Russian Digest 4/14
Top daily stories I'm keeping an eye on
Britain on Thursday sanctioned two close associates of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, saying the men had been subjected to the largest asset freeze ever imposed by the government. via Reuters
Ukrainian authorities announced Thursday that they had seized a sum of 154 assets from pro-Kremlin opposition politician and mogul Viktor Medvedchuk, who was captured this week following an escape from house arrest shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Among the long list of property seized from Medvedchuk and his family: 30 plots of land, 23 houses, 32 apartments, 26 cars and one yacht.
The seizures add further intrigue to the circumstances of the escape and recapture of one of Ukraine’s most notorious oligarchs, known for his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who acts as godfather to Medvedchuk’s daughter. via Washington Post
The director of the C.I.A. said on Thursday that “potential desperation” to extract the semblance of a victory in Ukraine could tempt President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to order the use of a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon, publicly discussing for the first time a concern that has coursed through the White House during seven weeks of conflict.
The director, William J. Burns, who served as American ambassador to Russia and is the member of the administration who has dealt most often with Mr. Putin, said the potential detonation of such a weapon — even as a warning shot — was a possibility that the United States remained “very concerned” about. But he quickly cautioned that so far, despite Mr. Putin’s frequent invocation of nuclear threats, he had seen no “practical evidence” of the kinds of military deployments or movement of weapons that would suggest such a move was imminent.
“Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far, militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,” Mr. Burns said during a question-and-answer session following a speech he delivered at the Georgia Institute of Technology. via NYT
A Russian warship that was damaged by an explosion on Wednesday has sunk, Russia's defence ministry has said.
Moskva, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, was being towed to port when "stormy seas" caused it to sink, according to a ministry message.
The 510-crew missile cruiser was a symbol of Russia's military power, leading its naval assault on Ukraine.
Kyiv says its missiles hit the warship. Moscow has not reported any attack. It says the vessel sank after a fire. via BBC
In early April, the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, the secretary of the United Russia general council, Andrey Turchak, and several other people who support the Kremlin aggressively criticized the presidential press secretary, Dmitry Peskov. In their opinion, Peskov spoke several times “not patriotically enough” on topics related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Meduza Special Correspondent Andrey Pertsev talked about what is happening with his sources close to the Kremlin, and tells what is behind this - and whether Peskov could lose his position as Putin's press secretary.
Mixed news. May regret touch the hearts of V Putin and his cronies before they think to deploy any further or more destructive weapons.