Russia (Internal)

Moscow sees itself as having embarked upon a broad confrontation with Western powers aimed at reshaping the global order. Its continuing war in Ukraine is thus meant both to subjugate that country and assert and cement Russia’s place in Europe and the world. Russia’s global diplomacy, meanwhile, also aims to increase Moscow’s influence and underline its great power status. Crisis Group reports on developments in the war in Ukraine, domestic processes in Russia, and Russia’s relations with its neighbours and countries around the world. In its advocacy, Crisis Group encourages policies that can lead to more sustainable peace in Ukraine, Europe, and all of the conflicts in which Russia is engaged. 

CrisisWatch Russia (Internal)

Unchanged Situation

Russia launched spring military conscription, Ukrainian strikes on energy infrastructure and industrial facilities continued, and West imposed more sanctions. 

Russia launched spring conscription. Russia 1 April launched spring conscription after President Putin late March signed off on biannual order; decree sets target for 150,000 military inductees by 15 July, marking largest conscription push since 2016. Meanwhile, Ministry of Defence 3 April reported spike in recruitment following 22 March terrorist attack in capital Moscow, with about 16,000 citizens signing military service contracts in ten days. Russian officials continued to claim Ukrainian involvement in terror attack, though Kyiv has denied any role. 

Ukrainian strikes persisted. Kyiv continued targeting energy infrastructure and industrial facilities, striking deep into Russian territory. Notably, 2, 17 April launched drone strikes at industrial facilities in Tatarstan region — some 1,300km from border — in attempt to damage Russia’s third-largest oil refinery and drone factory. Military 19-20 April reported shooting down 50 Ukrainian drones in eight regions; attack killed two in Belgorod region and hit energy infrastructure in Bryansk and Kaluga regions. Over 60 drones 27 April attacked Krasnodar region, including military airfield and oil refinery. Meanwhile, news agency Reuters 15 April reported that Russia and Ukraine nearly reached deal in March to ensure free and safe navigation of merchant vessels in Black Sea, but Ukraine unexpectedly withdrew at last minute.

Western countries imposed additional punitive measures. U.S. House of Representatives 20 April approved bill allowing confiscation of frozen Russian assets in U.S. banks worth $4-5bn to be used for Ukraine’s defence and recovery; Russian officials 28 April threatened “severe” response if assets are confiscated. Meanwhile, joint UK and U.S. action 12 April widened ban on metal imports, clamping down on Russia’s second largest export commodity after energy.

In other important developments. U.S. officials 12 April reported that China is exporting equipment, technology and shared space imagery to Russia for use in war against Ukraine; U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 19 April condemned actions. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu 26 April met his Iranian counterpart on sidelines of regional forum Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kazakhstan, expressed readiness to expand military and technical cooperation.

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In The News

26 Jun 2023
Russian weapons and facilities are under solid control and there’s no evidence that Wagner or anyone else is looking to capture them. Time

Olga Oliker

Program Director, Europe and Central Asia
24 Jun 2023
If Russian soldiers feel their commanders are not in control, their trenches will be much easier to take for advancing Ukrainian troops. The Hill

Simon Schlegel

Senior Analyst, Ukraine
20 Feb 2023
I think they [the Kremlin] will use this [Biden's Kyiv trip] to repeat the line that this is a conflict between Russia and the West, not between Russia and Ukraine. Newsweek

Oleg Ignatov

Senior Analyst, Russia
17 Ene 2023
Russian engagement in the Sahel is very low-cost [financially]. It is distracting the West and diminishing the West’s symbolic power. OZY

Franklin Nossiter

Researcher, Sahel
14 Nov 2022
Moscow also has leverage over Türkiye in other conflict zones such as Syria and the South Caucasus, as well as a vested interest in driving a wedge between Turkey and its... Bloomberg

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Türkiye
17 Oct 2022
We have seen nuclear deterrence work, on the part of both Russia and Western countries. NPR

Olga Oliker

Program Director, Europe and Central Asia

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