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.
On 24 June, President Vladimir Putin faced his biggest challenge in over two decades at Russia’s helm: a mutiny by a mercenary group fighting alongside Russian forces in Ukraine. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts explore the implications for Putin’s rule and Russian foreign policy.
Antisemitic attacks left dozens injured in North Caucasus, Moscow moved to withdraw from nuclear test ban treaty, and Ukrainian strikes continued.
Antisemitic violence erupted in North Caucasus. Amid worrying escalation in Israel-Palestine (see Israel/Palestine), several hundred residents 28 Oct demonstrated outside hotel in Dagestan Republic’s Khasavyurt city following rumours Israeli refugees were staying there; crowd dispersed but notice appeared at hotel saying “entrance is strictly prohibited for foreign citizens of Israel (Jews)”. Hundreds 29 Oct stormed airport in Dagestan’s Makhachkala city to search for Jewish passengers arriving from Israeli city Tel Aviv, clashing with security forces and leaving over twenty injured; authorities arrested 60 people. In Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, unknown assailants 29 Oct set fire to Jewish cultural centre in capital Nalchik and wrote “death to Jews” on wall. President Putin 30 Oct blamed West and Ukraine for helping stoke unrest.
Moscow moved to reverse nuclear test ban ratification and unveiled new missiles. Putin 5 Oct raised possibility of withdrawing ratification of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, citing U.S. failure to ratify. Russia’s envoy to Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Mikhail Ulyanov next day confirmed plans, saying it “doesn’t mean the intention to resume nuclear tests”. State Duma and Federation Council 18, 25 Oct respectively approved bill to withdraw ratification. Meanwhile, Putin 5 Oct announced “successful” test of Burevestnik cruise missile and completion of Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missile.
Ukrainian strikes into Russia persisted. Russia faced more Ukrainian attacks, particularly targeting border regions. Notably, military 4 Oct shot down 31 unmanned aerial vehicles in Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk regions. Belgorod regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov 12 Oct reported fallen drone killed three civilians in Belgorod city. Ministry of Defence 18 Oct announced air defences had shot down 28 drones over Belgorod, Kursk and Black Sea; Ukrainian media outlets same day claimed at least eighteen drones struck military camp near Khalino airfield in Kursk.
Authorities arrested Alexei Navalny’s lawyers. Crackdown on dissent continued. Notably, authorities 13 Oct detained three lawyers representing imprisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny on charges of participation in “extremist community”; 26 Oct charged Russian-American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva for violating “foreign agents” law.
Russian weapons and facilities are under solid control and there’s no evidence that Wagner or anyone else is looking to capture them.
If Russian soldiers feel their commanders are not in control, their trenches will be much easier to take for advancing Ukrainian troops.
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.
Russian engagement in the Sahel is very low-cost [financially]. It is distracting the West and diminishing the West’s symbolic power.
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...
We have seen nuclear deterrence work, on the part of both Russia and Western countries.
Crisis Group's Europe and Central Asia Program Director Olga Oliker and Senior Russia analyst Oleg Ignatov discuss the aftermath of the mutiny in Russia and what the future holds for the group.
This week, Richard speaks with Crisis Group experts Olga Oliker, Jean-Hervé Jezequel and Richard Gowan about Wagner’s mutiny in Russia, what it means for the Ukraine war and for places in Africa where Wagner operates – particularly Mali, where the government’s ties to Wagner have informed its recent demand that UN peacekeepers leave.
In this online event, Crisis Group experts discuss the implications of the Wagner rebellion for Putin’s rule, the war in Ukraine, Russian foreign politics and the country’s power projections abroad.
In this Twitter Space, Crisis Group experts explore about the need for and purpose of a tribunal on the crime of aggression.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks with Olga Oliker, Crisis Group’s Europe and Central Asia director, about the latest escalation in Ukraine, as Russian airstrikes batter multiple Ukrainian cities.
Designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism will only backfire.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson talk with RAND Senior Policy Researcher Dara Massicot about the latest military developments in Ukraine amid Russia’s decision to declare a partial mobilisation.
Following a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russia is escalating its war in Ukraine. Yet developments on the ground show that NATO members’ approach to date – supporting Kyiv while avoiding a direct clash with Moscow – is fundamentally sound. The West should stay the course.
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