Russia in Review, April 12-19, 2019

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.

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

Nuclear security and safety:

  • No significant developments.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • In a statement on April 18, the Kremlin said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un plans to visit Russia "in the second half of April" after being invited by Russian President Vladimir Putin. South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on April 15 that plans were under way for a meeting next week between the two leaders after Putin’s scheduled visit to China for an investment forum. (Financial Times, 04.15.19, RFE/RL, 04.18.19)
  • U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun was due in Moscow on April 17-18 to meet Russian officials to discuss ways to advance a "final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea," Washington said on April 16. (RFE/RL, 04.18.19)

Iran’s nuclear program and related issues:

  • No significant developments.

New Cold War/saber rattling:

  • “During the Cold War, we understood each other’s signals. We talked,” says top NATO commander in Europe, U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti. “I’m concerned that we don’t know them as well today.” “I personally think communication is a very important part of deterrence,” Scaparrotti said “So, I think we should have more communication with Russia.” (AP, 04.14.19)
  • Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Russian behavior is to blame for the strained U.S.-Russian relationship. “It’s very difficult for us to have normal relationships with a country that has not behaved normally over the last few years,” Dunford said. (AP, 04.14.19)

Military issues, including NATO-Russia relations:

  • Russia has stopped all cooperation with NATO, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said. (The Moscow Times, 04.15.19)
  • If U.S. officials were to expel Turkey from the multinational group that builds the F-35 Lightning II, Turkish defense officials said they likely would pursue Russian fighter jet technology. (Defense News, 04.19.19)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms control:

  • Twenty-four Democratic senators urged U.S. President Donald Trump on April 12 to renew the New START treaty with Russia that is set to expire in two years. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has earlier said Washington will agree to prolong New START if the two sides make a deal that suits both sides. He also said China should join in the next START treaty. (The Hill, 04.12.19, Intellasia/AP, 04.12.19, TASS, 04.12.19)
  • Russia sent the United States a draft joint declaration on how to prevent nuclear war in October 2018, only to never hear back from Washington, the Kommersant business daily reported on April 19. (The Moscow Times, 04.19.19)
  • The Pentagon has decided not to disclose the current number of nuclear weapons in the Defense Department’s nuclear weapons stockpile. (Federation of American Scientists, 04.17.19)


  • Two suspected Islamic State members were killed during a shootout in the Siberian town of Tyumen following a raid by the FSB. Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee said the FSB obtained information that the duo was planning to commit an attack. (The Moscow Times, 04.15.19)
  • A Russian court has granted student Varvara Karaulova early release after she served most of her sentence for attempting to join the Islamic State. (The Moscow Times, 04.16.19)

Conflict in Syria:

  • The deconflicting mechanism between Russia and the U.S. in Syria, which has recently resumed its work, is functioning effectively, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (TASS, 04.13.19)
  • Joint efforts between Russia and Arab states are vital for quashing terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa and also for establishing peace and security there, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. (TASS, 04.16.19)

Cyber security:

  • Forty-five percent of Russian respondents said they believe Julian Assange “promotes the principles of free speech and freedom of the media” with the WikiLeaks disclosures, state-funded VTsIOM pollster reported April 16. (The Moscow Times, 04.16.19)

Elections interference:

  • The U.S. Justice Department posted a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report online on April 18, 90 minutes after Attorney General William Barr offered his own final assessment of the findings. (Denver Post, 04.18.19)
    • The redacted version of Mueller's report shows that Trump tried to take control of the Russia probe and force Mueller's removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president. The report says that Trump appeared to perceive Mueller's appointment as special counsel as a serious threat to his ability to govern, according to the chief of staff to the then-acting attorney general, Jeff Sessions. The Mueller reports says Trump said: "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f***ed." (RFE/RL, 04.18.19)
    • The report makes the case that Trump was unsuccessful in his efforts to derail the Justice Department investigation into Russian meddling because many of his aides simply did not carry out his orders to intervene. Trump twice ordered White House lawyer Don McGahn to have Mueller sacked, according to the report. The report says that in June 2017, Trump directed McGahn to tell Sessions that Mueller had conflicts of interest and must be removed. It says McGahn refused, deciding that he would rather resign than set into motion what he considered to be a potential "Saturday Night Massacre" of firings. (Financial Times, 04.17.19, RFE/RL, 04.18.19)
    • The report included 12 pages of Trump's written responses to Mueller's questions. Under an agreement with Trump's legal team, they did not include any questions about obstruction of justice. Though Mueller said the answers were inadequate, he said he decided against issuing a subpoena for the president to meet with investigators to answer questions because his office "had sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the president's testimony." (RFE/RL, 04.18.19)
    • The report says Trump and other officials worked with an unnamed individual, most likely longtime political operative and Trump associate Roger Stone, to find out when the WikiLeaks website was to release any more information damaging to Hillary Clinton. (Financial Times, 04.17.19)
    • The report noted that it had made 14 criminal referrals that were outside the scope of the special counsel's authority—12 of them were redacted. (RFE/RL, 04.18.19)
    • U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the release of the report on evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying that it affirmed that there was "no collusion" by his campaign. Trump declared at an event in Washington that he was "having a good day." "It was called no collusion. No obstruction," Trump said. "There never was by the way, and there never will be. We do have to get to the bottom of these things." (RFE/RL, 04.18.19)
    • “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Mueller’s report said. U.S. Attorney General William Barr, however, opted to reach the conclusion that Mueller would not. “I concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense,” Barr said at a news conference before the release of the report. (New York Times, 04.18.19)
    • Barr said at a press conference in Washington on April 18 that Mueller's investigation "confirmed" that the Russian state tried to interfere with the election that brought Trump into office. But Barr said the investigation did not find evidence that Trump or members of his campaign team colluded with the Russian effort. (RFE/RL, 04.18.19)
    • In his press conference, Barr disclosed that Mueller had investigated 10 separate “episodes” of possible obstruction of justice by Trump. (Financial Times, 04.17.19)
    • Moments after Barr concluded his news conference on April 18, Trump posted an image of himself on Twitter surrounded by fog with the words: "No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats - GAME OVER." (Reuters, 04.18.19)
    • Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, and Charles Schumer, the party leader in the Senate, issued a joint statement: “The differences are stark between what attorney-general Barr said on obstruction and what special counsel Mueller said on obstruction.” Some Democrats, including three presidential candidates, signaled that they would not be satisfied unless the full, unredacted report is made available. Also, Democratic lawmakers said they wanted to hear from Mueller himself in public testimony before Congress. (Financial Times, 04.18.19)
    • Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to Trump, spoke to reporters outside the White House after the report’s release. She said it was “really the best day since he got elected.” (Financial Times, 04.18.19)
    • In Moscow on April 18, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the release of Mueller's report as unimportant. "This is not an issue for us. It is not a thing that interests us or causes us concern," Peskov said, adding that the Kremlin had "more interesting and important things to do." (RFE/RL, 04.18.19)
  • U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, issued a subpoena on April 19, demanding that the Justice Department hand over the complete and unredacted version of the report and all of the underlying materials by May 1. (New York Times, 04.19.19)
  • Roger Stone's defense fired a volley of legal attacks at special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, asking a federal judge to dismiss Stone's indictment for lying to Congress and obstructing justice and to order that Stone receive a full unredacted copy of Mueller's report. (The Washington Post, 04.13.19)

Energy exports:

  • Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom says it has resumed imports of natural gas from Turkmenistan that it stopped three years ago. (RFE/RL, 04.16.19)
  • Brent crude, the global price gauge, climbed 0.8 percent to $71.72 a barrel on London's Intercontinental Exchange on April 16. (Wall Street Journal, 04.16.19)
  • An alliance of countries that includes Russia is cutting oil production to end a global glut. One of the big winners: the nation’s own crude exporters. While Russia is part of the output cuts effort, exports of its medium-sour Urals crude—the country’s biggest export grade—are set to soar this month to an almost two-year high. (Bloomberg, 04.18.19)

Bilateral economic ties:

  • 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. Kentucky’s senior senator, majority leader Mitch McConnell, was among the advocates for lifting sanctions on Rusal. (Wall Street Journal, 04.15.19, Newsweek, 04.15.19)
    • Oleg Deripaska has vowed to disprove the “filthy lies” he says were used to justify his blacklisting by the U.S., stepping up a fight with Washington that will intensify scrutiny of the Trump administration’s approach to Russia. Deripaska’s lawyers are also set to launch a $600,000 prize fund this week to encourage journalists to dig into why he was sanctioned. (Financial Times, 04.16.19)
  • Tvel Fuel Company, a subsidiary of Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom, maintains plans to supply nuclear fuel to the US despite the current geopolitical environment, senior vice president for commerce and international business Oleg Grigoriev told a briefing on April 16. (TASS, 04.16.19)
  • A marijuana business has helped Roman Abramovich’s associate Andrei Bloch return to Forbes magazine’s list of richest Russians with of $905 million. Bloch, according to Russia’s The Bell business outlet, owns a 28 percent stake in the U.S. cannabis company Curaleaf. (The Moscow Times, 04.18.19)

Other bilateral issues:

  • 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 on April 18, suggesting those targets had suffered from neglect in the post-2001 focus on terrorism. (Wall Street Journal, 04.18.19)
  • Trump adviser Fiona Hill held talks in Moscow on April 17 with several Russian officials, including Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov, according to Dmitry Peskov. Peskov said Hill and Russian officials discussed bilateral issues but did not discuss a potential meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (RFE/RL, 04.18.19)
  • Russia has expanded its fleet of icebreaker ships to more than 40, while the United States has only two that are operational. (New York Times, 04.14.19)
  • Twitter and Facebook have nine months to comply with a data law by moving Russian user data onto servers in Russia, Interfax cited communications watchdog head Alexander Zharov as saying on April 16. (Reuters, 04.16.19)
  • Last March, top national security officials gathered inside the White House to discuss with U.S. President Donald Trump how to respond to the nerve agent attack in Britain on Sergei Skripal. Gina Haspel, then deputy CIA director, outlined possible responses, telling the president that the ''strong option'' was to expel 60 diplomats. To persuade Trump, officials including Haspel tried to show him pictures the British government had supplied her of young children hospitalized after being sickened by the Novichok nerve agent. (New York Times, 04.17.19)
  • A recent study has found that thousands of Russian accounts used to spread disinformation had seized on anti-vaccine messaging in the U.S. (Foreign Policy, 04.09.19)

II. Russia’s domestic news

Politics, economy and energy:

  • 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, Rosstat said in a recent report. Almost half the population cannot afford a week’s holiday each year. Average Russians already have 13 percent less to spend than they did in 2013, yet the government banked a $41 billion budget surplus last year thanks to conservative spending plans and a decision to save, rather than spend, the fruits of higher oil prices. (Financial Times, 04.15.19)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin earned less than half in 2018 than he did the previous year, the Kremlin announced on April 12. Putin earned 18.7 million rubles ($291,000) in 2017. His pay in 2018 fell to 8.6 million rubles ($134,000). (The Moscow Times, 04.12.19)
  • Russia’s internet sector has contributed 3.9 trillion rubles ($60.8 billion) to the overall economy last year, an 11 percent increase from 2017, according to the Russian Association of Electronic Communications. The study correlates with Kremlin estimates that Russian internet companies account for about 4 percent of GDP. (The Moscow Times, 04.18.19)
  • Russia's lower house of parliament approved on April 16 the third reading of a draft law that aims to increase Moscow's sovereignty over its internet segment and defend against foreign meddling. (Reuters, 04.16.19)
  • Russia’s Kommersant reported that former State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin may soon leave his current post as chief of Russia's foreign intelligence service to become the speaker of the Federation Council, while the upper chamber’s current speaker, Valentina Matvienko, will move over to the Pension Fund to run and reform it. (Russia Matters, 04.16.19)
  • A record 70 percent of Russians approve of Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s role in Russian history, according to a poll published by the independent Levada Center pollster on April 16. (The Moscow Times, 04.16.19)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin favors a plan to build a high-speed railway line from Moscow to his home city of St. Petersburg rather than Nizhny Novgorod. (The Moscow Times, 04.17.19)
  • Russia’s republics of Dagestan and Chechnya have suspended negotiations over border delineations following months of public anger over Chechnya’s land swap deal with neighboring Ingushetia. (The Moscow Times, 04.17.19)
  • At least two opposition leaders in Russia’s republic of Ingushetia have been arrested on charges of attacking police shortly after being released from detention following protests against a divisive border-change deal. (The Moscow Times, 04.15.19)
  • A Russian judge has ordered a new study of evidence in the case against theater director Kirill Serebrennikov and his co-defendants and postponed the next hearing in their trial for two months. The announcement appeared to be a victory for the defense. (RFE/RL, 04.15.19)

Defense and aerospace:

  • No significant developments.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • A court in St. Petersburg has sentenced two police officers, Artyom Morozov and Andrei Barashkov, to four years behind bars for torturing suspects. (The Moscow Times, 04.16.19)

III. Foreign affairs, trade and investment

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

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is funneling cashflow from Venezuelan oil sales through Russian state energy giant Rosneft as he seeks to evade U.S. sanctions designed to oust him from power, according to sources and documents reviewed by Reuters. Following the release of the Reuters report, Rosneft has threatened to ban Reuters from operating in Russia. (Reuters, 04.18.19, The Moscow Times, 04.19.19)
  • The U.S. State Department has called on countries to “follow Malta’s example” and block Russian military planes en route for Venezuela from using their airspace. On April 18, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Malta refused a Russian request to use its airspace to fly military aircraft from Syria to Venezuela on April 4. Zakharova added that Malta did not provide a reason for their decision, the state-run TASS news agency reported. (The Moscow Times, 04.19.19)
  • Russia has withdrawn a request to dock a warship in Malta that officials told BuzzFeed News was bound for Venezuela. Malta planned to reject the request. The Russian diplomats were also reportedly trying to purchase riot gear and gas canisters on the island, which officials suspect they wanted to load onto the ship. (Buzzfeed, 04.18.19)
  • Russia has received a debt payment from Venezuela under the terms of a $3.15 billion restructuring deal agreed to in 2017, Russian news agency Interfax reported, citing Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. The debt payment was due in March, but Siluanov said at the beginning of April that a grace period gave Venezuela another month to provide the funds. (Bloomberg, 04.19.19)
  • Moscow recognizes the new authorities in Sudan after President Omar al-Bashir was ousted, Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying on April 16. (Reuters, 04.16.19)
  • Russia will send up to 30 military personnel to the Central African Republic as part of a U.N. mission to help stabilize the country, according to a decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 15. (Reuters, 04.16.19)
  • Rosatom and its subsidiaries have this week signed a number of agreements with countries planning to introduce nuclear power to their energy mix, including Azerbaijan, Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia, Serbia and Uzbekistan. The documents were signed during the XI International Forum Atomexpo 2019. (World Nuclear News, 04.17.19)
  • At any one time, 6,500 Afghans are studying Russian across Afghanistan. (The Washington Post, 04.15.19)
  • A Russian court found Norwegian man Frode Berg guilty on April 16 of espionage on Russian nuclear submarines and jailed him for 14 years in a verdict that could strain ties between Russia and its NATO-member neighbor. (Reuters, 04.16.19)
  • The U.S. and Russia both said on April 18 they could not support a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya at this time, diplomats said. (Reuters, 04.18.19)
  • The English cathedral city of Salisbury, the location of a deadly nerve agent poisoning blamed on Russia, was named as Britain's best place to live by the Sunday Times newspaper. (The Moscow Times, 04.15.19)
  • Russians expressed their support for France in the wake of April 15’s devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with both condolences and monetary donations. (The Moscow Times, 04.17.19)
  • Mirjana Markovic, the widow of late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, has died in Russia at the age of 76. (The Moscow Times, 04.15.19)


  • Russia has completed the delivery of Su-35 combat aircraft to China in defiance of U.S. sanctions. Russia and China signed a $2.5 billion deal on the delivery of 24 Sukhoi Su-35s in 2015, making it the first foreign buyer of the fourth-generation multirole air superiority fighter. (The Moscow Times, 04.17.19)
  • The U.S. State Department is preparing to step into the digital age by merging two bureaus, one that focuses on communications abroad and the other on communications in the U.S. Described as the biggest structural change at the State Department in 20 years, the move is part of a broader effort to counter disinformation campaigns by Russia and China. (The Washington Post, 04.15.19)


  • A poll issued on April 18 by the research group Rating showed Volodymyr Zelenskiy with 57.9 percent of the vote and incumbent Petro Poroshenko at 21.7 percent. Rating polled 3,000 voters in all regions, except annexed Crimea, from April 12-16. A previous poll by Rating from April 5-10 gave Zelenskiy 61 percent while Poroshenko received 24 percent. (RFE/RL, 04.18.19)
  • According to the results of a poll by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology released on April 16, 72.2 percent of respondents favor Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Only 25.4 percent will vote for Petro Poroshenko, while 2.4 percent said they would spoil their ballot. (Kyiv Post, 04.16.19)
  • Bookmakers have increased the odds for showman and presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky to win the second round of the presidential election held in Ukraine on April 21, making him the clear favorite. ElectraWorks Limited is accepting bets on his victory at 1.2 to 1, and for incumbent President Petro Poroshenko 4 to 1, whereas a week ago odds were 1.3 to 1 and 3.3 to 1, respectively. (Interfax, 04.16.19)
  • Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko issued a decree to his cabinet to act urgently on building two new nuclear reactors. Investigative journalists have revealed that the Škoda JS company poised to build the new reactors has close financial links to Moscow. (Bellona, 04.12.19)
  • Washington lobbying firm Signal Group Consulting has told RFE/RL that it has been hired by Ukrainian comedian and presidential front-runner Volodymyr Zelenskiy to burnish his international image and set up meetings between members of his camp and officials in Washington. (BBC, 04.18.19)
  • Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko traveled on April 12 to Berlin and Paris to seek international support ahead of the April 21 runoff. His challenger Volodymyr Zelenskiy traveled only to Paris, where he met French President Emmanuel Macron, who separately met with Poroshenko as well. (RFE/RL, 04.12.19)
  • The International Court of Arbitration has ordered Russia to pay $44.4 million to Ukraine's Ukrnafta as compensation for the company's assets in Crimea. (Interfax, 04.16.19)
  • Ukraine's security service, the SBU, said on April 17 it had captured a Russian military intelligence hit squad responsible for the attempted murder of a Ukrainian military spy in the run-up to the April 21 presidential election runoff. (Reuters, 04.17.19)
  • Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree banning Russian exports of coal, crude oil and oil products to Ukraine. Starting June 1, the export of products listed in the decree will require a special permit. (The Moscow Times, 04.18.19)
  • A Moscow court has extended until July 24 the pretrial detainment period for several of the 24 Ukrainian sailors who were jailed after the Russian Coast Guard seized their vessels near the Kerch Strait. (RFE/RL, 04.17.19)
  • Ukrainian lawmaker Nadiya Savchenko and her co-suspect Volodymyr Ruban, who both face charges of plotting an act of terrorism, were released from temporary detention late on April 15. Both Savchenko and Ruban were charged in March 2018 with terrorism, plotting to forcibly topple the constitutional regime in Ukraine. (AFP/Kyiv Post, 04.16.19)
  • Thirty-five Hummer vehicles have arrived in Odessa from the United States. They will be deployed to the Donbass contact line, Ukrainian Defense Minister Sergei Poltorak said. (Interfax, 04.15.19)
  • Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, said Washington was committed to defending Ukraine's territorial integrity, saying the issue of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine was "a core part of our estrangement with Russia." (RFE/RL, 04.13.19)
  • Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig has pleaded not guilty to charges of making false statements and concealing information about work he performed in 2012 for Ukraine in a case that originated in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. (RFE/RL, 04.12.19)
  • London police have fired gunshots at a man who rammed into a diplomatic car parked outside Ukraine's Embassy and then tried to drive into officers. (RFE/RL, 04.13.19)
  • “It’s still in the interests of our country for Russia to invest and grow business in Ukraine,” the leader of a pro-Russia party in Ukraine, Viktor Medvedchuk, said. “Now that’s gone … We lost $20 billion in export potential,” he said. (Financial Times, 04.16.19)

Russia’s other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka has been invited to a dinner hosted by European Council President Donald Tusk to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership on May 13. (RFE/RL, 04.15.19)

IV. Quoteworthy

  • ''If you want to see what happens when you have capitalism without democracy, you can see it very clearly in Russia,'' Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said. ''It turns into crony capitalism, and that turns into oligarchy.'' (New York Times, 04.14.19)
  • "Russia is now OPEC's therapist," says Helima Croft, the chief commodities strategist at Canada's RBC Capital Markets. (Wall Street Journal, 04.15.19)