Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin began his fifth term as Russian President on May 7 and stressed Russia's need for unchallenged autocratic rule while indirectly calling for victory in Ukraine.
  • Russian ultranationalists lauded the start of Putin's fifth term as a historic event and explicitly approved of the autocratic tradition in which Putin is casting himself, with one of them hailing him as "imperator," the formal title of the Russian tsars since the time of Peter the Great. Russian ultranationalists also expressed hope that Putin will continue to deepen an anti-Western ideology that the Kremlin has been heavily developing since the start of the full-scale invasion.
  • The current Russian cabinet of ministers and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin formally resigned on May 7 as constitutionally mandated, and the ministers who return to service and the ones whom Putin replaces will indicate who has Putin's favor and signal his political priorities for his fifth term
  • Belarus has announced a surprise nuclear readiness inspection likely as part of the Kremlin's re-intensified reflexive control campaign targeting Western decision-making.
  • Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) reported on May 7 that it exposed a network of Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) operatives who were planning to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence and military officials
  • The Russian Prosecutor General's Office declared US non-governmental organization (NGO) Freedom House an "undesirable organization" on May 7, likely as part of an ongoing effort to consolidate control over the domestic information space and further deprive Russians of access to civil society organizations and independent assessments of Russian civil and political rights.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Avdiivka, Donetsk City, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
  • Russian occupation officials continue efforts to forcibly recruit Ukrainian civilians into the Russian military in occupied Kherson Oblast.
  • The Kremlin is working with occupation administrators to strengthen Russia's control over the child welfare system in occupied Ukraine.

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

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