The Rondeli Foundation’s Russian Geostrategy Monitor is a monthly brief that tracks Russian geostrategy worldwide employing the framework set in The Structure of Modern Russia’s Foreign Strategy. Russian geostrategic activities are also tracked on the regularly updated interactive Russian Geostrategy Map.
Issue 9 covers Russian geostrategy for the month of September 2023. The numbering and contents of the Outcomes, Goals and Objectives follows The Structure of Modern Russia’s Foreign Strategy framework.
Outcome 1: Replacement of the United States’ international preeminence with a ‘multipolar’ or ‘polycentric’ system, with Russia in the position of one of the principal ‘poles’
- On 15 September, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev published an article. After a long and rather fierce rant against the West, Patrushev concluded by writing that “in the foreseeable future the US will have to accept the role of just one of the poles in a multipolar world.”
Objective 1: Gaining and exercising influence over the Western elites
- In a 22 September meeting, Russian and Hungarian foreign ministers stressed the importance of their countries’ joint project of expansion of Hungary‘s Paks Nuclear Power Plantby Russia’s Rosatom.
Objective 2: Strengthening the Western political forces considered by Moscow to be inimical to the Western-led international order, and the Kremlin’s relationships with such forces
- A German material by the Correctiv, published on 22 September, detailed the AfD party’s pro-Kremlin foreign policy and ties with Russia, including during the full-scale Russo-Ukrainian War.
- The head of Austria’s intelligence in 2008-2020, Peter Gridling, told the Financial Times that the Freedom Party in Austria continued to maintain its ties to the Kremlin including during the full-scale Russo-Ukrainian War.
Objective 7: Achieving instability in the Western Balkans
- On 25 September, Russian foreign ministry speaker Zakharova said there was a “direct threat” of ethnic cleansing of the Serbs in Kosovo coming from the “Kosovan Albanian radicals.”
Objective 9: Achieving de-sovereignization of Ukraine
- In the Russo-Ukrainian War, heavy fighting continued during September 2023, with Ukrainians pushing on the Verbove-Novoprokopivka line and on the southern flank of Bakhmut, and Russians doing so on the northern part of the front.
Objective 10: Achieving decisive influence over Georgia
- On 1 September 2023, six days after Dmitry Medvedev referred to Salome Zourabichvili as a “freak” while also praising the Georgian Dream government, the Georgian Dream started presidential impeachment proceedings against Zourabichvili.
- Russian foreign minister Lavrov praised the ruling regime in Georgia on 28 September saying Tbilisi authorities were “interested in normalizing relations” with Russia.
Objective 16: Entrenching Russian influence in sub-Saharan Africa
- On 6 September, Russia sent a large arms convoy to southwestern Sudan to supply Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo’s Rapid Support Forces fighting against the Khartoum authorities. The convoy passed through the Chadian territory.
- New rallies against the French military presence were held in Niger in September 2023 with participants carrying Russian flags as well as those of Mali and Burkina Faso. On 24 September, France announced withdrawal of its troops and ambassador from Niger.
- On 7 September, Russian foreign intelligence agency the SVR issued a statement accusing the US of planning to eliminate the Niger coup leaders.
- On 10 September, Putin, in a call with the head of the regime in Mali, made a statement directed against potential foreign military intervention to restore democratic government in Niger saying that the crisis in the country needed to be settled “through political and diplomatic means.”
- On 16 September, Russia’s satellite regimes in Mali and Burkina Faso signed a mutual assistance pact with the military junta in Niger. The agreement envisions military aid between the regimes in case of foreign attack or internal rebellion.
Objective 18: Gaining strategic presence on the waterways connecting the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean basins
- Around early September 2023, Russia asked warlord Khalifa Haftar, in control of eastern Libya, to grant the Russian navy access to the ports of either Benghazi or Tobruk.
Objective 21: Alignment with Iran
- Ukrainian sources reported in September 2023 that a new delivery of combat drones by Iran to Russia for its war against Ukraine had been conducted in late August. Iran reportedly also sent specialists to teach Russians use the drones of the types delivered.
Objective 26: Developing cooperation platforms with non-Western powers
- On 29 September, the fifth meeting of a regional diplomatic platform dedicated to the future of Afghanistan which the Russians call “the Moscow Format” was held in Kazan, Russia. Besides the ‘foreign minister’ of the Taliban regime, participants included representatives from China, Iran, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan as well as observers from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.