Russia in Review, Sept. 9-16, 2022

5 Things to Know

  1. Putin acknowledged Xi’s concerns over his war in Ukraine during their meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan on Sept. 15. “We understand your questions and your concerns in this regard [the Ukraine crisis],” the Russian leader told his Chinese counterpart during their 39th in-person meeting. In his turn, Xi thanked Putin and called him an “old friend” and noted that he wants Russia to join China in “inject[ing] stability and positive energy” into the world.  If Xi’s cautioning were not enough, India’s Modi also weighed in on the subject, telling Putin “I know today's time is not a time for war" and stressed the importance of "democracy and diplomacy and dialogue.”
  2. Kyiv has ditched the idea of committing to not pursue NATO membership and now wants only its Western partners to become Ukraine’s security guarantors. This follows from a draft of the Kyiv Security Compact, developed by Zelensky’s office in cooperation with ex-NATO chief Rasmussen. As recently as the early days of the Russian invasion, Kyiv was amenable to a deal with Moscow that would have guaranteed Ukraine wouldn’t join NATO, but Putin rejected the deal, drafted by his deputy chief of staff Kozak, instead expanding his objectives to include annexing swathes of Ukrainian territory, according to Reuters.
  3. Ukraine’s counteroffensives have liberated 6,000+ square kilometers in the east and south, significantly reducing the risk that Ukrainian troops in Donbas would be encircled, according to optimistic estimates of officials in Kyiv. Their counterparts in Moscow have mostly kept mum on the setbacks endured by the Russian invading force. In contrast, Russia’s hardliners, some of whom had warned of Ukraine’s pending offensive in the east, criticized the Russian military-political leadership for hoping to prevail in spite of poor planning, slow response and a lack of qualified combat personnel. Meanwhile, the U.S. military, which has helped its Ukrainian counterparts plan the dual counteroffensives, have warned Kyiv against displaying excessive optimism, cautioning that the recent successes had not fundamentally changed the near-term outlook on the battleground.
  4. Kremlin staff are at a loss over postponed “referenda” on occupied parts of Ukraine joining Russia. Following Ukraine’s recent counteroffensive in the east and south, Russian authorities have indefinitely postponed the “referenda” they had planned to hold in Ukrainian territories controlled by Russian and pro-Russian forces on Nov. 4 to “legalize” their inclusion into the Russian Federation, according to Meduza. The postponement has left Russian presidential administration staff at a loss as to what to “do next,” Meduza reported, citing sources close to the Kremlin. 
  5. Russia’s budget surplus for 2022 has almost evaporated after a sharp drop in energy exports during August led to a monthly deficit of 360 billion rubles ($5.9 billion,) according to FT. Economists attributed the deficit to sharp declines in oil and gas revenues.


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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • Russian forces controlling Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) have killed two staff at the facility and detained and abused dozens of others, the head of Ukraine's nuclear energy agency said. (MT/AFP, 09.09.22)
  • In a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sept. 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of potential “catastrophic consequences” of what he claimed was Ukrainian shelling targeting the plant. (FT, 09.12.22)
  • A second backup power supply line has been reconnected to ZNPP, aiding in efforts to ensure the nuclear core is properly cooled, said IAEA. (RFE/RL, 09.12.22)
  • IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Sept. 12 that there were active negotiations with both Ukraine and Russia to end military actions in and around ZNPP. (NYT, 09.13.22)
  • IAEA’s board of governors has passed a resolution demanding that Russia end its occupation of ZNNP and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine. The 35-member board passed the resolution with 26 votes in favor. Russia and China voted against. Burundi, Vietnam, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Senegal and South Africa abstained, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. (RFE/RL, 09.16.22, TASS, 09.15.22)
  • Also see section “Russo-Chinese relations/ Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit”

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • North Korea has stockpiles of munitions to assist Russia's military, but weapons experts say they are old and Kim Jong Un's regime would face problems providing Russia with the more sophisticated weaponry it has been developing. (WSJ, 09.14.22)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • U.S. and European officials are increasingly gloomy about the prospects of reviving the JCPOA before U.S. midterm elections, as a hardening of demands from Tehran raises doubts about its willingness to conclude a deal soon. (WSJ, 09.13.22)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • Ukraine has appealed for foreign support to fund an emergency $17 billion infrastructure package as the country prepares for the onset of winter. (FT, 09.09.22)
  • The Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office has denied a statement by Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk that Russian teachers in territories liberated from Russian occupying troops had been detained. (RFE/RL, 09.14.22)
  • Opening the start of a new U.N. Human Right Council session, acting U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif denounced the "intimidation, restrictive measures and sanctions against people voicing opposition to the war in Ukraine." (RFE/RL, 09.13.22)
  • About 150,000 people in some 300 communities in northeastern Ukraine are living in areas reclaimed from Russian control, Hanna Malyar, Ukraine’s deputy minister of defense, said on Sept. 13. (NYT, 09.14.22)   
  • The U.N. is pressing Russia and Ukraine to agree a deal on chemical exports through the Black Sea in a bid to ease global fertilizer prices. Two people familiar with the talks said the U.N. is pushing for a deal before world leaders attend the U.N. General Assembly next week. (FT, 09.15.22, FT, 09.13.22)
    • The United States is working to address Russian complaints that sanctions are hindering its food and fertilizer shipments, a senior U.S. official said on Sept. 9. (RFE/RL, 09.10.22)
    • When asked to comment on the potential fertilizer deal, Putin said: “You have probably already heard about 300 thousand tons of our fertilizers accumulated in the ports of European countries, our companies are already saying that they will give it away for free, just release it, unlock it, give it to the poorest countries, to developing markets.” (, 09.16.22)
  • Russia is escalating missile strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure, blowing up reservoir dams and electricity generators in a campaign described by Kyiv as “terrorist acts” aimed at slowing its counteroffensive. A second consecutive day of Russian attacks on Sept. 15 hit a dam in Kryviy Rih, sending millions of gallons of water gushing downstream. By Sept. 15 morning, the waters had begun to recede, bringing relief to a city of more than half a million people. Officials said catastrophe had been narrowly avoided. The cruise missile had damaged the dam but did not leave a major hole. The dam, which forms a vast reservoir along the Inhulets river, was hit multiple times. (NYT, 09.15.22, FT, 09.16.22)
  • Kyiv says hundreds of graves have been found outside Izyum days after the city was retaken by Ukraine with officials indicating that most victims at the burial site were civilians. (RFE/RL, 09.16.22)

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

  • Zelensky on Sept. 14 promised "victory" on a visit to the strategic city of Izyum that was recently recaptured from Russia by Kyiv's army in a lightning counteroffensive.  “From the beginning of September through today, our soldiers have already liberated more than 6,000 square km of Ukrainian territory—in the east and south,” he said in his nightly video address. (FT, 09.13.22, MT/AFP, 09.15.22)
    • “Regaining this region, from Kharkiv to Izyum, has wiped out the risk of our troops in Donbas getting encircled. We have flattened out the frontline,” said Serhiy Kuzan, an adviser at Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. “Establishing control of Izyum also opens the door to de facto control of the northern Donetsk region,” said Kuzan. (FT, 09.14.22)
    • When asked if the plan of the special military operation needs to be adjusted, Putin said at a Sept. 16 press conference: “No, the plan cannot be modified. The General Staff makes operational decisions in the course of the operation, something is considered a key, main goal. And the main goal is the liberation of the entire territory of Donbas.” (, 09.16.22)
    • “The military operation continues,” said Peskov. “And it will continue until the goals that were originally set are achieved.” (FT, 09.12.22)
    • The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged the pullback in the Kharkiv region, but said it was carried out as part of a decision to "regroup.” During a daily briefing on Sept. 11, the ministry’s spokespeople showed a map to illustrate what parts of the Kharkiv region was controlled by Russian troops at the time. When compared with the map shown during the briefing the day before (Sept. 10), it reveals that the Russian military retreated from the north of the Kharkiv region, with only a small territory east of the Oskol River remaining under its control. (Meduza, 09.11.22, WP, 09.11.22)
    • Igor Girkin (Strelkov), former DNR “defense minister” wrote: “Our ‘big generals’ firmly believed that the adversary would humbly wait [to see] where and when they would deign to deliver their next strike… That is, they expected only passive defense from the enemy in most areas … and, at most, ‘one big offensive on one front.’… [However,] suddenly it turned out that the enemy was capable of a large-scale offensive on several fronts at once.” (Telegram, 09.13.22)
    • Alexander Khodakovsky, a Donbas separatist commander, wrote: “The reason for what is happening, first and foremost, is not a lack of people but careless use of people—that is, how [poorly] the process is organized.” (Telegram, 09.12.22)
    • In a rare admission, pro-Kremlin war correspondent Alexander Sladkov said on state television Sept. 13 that Russia had lost “an enormous number of people” in the recent fighting. Russia does not release official casualty figures. (MT/AFP, 09.14.22)
    • The strategy behind Ukraine's rapid military gains in recent days began to take shape months ago during a series of intense conversations between Ukrainian and U.S. officials about the way forward in the war against Russia, according to American officials. (NYT, 09.13.22)
    • A senior U.S. defense official warned that the rapid advances of the Ukrainian counteroffensive had not fundamentally changed the near-term outlook on the battleground, a cautious message also sent by other senior figures in the U.S. administration. U.S. officials expect intense fighting for the remainder of the fall, as both sides attempt to put themselves in the best possible position before the onset of winter makes transport and combat more difficult. (FT, 09.13.22, WP, 09.15.22)
    • “The gains the Ukrainians have made over the last weeks are extremely encouraging because it proves that Ukraine has the capability to liberate occupied territory,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told FP. (FP, 09.15.22)
    • “The number one thing [the counter-offensive] shows is that they’re having real trouble generating soldiers. They simply didn’t have enough to hold that line,” said Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews. (FT, 09.13.22)
  • “As for our restrained reaction [to the conflict with Ukraine and Western military aid to Ukraine] I would not say that it is that much restrained,” Putin told a post-SCO press conference on Sept. 16. “In the course of this operation of course, we see attempts to carry out some terrorist acts, attempts to damage our civilian infrastructure. Indeed, we are quite reserved in our response to this, but we do so only for the time being. Most recently, the Armed Forces of Russia has delivered a couple of sensitive blows there. But let's consider these to have been warning strikes. If the situation continues to develop in this way, the answer will be more serious,” Putin said. (, 09.16.22)
  • As of Sept. 8, Istories found that at least 4.2 billion rubles had been allocated in 33 Russian regions to support the families of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine. Of these funds, 85% have already been spent. These expenses confirm that more military personnel died in the war in Ukraine than has been reported in open sources. For instance, at least 66 military servicemen hailing from the Moscow region have been killed, while only 47 deaths from the region were publicly reported.  (Istories, 09.12.22)
  • On the battlefield over recent weeks, Russia has lost hundreds of heavy military vehicles, including over 100 tanks, according to open-source intelligence reports. It also lost several pieces of classified electronic-warfare equipment that are now in the hands of Western-allied forces. (WSJ, 09.16.22)
  • A senior U.S. defense official said Washington and its allies were discussing Ukraine’s longer-term needs, such as air defenses, and whether it might be appropriate to give Kyiv fighter aircraft in the “medium to longer term.” To date, the U.S. and its allies have declined to do so. (FT, 09.13.22)
  • John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said Sept. 13 the U.S. would likely approve a new aid package for Ukraine in coming days. (WSJ, 09.14.22)
  • Zelensky on Sept. 9 met with the head of Turkish defense firm Baykar and discussed the details of the construction of a Baykar factory in Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 09.10.22)
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has slammed Germany for refusing to provide it with Leopard tanks and Marder infantry fighting vehicles. (RFE/RL, 09.13.22)
  • Some 1,500 troops have been sent from a vast Russian military base in Tajikistan to Ukraine, multiple sources told RFE/RL. (RFE/RL, 09.14.22)
  • Russia is not planning to declare a mass national draft for the war in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. (MT/AFP, 09.13.22)
  • Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov said that the heads of the Russian regions should carry out "self-mobilization" and prepare volunteers, 1000 per region, to be sent to the war in Ukraine. The governors of Russia’s far-flung regions are taking up a call issued by their Chechen counterpart to mobilize volunteer fighters as the country’s military suffers major setbacks in northeastern and southern Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 09.16.22, Meduza, 09.11.22, Meduza, 09.15.22) 
  • Supporters of Alexei Navalny who produce content for the Popular Politics Telegram channel, published a video in which businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin recruits inmates in a Russian prison camp to join the Wagner PMC to participate in the war in Ukraine. (Meduza 09.14.22)
  • Russian-backed authorities in the cities of Luhansk and Kherson in eastern and southern Ukraine said Sept. 16 that two Moscow-installed officials had been killed in separate attacks on government buildings. Additionally, Oleh Boiko, deputy head of Russian occupation authorities in the southern city of Berdyansk, was also killed on Sept. 16 alongside his wife, who was involved in organizing a referendum on the region joining Russia. (WSJ, 09.16.22)
  • The former chief of the directorate of the Security Service of Ukraine in the eastern region of Kharkiv, Roman Dudin, has reportedly been detained on a charge of high treason. (RFE/RL, 09.12.22)
  • Russian security services said Sept. 13 they had arrested an employee of an aerospace factory on suspicion of high treason for passing classified defense-related information to Ukraine. (MT/AFP, 09.13.22)

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

  • Portugal rejected all applications from Russian citizens submitted for golden visas after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Meduza, 09.11.22)
  • The U.S. is threatening to impose sanctions on buyers of Russian oil that rely on Western services and fail to abide by the price cap proposed by G7 countries. (FT, 09.10.22)
  • Moscow will not respond in kind to the European Union’s new hurdles for Russians visiting the bloc’s visa-free travel zone, Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s outgoing ambassador to the EU, said. (MT/AFP, 09.13.22)
  • The crisis in relations between Russia and the West begins to chip away at the continent's economic foundations. EU data out Sept. 14 showed eurozone factory output had dropped by 2.3% in July from a month earlier, the first decline since March, partly reflecting cutbacks in energy-intensive sectors. (WSJ, 09.14.22)
  • Several post-Soviet republics have dramatically increased exports to Russia after its invasion of Ukraine sparked a global trade and sanctions backlash against Moscow. RBC reported Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan exported $9.4 billion worth of goods to Russia in March-June 2022—a 15% increase from March-June 2021. (MT/AFP, 09.14.22)
  • The U.S. State Department has said the Biden administration is discussing new economic measures to penalize Russia for its invasion of Ukraine after two U.S. senators introduced legislation to label Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. (RFE/RL, 09.15.22)
  • In the annual state-of-the-EU speech on Sept. 14, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: "I want to make it very clear, the sanctions are here to stay. This is the time for us to show resolve, not appeasement." (RFE/RL, 09.15.22)
  • Russia’s car maker AvtoVAZ is not going to resume the production of the Lada Xray due to the fact that many foreign components were used in its production. (Meduza, 09.15.22)
  • Russia’s financial sector suffered hundreds of billions of dollars in “direct losses” from the sweeping sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies, according to an internal Russian Finance Ministry document. (Bloomberg, 09.14.22)
  • The U.S. and EU are stepping up pressure on Turkey to crack down on Russian sanctions evasion. (FT, 09.15.22)
    • The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is publishing an FAQ to provide additional guidance on the heightened risk of facilitating Russia’s efforts to evade sanctions through the expanded use of the National Payment Card System (NSPK) or the Mir National Payment System, given the broad sanctions imposed on Russia’s financial system this year. (, 09.15.22)
  • The OFAC designated 22 individuals and 2 entities, including individuals who have furthered the Russian government’s objectives in Ukraine. Among others, the Treasury has placed the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, his adult daughters, as well as his wife and two other women, named as his unofficial wives, on the sanctions list. Also included are members of so-called Task Force Rusich paramilitary group. (, 09.15.22, Meduza, 09.16.22)
  • Germany says it has taken control of a major oil refinery owned by the German unit of Russia's Rosneft to bolster energy security. (RFE/RL, 09.16.22)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • On Sept. 13, the Office of the President of Ukraine presented the Kyiv Security Compact, which had been drafted by a group of advisors co-chaired by former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and chief of the presidential office Andrey Yermak. The authors of the draft document want the United States and its allies to sign it as security guarantors of Ukraine, providing military assistance and training. “Both NATO and EU membership will significantly bolster Ukraine’s security in the long-term. However, Ukraine needs security guarantees now,” the compact says. (European Pravda, 09.13.22, TASS, 09.13.22,, 09.13.22)
    • The Kyiv Security Compact would end up "enslaving the European Union," so that the bloc never recovers, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. (TASS, 09.14.22)
    • When asked to comment on the Kyiv Security Compact, Putin said at the post-SCO summit press conference: “I'm honestly not familiar with what they're offering this time around... We, in fact, started with this when we were negotiating with the current Kyiv authorities, and, in fact, completed this negotiation process in Istanbul with the well-known draft Istanbul agreement, after which the troops were withdrawn from Kyiv in order to create conditions for concluding these agreements. Instead of concluding [the agreements] the Kyiv authorities immediately abandoned all agreements.” (, 09.16.22) 
  • Putin had rejected a potential deal with Ukraine offered by his key envoy in the early days of the invasion as he “expanded” his goals to include annexing more territory. Kremlin deputy chief of staff Dmitry Kozak was said to have secured a deal guaranteeing that Ukraine would not join NATO, but Putin made clear that Kozak’s deal with an unspecified number of Ukrainian concessions did not go far enough. Putin reportedly “expanded his objectives to include annexing swathes of Ukrainian territory,” Reuters reported. (MT/AFP, 09.14.22)
  • On Sept. 13, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Olga Stefanishyna said that in recent days Russia has repeatedly proposed resuming negotiations: “There were public and non-public attempts from different groups of Russian officials. Ukraine has never retreated from negotiations. But given the severity of the crimes that Russia has committed on our soil and continues to commit every month, the leverage for negotiations is different from what it was in February.” (Meduza, 09.16.22)

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

  • Germany must become Europe’s leading military power, the country’s defense minister said, as the government prepares a new national security strategy based on a significantly beefed-up role for Berlin in the Western alliance. (FT, 09.12.22)
  • “We have to recognize that with more than 80% of Russia’s land forces now committed to the operation in Ukraine, they have limited scope for going into another country. What we have to be prepared for is more Russian cyberattacks, disinformation and other ways of trying to undermine the unity of NATO and our partners,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told FP. (FP, 09.15.22)
  • Russia's Foreign Ministry on Sept. 15 warned that supplying longer-range missiles to Ukraine would cross a red line for Russia and make nations providing them a "party to the conflict," reinforcing earlier suggestions that Russia could strike NATO nations if they authorized shipments of more potent arms. (WP, 09.15.22)

Russo-Chinese relations/ Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit:

  • During their Sept. 15-16 summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) adopted over 20 documents, including the Samarkand Declaration, which among other things says all parties to the JCPOA should strictly comply with their commitments for its full implementation. SCO leaders also approved decisions on the 2023-2027 comprehensive plan of action, signed the memorandum of obligations on Iran’s SCO membership, launched an SCO membership procedure for Belarus and provided SCO dialogue partner status to the Maldives, Bahrain, Kuwait, Myanmar and the United Arab Emirates. (TASS, 09.16.22, Chinese Foreign Ministry, 09.16.22)
    • On the sidelines of the SCO summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping held the sixth meeting of the heads of state of China, Russia and Mongolia with Putin and Mongolian leader Ukhnaa Khurelsukh, on Sept. 15. (Xinhua, 09.15.22)
  • Putin and Xi met Sept. 15 on the sidelines of the SCO summit for their first face-to-face talks since the start of the conflict in Ukraine. The Samarkand summit was Xi’s 39th in-person meeting with Putin since he was appointed head of the Chinese Communist party a decade ago. (MT/AFP, 09.15.22, FT, 09.16.22)
    • Putin said, “We appreciate our Chinese friends’ balanced position in connection with the Ukraine crisis. We understand your questions and your concerns in this regard. During today’s meeting we will certainly explain in detail our position on this issue, although we have spoken about this before now,” Putin told Xi.  When asked about the content of his conversation with Xi at the post-SCO summit press conference on Sept. 16, Putin said: “Of course, there were also questions related to crises—these questions were also discussed in a benevolent but principled manner.”
    • “For our part, we have firmly, in practice, abided by the One China principle. We condemn provocations staged by the United States and its satellites in the Strait of Taiwan,” he said. "The Russian-Chinese international cooperation can be considered a paragon," the Russian leader said. (, 09.15.22, MT/AFP, 09.15.22,, 09.16.22)
    • Xi said: "China is willing to make efforts with Russia to assume the role of great powers, and play a guiding role to inject stability and positive energy into a world rocked by social turmoil.” "We are ready," Xi said, according to a Kremlin readout, "together with our Russian colleagues, to set an example of a responsible world power and play a leading role in bringing such a rapidly changing world onto a trajectory of sustainable and positive development,” he said. Amid their discussion, Xi referred to Putin as an "old friend.” (MT/AFP, 09.15.22, RFE/RL, 09.16.22, RFE/RL, 09.16.22) 
  • During their meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Putin: "Excellency, I know today's time is not a time for war." He stressed the importance of "democracy and diplomacy and dialogue.” He and Putin would discuss "how to move forward on the path of peace." Putin told Modi: "I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, your concerns... We will do our best to end this as soon as possible." But he added that Ukraine's leadership had rejected negotiations "and stated that it wants to achieve its goals by military means, on the battlefield." (MT/AFP, 09.16.22, WP, 09.16.22)
  • Putin met with the leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan on Sept. 15, as well as with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the sidelines of the SCO summit. With both Raisi and Sharif, he said ties were "developing positively," while the Iranian leader told Putin that U.S.-backed sanctions on both countries would only make their relationship "stronger." "The Americans think whichever country they impose sanctions on, it will be stopped, their perception is a wrong one," Raisi said. Putin was also set to hold talks with Erdogan. (MT/AFP, 09.15.22)
  • Moscow and Tehran are bound by strategic relations, Raisi said Sept. 15 during the meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the SCO summit. (TASS, 09.15.22)
  • In addition to Putin, during his visit to Central Asia for the SCO summit, Xi also met leaders of Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. (Chinese Foreign Ministry, 09.16.22)
    • Without mentioning Russia specifically, Xi told his Kazakh counterpart, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, that China would “resolutely support [Kazakhstan’s] independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity . . . and strongly oppose interference by any forces in the domestic affairs of your country.” (FT, 09.16.22) Xi’s assurance to Tokayev may have been another subtle signal from the Chinese leader to his Russian counterpart (who has claimed that “the Kazakhs never had any statehood” prior to 1991 and tolerated irredentist statements by Russian hardliners, including MPs, about Kazakhstan).1
    • Beijing signed a new railway agreement with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Beijing sees the new route as an alternative to its current dependence on a route through Russia and Kazakhstan for overland transit to Europe. (WSJ, 09.15.22)
  • While in Moscow last week, Li Zhanshu, the third-ranking member of the Communist Party of China, offered Beijing’s most robust endorsement yet of Moscow’s war in Ukraine, telling a group of Russian lawmakers on Sept. 9 that China “understands and supports Russia,” particularly “on the situation in Ukraine.” (NYT, 09.11.22)
  • Speaker of the Russian State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin told the opening of the Fall 2022 session of the lower chamber that he had discussed the situation in Ukraine with his “Chinese colleagues.” In the view of these colleagues, “Washington has left Russia with no other choice,” Volodin said. (Russian State Duma, 09.13.22)
  • China and Russia have launched joint naval drills in the Pacific, the Russian military announced Sept. 15. Russian and Chinese destroyers and other warships carried out live fire training and helicopter deck flights, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. The warship crews also practiced joint tactical maneuvering and ship-to-ship communications as part of what Russia’s military calls joint patrols. (AFP, 09.15.22)
  • According to Ralph Leszczynski, Global Head of Research at Banchero Costa Group, from January to August, seaborne crude oil imports from Russia to China have increased by 46.7% year-on-year to 27.9 million tons. (TASS, 09.16.22)
  • Wang Huiyao, the founder of the Center for China and Globalization think tank in Beijing, said the priority for China today is to end the conflict in Ukraine. "There is no Chinese company taking over the vacuum left by Western companies in Russia, and a lot of Chinese companies actually avoid doing further business in Russia," Wang said. "I don't see any Chinese business being more active there than before." (WSJ, 09.16.22)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms control:

  • No significant developments.


  • Sirojiddin Mukhtarov, leader of the Katiba Tawhid wal-Jihad terrorist organization, was killed in Syria. Mukhtarov died as a result of a strike by the Russian aerospace forces. According to Russian special services and investigating authorities, the Katiba Tawhid wal-Jihad organization was involved in organizing a terrorist attack in the St. Petersburg metro in 2017, which killed 15 people. (Meduza, 09.11.22)
  • Over 40 terror attacks were prevented in SCO member states in 2021, says Ruslan Mirzayev, Director of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Executive Committee. (TASS, 09.16.22)

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Cyber security:

  • No significant developments.

Energy exports from CIS:

  • The Netherlands has taken its first delivery of liquefied natural gas at a new terminal, marking a step forward in Europe’s efforts to develop infrastructure that helps it cut its dependence on Russia gas. The EU has formed plans for as many as 19 new floating storage and regasification units, or FSRUs—at an estimated expenditure of 9.5 billion euros. (FT, 09.09.22)
  • Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said the country needs to look at “all of the options” as it considers joining other Asian economies including India and China in buying Russian oil to offset soaring energy costs. (FT, 09.12.22)
  • Azerbaijan will increase natural-gas exports to Europe this year by 30%, Azerbaijani Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov said. (RFE/RL, 09.13.22)
  • In the annual state-of-the-EU speech on Sept. 14, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: "We have to ensure our security of supply and, at the same time, ensure our global competitiveness. So, we will develop with the member states a set of measures that take into account the specific nature of our relationship with suppliers—ranging from unreliable suppliers such as Russia to reliable friends such as Norway." (RFE/RL, 09.15.22)
  • The U.S. shale industry has warned it cannot rescue Europe with increased oil and gas supplies this winter amid fears that a plunge in Russian exports will send crude prices soaring back above $100 a barrel. U.S. shale executives sitting on vast oil and natural gas reserves that could be used to alleviate a European energy crunch say they will be unable to step up supplies quickly enough to prevent winter shortages. (FT, 09.14.22)

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • Russia’s MTS telecom company said that the number of paid pre-orders for smartphones of the new iPhone 14 line was two and a half times higher than in 2021, even though Apple stopped official deliveries of its phones to Russia. (Meduza, 09.15.22)

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • The State Department strongly criticized Russia on Sept. 13 for making what it called “spurious allegations” that the United States operated clandestine biological weapons laboratories in Ukraine. The department accused Russia of abusing the formal review process of the Biological Weapons Convention, by using a diplomatic meeting in Geneva last week as a platform to continue spreading disinformation to justify the war in Ukraine. (NYT, 09.14.22)      
  • The Biden administration has picked a veteran foreign service officer with years of experience in Russian affairs as its nominee to be the next ambassador to Russia. Administration officials familiar with the matter say the nomination of Lynn Tracy, the current U.S. ambassador to Armenia, will be submitted to the Senate. (AP, 09.14.22)
  • Putin has spent huge sums “in an attempt to manipulate democracies from the inside,” a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. Russia has covertly spent more than $300 million since 2014 on efforts to influence politicians and other officials in more than two dozen countries, the U.S. State Department asserted on Sept. 13. (RFE/RL, 09.14.22)
  • The U.S. State Department says efforts by private citizens to broker the release of Americans held in Russia could complicate the government's attempts to bring the U.S. citizens home. The comments by spokesman Ned Price on Sept. 14 came in response to questions about reports that former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who runs a center that specializes in negotiating the release of prisoners and hostages, traveled to Russia this week. The White House says President Joe Biden on Sept. 16 will meet with family members of U.S. women's basketball star Brittney Griner and fellow U.S. citizen Paul Whelan, who have been imprisoned in Russia. (RFE/RL, 09.15.22, RFE/RL, 09.16.22)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Russia’s budget surplus for 2022 has almost evaporated after a sharp drop in energy exports during August led to a monthly deficit of as much as 360 billion rubles ($5.9 billion). Russia recorded a surplus of almost 500 billion rubles in the first seven months of the year. But the cumulative total fell to only 137 billion rubles last month, suggesting a big deficit in August which economists attributed to sharp declines in oil and gas revenues. Russia’s surplus over the first six months of the year reached 1.37 trillion rubles as it built a war chest on the back of soaring energy prices. (FT, 09.13.22)
  • Russia's Central Bank cut its key interest rate by 50 basis points to 7.5% Sept. 16, citing a slowdown in inflation. The cut marks the sixth consecutive time the bank has lowered interest rates this year, after it nearly doubled rates from 9.5% to 20% in the wake of February’s invasion of Ukraine. Sept. 16’s cut of 0.5% comes as inflation across the country slows and the sanctions-hit wartime economy requires cheaper lending to avoid a possible slump. (MT/AFP, 09.16.22)
  • In Russia, 56,126 new cases of coronavirus infection were detected on Sept. 14. The last time more than 55 thousand cases were detected was on March 9. (Media Zone, 09.15.22)
  • Russian climate activists have filed the country’s first-ever lawsuit demanding stronger government action toward the climate crisis. (MT/AFP, 09.14.22)
  • Meduza’s sources close to the Russian presidential administration say Putin began to pay special attention to the problem of alcoholism, because against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, Russian officials began to drink alcohol much more often and much more. Putin is especially concerned about the condition of “some people from his inner circle,” Meduza’s sources emphasized. (Meduza, 09.15.22)
  • On Sept. 15, the head of the Accounts Chamber, Alexei Kudrin, was at a personal meeting with Putin, during which he asked permission to transfer from his current position to work at Yandex, Meduza was informed by two sources close to the company's management. According to the interlocutors, an agreement was reached at the meeting that Kudrin would join the board of directors of Yandex. (Meduza, 09.16.22)
  • The number of Russians expecting protests with economic demands increased slightly over the summer months: in May, 17% of respondents considered these protests possible, in August, 20%, according to Levada. The share of respondents who would be ready to take part in such protests was 16% (in May it was 14%). (Levada Center, 09.14.22)
  • Municipal deputies in the Moscow district of Lomonosovsky have appealed to Putin to resign, saying "everything went wrong" since the start of his second term and they believe a change of power is necessary for the sake of the country. (RFE/RL, 09.10.22)
  • Russian journalists Viktor Zyryanov and Sergei Nosov have left Russia after their homes were searched last week as part of a probe against fugitive former lawmaker Ilya Ponomaryov, who currently resides in Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 09.12.22)
  • Russia's Supreme Court has withdrawn the license of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper's website, one of the last independent media outlets in the country, amid a media crackdown. (RFE/RL, 09.15.22)

Defense and aerospace:

  • Russian servicemen who were called up for military service in the 1st Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment of the Taman Division in the spring are being prepared to be transferred from the Moscow region to the Belgorod region "to protect the state border." (Meduza, 09.16.22)
    • Moscow relies heavily on conscription, which provides a third of its total personnel. Men aged 18 to 27 are eligible for the draft and each year between 250,000 and 270,000 are conscripted for a 12-month period, according to government data. (WSJ, 09.13.22)
  • The administration of Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya has prepared a draft resolution calling for a "fall mobilization" of the region's male residents 18-26 years of age to the armed forces. Unlike regular mandatory autumn conscription, the 24-page draft document calls the campaign a "mobilization of main and reserve staff" already registered at the conscription commission. (RFE/RL, 09.16.22)
  •  See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • The top manager at Russia's Corporation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, Ivan Pechorin, has been found dead after media reports said last weekend that he fell out of a motorboat. Pechorin's death is the latest in a string of mysterious deaths among Russian officials. (RFE/RL, 09.14.22)
  • In Moscow, FSB officers detained Gennady Bocharov, the Russian Justice Ministry’s deputy director of the Russian Federal Center for Forensic Expertise, on suspicion of taking a bribe. (Meduza, 09.15.22)
  • The European Court of Human Rights stopped accepting new complaints about human rights violations from Russia and removed Russia from the position of judge. This is stated on the ECHR’s website. Due to the invasion of Ukraine, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe expelled Russia from the organization on March 16, but the resolution entered into force on Sept. 16. (Media Zone, 09.16.22)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

  • In the annual state-of-the-EU speech on Sept. 14, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: "One lesson from this war is we should have listened to those who know Putin. To Anna Politkovskaya and all the Russian journalists who exposed the crimes and paid the ultimate price. To our friends in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and to the opposition in Belarus. We should have listened to the voices inside our union—in Poland, in the Baltics and all across Central and Eastern Europe. They have been telling us for years that Putin would not stop. And they acted accordingly." (RFE/RL, 09.15.22)
  • The Vatican plans to keep open the possibility of dialogue with Russia, Pope Francis said on Sept. 15. Francis affirmed that it was "morally acceptable" for Ukraine to receive weapons to defend itself against Moscow's invasion. (RFE/RL, 09.16.22)
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized a decision not to invite Russia to Queen Elizabeth II's funeral as "deeply immoral" and "blasphemous" toward the late monarch's memory. (RFE/RL, 09.16.22)
  • This year, Russia is going to export 30 million tons of grain, and next year it will be 50 million tons, with 90 % of food exports going to the markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America, Putin told the SCO summit. (, 09.16.22)
  • When asked whether he plans to attend the G20 summit in Bali, Putin said “We will see how the situation develops in the economy and in other areas.” (, 09.16.22)


  • According to two Meduza sources close to the Kremlin, the Russian authorities have indefinitely postponed referendums on “joining Russia” in the self-proclaimed LPR and DPR, as well as the occupied territories of the Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv and Kherson. Meduza’s interlocutors explained that the only reason for this decision was the successful counteroffensive of Ukrainian troops in the Kharkiv area. (Meduza, 09.11.22)
  • Putin’s staff does not understand “what to do next” after the referendums on joining Russia in the self-proclaimed LPR and DPR, as well as the occupied Ukrainian territories, have been “postponed indefinitely” due to the successful counter-offensive of Ukrainian troops. Two Meduza sources close to the Kremlin say that presidential administration officials—including the head of the political bloc, “Donbas curator” Sergei Kiriyenko—are “frustrated” by this development. (Meduza, 09.16.22)
  • Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Sept. 10 criticized a "passive attitude" by the IMF toward Ukraine's request for aid to help its economy, which has been badly hit by the Russian invasion. He spoke at the Yalta forum, where Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also said India had "benefited from our sacrifices" because of Western sanctions on Russian oil. (MT, 09.11.22)
  • Pope Francis has warned religious leaders from a variety of faiths that religion can't be used to justify the "evil" of war, a thinly veiled criticism of Russia's Orthodox Church, which has supported Putin during his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 09.14.22)
  • The European Investment Bank (EIB), the lending arm of the EU, says it has disbursed 500 million euros ($500 million) to Ukraine as part of its Solidarity Urgent Response package for the country as it fights to repel Russia's invasion. (RFE/RL, 09.15.22)
  • Germany agreed to one of its largest financial reparations packages ever for the world's remaining Jewish Holocaust survivors on Sept. 15—including a 12 million euro ($12 million) emergency fund for 8,500 survivors who remain in war-torn Ukraine. (NYT, 09.16.22)          

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • The armed forces of Azerbaijan, which invaded the territory of Armenia earlier this week, have advanced 7.5 kilometers toward Jermuk and are now 5.5 kilometers away from the city in the east of Armenia. This was stated by the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia Edward Asryan at a briefing for the ambassadors of foreign states. According to Asryan, before the start of hostilities on Sept. 13, the distance from Jermuk to the border with Azerbaijan was 11-12 kilometers. The hostilities were discontinued "thanks to the international involvement" overnight on Sept. 15, Armenia's security council said, after earlier failed attempts from Russia to broker a truce. (MT/AFP, 09.15.22, Meduza, 09.16.22)
    • Thousands of residents of Armenian towns and villages close to the Azerbaijani border have fled their homes since the outbreak of large-scale fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces on Sept. 12. (RFE/RL, 09.15.22, Politico, 09.15.22)
    • According to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, 105 Armenian troops had been killed in the recent fighting. On Sept. 13, Azerbaijan said it had lost 50 troops. Azerbaijan said Sept. 15 that 71 of its troops had died in border clashes with Armenia over the last two days in the worst fighting since 2020. (RFE/RL, 09.15.22)
    • In Yerevan, opposition supporters staged an anti-government protest overnight, demanding Pashinyan's resignation, after rumors he was planning to agree on concessions in the decades-long territorial dispute with Azerbaijan. (MT/AFP, 09.15.22)
    • On Sept. 13, Armenia's security council asked for military help from Moscow, which is obliged under a treaty to defend Armenia in the event of a foreign invasion. A delegation of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)—a Moscow-led grouping of several ex-Soviet republics—is due in Yerevan this week. (MT/AFP, 09.15.22)
    • Speaker of the House of U.S. Representatives Nancy Pelosi will travel to Armenia this weekend in a show of support for the country. She’s expected to meet with Pashinyan in Yerevan, as well as other government officials. (Politico, 09.15.22)
    • EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar was holding high-level consultations in Baku on Sept. 14 and in Yerevan. (MT/AFP, 09.15.22)
  • The leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have agreed to a cease-fire and ordered their troops to withdraw from disputed border areas as reports of clashes involving heavy artillery that have left several dead continue to raise security concerns in Central Asia. (RFE/RL, 09.16.22)
  • The Parliament of Kazakhstan adopted a law on amendments to the country’s constitution. The adopted amendments provide that: the presidential term in Kazakhstan will be increased from five to seven years, while the president will not be able to be re-elected for a second term; Nur-Sultan, the capital of the country, will return to its former name, Astana. (Meduza, 09.16.22)
  • Uzbekistan's president, Shavkat Mirziyoev, has signed a decree appointing Vladimir Norov as the Central Asian nation's new foreign minister. (RFE/RL, 09.10.22)
  • The Uzbek Embassy in Kyiv has urged Ukrainian authorities to provide detailed information about two men in Russian uniform detained by Ukrainian armed forces in recent days after introducing themselves as Uzbek citizens. (RFE/RL, 09.14.22)
  • Russia's Supreme Court has banned the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), officially recognizing it as a terrorist organization. (RFE/RL, 09.14.22)
  • Turkey has canceled visa-free travel for Turkmen citizens at the request of the Central Asian nation's government. (RFE/RL, 09.14.22)
  • Germany's Interior Ministry has called on European soccer's governing body, UEFA, to exclude Belarus from the Euro 2024 competition because of Minsk's support for Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 09.16.22)


IV. Quotable and notable

  • “These days, the Russian army is showing its best—showing its back. And, in the end, it is a good choice for them to run away. There is and will be no place for the occupiers in Ukraine,” Zelensky said in a statement posted Sept. 10 on his Facebook account. (RM, 09.10.22)
  • “They abandoned their tanks and equipment . . . even grabbed bicycles to escape. That the Russian army is completely degraded made our work easier; they fled like Olympic sprinters,” Ukrainian commander Petro Kuzyk said. (FT, 09.11.22)
  • “You’re throwing a billion-ruble party,” one pro-Russian blogger, Petr Lundstrem, wrote in a widely circulated post Sept. 10, referring to the Putin-led celebrations in Moscow commemorating the 875th anniversary of the city’s founding. “What is wrong with you? Not at the time of such a horrible failure” in Ukraine. (NYT, 09.10.22)
  • Igor Girkin, a former Russian intelligence officer who led separatist forces in the conflict Moscow fomented in eastern Ukraine in 2014, has long maintained that the government is setting itself up for defeat by not going in for a full-blown war. On Sept. 12, he shared a video from late July in which Andrey Turchak, a senior Russian politician, visited the eastern Ukrainian city of Kupiansk, which had recently been captured by Russian troops. “Clearly, Russia is here forever,” Turchak said, speaking to the camera. (FT, 09.13.22)
  • "The Chinese leadership believes that Putin's foreign policy is like a hurricane," said Alexander Gabuev, an expert on China and Russia at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "It's absolutely illogical to them to attack Ukraine because the downsides have far outweighed any bonuses." (WP, 09.16.22)


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