March 23, 2022Newsletter

Russia Update: March 23, 2022


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address that peace talks have been confrontational at times but are moving forward “step by step.”

President Joe Biden arrived in Brussels. Poland is expelling 45 Russian diplomats as smoke billowed from its Polish embassy.

President Zelenskyy spoke to the parliaments of Japan and France.


The U.S. is preparing sanctions on over 300 members of Russia’s lower house of parliament and additional other individuals, which could be announced tomorrow. The move is being coordinated with the EU and G7. One person that’s been conspicuously absent from the U.S. sanctions list is oligarch Roman Abramovich. The Wall Street Journal reports that Ukrainian President Zelenskyy personally asked President Joe Biden to keep Abramovich off sanctions lists for now because he believes Abramovich could be a go-between in ceasefire talks.

The U.S. and EU are working on an agreement that would ensure LNG and hydrogen supplies for the EU as it seeks alternate energy sources. The EU is evaluating ways to tighten sanctions without touching energy as energy sanctions remain a subject of great disagreement in a body that requires unanimity.

A group of Senators sought feedback from the Department of Treasury on legislation to freeze Russia’s $132 billion in gold reserves. The Senate is trying to reach an agreement by the end of the day on the Russian permanent normal trade relations legislation.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister sat for an interview with The Economist and said that he’s worried that the EU is “backsliding back to its normality where it cannot decide on strong and swift action” in the last ten days. He said sanctions have been painful, but not painful enough. Ukraine wants the EU to close ports to Russian ships and goods, an embargo on Russian oil and gas, and to move beyond individual sanctions to a more systemic approach. Ukraine has also expanded its lobbying efforts in DC to push for even tougher sanctions on Russia, especially in the energy sector and including a prohibition on U.S. banks from doing business with any bank in the world that’s doing business with Russia.


Russia will start requiring “unfriendly” countries (list here) to pay for gas shipments in rubles. A close early advisor of Russian President Vladimir Putin left Russia, and there are reports that the head of Russia’s Central Bank tried to step down too.

During his address to the French parliament, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy heaped pressure on French companies to pull out of Russia. The effort paid dividends. Renault announced it is suspending industrial activities in Russia, while Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas are suspending their Russian operations as Wall Street banks scramble for the exits. France also said it has frozen over 800 million euros in Russian oligarch assets.

Ukraine Sitrep

The Pentagon believes that Russian troops northwest of Kyiv are digging into defensive positions as opposed to trying to advance. It also assesses that a Ukrainian counteroffensive east of Kyiv has pushed Russian forces back. Russia has lost at least five generals, according to Western sources, due to communication failures and a lack of discipline.

The U.S. formally accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine, “based on a careful review of available information from public and intelligence sources.”

The first shipments from the $800 million in lethal assistance from the U.S. will arrive Thursday. Sweden and Germany promised additional military aid too. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says the U.S. has not seen China move forward on supplying weapons to Russia. Captured Russian equipment is being sent to the U.S. for analysis.

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