Russia in Review, Oct. 2-9, 2020
This Week’s Highlights
- Marshall Billingslea, the top U.S. negotiator, and Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made progress Oct. 5 on a new framework accord that would freeze each side's nuclear arsenal and outline the parameters for a detailed treaty that would be negotiated next year, the Wall Street Journal reports. The United States wants agreements with Russia to apply to all nuclear warheads, a Department of State spokesperson said, according to TASS, while Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was reassured by Joe Biden's support for the New START treaty, which "is a very serious element of our cooperation in the future," Putin said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- White supremacists and Russian election interference are among the top threats facing the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security warned in a new report released Oct. 6, the Wall Street Journal reports. "Russia is the likely primary covert influence actor and purveyor of disinformation and misinformation within the Homeland," the report said. In particular, Russia has sought to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden "as part of a broader effort to divide and destabilize America." “Russia—which possesses some of the most sophisticated cyber capabilities in the world—can disrupt or damage U.S. critical infrastructure networks via cyber-attacks,” the report said.
- The U.S. Department of Commerce and Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom have confirmed they have signed a final amendment to the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation, World Nuclear News reports. This extends the agreement through to 2040. Prior to the amendment, the agreement allowed Russian uranium exports to meet about 20 percent of U.S. enrichment demand, but now this figure will drop to an average of about 17 percent over the next 20 years, and will be no higher than 15 percent starting in 2028.
- The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan began their first high-level talks in Moscow Oct. 9 after nearly two weeks of clashes over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, boosting hopes that a cease-fire could be brokered in Moscow. The meeting follows an invitation from Putin, with the Russian leader calling for a halt to military action in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to RFE/RL. As of 10:00pm Moscow time, there was no news on the outcome of the meeting. A spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry told Russian news agencies that the launch of talks had no impact on fighting, which, he said, was underway “on all fronts.”
- Recent satellite images of Ganja International Airport in Azerbaijan show at least two Turkish F-16 fighter jets and CN-235 cargo aircraft parked on the airport apron, according to Defense Blog. When Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s prime minister, spoke by telephone on Oct. 8 with Trump’s national security adviser, the New York Times reports, he asked: Why is nothing being done to stop a longtime United States ally, Turkey, from using American-made F-16 jets against ethnic Armenians in a disputed mountain region?
- Kyrgyzstan’s president has offered to resign to help find a solution to a constitutional crisis in the Central Asian country that regional power Russia warned had descended into “chaos,” Financial Times reports. Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s hold on power has been in doubt since opposition groups this week claimed to have seized control of key ministries and security agencies and declared his position illegitimate. The opposition’s move followed mass protests against the results of an Oct. 4 parliamentary election that observers said was rigged.
- The Northern Sea Route, which runs from Alaska to the Baltic Sea, counted 71 vessels and 935 sailings across the waterway from January to June this year, according to the NSR information office, the Wall Street Journal reports. That was up by double digits from the same period a year ago and a big increase from the 47 vessels and 572 voyages in the same period of 2018.
I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda
- No significant developments.
North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:
- No significant developments.
Iran and its nuclear program:
- No significant developments.
New Cold War/saber rattling:
- U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris said during the debate with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence “Joe Biden would hold Russia to account,” after referencing reports that Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill U.S. troops. A moderator attempted to move on, but Pence insisted he be allowed to respond. When Page gave him 15 seconds, he replied, “I’ve got to have more than that.” “The slanders against President Donald Trump regarding men and women of our armed forces are absurd,” Pence said. (NBC, 10.08.20)
- No significant developments.
- No significant developments.
Nuclear arms control:
- Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was reassured by Biden's support for the New START treaty "is a very serious element of our cooperation in the future," Putin said. “As far as the candidate from the Democratic Party is concerned…we also see quite sharp anti-Russian rhetoric," Putin said. (Wall Street Journal, 10.06.20)
- U.S. and Russian negotiators made progress Oct. 5 on a new framework accord that would freeze each side's nuclear arsenal and outline the parameters for a detailed treaty that would be negotiated next year, a senior Trump official said. The meeting was conducted by Marshall Billingslea, the top U.S. negotiator, and Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The administration official said the framework accord under discussion would include a politically binding commitment to freeze the total number of nuclear warheads on each side. As described by the U.S., that freeze would cover warheads that are deployed on systems of all ranges as well as those that are in storage. It would be linked to the extension of the New START treaty for a year or longer, which would provide time for talks on the more far-reaching treaty. (Wall Street Journal, 10.05.20)
- The U.S. wants agreements with Russia to apply to all nuclear warheads, a Department of State spokesperson said while commenting on the launch of the hypersonic missile Tsirkon. "Our goal is to move beyond the bilateral deals of the past and seek to cover all nuclear warheads. We continue to monitor Russian military activity and missile tests, which inform our arms control and security policies," the official said. (TASS, 10.08.20)
- Russia and the U.S. are able to achieve progress in key cooperation spheres for the benefit of their people, U.S. national security advisor Robert O’Brien said after his meeting with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva Oct. 2. According to O’Brien, the sides discussed a number of mutually agreed upon topics. “Arms control, cybersecurity, elections non-interference, counterterrorism, the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, Syria, Afghanistan and several other bilateral issues of mutual interest," O’Brien listed. The sides also agreed to continue working on implementing Putin’s initiatives, including a summit of U.N. Security Council permanent members. The talks in Geneva, the spokesman noted, took place "in order to normalize bilateral relations and strengthen the international security." (TASS, 10.02.20)
- No significant developments.
Conflict in Syria:
- The U.S. hopes Russia will be committed to de-confliction protocols in Syria, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said. "No one wants to see any accident or miscalculation that results in violence and injury or even death to either sides' military forces. So we're committed to honoring those protocols and hope and expect the Russian side will as well," Sullivan said. (Interfax, 10.02.20)
- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the continued presence of Russia’s major naval and air bases in his country help counter the influence of Western powers in the region as the battle to crush insurgents was winding down. Assad said his army, before Moscow’s military intervention, had been facing a “dangerous situation.” (Reuters, 10.05.20)
- No significant developments.
- O'Brien said Trump remains in charge and that any attempt by adversaries to seek an edge would be a mistake of "serious magnitude.” O'Brien, who last week met with a top Russian official, said U.S. alerts haven't been raised and there was no expectation that rivals such as North Korea, Iran, China and Russia were likely to pose a new threat. O'Brien said one of the most prominent messages he conveyed was that Russia shouldn't meddle in the U.S. election next month. He told them that the U.S. was especially concerned about any efforts that would affect the vote on election day. The Russians agreed, and stated publicly they wouldn't interfere. “The Russians have committed to doing so,” he said. “And so, look, it’s Russia. So, as President Reagan said and as President Trump often says, it’s trust, but verify.” (Wall Street Journal, 10.04.20, New York Times, 10.04.20, Wall Street Journal, 10.04.20)
- White supremacists and Russian election interference are among the top threats facing the U.S., the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned in a new report released Oct. 6. "Russia is the likely primary covert influence actor and purveyor of disinformation and misinformation within the Homeland," the report said. In particular, Russia has sought to hurt Biden "as part of a broader effort to divide and destabilize America," it added.” “Russia—which possesses some of the most sophisticated cyber capabilities in the world—can disrupt or damage U.S. critical infrastructure networks via cyber-attacks,” the report said. (Wall Street Journal, 10.06.20, DHS, 10.06.20)
- Harris said during the debate with Pence, “What we have seen with Donald Trump is that he has betrayed our friends and embraced dictators around the world. Let's take for example, Russia. So, Russia—I serve on the Intelligence Committee of the United States Senate. America's intelligence community told us Russia interfered in the election of the president of the United States in 2016 and playing in 2020. Christopher Ray, the director of the FBI, said the same, but Donald Trump the commander in chief of the United States of America, prefers to take the word of Vladimir Putin over the word of the American intelligence community.” (USA Today, 10.08.20)
- Putin offered his first substantive remarks on the U.S. presidential race, noting what he called Biden's sharp anti-Russian rhetoric. "We are bystanders, we do not interfere," Putin said. "This is still not our business, let them sort it out among themselves as they see fit in the context of the current events. We will work with any future president of the United States." The Democratic Party, Putin said, is “traditionally closer to liberal values, it is close to the ideas of social democracy,” and these positions could help build contacts with Russia. Putin noted that he was for 18 years a member of the Soviet Communist Party. “Ever since, I have liked many of the leftist values,” he said. Putin suggested another intersection of interests in the Soviet Union’s traditional support for civil rights for Blacks. This history could “also become a basis for mutual understanding,” he said. (New York Times, 10.07.20, Wall Street Journal, 10.06.20)
- The U.S. does not want to sign agreements on non-interference with Russia as it has interfered in Russia's internal affairs for a long time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Oct. 5. (Interfax, 10.05.20)
Energy exports from CIS:
- No significant developments.
U.S.-Russian economic ties:
- The U.S. Department of Commerce and Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom have confirmed they have signed a final amendment to the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation. This extends the agreement through to 2040 and reduces U.S. reliance on uranium from Russia during that time period. Prior to the amendment, the agreement allowed Russian uranium exports to meet about 20 percent of U.S. enrichment demand, but now this figure will drop to an average of about 17 percent over the next 20 years, and will be no higher than 15 percent starting in 2028. (World Nuclear News, 10.08.20)
U.S.-Russian relations in general:
- Director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center William Evanina accused Russia, China and Iran of attempting to prevent the United States from obtaining and using a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. The allegations that Russia, Iran and China have been trying to hinder the development of a U.S. coronavirus vaccine are baseless, Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky said. (TASS, 10.08.20, Interfax, 10.09.20)
- The Clinton Digital Library declassified a whole archive of transcripts that capture telephone calls and private conversations between members of the Clinton administration and Putin. In September 2000, Clinton and Putin began with a meeting in New York with a discussion about the aftermath of the Kursk submarine disaster, which killed all 118 sailors aboard. “There was no good option for me here. I was caught between bad options and worse options. Some people told me that if Iʼd let a small submarine go in there right away and at least make a stab at rescuing the guys, my ratings would have gone up,” Putin told Clinton, according to the transcripts. (Meduza, 10.06.20)
- RT continues to draw a large American audience, helped unwittingly by some of America's most prominent conservative websites. The reason: Those news outlets agreed to join a distribution network that allows other members' content to be displayed on their home pages. (Wall Street Journal, 10.07.20)
II. Russia’s domestic policies
Domestic politics, economy and energy:
- Russia confirmed 12,126 new COVID-19 cases Oct. 9, bringing its official number of cases to 1,272,238 and breaking the country's record for new infections. Russia has carried out more than 500,000 coronavirus tests in a single day for the first time since the start of the pandemic, consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said Oct. 9. Official government statistics suggest that more than 45,000 Russians with coronavirus have died since the start of the pandemic, double the number of deaths estimated by Russia’s coronavirus task force. (The Moscow Times, 10.09.20, The Moscow Times, 10.05.20) Here’s a link to RFE/RL’s interactive map of the virus’ spread around the world, including in Russia and the rest of post-Soviet Eurasia. For a comparison of the number and rate of change in new cases in the U.S. and Russia, visit this Russia Matters resource.
- Putin has replaced the leader of the volatile North Caucasus region of Dagestan. The Kremlin said in a statement on Oct. 5 that Putin had signed a decree accepting Vladimir Vasilyev's "request to relieve him from his duties." It gave no reason why Vasilyev submitted his resignation. The statement added that Sergei Melikov, a member of the parliament's upper chamber, the Federation Council, was appointed as Dagestan’s acting leader. (RFE/RL, 10.05.20)
- The governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region, Gleb Nikitin, says he will do everything he can to ensure a thorough investigation of the death of the chief editor of the Koza Press news website, Irina Slavina, who died after staging an act of self-immolation following a police search of her apartment last week. (RFE/RL, 10.05.20)
- An elderly man wearing a “Happy Birthday Mr. President” sign set himself on fire on a crowded street in central St. Petersburg on Putin’s 68th birthday Oct. 7, media reported. (The Moscow Times, 10.08.20)
- Russia experienced the warmest September in its 130-year recorded history last month, the state weather service said Oct. 5 as climate change continues to reshape the country’s weather patterns. (The Moscow Times, 10.05.20)
- Around the same time as an unexplained event wiped out 95 percent of sea-dwelling life off the coast of Russia’s Far Eastern Kamchatka peninsula earlier this month, a yellow foam covered an area of water so large it could be seen from space. That’s the clue prompting some of Russia’s leading marine biologists to blame the catastrophe on a harmful algae bloom—a rapid growth of naturally occurring algae that can produce toxins lethal for marine life and even humans. (The Moscow Times, 10.08.20)
- Moscow’s official unemployment rate stood at 2.3 percent at the end of July, with St Petersburg at 3.2 percent. Across Siberia, that rises sharply to 8.2 percent, and many of Russia’s individual regions have unemployment rates in excess of 15 percent. (Financial Times, 10.04.20)
- The Russian ruble ended September at about a five-year low against the euro, falling as far as 93.3 rubles to the euro on Sept. 29. The same day, the ruble traded at 79.8 against the U.S. dollar, the weakest exchange since the oil-price crash in March. (RFE/RL, 10.03.20)
Defense and aerospace:
- On Oct. 7, the Russian Ministry of Defense posted a video of the recent Tsirkon hypersonic missile test. The video said the new Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile launched from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate. Russia uses the 3S-14 universal shipborne launcher for the launches of Tsirkon hypersonic weapons and Kalibr cruise missiles. These launchers in particular are operational on Russian Navy Project 22350 frigates and Project 20380 corvettes. The Admiral Gorshkov frigate of the Russian Northern Fleet (Project 22350) will carry out three more test-launches of Tsirkon by the end of the year, two sources in Russia’s defense ministry said. (TASS, 10.08.20, Defense Blog, 10.07.20)
- The Russian Armed Forces are moving to equip some of their combat helicopters with suicide drones, according to multiple reports. A modular cluster of unguided aviation missiles, developed by the research center Zaslon (Screen) for the helicopter gunship Mi-28NM, will allow helicopters to fire mini-drones and suicide drones from the missile launch tubes. (Defense Blog, 10.03.20)
- Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov has announced the Defense Ministry will receive new serial Ilyushin Il-112V aircraft beginning in 2023. The Il-112V is the first military transport plane developed in Russia from scratch in the post-Soviet period. (Defense Blog, 10.08.20)
- Russia on Oct. 7 evacuated more than 2,000 people from nearby villages after a wildfire set off explosions at a munitions depot in the Ryazan region southeast of Moscow, officials said. (The Moscow Times, 10.08.20)
Security, law-enforcement and justice:
- The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has confirmed Russia's request for the global watchdog to dispatch experts to the country as the Kremlin faces accusations of being behind the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny. (RFE/RL, 10.05.20)
- A Russian man has gone on trial in Germany accused of killing an exiled Chechen rebel leader in a Berlin park last year—allegedly on the orders of the Kremlin—in a case that has plunged relations between Germany and Russia into crisis. The prosecution said Vadim Krasikov had been contracted by “agencies of the central government of the Russian Federation” to “liquidate” Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a Georgian citizen of Chechen descent in Berlin. (Financial Times, 10.07.20)
- Media reports in Russia's Far Eastern Khabarovsk Krai region say the son of the region's former governor, Sergei Furgal, who is in custody on charges of attempted murder and ordering two killings in 2004-05, has been detained. (RFE/RL, 10.05.20)
III. Russia’s relations with other countries
Russia’s general foreign policy and relations with “far abroad” countries:
- The Northern Sea Route, which runs from Alaska to the Baltic Sea, counted 71 vessels and 935 sailings across the waterway from January to June this year, according to the NSR information office. That was up by double digits from the same period a year ago and a big increase from the 47 vessels and 572 voyages in the same period of 2018. The mostly frozen seaway is used in warmer seasons to move some of Russia's energy exports to overseas markets. Container ships and general cargo vessel operators also have used the route to move goods between Asia and Europe as it cuts an average 10 days of sailing time compared with the standard route through the Suez Canal. (Wall Street Journal, 10.08.20)
- Germany and France say they will seek EU sanctions targeting individuals held responsible for the poisoning of Navalny, after a global chemical watchdog confirmed that a banned nerve agent was used against the Russian opposition leader. Navalny is recovering in Germany after he was poisoned in August with a chemical agent from the banned Novichok group. Russia has denied any involvement and resisted international pressure to launch a criminal investigation. Denmark says it will join EU sanctions to be imposed against Russia over the poisoning. (RFE/RL, 10.07.20, RFE/RL, 10.09.20)
China-Russia: Allied or Aligned?
- "No matter how much Putin and Xi may shake hands and smile in front of the cameras, they're competitors here," Murat Beyshenov, former first deputy defense minister of Kyrgyzstan, said earlier this year. (Wall Street Journal, 10.08.20)
War in Karabakh:
- Putin spoke with the leaders of both Armenia and Azerbaijan early Oct. 7. He said Russia had no obligation to defend Armenia as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization because fighting had been limited almost entirely to Nagorno-Karabakh. (Wall Street Journal, 10.08.20)
- The head of Russia’s foreign intelligence, Sergei Naryshkin, warned on Oct. 6 that the escalating conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave was attracting thousands of Islamic extremists who pose a threat to Moscow. He referred to operatives from the Organization for the Liberation of the Levant, more commonly referred to as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which is active in Syria and was previously known as the Al-Nusra Front, as well as from the Hamza Division, the Sultan Murad Division and Kurdish extremist groups he did not name. “We are talking about hundreds, if not thousands, of militants who are looking to make money in a new war in Karabakh,” Naryshkin said in a statement posted on the Russian foreign intelligence’s website. (Arab Weekly, 10.07.20)
- France confirms that more than 300 radical Islamists from Syria arrived in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone via Turkey’s Gaziantep, French President Emmanuel Macron said. (TASS, 10.01.20)
- The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan are set to hold their first high-level talks in Moscow on Oct. 9 after nearly two weeks of clashes over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, boosting hopes that a cease-fire could be brokered in Moscow. The meeting follows an invitation from Putin, with the Russian leader calling for a halt to military action in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Kremlin announced ahead of the talks that the meeting would have “quite minimalistic” negotiation points. The demands would include agreeing on a ceasefire long enough to exchange prisoners as well as to collect the bodies of both sides of people that had died since the beginning of the conflict. (RFE/RL, 10.09.20, Al Jazeera, 10.09.20)
- As of 10:00pm Moscow time, there was still no news on the outcome of the meeting in the presence of Russia’s diplomatic chief Sergei Lavrov. A spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry told Russian news agencies that the launch of talks had no impact on fighting, which, he said, was underway “on all fronts.” (Russia Matters, 10.09.20)
- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev says he is giving Armenia a "last chance" to resolve a conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh as his country will reclaim the territory "either via peace or by war." Aliyev has said that principles to settle the conflict, which had been put forward by the U.S., Russia and France, should form the basis for a settlement, Russia’s RIA news agency has reported. (RFE/RL, 10.09.20, Al Jazeera, 10.09.20)
- Konstantin Zatulin, a senior Russian lawmaker and Putin ally, said, ''Russia was doing all it could to maintain ties both with Azerbaijan and Armenia.” ''Every day of conflict in Karabakh is, effectively, helping zero out Russia's authority.'' (New York Times, 10.07.20)
- "Escalation of the situation raises increased concern not only because of its size but because of the effect of new external factors," Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia's international intelligence agency, said. "Turkey has openly and unequivocally supported Azerbaijan for the first time." (Wall Street Journal, 10.08.20)
- Recent satellite images of Ganja International Airport in Azerbaijan shows at least two Turkish F-16 fighter jets and CN-235 cargo aircraft parked on the airport apron. Christiaan Triebert, a journalist on the Visual Investigations team at The New York Times, tweeted an image, dated Oct. 3, 2020, showing the pair of Turkish F-16s and CN-235. (Defense Blog, 10.08.20)
- When Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s prime minister, spoke by telephone on Oct. 8 with Trump’s national security adviser, he raised a delicate issue: Why is nothing being done to stop a longtime United States ally, Turkey, from using American-made F-16 jets against ethnic Armenians in a disputed mountain region? (New York Times, 10.04.20)
- Armenia’s president Armen Sarkissian said Turkey’s military and diplomatic support for Azerbaijan in its conflict with the Armenian-backed enclave had displaced Moscow from its traditional balancing role between the two sides. He called on Russia, the U.S. and NATO to restrain Ankara, describing it as “the bully of the region.” “If we don’t act now internationally, stopping Turkey . . . with the perspective of making this region a new Syria . . . then everyone will be hit,” he said. “What is a NATO member state doing in Azerbaijan helping to fight Nagorno-Karabakh? Explain to me,” he said. “That completely redefines the role of NATO.” (Financial Times, 10.09.20)
- Belarus's postelection protests have entered the sports arena, but athletes who boycott competition or participate in anti-government rallies will be sidelined for awhile if the authorities have anything to say about it. (RFE/RL, 10.05.20)
- Crowds in Minsk fought a low-key running battle against water cannon trucks deployed to disrupt the regular Sunday mass marches and even managed to disable a few. The turnout was as large as in previous weeks, with at least 100,000 people demonstrating this week under the theme “release the political prisoners.” (bne IntelliNews, 10.04.20)
- Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Oct. 6. The pair discussed the plight of the Belarusian people following August's disputed election that left Alexander Lukashenko clinging on to power by the use of brute force. Tikhanovskaya also visited the Berlin Wall, calling it a "symbol of freedom” and sang songs with Belarusian supporters in front of the Brandenburg Gate. (bne IntelliNews, 10.07.20)
- Russia has added Tikhanovskaya to its interstate wanted list on a criminal charge, state-run RIA Novosti reported Oct. 7. The Russian police database entry says Tikhanovskaya "is wanted under an article of the Criminal Code" but does not specify which article. (The Moscow Times, 10.07.20)
- ''By unconditionally supporting Lukashenko, we are creating an enormous problem for ourselves in the future with the majority or a significant part of the Belarusian population,'' Konstantin Zatulin, a senior Russian lawmaker and Putin ally, said. ''We are creating a problem for ourselves with the other Belarusian politicians and public figures, who are increasingly forced to seek sympathy in the West. Russia wants that least of all.'' (New York Times, 10.07.20)
- Belarus says it has postponed the full launch of the first reactor at its Astravets nuclear power plant by two years to 2022. (RFE/RL, 10.09.20)
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was in London Oct. 8 to sign off on a 10-year loan of $1.6 billion to build 10 new fast attack boats for the Ukrainian Navy to use in the Black Sea. The deal comes as Europe downplays the Zelenskiy administration's increasingly obvious failure to push through on the reform agenda that makes further distribution of International Monetary Fund aid this year increasingly unlikely. (bne Intellinews, 10.09.20)
- Contracts have been signed between a Ukrainian engine developer, Ivchenko-Progress, and several suppliers for parts of the AI-35 engines that are expected to be used in Turkey's new cruise missile. (Daily Sabah, 10.05.20)
- A full and comprehensive ceasefire has been in place in Donbass for 71 days now and the parties are generally observing it, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak said Oct. 5. (Interfax, 10.05.20)
- Zelenskiy dismissed on Sept. 30 Vitold Fokin from his position of deputy head of Ukraine’s delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbass. The decision comes a day after Fokin declared during an official meeting that he “hadn’t seen [...] any confirmation that a war between Russia and Ukraine [was] going on.” (bne IntelliNews, 10.05.20)
- Ukraine has deported two men from a notoriously violent American neo-Nazi group who tried to set up a local branch and join a far-right military unit to gain combat experience in the war-torn country, according to two Ukrainian security service officials. The men, both U.S. citizens, are members of the neo-Nazi group known as Atomwaffen Division (AWD), one of the Ukrainian officials confirmed to BuzzFeed News. Both officials declined to provide the men’s names and other personal information. (Buzzfeed, 10.08.20)
Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:
- Kyrgyzstan’s president has offered to resign to help find a solution to a constitutional crisis in the central Asian country that regional power Russia warned had descended into “chaos.” Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s hold on power has been in doubt since opposition groups this week claimed to have seized control of key ministries and security agencies and declared his position illegitimate. The opposition’s move followed mass protests against the results of the Oct. 4 parliamentary election that observers said was rigged. But in a sign of fears over more unrest, Jeenbekov also said he had imposed a state of emergency in the capital Bishkek and ordered military units to deploy in the city and enforce a curfew and a ban on public demonstrations, following calls from rival opposition parties for fresh protests. (Financial Times, 10.09.20)
- Russia’s FSB is backing its Kyrgyz colleagues in their efforts to prevent the Central Asian country gripped by political unrest from sliding into “total chaos,” Vedomosti reported. (The Moscow Times, 10.09.20)
- The autumn edition of the World Bank’s Economic Update released on Oct. 7 forecasts that Uzbekistan is one of only two countries in Europe and Central Asia that will see positive economic growth this year. (bne IntelliNews, 10.08.20)
- On Oct. 11, Tajikistan will have a presidential election in which incumbent Emomali Rahmon is assured of winning another seven-year term in office. (RFE/RL, 10.04.20)
- Turkmenistan's authoritarian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has replaced several officials, regional judges and prosecutors. According to state media reports, Berdymukhammedov sacked Mergen Gurdov from the post of the chairman of the State Migration Service; Bekmyrat Ovezov became the service's new chief. No explanation for the moves was given. (RFE/RL, 10.09.20)
- No significant developments.