Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • The Kremlin appears to be re-intensifying a reflexive control campaign targeting Western decision-making using nuclear threats and diplomatic manipulation.
  • Russian elites and Kremlin officials are reportedly vying for influential positions in the Russian government ahead of the Russian presidential inauguration on May 7 to prematurely secure powerful roles in the event that Russian President Vladimir Putin leaves power around the end of his new term.
  • A Russian insider source, who has routinely been accurate about past Russian military command changes, claimed that the Russian military command appointed the commanders and chiefs of staff of the newly formed Leningrad and Moscow military districts (LMD and MMD).
  • The Kremlin continues tightening the restrictions on individuals it designates as “foreign agents,” restricting their ability to serve in government roles, likely in a disguised purge of officials who do not adequately align with the Kremlin.
  • Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) conducted a successful maritime drone strike against a Russian patrol boat in occupied Crimea on May 6, and Ukrainian forces are reportedly adapting their maritime drones to combat Russian defensive measures.
  • Russia may be switching sides in the Sudanese civil war to support the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in pursuit of a Red Sea naval base for Russia, which would align Iranian and Russian Sudanese policy and create opportunities for increased Iranian-Russian cooperation in Sudan and the broader Red Sea area.
  • Russia has pursued a Red Sea port since 2008 to protect its economic interests in the area and improve its military posture by increasing its ability to challenge the West in the broader region, including in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.
  • Russia backing the SAF would greatly benefit Iran by aligning Iranian and Russian policy and strategy in the region, which would advance Iran’s own aims of securing a Red Sea base in Sudan.
  • The Kremlin is additionally pursuing secondary objectives, including sidelining Ukrainian and US influence in Sudan, through its outreach to the SAF.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances northwest of Svatove, near Avdiivka, in western Zaporizhia Oblast, and in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast.
  • Ukrainian Zaporizhia Oblast Head Ivan Fedorov stated that Russian authorities have created the infrastructure necessary to conscript Ukrainians in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast and plan to conscript more than 150,000 Ukrainians into the Russian army in an unspecified time period.

Authors: Christina Harward, Angelica Evans, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Frederick W. Kagan.

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