Key Takeaways

  • The Kremlin is likely attempting to portray Russia as an equal defense partner with China ahead of Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu’s visit to Moscow from April 16 to 18.
  • The Kremlin is likely hoping to make itself more attractive to China by launching Russian Pacific Fleet exercises to project Russia’s naval power in the Pacific.
  • The Kremlin also likely intends to use the Pacific Fleet’s combat readiness checks to attempt to deter further Japanese support for Ukraine ahead of the G7 meeting from May 19 to 21.
  • Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin is setting information conditions to exploit a Russian military failure if the planned Ukrainian counteroffensive is successful.
  • Former Russian officer and ardent nationalist Igor Girkin denied speculations that he is facing charges in St. Petersburg for the discreditation of the Russian Armed Forces – a denial that likely further indicates his protection by unknown siloviki patrons.
  • Russian elite forces are diluting their combat effectiveness with poorly trained mobilized personnel and volunteers due to high causalities sustained in Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely host his annual June press conference in early June 2023.
  • The Russian State Duma is intensifying its efforts to censor of Russian cultural figures who fled Russia and criticize the war, likely aimed at encouraging domestic self-censorship.
  • Russian forces continued limited offensive operations in the Kreminna area as Ukrainian forces targeted rear areas in Luhansk Oblast.
  • Russian forces continued to advance in Bakhmut and conduct ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Russian forces continue to endanger the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) amidst continued Russian efforts to establish control over the ZNPP.
  • The Kremlin reportedly continues to use private military companies (PMCs) and nationalist networks to support its force generation campaigns.
  • Russian security personnel continue to arrest Ukrainian citizens under allegations that they associate with claimed illegal formations.


Authors: Riley Bailey, Kateryna Stepanenko, George Barros, Grace Mappes, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan

See full report here.

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