This page features the weekly news and analysis digests compiled by Russia Matters. Explore them by clicking "Read More" below the current week's highlights and subscribe using the subscribe links throughout the site, like the one below, to receive our digests via email. Past digests are available in the News Archive, which is accessible via the link on this page.
This Week’s Highlights:
- The Justice Department posted a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report online on April 18, revealing a trove of details about the two-year investigation. While the report explicitly “does not exonerate” Donald Trump from any crimes, the president’s appointee, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, said in his presentation of the report “that the evidence … is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice,” according to The New York Times.
- The Kremlin has said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un plans to visit Russia "in the second half of April." Meanwhile, according to the Financial Times, a South Korean news agency has reported, citing unnamed sources, that plans are underway for a meeting next week between the two leaders, after Putin’s scheduled visit to China.
- The CIA in the past year has shifted resources to better understand nation-state adversaries such as Russia and Iran, the agency's director said April 18, according to the Wall Street Journal; she suggested those targets had suffered from neglect in the post-2001 focus on terrorism.
- Russian aluminum giant Rusal plans to invest $200 million in a Kentucky rolling mill that would be the largest new aluminum plant built in the U.S. in nearly four decades, the Wall Street Journal and others report. Kentucky’s senior senator, Mitch McConnell, supported lifting sanctions on Rusal, according to Newsweek.
- More than a third of Russians cannot afford to buy two pairs of shoes each year, and 12 percent have to use an outdoor or communal toilet at home, according to Russia’s statistics agency Rosstat, as cited by the Financial Times along with other data from a new report.
- An April 18 poll by Ukraine’s Rating research group showed Volodymyr Zelenskiy with 57.9 percent of the vote and Petro Poroshenko at 21.7 percent, RFE/RL reports. A different poll says 72.2 percent of respondents who plan to vote and who have made up their minds about a candidate will vote for Zelenskiy, according to the Kyiv Post. Washington lobbying firm Signal Group Consulting has told RFE/RL that it has been hired by Zelenskiy to burnish his international image and set up meetings in the U.S. capital.
- Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko issued a decree to his Cabinet to act urgently on building two new nuclear reactors and investigative journalists have revealed that the company poised to build them has close financial links to Moscow, Bellona reports.
This Week’s Highlights:
- The U.S. needs a bold policy shift that will support strategic re-engagement with Russia to step away from the increasing likelihood of military confrontation and the potential use of nuclear weapons, write George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn. They write that the U.S. must focus on its vital interests while also responding firmly to Russian aggression.
- The demise of the INF Treaty does not necessitate a reevaluation of New START, writes Hans M. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists. Bad times are a reminder of why it is important to preserve treaties, not an excuse for getting rid of them, he argues.
- If Turkey goes ahead with purchasing Russia’s S-400 air defense system, Moscow could fracture NATO’s unity without firing a shot or using any cyber tools, writes Russian policy analyst Vladimir Frolov. U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe, Jack Reed, Jim Risch and Bob Menendez write that Turkey can have either the S-400 or U.S. F-35 fighter jets, but not both. Paying tribute to Russia, they argue, is not in Turkey’s interests.
- The U.S. must learn what Russia and China already know: success in great power rivalry depends more on brain than brawn, writes Vance Serchuk of the Center for a New American Security. Russia’s and China’s gains in Syria and the South China Sea respectively should serve as a reminder to Washington that it’s still possible to win with a weaker hand.
- Ukraine’s governors and ministers are preparing for Petro Poroshenko’s election loss by reaching out to Zelenskiy and his team, writes Konstantin Skorkin for the Carnegie Moscow Center.
- A new Rosstat report shows that over a third of Russians can’t afford to buy two pairs of shoes a year, 12 percent use an outdoor or communal toilet at home and nearly half of Russians can’t afford to go on a weeklong holiday each year, writes Henry Foy, Moscow bureau chief for Financial Times. “Tepid growth, five years of falling real incomes, high inflation, rising taxes and cuts to social handouts squeeze its [Russia’s] population,” Foy writes.