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.
Russia in Review, Feb. 15-22, 2019
This Week’s Highlights:
- During his annual address to Russia’s parliament, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S.-Russian relationship has multiple problems, but also noted that there are mechanisms and tools for working together on these problems, which he hopes will be used to avoid a new Cuban Missile Crisis. He also said Russia “does not intend to take the first step in deploying” intermediate-range missiles in Europe, which may be seen as an opening for U.S.-Russian dialogue on post-INF arms control.
- Responding to the brandishing of new nuclear and conventional systems in Vladimir Putin’s address, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said: “We are not pursuing similar development of exotic new nuclear weapons delivery systems,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
- U.S. Justice Department officials are preparing for the end of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and believe a confidential report could be issued in coming days, The Washington Post reports.
- Economic restrictions from 62 countries have cost Russia $6.3 billion, according to a report by Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development. The EU’s restrictions have caused the most damage at $2.4 billion, followed by the U.S. at $1.1 billion and Ukraine at $775 million, according to RBC news agencies.
- Russia and Germany have already started to thrash out plans for Nord Stream 2 after an EU deal cast doubt on how the pipeline between the two countries would be operated, the Financial Times reports. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez says the new Russia sanctions bill that he is cosponsoring will not affect the pipeline, according to RFE/RL.
- U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade conflict with Beijing has nearly wiped out U.S. soy exports to China, while Russian agricultural exports to China are growing—especially soybeans, which have risen more than 10-fold in four years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Russia Analytical Report, Feb. 11-19, 2019
This Week's Highlights:
- The INF Treaty’s demise is due to the declining fortunes of the U.S.-Russia strategic stability regime and the regime’s inability to respond to a changing security environment, writes Brookings senior fellow Frank A. Rose. A new strategic stability framework would need to incorporate new actors and new technologies, he argues.
- One option to stop a post-INF Treaty arms race in Europe would be for NATO to declare that no alliance members will field any INF Treaty-prohibited missiles or their equivalent in Europe so long as Russia does not deploy such systems where they could hit NATO territory, writes Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.
- While 24/7 military and high-level contacts between Russia and the U.S. are crucial, writes Carnegie Moscow Center director Dmitri Trenin, they are no substitute for the kind of substantive dialogue between the two countries that will have to wait five to six years, or more.
- The Russian Duma is set to approve a resolution reevaluating the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan as one that took place within the bounds of international law and in the interests of the USSR, write Artemy M. Kalinovsky and Sergey Radchenko, a senior lecturer and a professor of international politics, respectively. They write that while Putin may have intervened in Syria because of genuine security concerns, to avoid domestic opposition, the Kremlin cannot allow the public to perceive Syria through the prism of Soviet Russia’s actual Afghan experience.
- Russia’s government has drawn a lesson: The population can be managed without higher incomes, meaning the elite has no need to share the fruits of growth, writes Chris Miller, an associate professor at The Fletcher School. Russia’s rulers respond to incentives, Miller writes, and while they feared protests in the 2000s, the past five years have convinced them that there is no clear link between impoverishment and dissent.
- Despite his reputation, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin’s role has been grossly exaggerated and mythologized, writes Kommersant journalist Andrey Pertsev. “Putin’s chef” has accepted the role Russian and Western media assigned him, personifying the myths and stereotypes about the Russian regime’s dark side. This notoriety has forced Prigozhin into Putin’s inner circle, and he will now do everything he can to secure his place there, Pertsev writes.