Special Edition Campaign Assessment: Ukraine’s Strike Campaign Against Crimea

Ukrainian forces have conducted a campaign of strikes against Russian military infrastructure, headquarters, and logistics routes in Crimea since June 2023 in order to degrade the Russian military’s ability to use Crimea as a staging and rear area for Russian defensive operations in southern Ukraine. Ukrainian strikes on logistics routes are disrupting Russian supplies to Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblast. Strikes on Black Sea Fleet assets are degrading its role as a combined arms headquarters but have not defeated it as a naval force. Ukrainian strikes generate outsized morale shocks among Russian commanders and in the Russian information space. Western provision of long-range missiles to Ukraine would amplify this ongoing, essential, and timely campaign to weaken Russia’s ability to defend southern Ukraine.

Russia in Review: Kremlin Misdirection Continues amid COVID and Peace Processes

The Kremlin continues to exploit COVID-19 to advance its key campaigns. The Kremlin is trying to exploit two peace processes in the United Nations and Ukraine to lift sanctions on Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin is also making lasting changes to Russia’s security services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, unbinding police authority and empowering the Ministry of Defense both diplomatically and as an increasingly normalized domestic actor. The Kremlin has not lost sight of its key objectives during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue its malign actions.

Russia in Review: The Kremlin Faces Setbacks in the Balkans

The Kremlin is losing initiative and influence in several Balkan states. North Macedonia joined NATO despite Russia’s efforts to prevent it. Russia’s strategic partner Serbia is increasingly vocal about its aspirations to join the EU. Balkan states are curbing the influence of Russian energy and the Russian Orthodox Church in their countries. The Kremlin is attempting to counteract these potential influence losses by exploiting its connections to Serbia’s defense establishment to prevent Serbia from deepening ties with the EU. The West should keep the Kremlin on the defensive in Europe by supporting ongoing EU and NATO efforts to integrate the Western Balkans.

Vladimir Putin's Staged Power Play

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a new phase in his campaign to retain power after 2024 when his current term expires. Putin offered Russians a revised social contract. Putin is reconfiguring the balance of power within the Russian government as he seeks to carve out an optimal spot for himself. Putin is in uncharted territory, trying to create a new transition model for Russia.

Russia Moves to Supplant U.S. Role

Russian President Vladimir Putin is leveraging Russia’s position in Syria to further diminish U.S. influence in the broader Middle East and North Africa. Russia will increasingly constrain U.S. freedom of maneuver in the broader region by expanding its military footprint and its anti-access and area denial zone. Putin advanced his regional strategy from February 27 to March 20, 2017 in three ways. First, he promoted economic relationships with key U.S.