Friday, June 28, 2019

Pro-Assad Regime Forces Locked in Battle of Attrition in Idlib Province

By Michael Land, Matti Suomenaro, Mason Clark, and Elizabeth Teoman

*Updated July 2, 2019

Note: The authors have updated this post to reflect clarifications regarding: group names and composition, claims and tactical details of attacks, distinctions between assessments and reported events, and citation source materials.

Key Takeaway: Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and Turkish-backed opposition forces are locked in a grinding stalemate with forces loyal to Assad in Northern Syria. Pro-Assad regime forces have suffered significant losses and risk provoking a more muscular intervention from Turkey. The Turkish Armed Forces shelled positions held by the Syrian Arab Army on June 27, 2019 after shelling killed a soldier at an observation post run by Turkey in Northern Hama Province. Assad likely seeks to deter Turkey from providing military support to opposition forces in Greater Idlib Province. Russia will likely attempt to constrain the regime from further attacks against Turkey while still supporting a limited ground operation into Southern Idlib Province. Assad remains incapable of securing major near-term gains in Idlib Province.

Al Qaeda and Turkish-backed opposition forces are locked in a costly stalemate with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Greater Idlib Province as of June 28, 2019. Pro-Assad regime forces launched a limited ground offensive that seized the towns of Qala’at al-Madiq and Kafr Nabouda in Northern Hama Province on May 6. Yet they have suffered heavy casualties and failed to gain new terrain since June 7. Pro-Assad regime losses are difficult to estimate but local reports claim over six hundred combat fatalities and the loss of at least seventeen tanks, five infantry fighting vehicles, and dozens of other military vehicles since April 30.[1] The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has lost at least one hundred fighters and officers from the relatively elite 4th Armored Division and Tiger Forces.[2] Russia has also allegedly lost at least four private contractors or military personnel in Northern Hama Province.[3] Iran is largely absent from the offensive. Overall, pro-regime forces have suffered disproportionate casualties in Northern Hama Province compared to previous offensives in Aleppo City, Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, and Southern Syria.

Assad and his allies successfully secured the gains of their initial advance but lost terrain on separate fronts in Northern Hama Province. Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF), and other opposition groups launched a significant counterattack on Kafr Nabouda on May 21.[4] Opposition groups simultaneously attacked multiple additional frontlines in Northern Latakia and Northern Hama Provinces, disrupting pro-regime momentum and buying space and time for the opposition to muster reinforcements across Greater Idlib Province. HTS and other opposition groups later launched a new counterattack in Northern Hama Province on June 6 that severed the primary ground line of communication between the pro-regime staging area of Suqaylabiyah and Hama City.[5] Pro-regime forces have not regained control of this route as of June 28. The attack also reportedly forced Russia to retreat from one of its frontline observation posts in Northern Hama Province.[6]

Al Qaeda is leading the opposition defense of Greater Idlib Province with indirect military support from Turkey. HTS helped establish - and almost certainly controls - the Conquest of Damascus Operations Room (later rebranded the Fatah al-Mubin Operations Room) on May 9.[7] This organization parallels the Jaysh al-Fatah Operations Room that seized all of Idlib Province with support from Turkey in 2015. Turkey has agreed to subordinate its proxies to these structures and continued to provide them with lethal aid including anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). It may be providing additional advanced capabilities to opposition groups in Northern Syria. HTS’ Ebaa News reported separate attacks that damaged three regime warplanes over Northern Hama Province on June 7, June 19, and June 28.[8] HTS attributed two of the attacks to forces in the opposition operations room equipped with man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). Unidentified opposition factions have also sustained drone and rocket attacks against airbases in Northern Syria.[9] Russia has been the target of drone swarms and long-range shelling targeting its Hmeimim Airbase on the Syrian Coast since December 2017. Opposition groups sustained these attacks against Hmeimim Airbase and the Jubb Ramlah Helipad in Western Hama Province throughout May - June 2019. ISW assesses that HTS is likely responsible for the drone attacks occurring in Northern Syria.

Pro-Assad regime forces paused, regrouped, and launched a new offensive but failed to gain new ground in Greater Idlib Province in mid-June 2019. Russia declared a unilateral three-day ceasefire in Northern Hama Province on June 12, likely to integrate newly arrived reinforcements from the SAA 1st, 3rd, 10th, and 11th Divisions.[10] These units reportedly began deploying contingents to Northern Hama Province around June 10 with the likely task of reopening the supply route between Hama City and Suqaylabiyah. Russia also expanded its air campaign to disrupt opposition rear areas in Greater Idlib Province in late May 2019.[11]

Pro-Assad regime forces also abandoned a simultaneous effort to advance in Northern Latakia Province in late June 2019.[12] The SAA 4th Armored Division had originally deployed reinforcements to the mountainous Jabal al-Akrad Region of Northern Latakia Province in early May 2019. These units likely intended to seize the key opposition stronghold of Kabanah and clear terrain used by opposition forces to launch drone and artillery strikes against the Russian Hmeimim Airbase on the Syrian Coast. Russia provided significant assistance to this operation including limited deployments of military contractors and special forces personnel as well as air, artillery, and drone support.[13] Pro-regime forces sustained at least one hundred casualties over six weeks of fighting near Kabanah.[14] Russia and Assad later halted the operation, likely concluding that they could not sustain two high-casualty offensives on separate frontlines and electing to prioritize the main combat zone in Northern Hama Province. Russia likely also intended to test the SAA, which was historically unable to conduct simultaneous major operations across Syria.

Russia and Assad are likely now preparing for a new attempt to advance into Greater Idlib Province. The 4th Armored Division redeployed from its stalled offensive in Northern Latakia Province to Northern Hama Province in late June 2019, joining the other reinforcements that arrived in mid-June 2019.[15] These deployments could trigger an open conflict with Turkey in Greater Idlib Province. Pro-Assad regime forces shelled an observation point run by the Turkish Armed Forces in Southern Idlib Province on June 27, killing at least one soldier.[16] Pro-Assad regime forces have consistently shelled this post since May 2019, including an attack that injured three Turkish soldiers on June 13.[17] Turkey maintains outposts in Greater Idlib Province under the terms of the Astana Talks with Russia and Iran. It is treating the latest incident as a major escalation. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated on June 13 that Turkey would “do whatever is necessary” if attacks persisted against its military positions in Syria.[18] Turkey conducted retaliatory shelling targeting pro-regime positions in Northern Hama Province on June 27.[19]


Assad cannot conquer opposition-held Greater Idlib Province without significantly more military support from Russia and Iran. The attrition of elite pro-regime military units such as the 4th Armored Division and Tiger Forces is a serious blow to strength of the SAA. This attrition undermines Assad’s already tenuous hold on former opposition-held areas across Syria. Assad is currently at risk of overstretch in the face of a growing insurgent campaign in Southern Syria as well as a resurgence of ISIS in Central Syria.

Al Qaeda is exploiting the offensive against Greater Idlib Province to consolidate its hold over the opposition and issue renewed calls for global mobilization against Assad, Russia, and Iran. HTS has declared a general mobilization of the fighters and estimated three million civilians in Greater Idlib Province. Senior Al Qaeda-linked clerics have issued calls for foreign fighters and refugees to return to fight in Northern Syria. HTS-affiliated accounts claimed that its training camps were “overwhelmed” with new fighters as of June 10.[20] The veracity and composition of this claimed influx remains unclear.

Russia will most likely attempt to prevent escalation with Turkey in Northern Syria while still supporting a limited offensive into Greater Idlib Province by Assad. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar held a phone call with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu on June 17.[21] Turkey also summoned the Russian Defense Attaché to Ankara immediately after the attack on its outpost in Northern Hama Province on June 27.[22] Further escalation - even inadvertent - between Turkey and Russia in Syria would undermine the recent diplomatic rapprochement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Although Russia appears to have deprioritized this diplomatic effort in order to advance its goals in Northern Syria, it likely does not want a wider breakdown of its relationship with Turkey.

[1] The National Liberation Front (NLF) has conducted a significant number of attacks targeting vehicles and equipment with anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). See: “More Casualties Raise to 512 Including 130 Children, The Number of Citizens Who Have Been Killed Since the Start of the Fiercest Escalation,” SOHR, June 23, 2019, Additional sourcing on regime material losses available on request.
[2] These estimates are based on an assessment of martyrdom statements published by pro-regime media accounts. They thus likely underrepresent total casualties. Additional sourcing on regime combat losses available on request.
[3] Qalaat al-Mudiq, Twitter, May 1, 2019,
[4] “Deadly Syrian Strikes as Army Battles Rebel Counterattack,” Al-Jazeera, May 23, 2019,
[5] [“Evening Publication of All Field Events in Syria: June 6, 2019,”] SNN, June 6, 2019,نشرة-مساء-اليوم-لجميع-الأحداث-الميدانية-في-سوريا-06-06-2019.html; [“After Controlling the Village Tal Malah, Rebel and Jihadist Factions Cut Through the Strategic Towns in the Hama Countryside Amid Fierce Fighting Which Has Left More Than 35 Dead Among Them,”] SOHR, June 6, 2019,
[6] Step News Agency, Twitter, June 6, 2019,
[7] Charles Lister, Twitter, May 9, 2019,
[8] [“Warplane Belonging to the Criminal Regime in the Northern Suburbs of Hama Made an Emergency Landing After Being Hit by an Anti-Aircraft Missile by the Air Defense Company of the Joint Operations Room,”] Ebaa News, June 7, 2019, https://ebaa(.)news/news/2019/06/43655/; [“Military Source in the Tahrir al-Sham to Ebaa: Damage to a Military Aircraft Type L-39 of the Criminal Regime in the Air Over Southern Idlib Province After Being Targeted by the Anti-Aircraft Company of Jaysh Omar bin al-Khattab,”] Ebaa News, June 19, 2019, https://ebaa(.)news/news/breaking/2019/06/45127/; [“Military Source: Damage to a Military Aircraft of the Regime of the Type L-39 (Machine Gun) North of Hama, Forcing It to an Emergency Landing After Being Targeted by an Anti-Aircraft Missile from the Mujahideen of the Fatah al-Mubin Operations Room,”] Ebaa News, June 28, 2019, https://ebaa(.)news/news/breaking/2019/06/45877/; [“Midday Bulletin of All Field Events in Syria: June 7, 2019,”] SNN, June 7, 2019,نشرة-منتصف-اليوم-لجميع-الأحداث-الميدانية-في-سوريا-07-06-2019.html; [“National Liberation and Tahrir al-Sham Announce the Start of the Second Phase of Fatah al-Mubin and Latter Announces the Injury of a Regime Plane in the Hama Countryside,”] Aleppo Media Center, June 7, 2019,الوطنية-للتحرير-وتحرير-الشام-يعلنان-بدء-المرحلة-الثانية-من-"الفتح-المبين"-والأخيرة-تُعلن-إصابة-طائرة-للنظام-بريف-حماة&id=4349; [“The Regime Commits a Massacre and Tahrir al-Sham Hits a Warplane in Idlib,”] Baladi News, June 19, 2019,النظام_يرتكب_مجزرة_وتحرير_الشام_تصيب_طائرة_حربية_بإدلب; Muhammad Hussein, [“Dozens of Dead and Wounded from the Regime in Confrontations with FSA and Tahrir al-Sham in Northern Hama,”] SMART, June 28, 2019,عشرات-القتلى-والجرحى-للنظام-بمواجهات-مع-الحر-وتحرير-الشام-شمال.
[9] “Russian Airbase in Western Syria Allegedly Comes Under Attack,” Al-Masdar, May 16, 2019, https://www.almasdarnews(.)com/article/russian-airbase-in-western-syria-allegedly-comes-under-attack/; “Syrian State TV Says Hmeimim Air Base Defenses Thwart Projectiles,” Reuters, May 18, 2019,; “For the Second Consecutive Day, Attack by Drones Targets Hmeimim Airbase, Which Is Being Taken by Russian Forces as Their Center,” SOHR, May 19, 2019,; [“Factions Targeted an Airstrip and Several Headquarters of the Assad Militia in the Villages of Hama,”] Orient News, June 1, 2019,الفصائل-تستهدف-مهبط-طائرات-وعدة-مقرات-لميليشيا-أسد-في-ريف-حماة; [“Syrian Army Anti-Aircraft Destroy Four Aircraft That Tried to Target a Helicopter Helipad West of Hama,”] Sputnik Arabic, June 2, 2019, https://arabic(.)مضادات-الجيش-السوري-إسقاط-درونات/; [“Attack by Drone on the Jubb Ramlah Airport in Hama Province,”] Qasioun News, June 4, 2019,هجوم_بطائرات_مسيرة_على_مطار_جب_رملة_بريف_حماه; [“Russian Base at Hmeimim Was Attacked Using Drones,”] Sputnik Arabic, June 26, 2019, https://arabic(.); [“Have You Been Hit by a Bomb?”] Al-Modon, June 26, 2019,هل-تعرضت-حميميم-للقصف.
[10] [“In Syria, Agreement Was Reached on a Complete Ceasefire in the Idlib De-Escalation Zone,”] TV Zvezda, June 12, 2019, https://tvzvezda(.)ru/news/vstrane_i_mire/content/2019612221-UJdp7.html; [“Regime Sends Components of Three Divisions to the Fronts of the Hama Countryside,”] Enab Baladi, June 10, 2019,; Gregory Waters, Twitter, June 19, 2019,
[11] [“Evening Bulletin of All Field Events in Syria: May 31, 2019,”] SNN, May 31, 2019,نشرة-مساء-اليوم-لجميع-الأحداث-الميدانية-في-سوريا-31-05-2019.html.
[12] [“Regime Withdraws the 4th Division from Latakia Countryside After 45 Days of Fighting,”] Enab Baladi, June 21, 2019,
[13] “Russian Air Force Unleashes Massive Attack Over Northwestern Syria,” Al-Masdar, May 15, 2019, https://www.almasdarnews(.)com/article/russian-air-force-unleashes-massive-attack-over-northwestern-syria/; Obretix, Twitter, May 12, 2019,; Qalaat al-Mudiq, Twitter, May 15, 2019,
[14] These estimates are based on an assessment of martyrdom statements published by pro-regime media accounts. They thus likely underrepresent total casualties. Additional sourcing on regime combat losses available upon request.
[15] [“Regime Withdraws the 4th Division from Latakia Countryside After 45 Days of Fighting,”] Enab Baladi, June 21, 2019,
[16] [“Attack on Our Observation Point in Idlib by Regime Elements,”] Turkish Defense Ministry, June 27, 2019,
[17] Daren Butler, “Turkish Outpost in Syria Shelled from Syrian Government Forces Area: Ministry,” Reuters, June 16, 2019,; Busra Nur Bilgic, “Syrian Forces Attack Turkish Post in Ceasefire Zone,” Anadolu Agency, June 13, 2019, https://www(.)
[18] Tuvan Gumrukcu and Angus McDowall, “Turkey Says No Truce in Syria After Attack on Its Troops, Urges Russia to Restore Calm,” Reuters, June 13, 2019,
[19] Nedaa Syria, Twitter, June 27, 2019,
[20] Sourcing available upon request.
[21] [“Minister Akar and Russian Defense Minister Shoygu Hold Telephone Call,”] Turkish Defense Ministry, June 17, 2019,
[22] [“Attack on Our Observation Point in Idlib by Regime Elements,”] Turkish Defense Ministry, June 27, 2019,

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Syria Situation Report: June 10 - 25, 2019

By ISW's Syria Team

The following Syria Situation Report (SITREP) Map summarizes significant developments in the war in Syria during the period June 10 - 25, 2019. The SITREP highlights include the reinforcement of pro-Bashar al Assad regime forces in Northern Hama Province, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces' restructuring of military councils, and Saudi Arabia's support for stabilization efforts in Eastern Syria.

Click image to enlarge.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Russia in Review: Opportunity in Moldova

Russia in Review is a weekly intelligence summary (INTSUM) produced by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). This ISW INTSUM series sheds light on key trends and developments related to the Russian government’s objectives and its efforts to secure them. Receive future Russia in Review INTSUM products via-email by signing up for the ISW mailing list.

Special Topic Update: Moldova's Elections (view the previous update here)

Authors: Darina Regio and Nataliya Bugayova

Key Takeaways

Moldova formed a new coalition government after months of deadlock in a rare moment of political alignment between the West and Russia. The Kremlin facilitated the formation of this coalition between pro-European and pro-Russian forces in order to support pro-Russian Moldovan President Igor Dodon and weaken an obstacle to its interests - namely, oligarch and former leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) Vladimir Plahotniuc. Moldova’s new government could prove advantageous for the country but also opens an opportunity for expanded influence for the Kremlin.

The Kremlin will likely rapidly capitalize on the new coalition government to reduce the opposition to its interests in Moldova. Numerous senior Kremlin officials including Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak to meet with Dodon since June 1, 2019. Kozak and Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev held a follow-up meeting with Dodon on June 24 in Chisinau. The Kremlin may use the coalition as a test case for its ability to legitimize its political clients through nominal alliances with the West. The West should support the new Government of Moldova’s democratic aspirations but must not confuse the Kremlin’s change in approach for a change in goals - either towards Moldova or towards the former Soviet Union

Moldova formed a new coalition government after months of deadlock in a rare moment of political alignment between the West and Russia.[1] Pro-Russian Moldovan President Igor Dodon and his Party of Socialists (PSRM) forged an unlikely political coalition with the pro-EU ACUM Alliance to form a new Government of Moldova on June 8, 2019. The deal ended a lengthy period of gridlock after the February 2019 Moldovan Parliamentary Election. It also sidelined influential Moldovan oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc and his Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM), which previously held the majority in the Moldovan Parliament. Plahotniuc attempted to undermine the new government through his influence over the Moldovan Constitutional Court, which declared the coalition unlawful and stripped executive powers from Dodon on June 9. The PDM maintained a parallel government for several days but ultimately resigned on June 14, likely under pressure from the West and Russia. Plahotniuc briefly fled Moldova on June 15 and resigned as the head of the PDM on June 24.[2]

The Kremlin facilitated the formation of this new government and will likely move rapidly to regain influence in Moldova. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak urged Dodon to align with ACUM during a visit to Moldova on June 3 - 4.[3] Dodon noted that the brief had made him more receptive towards the coalition with ACUM.[4] The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the resulting government and noted its expectation that ACUM and PSRM would “promote cooperation” with Russia on June 15.[5] Kozak and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev later met with Dodon in Minsk to discuss the restoration of a strategic partnership between Russia and Moldova on June 21.[6] Dodon requested that Russia extend exemptions on trade restrictions that it imposed after Moldova signed an association deal with the EU in 2014.[7] He promised to appoint a co-chair for the frozen Russian-Moldovan Inter-Governmental Commission on Economic Cooperation.[8] He also discussed the extension of a natural gas contract with Russia, currently set to expire on January 1, 2020. Moldova had considered pursuing an alternative gas deal with Romania after 2019. Kozak and Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev held a follow-up meeting with Dodon in Moldova on June 24.[9]

Moldova’s new political configuration advances several objectives of the Kremlin in Moldova.
  • First, Russia ensured that its preferred political actors retained positions of power in the new Government of Moldova. The Kremlin openly favors Dodon and the PSRM, both of which hold political influence in the new Government of Moldova despite their failure to win a decisive majority in the 2019 Moldovan Parliamentary Election. Russia also holds mutual interests with pro-EU ACUM. Both Russia and ACUM intended to curb Plahotniuc’s influence over the political institutions of Moldova. The West also shared this agenda. The EU cut twenty million euros of financial assistance and indefinitely suspended a hundred million euro assistance program in Moldova in 2017 - 2018 due to “oligarchic influence” over the Government of Moldova. This convergence of interests granted additional legitimacy to Dodon and the PSRM - as well as an opportunity for the Kremlin to pursue its agenda with less pushback in Moldova.
  • Second, Russia succeeded in sidelining the main obstacle to its influence in Moldova - namely, Plahotniuc and his PDM. Plahotniuc opposed efforts to pull Moldova fully into the orbit of the Kremlin, although likely out of pragmatic concerns rather than ideological opposition to Russia. Plahotniuc routinely used his sway over the Moldovan Constitutional Court to constrain Dodon. Plahotniuc’s PDM demanded the withdrawal of Russia from the separatist region of Transnistria and sponsored a resolution on the issue in the UN General Assembly.[10] It actively pushed for the further integration of Moldova with the EU, exposed various subversion efforts by Russia, and even bestowed ‘persona non grata’ status on Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. Russian President Vladimir Putin framed his opposition to Plahotniuc as an effort to help “cleanse” the oligarchic structures that “infected” Moldova.[11] Putin likely seized on this anti-oligarchic framing to justify support for Dodon and signal nominal alignment with the West.
Moldova’s coalition government will likely enable short-term political progress at the cost of expanded long-term influence for the Kremlin. Dodon and new Moldovan Prime Minister Maia Sandu (of ACUM) will likely prioritize securing investment in Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe. Dodon has held numerous meetings on boosting trade with Russia and Sandu pledged deeper cooperation with the EU on June 15. ACUM will also push for anti-corruption and democratization policies to reverse the legacy of Plahotniuc. Dodon will likely continue to push closer cooperation with Russia but in a less overt manner to avoid alienating his coalition partners. Dodon has softened his rhetoric and begun calling for a balanced foreign policy towards Russia and the West despite condemning association with the EU as recently as 2017. The new Government of Moldova could thus generally improve governance and quality of life in Moldova given likely increases in financial investment and assistance from both Russia and EU as well as the democratization reforms proposed by ACUM.

The Kremlin nevertheless remains well positioned to advance its own agenda through the new Government of Moldova. Russia holds significant economic leverage over Moldova, including potential financial investments, tariff relief, and natural gas shipments. The Kremlin will likely use these tools to exploit the power vacuum resulting from the removal of Plahotniuc and reshape the political landscape in Moldova. It may attempt ultimately to weaken or fracture ACUM. The Kremlin took a calculated risk to empower ACUM by facilitating its coalition with Dodon. It will nonetheless almost certainly act to disrupt ACUM and its pro-European agenda if it believes that ACUM and Sandu are gaining major support in Moldova.

The Kremlin’s tactics may have changed, but its ultimate goals have not. The Kremlin is likely learning from its setbacks in other parts of the former Soviet Union. The Kremlin and Dodon have both reframed their rhetoric on foreign policy to avoid popular pushback in Moldova. The Kremlin may also be using the current situation as a test case of its ability to legitimize its clients via nominal alignment with the West.

The Kremlin nonetheless still aims to retain a sphere of influence in Moldova, prevent its integration with the EU, NATO, and Ukraine, and block its expulsion of Russia from Transnistria - a major pressure point on Ukraine and the EU.

The West must support the economic and democratic aspirations of the new Government of Moldova but remain mindful that Russia has not changed its intentions towards Moldova.

[1] Leonid Bershidsky, “Moldova Is the One Thing Russia and the West Agree On”, The Moscow Times, June 12, 2019, https://www.themoscowtimes(.)com/2019/06/12/moldova-is-the-one-thing-russia-and-the-west-agree-on-a65970.
[2] “Press Release regarding the speculation in the press about the so-called disappearance of the PDM leader”, Democratic Party of Moldova, June 15, 2019, http://pdm(.)md/en/press-release/press-release-regarding-the-speculation-in-the-press-about-the-so-called-disappearance-of-the-pdm-leader/; “Vlad Plahotniuc resigned as Chairman of PDM and encouraged the team of democrats to remain united”, Democratic Party of Moldova, June 24, 2019, http://pdm(.)md/en/press-release/vlad-plahotniuc-resigned-as-chairman-of-pdm-and-encouraged-the-team-of-democrats-to-remain-united/.
[3] [“With Official Courageous Visit,”] Kommersant, June 5, 2019, https://www.kommersant(.)ru/doc/3991500.
[4] “’Republic of Moldova and the Russian Regions’ - Moldovan-Russian Economic Council Session,” St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, June 6, 2019, https://www.forumspb(.)com/en/programme/79382/.
[5] “Moscow Expects New Moldova Government to Develop Relations with Russia – Foreign Ministry,” Tass, June 15, 2019, https://tass(.)com/politics/1063988
[6] [“Medvedev held talks with Dodon in Minsk”], Ria Novosti, June 21, 2019, https://ria(.)ru/20190621/1555803420.html; Igor Dodon, [“Dodon held conversations with Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev and Special representative of the Russian President on the Development of Commercial-Economic Cooperation with the Republic of Moldova, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak,”] Facebook, June 21, 2019,
[7] [“Dodon Met with Medvedev and Kozak in Minsk. What did they talk about?,”] NewsMaker, June 22, 2019, http://newsmaker(.)md/rus/novosti/dodon-vstretilsya-v-minske-s-medvedevym-i-kozakom-o-chem-oni-govorili-44440; [“Trade and Economic Cooperation of the Russian Federation with the Republic of Moldova,”] Russian Embassy in Moldova, accessed June 17, 2019, https://moldova.mid(.)ru/torgovo-ekonomiceskoe-sotrudnicestvo-rossijskoj-federacii-s-respublikoj-moldova.
[8] [“Dodon promised to appoint a co-chairman of the Russo-Moldovan intergovernmental commission,”] NoiMD, June 21, 2019, https://noi(.)md/ru/politika/dodon-poobeshhal-naznachiti-sopredsedatelya-mezhpravkomissii-rossii-i-moldavii.
[9] Igor Dodon, Facebook, June 24, 2019,; [“Dodon will visit Moldova in the upcoming days,”] Sputnik Moldova, June 23, 2019, https://ru.sputnik(.)md/politics/20190623/26542310/Kozak-posetit-Moldovu-v-blizhayshie-dni.html.
[10] Diana Preasca, “The Chisinau Parliament Calls for the Withdrawal of Russian Troops from the Territory of the Republic of Moldova,”, July 21, 2017, http://www.moldova(.)org/parlamentul-de-la-chisinau-cere-retragerea-trupelor-ruse-de-pe-teritoriul-republicii-moldova/; Ziarul De Garda, “The Withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria: second attempt,” JAM News, June 22, 2018, https://jam-news(.)net/the-withdrawal-of-russian-troops-from-transnistria-attempt-two/; “UN passes draft resolution on withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Transnistria,” Tass, June 22, 2018, https://tass(.)com/world/1010679.
[11] Igor Dodon, [“Thanks to All Our Partners for Supporting the Legitimate Parliament and the Legitimate Government!,”] Facebook, June 12, 2019,

Friday, June 14, 2019

Syria Situation Report: May 27 - June 11, 2019

By ISW's Syria Team

The following Syria Situation Report (SITREP) Map summarizes significant developments in the war in Syria during the period May 27 - June 11, 2019. The SITREP highlights include the reported use of anti-aircraft missiles by al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, Iran's further consolidation of power in a key town along the Syria-Iraq border, and a new recruitment opportunity for ISIS in Northeast Syria.

Click image to enlarge.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Russia in Review: May 14 - June 11, 2019 (Part 2)

Russia in Review is a weekly intelligence summary (INTSUM) produced by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). This ISW INTSUM series sheds light on key trends and developments related to the Russian government’s objectives and its efforts to secure them. Receive future Russia in Review INTSUM products via-email by signing up for the ISW mailing list.

Reporting Period: May 14 - June 11, 2019 (read the previous Russia in Review here)

Part 2 of 2 (read the first part here)

Authors: Andrea Snyder with Nataliya Bugayova

Key Takeaway: The Kremlin is exploiting escalated tensions between Kosovo and Serbia. Russia seeks to block the further expansion of Western structures in the Balkans region after failing to prevent the NATO ascension of Montenegro and North Macedonia, which is in the final stages of becoming a NATO member.

The tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have re-escalated. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic ordered the full combat readiness of Serbian army units on May 28 in response to an internal Kosovar anti-organized crime operation. Kosovo targeted local police officers reportedly involved in smuggling in northern Kosovo’s ethnic Serb-majority municipalities. Kosovo denied Serbia’s claims that the operation was intended to intimidate ethnic Serbs.[1] Similar police operations have previously occurred as organized crime is prominent in northern Kosovo along the Serbian border.[2] The operation did result in violent clashes. Vucic warned that Serbia will “protect our people” in Kosovo if their lives are threatened.[3] Serbian military personnel with a column of at least 12 Serbian military vehicles reportedly left their base moving towards Kosovo and a Serbian pilot flying a MiG-29 fighter made a low-altitude flight near the Kosovo border on May 28.[4] Serbian military movement in coordination with rhetoric of military action is a step change. Serbia previously threatened military intervention in December 2018 after the Kosovar Parliament voted to transform the Kosovo Security Force into the Kosovo Armed Forces, but tensions defused. Vuvic has refrained from taking further action since his May 28 threat but tensions will likely rise again.

The Kremlin is likely to support Serbia if Vucic decides to act on his military threat. The Kremlin publicly supports Serbia’s claims that the Kosovo police operation was a provocation.[5] The Kosovo police also arrested two UN Mission in Kosovo staff members on May 28, including Russian citizen Mikhail Krasnoshchekov, for hampering the police operation. The Kremlin used Krasnoshchekov’s arrest to escalate its rhetoric against Kosovo, the EU, and the U.S.[6] The chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Federation Duma (parliament), Konstantin Kosachev, also said the West lost control over Kosovo and that Serbia might need to clean up “the consequences of Western mistakes” potentially with Russia’s help if Serbia requests its assistance.[7] The Kremlin has been providing military support to regular and allegedly irregular forces in Serbia.[8] The Russian and Serbian Foreign Ministers stated on June 7 that they are closely coordinating on Serbia’s response to the situation with Kosovo.[9]

The Kremlin continues to exploit Kosovo-Serbia tensions to block the expansion of Western structures in the Balkans. Several Russian officials, including Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, held a series of meetings with Serbian leadership to discuss the Kosovo police operation and Krasnoshchekov’s arrest.[10] The Kremlin is likely attempting to shape conditions ahead of the next round of EU-led talks in July. The talks intend to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci expressed hope on June 7 of reaching a deal with Serbia this year despite increased tensions. Vucic also still attempts to balance between the EU and Russia.

The Kremlin might be attempting to shift Serbia’s equilibrium, however. Blocking Balkan states’ integration into the EU and NATO remains a strategic goal for the Kremlin. Russia failed to prevent Montenegro’s accession to NATO and North Macedonia’s impending entry into the NATO alliance.[11] The Kremlin maintains a stake in preventing diplomatic normalization between Serbia and Kosovo, which the U.S. has encouraged, that could enable either of them to join the EU. The Kremlin has already increased its outreach to Serbia earlier this year in an effort to orient Serbia away from Europe. The Kremlin may be succeeding in its effort as Serbia worked closely with Russia following the Kosovo police operation but continued its highly critical rhetoric against Europe. The Kremlin might decide to push Serbia to escalate militarily against Kosovo—a move that would likely end the normalization talks, fully pull Serbia into Russia’s orbit, and limit Kosovo’s integration prospects with the West.

[1] “KFOR Spokesman Says No Intern-Ethnic Clashes in Kosovo on Tuesday,” N1, May 30, 2019, http://rs.n1info(.)com/English/NEWS/a487770/KFOR-spokesman-says-no-inter-ethnic-clashes-in-Kosovo-on-Tuesday.html.
[2]Daniel McLaughlin, “Murder and Mafia Power Shake Serbs in Divided Kosovo,” Irish Times, February 10, 2018,; Benno Zogg, “How Organized Crime Inhibits Development in Kosovo,” Foraus,, accessed: June 11, 2019; [“Haziri Says: The Police Action in the North, Thaci and Vucic’s Plan!,”] Kosova Sot Online, May 30, 2019, [https://www.kosova-sot(.)info/lajme/383188/e-thote-haziri-aksioni-i-policise-ne-veri-plan-i-thacit-dhe-vuciqit/]https://www.kosova-sot(.)info/lajme/383188/e-thote-haziri-aksioni-i-policise-ne-veri-plan-i-thacit-dhe-vuciqit/.
[3] TRT World Now, “Serbian President Slams Kosovo’s Latest Action,” Youtube, May 28, 2019,; “Vucic: Army to Protect Our People if They Are Attacked,” Tanjug, May 28, 2019, [http://www.tanjug(.)rs/full-view_en.aspx?izb=483804]http://www.tanjug(.)rs/full-view_en.aspx?izb=483804.
[4] [“Kosovo Special Forces Spat on North KiM – 21 Arrested, Army of Serbia in Full Combat Readiness,”] PTC, May 28, 2019, [http://www.rts(.)rs/page/stories/ci/story/1/politika/3537038/sirene-u-mitrovici-rosu-upale-na-sever-kim-.html]http://www.rts(.)rs/page/stories/ci/story/1/politika/3537038/sirene-u-mitrovici-rosu-upale-na-sever-kim-.html; Ruptly, “Serbian Army Vehicles Spotted Driving Towards Northern Kosovo,” Twitter, May 28, 2019,; [“One MIG 29 Fired Over Novi Pazar,”] Tanjug, May 28, 2019, [http://www.tanjug(.)rs/full-view.aspx?izb=483810]http://www.tanjug(.)rs/full-view.aspx?izb=483810.
[5] “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Remarks and Answers to Media Questions at a joint News Conference Following Talks with Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Miro Cerar, Ljubljana, May 29, 2019,” Russian MFA, May 29, 2019, [http://www.mid(.)ru/web/guest/meropriyatiya_s_uchastiem_ministra/-/asset_publisher/xK1BhB2bUjd3/content/id/3662476?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_xK1BhB2bUjd3&_101_INSTANCE_xK1BhB2bUjd3_languageId=en_GB]http://www.mid(.)ru/web/guest/meropriyatiya_s_uchastiem_ministra/-/asset_publisher/xK1BhB2bUjd3/content/id/3662476?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_xK1BhB2bUjd3&_101_INSTANCE_xK1BhB2bUjd3_languageId=en_GB; [“Commentary of Russian MFA Official Representative M.V. Zakharova in Connection with Escalation of the Situation in Kosovo,”] Russian MFA, May 28, 2019, http://www.mid(.)ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3661577l; “Serbian President Thanks Russian for Denouncing Incident in Kosovo,” Tass, June 3, 2019, [http://tass(.)com/world/1061499]http://tass(.)com/world/1061499.
[6] Slovenia: Lavrov Comments on Anti-Smuggling Operation in Kosovo,” Ruptly, May 29, 2019, https(:)//
[7] Galina Mislivskaya, [“Kosachev: Russia is Ready to Help Serbia Ensure Security in the Region,”] Rossiyskaya Gazeta, May 29, 2019, https(:)//; Robin-Ivan Capar, “Serbia Pivots Towards Russia Yet Again — But at What Price?” Moscow Times, June 3, 2019, https://www(.)
[8] “Serbian President Lauds Military-Technical Cooperation with Russia,” TASS, January 17, 2019, http(:)//
[9] [“On the Conversation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergei Lavrov, with the First Deputy Prime Minster, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Ivica Dacic,”] Russia Foreign Ministry, June 06, 2019, http://www.mid(.)ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3676424;; [“Dacic: I informed Russia in Detail about What We Will Do Next,” Zeri, June 7, 2019, https://zeri(.)info/aktuale/265643/daciq-e-njoftova-ne-detaje-rusine-se-cka-do-te-bejme-tutje/.
[10] [“Vucic and Chepurin on the Events in Kosovo,”] Tanjug, May 30, 2019, http(:)//; [“Vyacheslav Volodin Met with the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic,”] State Duma, June 3, 2019,; “Serbian President Thanks Russia for Denouncing Incident in Kosovo,” TASS, June 3, 2019, http(:)//; [“On the Meeting of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Alexander Grushko with the Serbian Ambassador Slavenko Terzich,”] Russia Foreign Ministry, June 3, 2019, http://www.mid(.)ru/web/guest/maps/rs/-/asset_publisher/GLz7aPgDnSfP/content/id/3667292.
[11] “Montenegro joins NATO as 29th Ally,” NATO, June 9, 2017,

Russia in Review: May 14 - June 11, 2019 (Part 1)

Russia in Review is a weekly intelligence summary (INTSUM) produced by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). This ISW INTSUM series sheds light on key trends and developments related to the Russian government’s objectives and its efforts to secure them. Receive future Russia in Review INTSUM products via-email by signing up for the ISW mailing list.

Reporting Period: May 14 - June 11, 2019 (read the previous Russia in Review here)

Part 1 of 2 (read the second part here)

Authors: Mason Clark and Nataliya Bugayova

Key Takeaway: Russia and China signed numerous agreements to boost economic cooperation and attempt to limit dependence on the West during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s June 5-7 state visit to Russia. The Kremlin risks ceding strategic ground to China in the long term as it seeks additional sources of cash and international partnership in the short term.

Russia and China promoted their strategic partnership during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s June 5-7 state visit to Russia. Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed nearly 30 agreements during Xi’s visit to Russia, including a joint statement on Sino-Russian strategic cooperation.[1] Putin and Xi claimed relations between Russia and China have reached an unprecedented level.[2] Xi highlighted his personal ties with Putin and described Putin as his "best friend," while Putin framed the Russo-Chinese relationship as a strategic alignment.[3] Xi’s visit focused on economic cooperation with limited comments on international affairs.[4] Putin accused the U.S. of attempting to “extend its jurisdiction to the whole world” as Putin and Xi continued to frame themselves as champions of a multipolar international order in opposition to U.S. hegemony.[5] Putin and Xi discussed linking the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).[6] This idea supports Putin’s vision to create a Great Eurasian Partnership that would include the EAEU and BRI among others.[7]

Russia and China boosted cooperation in the energy, technology, and agricultural sectors. Putin and Xi designated 2020 and 2021 as years of Russian-Chinese scientific, technical, and innovation cooperation.[8] The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the state-owned China Investment Corporation agreed to invest $1 billion in the newly created Russia-China Science and Technology Innovation Fund.[9] The RDIF and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group will invest $100 million each in a joint venture involving Russian phone operator Megafon and internet company to expand e-commerce in Russia.[10] Chinese telecommunications manufacturer Huawei signed a deal with Russian telecom company MTS on June 5 to develop a fifth-generation wireless technology network (5G) in Russia. Huawei also purchased the rights to use facial recognition software developed by Russian company Vocord on June 3.[11] The U.S. has recognized Huawei as a security threat and is attempting to disincentivize U.S. partners from using Huawei.[12] China is likely the driver of the 5G deal with Russia as Huawei is facing resistance in its international business development and seeks Russia as a potential market.

Putin and Xi also signed a number of energy deals. Putin and Xi agreed that Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom would build several more nuclear power units in China, including a “demonstration fast neutron reactor.”[13] The Kremlin is continuing its campaign to capture global nuclear energy markets with projects underway in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Putin and Xi also announced that the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, intended to deliver 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually to China, will become operational in December 2019. China Petrochemical Corp Sinopec has secured a 40 percent stake in Russia’s Amur Gas processing plant project.[14] Sinopoc will also help Russian gas company Novatek market Russian LNG produced in the Arctic to end-users in China. Novatek announced the sale of a 20 percent stake in its gas liquefaction project in the Arctic to Chinese CNODC, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation, in April.[15] ISW assessed that increased Russian cooperation with China in the Arctic can limit U.S. freedom of movement in the region.

China seeks to reduce its dependence on American technology – the key premise of its Made in China 2025 strategy. China likely has the manpower and industrial strength to take advantage of Russian technical knowledge. The Kremlin seeks additional forms of cash, as Western sanctions dried up foreign direct investment into Russia. The Kremlin might be using its technological cooperation as a means to secure Chinese investment in other areas, such as energy and Arctic development projects. The U.S. must consider the long-term implications of technology transfers between Russia and China, in particular from the standpoint of military capabilities and governance. China is using technology to aid its authoritarian population control policies; the Kremlin might also be heading in this direction as Putin’s value proposition to his population declines. China has already been spreading its censorship-enabling technologies. China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC), which develops surveillance systems for the Chinese government, exported its technology to numerous authoritarian governments in countries such as Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Angola. CEIEC lists Moscow as its only European office.[16]

China is additionally turning to Russia as an agricultural source as China curbs its food imports from the U.S. and Canada.[17] Russian and Chinese officials discussed increased Russian food exports to China and Chinese investment in agricultural development in Russia’s Far East during Xi’s visit.[18]

Putin and Xi continued to attempt to limit Russia’s and China’s dependence on the Western financial system. Both leaders pledged to grow bilateral trade, which increased to $108 billion in 2018, exceeding the $100 billion goal.[19] Putin and Xi signed an agreement pledging to promote trade in the ruble and yuan instead of the dollar. The agreement also focuses on “ensuring uninterrupted banking services for transactions in conditions of instability in global markets.” Both countries seek to insulate themselves from shocks in the Western financial system. Putin accused the U.S. of using its financial system as a weapon on June 7. The Kremlin is heavily pushing for the de-dollarization of its economy to buffer itself from future U.S. sanctions. The Central Bank of Russia has grown the share of its yuan foreign currency reserves from 2.8% to 14.2% since 2018.[20] China is also looking for ways to mitigate the effects of the ongoing trade war with the U.S. and potential future shocks. The efforts have produced limited success thus far as companies in Russia still prefer transactions in dollars.[21] Russian and Chinese efforts to build an alternative to SWIFT interbank financial telecommunication system have also been progressing slowly, with Russia’s alternative service facing multiple limitations including limited operating hours, domestic-only transactions, and a lack of connectivity to banks in the Commonwealth of Intendent States (CIS).[22] Russia and China will, however, persist in their effort to build a coalition of countries to move away from the dollar.

The Kremlin will continue to boost its ties with China in search of additional resources and international coalitions while risking ceding ground to China in the long-term. Russia and China, continue to face several points of strategic divergence and imbalance in the relationship despite new agreements and rhetoric about strategic partnership. China has the upper hand with Russia in many respects given the size of the Chinese economy and population. The technology cooperation agreement that Xi and Putin signed likely benefits China more than Russia. Russia gains additional sources of cash through Chinese investment, but also provides China with critical resources such as energy and, potentially, food in the longer term. The Kremlin is likely not content with Chinese expansion in Russia’s backyard in Central Asia and in Russia’s Far East. Increased Chinese investment in Russia is also unpopular among the Russian population. The Kremlin has recently faced protests in Russia’s Chuvashia region against reported Chinese pressure on local farmers to sell land to Chinese companies. Over a million Russians signed a petition against a Chinese-backed water bottling plant near Lake Baikal earlier this year. The Kremlin needs Chinese investment to develop the Arctic, which is one of Putin’s stated strategic goals. The Kremlin is wary, however, of facilitating a longer-term Chinese military presence in the region. And while Putin and Xi agreed to link the Russia-led EAEU and China’s BRI, it is unclear how much leverage Putin has in shaping the terms of this cooperation.[23] The Kremlin is certainly aware of the risk of a closer relationship with China, but might think it can control the ties, which may simply not be true in the long run.

[1] [“The Beginning of the Russian-Chinese Negotiations in a Narrow Composition,”] Kremlin, June 5, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/transcripts/60670; [“Xi Jinping Holds Talks with Russian President Putin,”] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, June 6, 2019, https://www.fmprc(.)
[2] [“The Beginning of the Russian-Chinese Negotiations in a Narrow Composition,”] Kremlin, June 5, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/transcripts/60670
[3] “Beijing, Moscow to Sign around 30 Deals during Xi’s Russia Tour, Says Chinese Diplomat,” TASS, May 30, 2019, http://tass(.)com/world/1060743; [“Press Statements Following Russian-Chinese Talks,”] Kremlin, June 5, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/60672.
[4] [“Press Statements Following Russian-Chinese Talks,”] Kremlin, June 5, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/60672.
[5] [“Press Statements Following Russian-Chinese Talks,”] Kremlin, June 5, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/60672; [“Plenary Session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum,”] Kremlin, June 7, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/60707.
[6] [“Plenary Session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum,”] Kremlin, June 7, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/60707.
[7] “Plenary Session of St Petersburg International Economic Forum,” Kremlin, June 17, 2016, http://en.kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/52178; “Meeting of Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives of Russia,” Kremlin, July 19, 2018, http://en.kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/58037.
[8] [“Press Statements Following Russian-Chinese Talks,”] Kremlin, June 5, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/60672.
[9] [“Russia and China will Create a $1 Billion Science and Technology Innovation Fund,”] TASS, June 5, 2019, https://tass(.)ru/ekonomika/6511955; “RDIF and CIC to Invest in Russia-China Science and Technology Innovation Fund,” Russian Direct Investment Fund, June 5, 2019, https://rdif(.)ru/Eng_fullNews/4095/.
[10] “RDIF, Alibaba Group, MegaFon and Group Announce Signing of Definitive Documents for Joint Venture in Russia and the CIS,” Russian Direct Investment Fund, June 5, 2019, https://rdif(.)ru/Eng_fullNews/4096/.
[11] [“Huawei Bought Face Recognition Technology from a Russian Company,”] Novaya Gazeta, June 3, 2019, https://www.novayagazeta(.)ru/news/2019/06/03/152209-huawei-kupila-u-rossiyskoy-kompanii-tehnologii-raspoznavaniya-lits.
[12] "Addition of Entity to the Entities List," Bureau of Industry and Security, May 21, 2019,
[13] [“Press Statements Following Russian-Chinese Talks,”] Kremlin, June 5, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/60672; “Putin: Moscow, Beijing Agree on Building Several More Russia-Designed Nuclear Power Units,” TASS, June 7, 2019, http://tass(.)com/economy/1062602.
[14] “Sinopec Signs Agreement With Russian Oil Company,” O&G Links, June 10, 2019,; Sibur, Amur GCC Project, 2019, https://www.sibur(.)ru/en/about/investments/16906/; Zheng Xin, “Sinopec Signs Agreement with Russian Oil Company,” China Daily, June 9, 2019, http://www.chinadaily(.); Andrey Ostroukh, Katya Golubkova, “Russia’s Sibur eyes Moscow IPO no Earlier Than 2020: CEO,” Reuters, June 7, 2019,
[15] “NOVATEK and CNODC Sign Entrance Agreement to Arctic LNG 2,” Novatek, April 25, 2019, http://www.novatek(.)ru/en/press/releases/index.php?id_4=3173.
[16] CEIEC, Business Network, http://www.ceiec(.)com/content/business_networks.
[17] “Russia, China to Boost Energy, Agricultural Trade Due to US Trade War – Scholars,” Sputnik, June 1, 2019, https://sputniknews(.)com/analysis/201906011075519959-russia-china-us-trade/; Laura Zhou, “Russia Ready to Fill China’s Food Gap Left by US in Trade War Fallout,” South China Morning Post, June 7, 2019,
https://www.scmp(.)com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3013549/russia-ready-fill-chinas-food-gap-left-us-trade-war-fallout; Naomi Powell, “Canadian Soybean Exports to China Plunge 95% After Hitting Record High, as Diplomatic Dispute Continues,” Financial Post, May 17, 2019,
[18] [“Russia Will Expand the Supply of Agricultural Products to China,”] Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, June 5, 2019, http://mcx(.)ru/press-service/news/rossiya-rasshirit-postavki-selkhozproduktsii-v-kitay/; Ekaterina Burlakova, [“A Large Chinese Holding Will Invest Almost 10 Billion Rubles in Russian Agriculture,”] Vedemosti, June 6, 2019, https://www.vedomosti(.)ru/business/articles/2019/06/06/803577-holding-vlozhit.
[19] [“Press Statements Following Russian-Chinese Talks,”] Kremlin, June 5, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/60672.
[20] Irina Malkova, [“The Central Bank Transferred its Assets from the United States to China and Halved its Share of Assets in Dollars,”] The Bell, May 8, 2019, https://thebell(.)io/tsb-perevel-svoi-aktivy-iz-ssha-v-kitaj-i-vdvoe-snizil-dolyu-aktivov-v-dollarah/.
[21] [“Russia and China Prefer Settlements in Dollars and Euros, Rather Than in National Currencies,”] Reporter, May 31, 2019, https//topcor(.)ru/8996-rossija-i-kitaj-predpochitajut-raschety-v-dollarah-i-evro-a-ne-v-nacvaljutah.html.
[22] [“Stretched String: Is it Possible to Disconnect Russia From SWIFT,”] Forbes Russia, March 15, 2018, https://www.forbes(.)ru/finansy-i-investicii/358573-natyanutaya-struna-vozmozhno-li-otklyuchenie-rossii-ot-swift.
[23] [“Plenary Session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum,”] Kremlin, June 7, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/60707.