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Russia: weekly report (17.06-23.06)

This report presents key events that had an important impact on political, economic and social processes within Russia.

According to the results of the past week the following tendencies can be defined in the following theses:

  • After the presidential elections in Russia, the process of personnel renewal in important areas continues to be observed, as well as partial restructuring of the main centers of influence with the accompanying “redistribution” of important spheres. In particular, there is a further strengthening of the Kovalchuk group, which has a serious influence not only on political processes in the Kremlin, but also on regional politics and distribution of an important resource base. The strengthening of the Kovalchuks’ interests in the Sakha Republic, which was visited by the Russian president last week, appears to coincide directly with Russia’s ongoing attempt to make a U-turn toward Asia. Undoubtedly, in the coming decades, the Far East will be an important center of relations in the geopolitical arena, and Russian elites are already actively preparing for it. 
  • Last week, the Russian president emphasized international activities by visiting two countries at once: North Korea and Vietnam. Undoubtedly, one of the most important aspects of such visits was the demonstration of the existence of a conditional axis that does not recognize U.S. sanctions and is ready to cooperate – including in the military sphere. A visit to Pyongyang is a kind of challenge to the West. The choice of countries to visit (Korea, Vietnam) is like a symbolic reminder to the US of the places where it lost wars in the twentieth century. Putin cares about symbolic moments. However, one should not count on serious strengthening of relations, especially with Vietnam. Both visits were full of formalities and loud statements. 
  • Throughout the past week, a number of Russian politicians and officials have repeatedly made statements about the readiness to cease hostilities. It is clear that Russia is preparing the ground for some kind of negotiation process and is raising the stakes and strengthening its negotiating position. Putin’s statements should not be taken as an imperative – negotiations usually end with compromises that the Russian side is diligently preparing (according to the principle of “ask for more and you will get what you want”). It is also important to note the fact that Putin emphasizes the scheme, which, among other things, Ascolta has repeatedly predicted: Russia wants to negotiate peace with the U.S., not with Ukraine, and the issue of Ukraine should be solved in conjunction with other issues. The U.S. side wants Russia to negotiate only with Ukraine and only on the specific issue of peace terms. 

This digest looks at the following issues that were most relevant to Russia between June 17 and June 23:

  1. Vladimir Putin’s visit to Yakutsk;
  2. Vladimir Putin’s visit to the DPRK;
  3. Vladimir Putin’s visit to Vietnam;
  4. General Sergei Beseda’s resignation;
  5. Putin’s new statements about readiness for peace talks;
  6. Diversions in Dagestan.

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This report presents key events that had an important impact on political, economic and social processes within Russia.

According to the results of the past week the following tendencies can be defined in the following theses:

  • After the presidential elections in Russia, the process of personnel renewal in important areas continues to be observed, as well as partial restructuring of the main centers of influence with the accompanying “redistribution” of important spheres. In particular, there is a further strengthening of the Kovalchuk group, which has a serious influence not only on political processes in the Kremlin, but also on regional politics and distribution of an important resource base. The strengthening of the Kovalchuks’ interests in the Sakha Republic, which was visited by the Russian president last week, appears to coincide directly with Russia’s ongoing attempt to make a U-turn toward Asia. Undoubtedly, in the coming decades, the Far East will be an important center of relations in the geopolitical arena, and Russian elites are already actively preparing for it. 
  • Last week, the Russian president emphasized international activities by visiting two countries at once: North Korea and Vietnam. Undoubtedly, one of the most important aspects of such visits was the demonstration of the existence of a conditional axis that does not recognize U.S. sanctions and is ready to cooperate – including in the military sphere. A visit to Pyongyang is a kind of challenge to the West. The choice of countries to visit (Korea, Vietnam) is like a symbolic reminder to the US of the places where it lost wars in the twentieth century. Putin cares about symbolic moments. However, one should not count on serious strengthening of relations, especially with Vietnam. Both visits were full of formalities and loud statements. 
  • Throughout the past week, a number of Russian politicians and officials have repeatedly made statements about the readiness to cease hostilities. It is clear that Russia is preparing the ground for some kind of negotiation process and is raising the stakes and strengthening its negotiating position. Putin’s statements should not be taken as an imperative – negotiations usually end with compromises that the Russian side is diligently preparing (according to the principle of “ask for more and you will get what you want”). It is also important to note the fact that Putin emphasizes the scheme, which, among other things, Ascolta has repeatedly predicted: Russia wants to negotiate peace with the U.S., not with Ukraine, and the issue of Ukraine should be solved in conjunction with other issues. The U.S. side wants Russia to negotiate only with Ukraine and only on the specific issue of peace terms. 

This digest looks at the following issues that were most relevant to Russia between June 17 and June 23:

  1. Vladimir Putin’s visit to Yakutsk;
  2. Vladimir Putin’s visit to the DPRK;
  3. Vladimir Putin’s visit to Vietnam;
  4. General Sergei Beseda’s resignation;
  5. Putin’s new statements about readiness for peace talks;
  6. Diversions in Dagestan.

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