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:
- Russia is set to be a major winner after an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities slashed production and ramped up tensions in the Middle East, according to The Moscow Times; meanwhile, the head of the International Energy Agency predicts the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's largest oil exporter in the next few years amid an "unprecedented" energy boom, according to RFE/RL.
- After talks with leaders of Turkey and Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Saudi Arabia buy the Russian-made S-300 or S-400 missile defense system to protect its infrastructure, as Iran and Turkey had done, Reuters reports.
- Russia on Sept. 20 accused the U.S. of brazenly threatening it after a senior U.S. general said Washington had drawn up a plan in case it needed to destroy air defenses in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave in Europe, according to Reuters.
- The whistleblower complaint involving communications with a foreign leader and an alarming “promise” U.S. President Donald Trump made centers on Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter, The Washington Post reports.
- The chairman of the Democratic National Committee is warning that the party cannot partner effectively with the Trump administration to fend off foreign cyberattacks because of Trump’s professed doubts about Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to The Washington Post.
- Protests continue in Russia. About 1,000 people participated in a sanctioned demonstration against alleged elections violations in St. Petersburg, holding placards that read “That’s enough lying to us,” the AP reports. In the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude, many held banners reading “Russia Will Be Free” and “We Won’t Recognize Election Results,” according to RFE/RL. A working group set up by Mikhail Khodorkovsky has written an open letter signed by 77 public figures around the world condemning “the political repression and lawlessness taking place today in Russia,” according to The Moscow Times.
- Anti-migrant attitudes have risen for a second consecutive year in Russia, which experts link to the country’s economic woes. Seventy-two percent of respondents to a recent Levada Center poll said Russia should limit migration, The Moscow Times reports.
This Week’s Highlights:
- It would be desirable for the Russian top leadership to openly proclaim the “struggle for peace”—prevention of war between nuclear powers—one of the important objectives of the Russian foreign policy and back it up with “peace initiatives” designed to revive a rational fear of war among the elites and societies in great powers and normalize and improve relations between them, write Sergei Karaganov and Dmitry Suslov of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics.
- Americans still don’t know what they don’t know about Russian interference, The Washington Post editorial board writes. The slow drip of revelations points to a mess of problems in how the federal government communicates with its on-the-ground partners in charge of running elections; leaders at the Capitol and in state capitals can’t protect the next election if they do not know what went wrong last time, and citizens cannot hold representatives accountable for shortcomings if the shortcomings are hushed up, the editorial board argues.
- The near-identical results of St. Petersburg gubernatorial runners up showed that, for the first time in the history of the city, without any major external factors, we have seen clearly expressed protest voting, writes Anton Mukhin, and any positive result for the opposition is a noteworthy victory. Meanwhile, Ilya Shepelin, a journalist for Russian independent television channel Dozhd, argues that the only real victory in politics is when power changes hands; pro-government deputies still hold a simple majority, and nobody knows how the “opposition candidates” elected on Navalny’s recommendation will behave.
- Rising complexity is neither a justification for discarding arms control arrangements nor an excuse for inaction in agreeing new measures; the return to great power competition makes multilateral engagement on nuclear stability, transparency and predictability more essential, over 100 members of the European Leadership Network’s network of political, diplomatic and military figures write in group statement on nuclear arms control.
- “If Naftogaz can invest the further damages it is seeking [from Gazprom] in domestic gas production, that could make Ukraine a gas-exporting country over the medium to longer term,” says Timothy Ash, a senior emerging markets sovereign strategist, in a Financial Times article. However, “[c]onceding too readily to Naftogaz would be a humiliation for Russia,” warns analyst Florence Cahill. “Gazprom plays a very special geopolitical role. It is effectively a tool through which Russia exercises its foreign policy. Any insult or embarrassment to Gazprom is an affront to [President Vladimir] Putin’s leadership.”
- Though some sanctions were meant to split Russia’s economic elite from the Kremlin, they have pushed sanctioned individuals closer to the Russian government—which has become the largest creditor in the country, with 70 percent of all bank loans in Russia last year provided by state-run banks, write Thomas Grove and Alan Cullison of the Wall Street Journal.