Russian Digest 6/14
Top stories I'm keeping an eye on
1. Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said earlier that Ukraine has received just 10 percent of the weapons it has requested from the West to help fight the Russian invasion. via RFERL
Ukrainian forces are suffering painful losses in the fight against Russian troops in the east of the country as they await the delivery of promised weapons from Western countries, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on June 14 in a late-night address.
Ukraine needs modern anti-missile weapons now, he said, adding there could be no justification for partner countries to delay delivery.
"We keep telling our partners that Ukraine needs modern anti-missile weapons," Zelenskiy said. "Our country does not have them yet at a sufficient level, but it is in Ukraine and right now that there is the greatest need for such weapons. Procrastination in providing them cannot be justified."
2. Putin likely still wants much, if not all, of Ukraine, Pentagon official says
Putin likely still wants to capture much if not all of Ukraine but has had to narrow his tactical objectives in war, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said on Tuesday.
"I still think he has designs on a significant portion of Ukraine, if not the whole country. That said, I do not think he can achieve those objectives," Kahl said, speaking at an event hosted by the Center for New American Security. via Reuters
3. The Insider: Alexei Navalny was transferred to IK-6 with a strict regime in the Vladimir region. Prisoners of the colony reported torture
4. The Russian army is preparing to “defend” the Kurils
The Russian army began to work out scenarios for the defense of the Kuril Islands the day after the Japanese authorities announced a sharp increase in military spending.
On Tuesday, during the exercises, air defense units practiced actions in the event of a raid by a mock enemy, the press service of the Ministry of Defense reported.
As part of the training, the air defense forces on duty received information about the violation of the air borders of Russia by a group of aircraft, after which the crews of the S-300V4 anti-aircraft missile systems searched, identified, and tracked air targets.
According to the plot of the exercises, the attack on the Kuril Islands was carried out by dozens of aircraft, on which "training (electronic) launches" of missiles were carried out, the Ministry of Defense reported. To “protect” the islands, four of which Japan claims, the S-300V4 complexes were used, capable of hitting targets at a distance of over 350 km and an altitude of up to 30 thousand meters.
The air defense combat alert zone in the Kuril Islands was established in April 2019. Kunashir Island was chosen to host the S-300 systems, where by that time the Bal and Bastion coastal missile systems were already located. The Ministry of Defense deployed them on Iturup along with S-35 multi-purpose destroyers and a machine gun and artillery division.
Japan claims the four southern islands of the Kuril chain: Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Khabomai, referring to the 1855 Treatise on Trade and Borders. The Kremlin insists that the South Kuriles became part of the USSR following World War II and that Russian sovereignty over them has an international legal basis.
Japan could double defense spending next year to 10 trillion yen, Sanae Takaichi, chairman of the political council of the country's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said on Monday. In this year's budget, Tokyo has budgeted 5.37 trillion yen for defense ($40 billion). via Moscow Times
5. New details emerge of Oval Office confrontation three days before Jan. 6
Three days before Congress was slated to certify the 2020 presidential election, a little-known Justice Department official named Jeffrey Clark rushed to meet President Donald Trump in the Oval Office to discuss a last-ditch attempt to reverse the results.
Clark, an environmental lawyer by trade, had outlined a plan in a letter he wanted to send to the leaders of key states Joe Biden won. It said that the Justice Department had “identified significant concerns” about the vote and that the states should consider sending “a separate slate of electors supporting Donald J. Trump” for Congress to approve. via Washington Post
6. Satellite images suggest Iran preparing for a rocket launch
ran appeared to be readying for a space launch Tuesday as satellite images showed a rocket on a rural desert launch pad, just as tensions remain high over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The images from Maxar Technologies showed a launch pad at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province, the site of frequent recent failed attempts to put a satellite into orbit.
One set of images showed a rocket on a transporter, preparing to be lifted and put on a launch tower. A later image Tuesday afternoon showed the rocket apparently on the tower. via AP
7. Two-thirds of Russian regions fell into recession
The economic situation of the Russian regions has deteriorated sharply against the backdrop of a wave of Western sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine.
During the war, the number of subjects of the Russian Federation, where there are signs of economic growth, has almost tripled: in February it was 72 regions, in March - 55 regions, and in April it was already only 27 out of 85, the Higher School notes in "Comments on the State and Business" economy.
As a result, the regional economic activity index (REA) collapsed by almost 20 percentage points in a month - a record since the 2020 pandemic - and broke through the conditional threshold of 50% separating growth from contraction.
“Conjuncture deterioration (the index value is less than 50%) was observed in three of the five most important sectors of the economy and in six of the eight federal districts,” the HSE report says.
The Ural and Central Federal Districts became the zone of economic disaster, where the value of the economic activity index fell to 25% and 32.2%. At the same time, in four regions (Ivanovo, Kaluga, Tver regions and Khabarovsk Territory), the recession became total and affected all five key sectors - industry, wholesale and retail trade, construction and paid services. In another 18 constituent entities of the Russian Federation, a fall was recorded in 4 out of 5 sectors of the economy. The number of such regions increased by 6 times compared to March.
Western sanctions, the collapse of imports and the withdrawal of foreign companies paralyzed trade flows: retail suffered the most losses, where the CEA index collapsed to 16%, the lowest value among all industries. Moscow and St. Petersburg remained in the growth zone with an index at the level of 60%, which together receive a quarter of the country's gross regional product. But outside of the "recession in April has already captured two-thirds of the regions," says Deputy Director of the "Development Center" Sergei Smirnov.
"That said, there is no reason to believe that the bottom of the decline has already been reached," he warns.
According to the Ministry of Economic Development, in April, Russian GDP sank for the first time since the beginning of the war - by 3% in annual terms. At the end of the year, the agency expects the economy to decline by 7.5%, and then by another 0.7% in 2023. The first two-year recession since the mid-1990s will wipe out the economic growth of the previous 12 years and promise citizens a 6.8% drop in incomes, the biggest since 1999. via Moscow Times