start to membership talks for Kyiv, senior officials said. (Reuters, 10.03.23)
  • Opponents of aid to Ukraine, and even some supporters, have criticized the country for postponing elections, but Former President Petro Poroshenko said that holding elections during the war would be “a catastrophe for Ukraine.” Mr. Poroshenko isn’t alone in this view. In September, 100 Ukrainian organizations signed a letter claiming “elections and full-scale war are incompatible.” Current law also prohibits amending the constitution or holding presidential or parliamentary elections during martial law. Postponing the next year’s election for a year or so seems prudent given the legal complications and practical concerns, according to WSJ’s Jillian Kay Melchior. (WSJ, 10.03.23)
  • Ukraine will allow for limited fluctuations of its currency, scraping a peg it has been in place since Russia’s invasion began almost 20 months ago.” (Bloomberg, 10.02.23)
  • Ukraine's economy is adapting well to the wartime environment following Russia's invasion and growth will continue next year, a top International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said on Oct. 4. Natan Epstein, deputy mission chief for Ukraine, said domestic demand and strong private consumption were driving the activities. (Reuters, 10.04.23)
  • One of Europe’s largest aerospace and defense industry associations has welcomed its first Ukrainian firm as a member. Antonov, Ukraine’s biggest aircraft manufacturer, joined the Aerospace, Security and Defense Industries Association of Europe this week. (Bloomberg, 10.06.23)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Nearly all of Karabakh's estimated 120,000 residents have fled the territory for Armenia. With virtually the entire population of Armenians feeling from Nagorno-Karabakh, refugees are voicing rage over the loss of their homeland and accusing Russia of betrayal after peacekeepers sent by Moscow failed to protect them. (AFP, 10.01.23, NYT, 09.29.23)
  • On Oct. 4, Azeri law enforcement detained former presidents of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Arkady Ghukasyan and Bako Sahakyan. The former speaker of the republic's parliament, David Ishkhanyan, was also detained along with them. On Sept. 27, the former head of government of the unrecognized republic, Ruben Vardanyan, was detained. On Sept. 29, Azerbaijani authorities detained the former commander of the Nagorno-Karabakh army Levon Mnatsakanyan, as well as former Foreign Minister David Babayan. (Meduza, 10.03.23)
    • The Armenian Foreign Ministry has protested the arrests. (RFE/RL, 10.04.23)
  • The European Parliament says the current situation with Armenians fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh following Azerbaijan's retaking of the breakaway region "amounts to ethnic cleansing." (RFE/RL, 10.05.23)
  • France is ready to begin deliveries of military equipment to Armenia to beef up its defense capabilities, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said on a visit to Yerevan on Oct. 3. Colonna asked the European Union's chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, to expand the EU mission in the region and proposed including Armenia in an EU peace mechanism similar to that implemented by the bloc in Moldova. (RFE/RL, 10.04.23)
  • Attending a summit in Spain along with Pashinyan, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and European Council President Charles Michel "underlined their unwavering support to the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and inviolability of the borders of Armenia," in a joint statement. (RFE/RL) 10.05.23)
  • In his remarks at the Valdai Club meeting on Oct. 5, Putin said: “Everything that happened in the recent past, a week, two, three weeks ago—the blocking of the Lachin Corridor and other things—all of this was inevitable after the recognition of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh.” (, 10.06.23)
  • Armenia has signed up to the International Criminal Court after its parliament voted on Oct. 3 to ratify a statute that brings the country into the court’s jurisdiction. Yerevan has offered a bilateral deal to ensure that Putin, who has been indicted by the ICC, would remain immune from arrest should he visit the country. (FT, 10.03.23)
  • According to Levada, more Russians are now supporting Azerbaijan (10%) than Armenia (8%) on the Karabakh issue. Moreover, the share of Russians who blame Armenia for resuming fighting in 2023 is only four percentage points less than the share of those who blame Azerbaijan for that. (RM, 09.30.23)
  • Top officials from the United States and the EU met with their Russian counterparts for undisclosed emergency talks in Turkey on Sept. 17 in Istanbul as part of efforts to pressure Azerbaijan to end its nine-month blockade of the enclave and allow in humanitarian aid convoys from Armenia. The U.S. was represented by Louis Bono, Washington’s senior adviser for Caucasus negotiations, while the EU dispatched Toivo Klaar, its representative for the region. Russia, meanwhile, sent Igor Khovaev, who serves as Putin’s special envoy on relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. (Politico, 10.04.23)
    • Russia and the United States on Oct. 4 confirmed the talks. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that "the U.S. and EU approached us and asked us to hold a meeting. … There was nothing secret. … It was an ordinary exchange of views." A State Department spokesman said the meeting wasn't a secret and "came together to address specifically urgent humanitarian issues and the provision of potential humanitarian aid in Nagorno-Karabakh." Politico first reported the story. (RFE/RL, 10.04.23)
  • Armenian troops are not taking part in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization's (CSTO) one-week military maneuvers that kicked off near Kyrgyzstan's northern town of Balykchy on Oct. 6. (RFE/RL, 10.06.23)
  • The Constitutional Court of Georgia on Oct. 3 started a hearing into a request by lawmakers to impeach President Salome Zurabishvili. Deputies from the ruling Georgian Dream party have called for Zurabishvili's impeachment, saying she violated the constitution by visiting a number of foreign countries earlier this year without the government's approval. (RFE/RL, 10.03.23)
  • Georgia’s reluctance to freeze the assets of a former official accused by the U.S. of being a Russian agent is further testing Tbilisi’s ties with the West. The U.S. State Department earlier this month added Otar Partskhaladze, who briefly served as Georgia’s chief prosecutor, to its sanctions list, citing help he had allegedly received from Russia’s FSB security service in becoming a Russian citizen and saying that, in return, he had agreed “to influence Georgian society and politics for the benefit of Russia.” (FT,10.01.23)
  • The European Parliament approved on Oct. 5 a resolution urging the launching of membership talks between Moldova and the European Union by year-end. (RFE/RL, 10.05.23)
  • Moldova’s Maia Sandu said Wagner’s late leader Yevgeny Prigozhin had planned the coup earlier this year against her and warned that Moscow is using various methods, including cash mules and bank cards issued in Dubai, to smuggle money into Moldova to bribe voters ahead of a string of elections. (FT, 10.06.23)
  • Moldovan authorities on Oct. 4 reinforced a ban on members of an outlawed Russia-backed party taking part in upcoming local elections, in effect reversing the Constitutional Court's decision a day earlier that had scrapped the interdiction. Moldova's Exceptional Situations Committee (CSE) decided that members of the Shor Party who are charged, indicted, or even under suspicion of committing criminal acts will not be allowed to run in the polls, scheduled for Nov. 5. (RFE/RL, 10.04.23)
  • Kyrgyz and Tajik officials meeting to discuss the delimitation and demarcation of disputed border areas between the two countries said they had signed a protocol amid claims that progress was made on the issue, though no details were disclosed." (RFE/RL, 10.03.23)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Kyrgyzstan next week, authorities in the Central Asian country said on Oct. 4, his first trip abroad since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him. Putin has not left Russia since the Hague-based court issued the warrant in March over the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. "By the invitation of the president of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov on Oct. 12 the president of the Russian Federation will pay an official visit to our country," the Kyrgyz news agency Kabar reported, citing an official from the presidential office. (MT/AFP, 10.04.23)
  • Kyrgyz security officers have killed notorious organized crime figure Kamchy Kolbaev (aka Kamchybek Asanbek), who was added by Washington to a list of major global drug-trafficking suspects in 2011. (RFE/RL, 10.04.23)
  • the Kazakh Senate ratified on Oct. 5 an agreement with China on the exchange of personal data of their citizens. (RFE/RL, 10.05.23)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • “Overseas, I think you have a wide variety of threats. I think China is the single most significant national security challenge to the United States, and will remain so for many, many years to come. But the immediate right now, the here and now, is clearly this war that's in Central Europe, with Ukraine and Russia. Russia is a very powerful country. This is the biggest war since World War II,” said Mark Milley, who retired on Sept. 30 as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the U.S.’ most senior military position. (NPR, 10.02.23)
  • “Putin has two priorities: war and power,” said Konstantin Sonin, an economist and professor at the University of Chicago. (FT, 10.05.23)



[1] Putin said “otvetno-vstrechny udar,” which has often been translated in Western publications as “launch-on-warning” but which the Kremlin staff translated as either “reciprocal counter strike” or “retaliatory strike.”

[2] Kremlin would sometimes encourage a debate among key policy-makers and shapers on key issues before deciding on how to go about dealing with it.


The cutoff for reports summarized in this product was 2:00 pm East Coast time on the day it was distributed.

Here and elsewhere, the italicized text indicates comments by RM staff and associates. These comments do not constitute RM editorial policy.

Slider photo shared by the Russian presidential press service ( under a CC BY 4.0 license.