Russia Geopolitical Watch – From April 16 to April 22, 2022

Russia Geopolitical Watch Team: Lauren Lemaire-Hec, Manik Tadevosian, Enzo Pavodan

04/16/2022: Vladimir Putin signs a law specifying sanctions for the denial of “the decisive role of the Soviet people” in the defeat of Nazi Germany and the liberation of European countries -Lauren Lemaire-Hec-

On 16 April, the Russian President signed a law, published on the official Russian legal information portal, specifying the sanctions in case of non-compliance with the law adopted on 6 April by the Duma. The law prohibits the public denial of “the decisive role of the Soviet people in the defeat of Nazi Germany and the humanitarian mission of the USSR in the liberation of Europe”. The text adopted by the Duma also prohibits “the identification of the aims, decisions and actions of the Soviet leaders, commanders and servicemen of the USSR with the aims, decisions and actions of the leaders of Nazi Germany, the commanders and servicemen of Nazi Germany and the European Axis countries, as set out in the verdict of the International Military Tribunal”. Thus, a new Article 13.48 was added to the Code of Administrative Offences, which provides for a fine of up to two thousand roubles or arrest for up to 15 days for individuals, and a fine of up to 50,000 roubles for legal persons. 

04/18/22 : Russian Minister of Defense announces a “high precision missile” strike on Ukrainian forces’ logistical center of Lvov -Enzo Padovan-

On April 18th, a missile strike ordered by the Russian Aerospace Forces has hit the city of Lvov, targeting 16 Ukrainian logistical installations. This strike is the first of its kind on this major city, located in the western part of the country. They have caused, according to local authorities, the deaths of 7 people, and 11 more injured (including a child). Thus, these bombings have destroyed a few logistical warehouses and soldiers’ barracks, all belonging to the national army. Moreover, Russia has declared that this attack had deprived Ukraine of large quantities of Western material, handed over by the US and Europe in support of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s regime. Being located relatively close to the Polish border, Lvov has been in the center of the mass evacuation of Ukrainians seeking refuge in neighboring countries: these bombings mark a new phase in the conflict’s evolution. Despite the human losses, Russia denies the allegations accusing it of attacking civilians, and maintains that it is merely targeting installations belonging to the Ukrainian army. 

04/19/2022: Serguey Shoigu is accusing Western countries of dragging out the Ukrainian hostilities -Enzo Padovan-

On April 19th, the Russian Minister of Defense, Serguey Shoigu, has accused Western countries (noticeably, the US and Europe) of dragging out indefinitely the Ukrainian conflict. According to him, the “special operation” against Kiev’s forces is entering a new phase, with limited objectives concentrated on the Eastern part of the country. However, the Russian troops’ advance is slowed down by the evermore increasing deliveries of Western military equipment: this is encouraging Ukrainian soldiers to fight “to the last man”. Moreover, Serguey Shoigu has reaffirmed his wish to pursue the army’s modernization, also adding that Russian troops would introduce “new methods of war” on the battlefield. The nature of said methods isn’t explained in details, but its objective, also according to the Minister, is to ensure a better Russian adaptation to the conditions of war. Finally, it is important to observe that this is the first appearance of Minister Shoigu since March 29th, which has caused speculations regarding possible health-related issues. Anyways, the new Donbas offensive was started on April 18th, and is still currently ongoing. 

04/19/2022 : Russian Defence Ministry proposes to restrict access to information about relatives of military personnel killed in Ukraine -Lauren Lemaire-Hec- 

On 19 April, the Russian Ministry of Defence formulated a draft resolution, asking the government to transfer to military registration and enlistment offices the right to issue certificates for a military family member who died in the war in Ukraine. The text seeks to amend the instructions on the procedure for filling in, issuing and accounting for certificates of a family member of a deceased or disabled veteran or participant in the Great Patriotic War. In addition, the explanatory note to the draft states that it has been prepared “in order to limit the circle of persons” who have access to information about relatives of Russian servicemen who died “during a special military operation on the territories of Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics”. At present, certificates are issued to relatives and spouses of deceased servicemen by pension funds and district administrations, which record the certificates issued in special registers.

04/20/2022 : Russian military announces the first successful test firing of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile -Manik Tadevosian-

On 20 April, the Russian army announced the first successful test firing of the Samrat intercontinental ballistic missile. The launch took place from the Plessetsk launch site in the Arkhangelsk region of northwest Russia. Officially named RS-28 Samrat, the missile is believed to have reached the Kura military zone in Kamchatka, 5,000 km from the launch site. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who watched the test from a distance, congratulated the defence ministry and experts. “This is a unique weapon that will strengthen the military potential of our armed forces, ensure Russia’s security in the face of external threats and make those who try to threaten our country with unrestrained and aggressive rhetoric think twice,” Vladimir Putin said. 

04/21/2022: Moscow fines Google 11 million rubles -Manik Tadevosian-

On 21 April, the Tagansky court in Moscow fined the American giant Google 11 million roubles (more than 126,000 euros at the current rate) for not having removed what it called “false information” on the conflict in Ukraine. This decision follows two complaints filed by the Russian media regulator, Roskomnadzor, which targeted two videos published on Youtube. These videos included an alleged telephone conversation between Russian servicemen and their relatives. The Targansky District Court in Moscow ruled on the content under Article 13.41 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation. According to Roskomnadzor, Google did not remove from YouTube “false publications discrediting the Russian armed forces”, as well as videos “calling for violent actions against the Russian military” and material from “extremist organisations” – Right Sector and Azov.

04/22/2022: A meeting is planned between Vladimir Putin and Antonio Guterres -Lauren Lemaire-Hec-

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, announced on April 22 a meeting, to be held on April 26, between the Russian president, his foreign minister and the UN secretary general. Antonio Guterres will thus become the second major Western authority, after the Austrian Chancellor, to meet Vladimir Putin personally since the start of the war in Ukraine. On this occasion, they will discuss the possibilities for peace in Ukraine and “the future of multilateral relations”

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