Russia Analytical Report, Oct. 29-Nov. 5, 2018

NB: Next week’s Russia Analytical Report will appear on Tuesday, Nov. 13, instead of Monday, Nov. 12, because of the U.S. Veterans Day holiday.

This Week’s Highlights:

  • After months of media bombardment on the issue, “Russia-gate” barely gets a mention in the hard-fought races of the U.S. midterms, Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky writes in his preview of the elections. The mystery of these elections is the absence of Russian interference, notes David Sanger of the New York Times. While U.S. officials see little evidence that Moscow has attempted the same level of disruption this year as in 2016, some of them are concerned the midterms might be Russia’s warm-up for 2020, according to Washington Post reporter Ellen Nakashima.
  • “On Nov. 6, U.S. sanctions targeting the financial and energy sectors of the Russian economy are due to come into effect unless the Trump administration certifies to Congress that Russia is no longer using chemical or biological weapons,” writes Nick Butler, energy commentator for Financial Times. “The sanctions will deter investment for a while but new developments will soon begin,” he argues, as “most of the main potential sources of new oil—from Saudi Arabia and Iran to Venezuela—are closed to international investment. … Russia is the last open frontier.”
  • “The force of the reaction against nuclear arms control in the second Reagan administration raises a troubling question: did the Cold War arms race actually end, or have we merely sat through a 30-year intermission?” asks historian Jonathan Hunt. “While Trump probably won’t agree to a New START extension as a favor to Putin, he might do it to help promote his own narrative. He thinks of himself as a negotiating master, and his new trade deal with Canada and Mexico shows that he will accept minor changes to an existing agreement just to be able to claim victory,” according to Jon Wolfsthal, director of the Nuclear Crisis Group.
  • Marlene Laruelle delves into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s affinity for geography to discern that in his logic, it is impossible for Russia—as a country whose territory covers one-sixth of the Earth’s surface and extends from the heart of Europe to the Pacific Ocean, from the Arctic Ocean to the Kazakh steppes and the subtropical shores of the Black Sea—to be a power without influence on the international stage or a culture without global reach.
  • Will the Ukrainian government initiate a mass transfer of property from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate? If it does, the risk of violence is quite real, according to religion and politics scholar Irina du Quenoy.

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

Nuclear security:

  • No significant commentary.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant commentary.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant commentary.

New Cold War/Sabre Rattling:

“Revise and Resubmit: An Unconvincing Proposal for Permanent US Troops in Poland,” Michael Kofman, War on the Rocks, 11.01.18The author, a senior research scientist with the CNA Corporation and a global fellow at the Kennan Institute, writes: “The Polish Ministry of National Defense had submitted a proposal to the Trump administration seeking a permanently based U.S. armored division in Poland. … Polish President Andrzej Duda … offered to contribute $1.5–$2 billion for construction, and even to call it ‘Fort Trump.’ … A U.S. division on Poland’s borders will not positively contribute to deterrence, has little relevance to a prospective war with Russia—given the current character of war, and is unnecessary when considering Russian force posture (i.e. the threat is quite real but hardly imminent).”

NATO-Russia relations:

  • No significant commentary.

Missile defense:

  • No significant commentary.

Nuclear arms control:

“Why the Arms Race Is Still White Hot Decades After the Cold War Ended—and How to Stop It,” Jonathan Hunt, The Washington Post, 11.02.18The author, a lecturer in modern global history at the University of Southampton and a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Davis Center, writes: “The Trump administration's looming withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty … demonstrates that the nuclear arms race has now outlasted the Cold War by three decades. To slow down the rush to stockpile new, more powerful weapons of mass destruction, we need not only visionary leaders like Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, but significant changes in military and political culture. … [The] Reykjavik [summit] prompted a … backlash against arms talks in the Pentagon and the White House. … The culture and conceptions of power tied to understandings of national security [drove this backlash]. In the minds of the military and its allies, nuclear weapons … are the ultimate guarantors of American global primacy and provide political influence for the national security establishment … [T]hese weapons are a major component of a military-industrial juggernaut … that is forecast to spend $798 billion per year by 2022 … The force of the reaction against nuclear arms control in the second Reagan administration raises a troubling question: did the Cold War arms race actually end, or have we merely sat through a 30-year intermission? Nuclear arms control is not just stuck in neutral, it is shifting into reverse, worldwide. … To break that vicious cycle requires more than wise leaders, … It requires a broader change in how the American people and their defenders think and talk about national security.”

“Trump Is Pushing the United States Toward Nuclear Anarchy,” Jon Wolfsthal, Foreign Policy, 10.31.18The author, director of the Nuclear Crisis Group, writes: “President Donald Trump’s tough talk about withdrawing the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty has generated plenty of controversy, but not much clarity about what happens next. … [T]he end of the treaty would make the United States and its allies … less safe and would undermine the global basis for nuclear restraint and nonproliferation. … America’s potential withdrawal … suggests that … New START … might be next. … New START is the last binding constraint on U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear systems. … The predictability and transparency this agreement provides are critical to maintaining stability—what is left of it—between the two nuclear superpowers. … Its expiration without renewal would be the final blow to efforts to stave off a full-blown nuclear arms race between Washington and Moscow, undermine the United States’ ability to track Russian nuclear forces, cost billions of dollars in intelligence activities to replace and undermine the basis for nuclear restraint globally. … While Trump probably won’t agree to a New START extension as a favor to Putin, he might do it to help promote his own narrative. … [T]he best-case outcome would be for Trump and Putin to agree to a new short-term deal that lowers their arsenals to a new level … and combine it with an extension of the New START pact, which would provide the needed verification.”

“RIP INF: The End of a Landmark Treaty,” Steven Pifer, The National Interest, 10.29.18The author, a nonresident senior fellow at the Bookings Institution, writes: “President Donald Trump announced at a campaign rally on Oct. 20 that the United States would withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. … Trump did not have to withdraw from the treaty at this time, especially when there were political and military measures to apply pressure on Moscow—measures that might have persuaded Russia to come back into compliance. … Instead, the president has delivered a gift to the Russians, who will soon be able to deploy, without constraint, intermediate-range missiles for which the U.S. military has no land-based counterpart. As a bonus for Moscow, Washington will catch the international political flack for the treaty’s demise.”

“The End of Strategic Stability? Nuclear Weapons and the Challenge of Regional Rivalries,” Edited by Lawrence Rubin and Adam Stulberg, Georgetown University Press, November 2018The book's editors, professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology, write: “During the Cold War, many believed that the superpowers shared a conception of strategic stability … In actuality, both sides understood strategic stability and deterrence quite differently. Today's international system is further complicated by more nuclear powers, regional rivalries and non-state actors who punch above their weight, but the United States and other nuclear powers still cling to old conceptions of strategic stability. The purpose of this book is to unpack and examine how different states in different regions view strategic stability, the use or non-use of nuclear weapons and whether or not strategic stability is still a prevailing concept.”

“Trump Is Pushing the World Closer to Nuclear Peril,” Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation, 10.30.18The author, editor and publish of The Nation, writes: “Withdrawal from the INF will weaken global nonproliferation efforts and compromise all nations' safety.”


  • No significant commentary.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant commentary.

Cyber security:

  • No significant commentary.

Elections interference:

“The Midterms Have Boosted My Faith in America: It’s a sign of the nation’s health that Russia-gate isn’t an important issue in the elections,” Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, 11.01.18The author, a columnist and veteran Russia watcher, writes: “After months of media bombardment on the issue, “Russia-gate” barely gets a mention in the hard-fought [midterm election] races. … [I]n the month ending in mid-October, only 0.1 percent of ad airings for House races, and none at all for the Senate, referred to Russia or special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation … The share of Russia-related ads on Facebook and Instagram appears to be slightly bigger. … Russia’s near-absence from the campaign doesn’t, of course, mean that Russia-gate is over, that President Donald Trump is in the clear or that Russia didn’t mess with Democrats or U.S. social network users in 2016. … Without any indictments fanning the media flames, using Russia-gate as a campaign issue may not look like a winning tactic … It’s nice to know that Americans haven’t allowed themselves to be distracted by a search for external enemies and that the midterms are likely to turn on health care, tax and education issues … This gives me hope that Russia won’t be a major issue in the 2020 presidential election either.”

“Mystery of the Midterm Elections: Where Are the Russians?” David E. Sanger, New York Times, 11.01.18The author, a national security correspondent for the news outlet, writes that “when he [Shane Huntley, director of Google’s most advanced team of threat detectors] was asked what surprised him the most about the 2018 midterm elections, his response was a bit counterintuitive. ‘The answer is surprisingly little on the hacking front, at least compared to two years ago.’ … From the cyberwar room that the Department of Homeland Security runs round the clock … to Microsoft’s threat-assessment center … every form of digital radar is being focused on Russia … While some say they believe … Putin … is sitting out this election … [O]thers find the quiet deeply disturbing … Many counties use old, insecure websites for their voter registration; it would be relatively simple to create ‘spoofed’ alternative sites or break into them … It is not hard to imagine different scenarios that could cause disruption, or just create the illusion of disruption. … Months after the midterms are over, evidence of covert internet action that is currently going unnoticed may well surface. As the Russians and others embrace artificial intelligence techniques, and get better at targeting messages, they may well find ways to route around the phalanx of new social-media police.”

 “Will Midterms Be Russia's 'Warm-Up' for 2020?” Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post, 11.02.18The author, a national security reporter for the news outlet, writes: “In the first national vote since Russia's interference in the 2016 election, U.S. federal and state officials see little evidence that Moscow has attempted the same level of disruption this year, but the relative quiet has made some nervous. … Christopher Krebs, a senior cyber official at the Department of Homeland Security [said], ‘The big game, we think, for the adversaries is probably 2020.’ Nonetheless, officials have amped up efforts to secure Tuesday's vote. … The most important difference between then [2016] and now, officials said, is communication: between the federal government and state and local officials, between law enforcement and social media companies, and between the public and private sectors and voters. … A number of states have hired more cybersecurity staff or outside vendors to help them, 43 have installed monitors to enable DHS to watch traffic for threats and almost half have had DHS conduct risk and vulnerability assessments. But there are still 13 states using in some or all districts electronic touch-screen machines that are vulnerable to hacking … The social media firms that bore the brunt of the Russian assault have acted more aggressively since 2016 to patrol their platforms.”

“With Just Days to the Midterms, Russiagate Is MIA,” Aaron Maté, The Nation, 10.29.18: The author, a host and producer for The Real News, writes: “Russiagate, for all its hype, has not gone as advertised. … For months, intelligence officials and prominent media outlets have bombarded us with warnings about ‘a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States’ … Russia’s alleged midterm sabotage to date has been disclosed in a newly unsealed criminal complaint … Elena Khusyaynova, is … singled out for being the chief accountant for ‘Project Lakhta,’ an IRA [Internet Research Agency] initiative … The IRA’s social-media imprint seems to have as much impact now as it did during the 2016 election. … The alarm about Russian social-media trolls has been complemented by warnings that Russia could penetrate state voting systems … The underwhelming nature of Russia’s alleged cyber-operations also dovetails with the heretofore-empty quest to uncover whether Trump and members of his circle are criminal accomplices. … This fixation [on Russiagate] has also meant that vital, even existential issues, are thrown to the side … Trump announced that the United States will pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty … [T]he figureheads of Trump’s political and media opposition have invested in a supposition that Trump is in cahoots with Russia and encouraged him to be confrontational as a means of disproving it. … For all the dire warnings about Russian trolls and hackers over the past two years, it is those sounding the alarms who have fueled a much worse threat.”

Energy exports from CIS:

“Russian Resources Will Be Needed Despite US Sanctions: The energy majors show no sign of selling out their interests in the country,” Nick Butler, Financial Times, 11.05.18The author, a visiting professor at Kings College London, writes: “Two significant oil producing and exporting countries—Iran and Russia—are about to be subject to strong and potentially crippling sanctions imposed by the US. … [T]he issue occupying more time in corporate boardrooms is Russia. On Nov. 6, U.S. sanctions targeting the financial and energy sectors of the Russian economy are due to come into effect unless the Trump administration certifies to Congress that Russia is no longer using chemical or biological weapons … The chances of President Vladimir Putin conceding to these demands are vanishingly small. … For those already operating in Russia the situation could deteriorate. … U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has talked about the possibility of American forces blockading Russian oil trade routes. … [M]ost of the main potential sources of new oil … are closed to international investment. As things stand, Russia is the last open frontier. … The sanctions will deter investment for a while but new developments will soon begin … Russia may not be loved but its resources are needed.”

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant commentary.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

“US Sanctions Against Russia: What You Need to Know,” Cyrus Newlin and Jeffrey Mankoff, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 10.31.18: The authors, the program manager the deputy director of the CSIS Russia and Eurasia program, write that “it is clear that the United States will continue to rely on sanctions as a primary tool for confronting Russia. It is less clear, however, what the many sanctions imposed since 2012 have done to change Russian behavior. … The objectives of U.S. sanctions against Russia … generally fall into one of two categories: sanctions that aim at specific changes in Russian behavior and sanctions that seek to impose costs without being linked to a specific policy outcome. … Are sanctions working? … The answer depends on what we mean by ‘working.’ … The less clear sanctions are in their stated objectives, the harder it is to judge their effectiveness. … Sanctions that impose costs but aren’t designed to change behavior … identify red lines and uphold international standards. … From Moscow’s perspective, U.S. sanctions are part of a larger effort to weaken and punish Russia … [Sanctions] overuse or use divorced from a larger strategy carries risks. First, … that sanctions against Russian oligarchs and companies will make them more dependent on the Kremlin, thus consolidating rather than diminishing support for Putin. Second, sanctions could exacerbate tensions between Washington and its European allies. … Third, over-reliance on sanctions risks eroding their effectiveness … Fourth, if Moscow comes to believe sanctions are permanent and inevitable, it will have less incentive to seek a way out the current confrontation.”

“How Do You Say ‘Fake News’ in Russian? Russian news sites portray the US presidential election as a prelude to civil war,” Amy Mackinnon, Foreign Policy, 11.01.18The author, a reporter for the news outlet, writes: “The Russian media is obsessed with the American civil war. No, not the one that erupted in 1861 … the civil war that’s coming with the next U.S. presidential election. More than 30 articles were published in the past few days on some of the country’s most popular news sites … all suggesting that Americans might turn their many guns against each other. … The source for these articles? An opinion piece published jointly in the Boston Globe and the U.K.’s Sunday Times late last month by the historian and conservative commentator Niall Ferguson … Ferguson explores some arguments made by other historians about political polarization and violence in the United States. He refers to a ‘cultural civil war’ being waged on social media. But while the divisions in the country are troubling, he concludes, civil war is not imminent. … But Ferguson’s nuance, and the fact that he was writing an opinion piece, were largely absent from the Russian media accounts.”

II. Russia’s relations with other countries

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

“Many Expect Disruption After Merkel. German History Says Otherwise: Merkel's successor will stick to a well-trodden path in German foreign policy: Remain close to the US and be wary of Russia,” Marcus Walker, Wall Street Journal, 11.02.18The author, a reporter for the news outlet, writes: “Angela Merkel's days as German chancellor may be numbered, but many of her policies … have entrenched support in the country's consensus-driven political system. … Whoever is chancellor … Berlin will seek to remain an ally of the U.S. … Germany ‘will always choose European cohesion’ … And Germany will seek to contain Russian expansionism, even though it also wants to be on friendly terms with Moscow. Ms. Merkel's handling of Russian President Vladimir Putin is one area where her personal experience is important in figuring out where German and European interests lie. For the past 20 years, Germany has been the main sponsor, along with the U.S., of a post-Cold War order that sought to limit unwanted Russian influence in Central and Eastern Europe. …  But at the same time, German industry wants warm ties with Russia, and many German politicians instinctively prefer detente with Moscow. … [B]y 2014 … she [Merkel] had come to see Mr. Putin's expansionism as a threat to Europe, and she pushed through EU economic sanctions despite the reservations of German business and some other EU countries. … The question … is whether Ms. Merkel's successor will be as effective at the exhaustive summit diplomacy that has characterized Europe's decade of crises.”

“Orthodox Myths: Greece’s Pragmatic Approach Towards Russia,” Constantinos Filis, European Council on Foreign Relations, 10.29.18The author, research director of the Institute of international Relations in Athens, writes: “[T]he idea of Greece as a Russian ally inside the European Union is one that has never quite died away. But the Greek government was making a very specific statement about Russian efforts to undermine the Prespa Agreement between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. … Their reputation as bedfellows in spirit if not in practice lingers on thanks to the common bonds of Orthodoxy and a popular view among Greeks that Russia has always backed Greece in its most difficult moments. … Greek politicians have often invoked Russia as part of a multidimensional foreign policy. Even so, bilateral relations have never attained strategic level, and Athens has never become a privileged partner to Moscow. … Despite the obvious limitations in Greek-Russia relations, a further deterioration would serve no purpose … Athens needs to be careful to avoid finding itself part of opportunistic joint ventures that Russian might perceive as aggressive in nature, be it against Russia itself, or Iran. … Under certain circumstances Athens may still find it difficult to take a firm stance against Moscow, given the latter’s assertiveness and the confrontational trend in Western-Russian relations.”

“Russia Is Preparing to Back Out of Its Last Human Rights Commitments in Europe,” Vladimir Kara-Murza, The Washington Post, 10.30.18The author, vice chairman of the Open Russia movement and chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, writes: “In separate interviews over the past few days, two Russian officials … have indicated that Vladimir Putin's government may be preparing to pull Russia out of the Council of Europe. If enacted, ‘Ruxit’ … will mean much more than denying Russian citizens the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights and access to the European Court of Human Rights … It will also be a continuation of Putin's attempts to reorient Russia away from the very concept of Europe that is the antithesis to the current regime in the Kremlin. … In all its domestic and foreign policy of recent years the Kremlin has tried to repudiate the principles of modern Europe. … This, in a nutshell, is the essence of the differences between Russia's democratic opposition and the Kremlin. As Boris Nemtsov said in one of his last interviews, ‘We believe that Russia is a European country; that our civilizational choice is European.’ Even the Soviets, with their decades-long rule, were not able to permanently alter that assumption.”

“Managed Confrontation: UK Policy Towards Russia After the Salisbury Attack,” Duncan Allan, Chatham House, 10.30.18The author, an associate fellow at Chatham House, writes: “The nerve-agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal … was not just a brazen violation of U.K. sovereignty. It was also a U.K. policy failure. Following the murder of Aleksandr Litvinenko in 2006, … Russian decision-makers saw the U.K. as lacking purpose and resolve because its firm rhetoric was not matched by its actions. … The U.K.’s response to the Salisbury attack has been far stronger. It has taken robust political, diplomatic and law enforcement measures, coordinated with international partners. … Other aspects of the U.K.’s post-Salisbury policy towards Russia seem ill-defined. … [T]here is a danger that the U.K.’s actions are again perceived to be out of line with its rhetoric and will thus prove ineffective as a deterrent. The U.K. should close the gap by making vigorous and imaginative use of financial and supervisory instruments in order to discourage future unacceptable activities by imposing a material cost on Russia … The government should emphasize that, once the U.K. has left the EU, it will give serious consideration to using the 2018 Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act against Russia … if it attacks British citizens in future. … In the meantime, the U.K. should redouble its efforts to make the supervision of its financial sector and related industries more effective.”


  • No significant commentary.


“Christian Geopolitics and the Ukrainian Ecclesiastical Crisis,” Irina du Quenoy, War on the Rocks, 10.30.18The author, a scholar of religion and politics, with a particular emphasis on the Orthodox Church, writes: “In the immediate future, much rests upon two factors. The first is what form ‘autocephaly’ [of the Ukranian Orthodox Church] actually takes, if it takes it at all. … [A]n end to inter-Orthodox squabbles in Ukraine would be a positive outcome. However, the current lay of the land is such that this outcome is extremely unlikely … The second factor is the Ukrainian government: Will it, or will it not, initiate a mass transfer of property from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate to either one of the other two jurisdictions, or to a not-as-yet formed fourth one? … The risk of violence here is quite real … [I]nstead of proposing a helpful solution to the schisms affecting the Ukrainian Orthodox, the interference of Patriarch Bartholomew has made the situation potentially quite worse … [T]here are some possible ways out of the impasse. … [S]everal of the other Local Churches have indicated that their preferred solution would be for a meeting of all heads of the Local Churches, at which the other 13 would adjudicate the dispute between Moscow and Constantinople. The second way forward would be for all governments involved—Russian, Ukrainian, American and possibly Turkish … to acknowledge the need for the Ukrainians to sort things out themselves, and to encourage the various Orthodox factions to do just that, in as apolitical a fashion as possible.”

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

“The Forgotten Soviet Famine,” Sarah Cameron, Wall Street Journal, 10.02.18The author, an assistant professor of history at the University of Maryland-College Park, writes: “The U.S. Senate passed a resolution in October commemorating the 85th anniversary of the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33. This year also marks the 85th anniversary of the Kazakh famine … More than 1.5 million people perished. About one-third of all Kazakhs died, almost certainly the highest death ratio due to collectivization of any people in the Soviet Union. … [T]he Kazakh catastrophe has received almost no attention in the West. Why? For one, the Kazakh diaspora in the U.S. is small. … Kazakhs have not made famine central to their national memory, partly due to the current Kazakh government's close relationship with Russia. Some Ukrainians, in turn, have sought to claim famine as a uniquely Ukrainian event. … Another factor: While Ukrainians were primarily peasants, most Kazakhs were nomads. … Kazakhs who survived were forced to settle, prompting a painful and far-reaching reorientation of their culture and identity. … Senate resolutions like the one on Ukraine achieve few tangible results. But they reveal what the U.S. deems worthy of commemoration, and what it neglects.”

“Georgia’s Presidential Election Moves to a Runoff,” Paul Stronski, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 10.29.18The author, a senior fellow in Carnegie’s Russia and Eurasia Program, writes: “Georgia’s Oct. 28 presidential election has moved to a runoff, to be held by Dec.1. Salome Zurabishvili, who is backed by the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, will face Grigol Vashadze, who is supported by the opposition United National Movement (UNM). … This election won’t change Georgia’s foreign policy trajectory. Both top candidates want Georgia to be closer to Europe and the United States. It will be Georgia’s last direct presidential election. … Starting in 2024, a 300-member electoral college will choose all future presidents. But with twenty-five candidates on the ballot, the vote gave Georgians lots of choice and debate, in a region where manipulated elections are the norm. … With the opposition more unified, the runoff will be competitive and unpredictable. If Zurabishvili wins, she will become Georgia’s first elected female president. If she loses, it could mean that Georgian Dream’s hold on Georgian politics is weakening. If Vashadze wins, he may be the right person to steer UNM out of Saakashvili’s shadow. Georgia’s goal of NATO membership will probably remain beyond its reach. But Georgians still hope for a closer relationship with the United States on security and political issues.”

III. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

“Putin the Geographer,” Marlene Laruelle, The Riddle, 10.31.18The author, a French historian, sociologist and political scientist, writes: “At the grand reopening of the Russian Geographical Society in 2009, then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin explicitly linked the greatness of Russia as a state and as a culture to the size of its territory … According to Putin’s logic, it is impossible for Russia—as a country whose territory covers one-sixth of the Earth’s surface and extends from the heart of Europe to the Pacific Ocean, from the Arctic Ocean to the Kazakh steppes and the subtropical shores of the Black Sea—to be a power without influence on the international stage or a culture without global reach. … [S]pace also plays a central role in Russia’s national image and rebranding, for both domestic and international audiences. … The emphasis placed on Russia’s territories reflects the authorities’ willingness to address the country’s infrastructure challenges. Putin’s long tenure has been marked by profound changes in the spatial organization of the territory … but a more sophisticated regional strategy is needed and the concrete inequalities between regions … may threaten or at least weaken the very unity of the country. … This craze for honoring Russia’s territory and its landmarks also underlines a geopolitical goal, that of loudly reaffirming the country’s legitimate place in the concert of nations.”

Defense and aerospace:

  • No significant commentary.

 Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • No significant commentary.