ავტორი: დავით ბატაშვილი, რონდელის ფონდის მკვლევარი
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 12 covers Russian geostrategy for the month of December 2023. The numbering and contents of the Outcomes, Goals and Objectives follows The Structure of Modern Russia’s Foreign Strategy framework.
Objective 3: Enhancing internal political instability and polarization within Western states
- According to The Insider’s investigation published on 26 December, the influx of Middle Eastern migrants from Russia into Finland was being conducted “under complete control” of the Russian authorities and organized by the same agencies that in the past had been involved in a similar influx into Poland through Belarus.
Objective 4: Disrupting Western international alliances
- On 4 December, the Finnish media reported that according to the Finnish intelligence Russia had planned to subvert the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO.
Objective 5: Thwarting US Policies in the MENA region
- During December 2023, Moscow continued to issue official statements demanding immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza War.
Objective 9: Achieving de-sovereignization of Ukraine
- On 28 December, Russian foreign minister Lavrov was asked in an interview whether the purpose of Russia’s military operation against Ukraine was in fact even larger than the officially stated “denazification and demilitarization” of this country, with Moscow actually seeking to achieve “historic unification of the divided people” – Russia and Ukraine, except perhaps the latter’s western provinces. Lavrov answered: “Without question,” adding his reminiscence of “that tragedy when the Soviet Union disintegrated.”
- In the Russo-Ukrainian War during December 2023, Russians were attacking along most of the frontline, making small advances at several spots.
- A Washington Post material from 30 December described Russia’s propaganda and disinformation efforts in France to undermine the country’s support for Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion.
- The Ukrainian media reported in early December that the Russia-based political organization “The Other Ukraine,” created in the summer of 2023, had established a branch in Serbia, and was now calling itself an “international civic movement.”
Objective 10: Achieving decisive influence over Georgia
- The BBC reported on 13 December that it had “analysed satellite imagery that indicates new dredging and construction work at the port” of Ochamchire in Georgia’s Russian-occupied Abkhazia region “since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.” As reported previously, Russia plans to establish a naval station at the port.
Objective 15: Entrenching Russian influence in the Western Balkans
- In late December 2023, the Russian foreign ministry, including minister Lavrov personally, made a number of statements attacking the Serbian opposition and its protests against the Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić, calling the protests an “attempted coup d’état” and “another attempt to stage illegal capture of power,” and claiming they had been organized “from abroad.”
Objective 16: Entrenching Russian influence in sub-Saharan Africa
- An article in Le Monde from 15 December reported a transformation in the label under which Moscow conducts its geostrategic efforts in Africa. Instead of the Wagner Group Russians had reportedly been introducing the Africa Corps. Its mission is to carry out military operations in Africa “to support countries seeking to finally get rid of neocolonial dependence, cleanse the Western presence and acquire full sovereignty.” The Africa Corps presents itself as “part of a special structure” of the Russian Ministry of Defense.
- On 1 December, the foreign ministers of Moscow’s satellite regimes in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger recommended “creating a confederation as part of a long-term goal” of uniting these countries into a federation.
- Russian sources reported the Wagner Group’s participation in combat against jihadist rebels together with the Malian regime’s military forces, including the recapture of town Dinangourou.
- Russian paramilitaries likely vandalized a memorial in Niger dedicated to the victims of a 1989 terrorist attack destroying a French airliner.
Objective 17: Entrenching Russian influence in the Western hemisphere
- Russia’s Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev paid “special attention” to the “sphere of resisting the color revolutions” in a meeting with the special representative of the head of Nicaragua’s ruling regime Ortega. The Russian (as well as Chinese) propaganda frequently uses ‘color revolutions’ in reference to democratic movements against authoritarian regimes.
Objective 21: Alignment with Iran