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  • Writer's pictureMariah Nimmons

Does the State Have Ballast?

A NOTE: Our Russia-Ukraine Resources are updated weekly - if you're accessing the page three or more weeks past the below date, pieces mentioned in this post may have been removed to make room for up-to-date resources.


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Updated Resources - March 27, 2024


Over 5,000 Russian immigrants line up outside the Russian embassy in Yerevan, Armenia, to vote on the 2024 presidential election day. 17 March 2024. (Dor Shabashewitz, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)


KEY DEVELOPMENTS



 

 Crocus City Hall sign after attack. 23 March 2024. (Mosreg.ru, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)


WHAT'S ON OUR MIND


In addition to our weekly resource update, today we also offer an updated collection of pieces on the Israeli-Hamas war.


The last two weeks have been consequential for Russia. As anticipated, Vladimir Putin was elected to his fifth term in office, overtaking Josef Stalin as Russia’s longest serving leader. In a more startling turn of events, a terrorism attack on Moscow’s Crocus City Hall concert venue claimed the lives of 140 people (at time of publishing) and ISIS-K has claimed responsibility. This tragedy follows warnings from US intelligence and foreign services of an imminent attack earlier this month (Note: The United States has denied any advance knowledge of last week’s tragedy). Even as these events capture global attention, it’s vital to remain aware of the country’s dichotomy as both victim and aggressor. In the same period of time, Russia unleashed the largest attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure since the start of the war, leaving a million without power. As these realities settle over Russia and the world, this week’s resource update provides context, analysis, and reflection on these events within Russia and in the greater context of the Ukraine War.


Russian Presidential Election


We begin with perspectives on last week’s presidential election. The New Yorker offers insights on the state of the Russian people ahead of the elections, including the effects of the war and the economy on public outlook. Foreign Policy compares this most recent election to those of the Soviet era. Podcasts from The Telegraph’s Ukraine: The Latest and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace examine the ramifications of Putin’s reelection for Russia, Ukraine, and The West, and for the Russian regime respectively.


On a more granular level, Meduza takes a data-driven approach to examine what the publication deems ‘the most fraudulent elections in modern Russian history’. Carnegie explores the record-breaking metrics by which ‘success’ was determined, as well as the prominent role of administrative and corporate mobilization. The Moscow Times continues this interrogation with firsthand accounts from election observers who describe acts of fraud and pressure.

We include explorations into the varied engagement of constituents within - and beyond - Russia’s borders. Meduza chronicles election protests through firsthand accounts of those on the ground, and The Moscow Times makes the case for why these protests matter. In one Novaya Gazeta Europe piece they survey voting conditions in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, and in another offer an examination of overseas voting results.


Moscow Terror Attack


Next we look to the tragedy at Moscow’s Crocus City Hall. As a primer, Meduza provides the latest updates on the evolving story, including what is currently known about the perpetrators. Foreign Policy unpacks the possible impetuses behind the attack, as well as ISIS-K’s attempts to capitalize on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine by way of recruitment, fundraising, and incitements to violence.


We include varied reactions to the attack, both within Russia and beyond. Though an initial piece from RT acknowledged the condolences offered by both Ukraine and the US, more recent state-aligned perspectives have shifted in tone. In Meduza, one piece offers excerpts from Putin’s address following the attack which suggests Ukrainian involvement, and another includes Kremlin spokesman Peskov’s anti-semitic comments about Zelensky. State media’s role in furthering this narrative is covered in a piece from Novaya Gazeta Europe, and in RT, an academic and member of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) questions the US government’s version of events. The Russian opposition has responded to the attack with suggestions that Kremlin focus was misplaced hunting critics of the administration in lieu of ‘actual threats’ as outlined by The Moscow Times.


Outside of Russia, Al Jazeera examines perspectives on culpability, including historical context behind the belief held by those who question whether ISIS is truly the attack’s architect. Haaretz examines the sentiment among some Russian ultranationalists and the proliferation of accusations online which blame Israel for the attack.


In the overview, we look at the evolution of the ‘Russian World’ concept throughout Putin’s tenure, particularly after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In videos, a Quincy Institute discussion on Simon Shuster’s biography, The Showman: Inside the Invasion That Shook the World and Made a Leader of Volodymyr Zelensky. Find also Muscovites’ reactions to the Crocus City Hall attack, as well as a Ukrainian soldier and musician who plays songs of resistance on his homeland’s traditional bandura to raise funds for the war effort. In the arts, a new two-person play about the war premieres in Lviv, renewed rumors of ties between the Kremlin and Russian comedians ‘Vovan and Lexus’ following recent ‘pranks’ against Russian dissident authors Boris Akunin and Dmitry Bykov, and over a dozen popular Russian artists release a unique tribute to Navalny.


Find these stories and more on today's Russia-Ukraine resource update. Visit our blog for updated resources on the Israel-Hamas War, as well as for new reflections from our network.



 




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