MS Risk Blog

Review of Situation in Eastern Europe

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As one of the remaining allay of Russia in European region, Belarus has been in the unique position of representing Russian interest. This has been continued for the last 1 month. Russia has completed shipments of short-range, tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, which raised strong concerns of neighbouring countries.

Diplomatic position of the country has been closer to Russa and China, which was represented with Lukashenko’s visit to Beijing in 4th December. Diplomatic isolations was seen after Global Red Cross suspended Belarus chapter after the chief Dzmitry Shautsou was related to mass Ukraine children abduction from Russian-controlled areas. It is known that more than 2,400 Ukrainian children was taken to Belarus.

Lukashenko is also tightening internal control. Human rights activists and formal political prisoner Leonid Sudalenka accused that he faced abuse in his three years of imprisonment. He submitted to UN Human Rights Committee, which Lukashenko refused to discuss. This is one of the continuing political oppression in the country.

Russian military presence in Belarus has been increasing. Wagner Group personnels continued to train Belarusian forces as of January. Five million rounds of ammunition was delivered to Belarus in December 2023. However, in the last few months decrease of equipment of Wagner Group in Belarus has been decrease, which could have taken back to Russa or transferred to Russian military.

Migration crisis on Belarus-Poland border is continuing since November 2022. It is known as part of hybrid warfare of Kremlin. Polish government constructed 5.5 meters high and stretching for 186km border barrier, stopping migrants and creating humanitarian crisis on border.


Vadim Krasnoselsky, the president of Republic of Transnistria claimed on 9th January that Moldova’s militarization is threatening Transnistria. This pro-Russian separatist leader is against Moldova’s pro-western policies, which is Kremlin controlled narrative that gives opportunities of future campaigns within Moldova. Long history of separatism and Russian speaking population of Moldova is facing possible treat from Moscow.


13th December, Donald Tusk became Prime Minister of Poland in the aftermath of the October parliamentary election. It was followed in 19th December, Polish public media crisis which dismissed directors and supervisory boards of public broadcaster TVP. This was criticized by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, which lost election.

Poland is facing political unrest after 2 politicians was affected in the presidential palace at 9th January. Former interior minister Mariusz Kaminski and former deputy interior minister Maciej Wasik was convicted and sentenced for abuse of power was given refuge in presidential palace. This shows political turmoil between the Law and Justice (PiS) party, and newly elected pro-EU administration. This was followed by the protest of several hundred PiS supporters at the police headquarter which where two former MPs were taken into custody after the arrest.

Current pro-EU party has majority in the parliament, but for month the country has suffered turmoil between current government and PiS. Current government is pushing for reform of country both domestic and foreign, which indicates turmoil within the new government.

20th December, Poland Internal Security Agency arrested suspected Belarusian woman of spying and providing information about diaspora in Poland to Belarusian security services. She was charged with espionage in 9th of January. It was announced that Daira Ostapenko, who was model on Only fans which is a paid online service for pornography and prostitute was recruited few years ago. She was arrested after she disclosed to her friends that she was working for Belarusian security services.

Migration crisis on the Belarusian border is still continuing, but there were no significant development in the past month.


As of February 2024, Russian invasion on Ukraine marks it’s 3rd year. Despite continuing long war and staggering casualties on the frontline, Russia has not made any significant advance for month. Ukraine war has become stalemate in both military sense and political sense. Both Putin and Zelensky’s political position makes peace negotiation impossible. Without hope of ending the war near future, Kremlin faces presidential election on March 2024 which gives pressure to Putin for a result in this war.

However, there is no evidence that national difficulties are presenting Putin serious near future threat. Despite long war with Ukraine, President Putin is maintaining strong domestic support with 67% approve of   Putin’s foreign policy and 58% on domestic policy. 66% is planning to vote for Putin in the upcoming March Presidential Election of Russia. Also, with long history of rigged election current regime is expected to be on power without difficulties.

Russia’s main war effort is focused on Eastern Ukraine, mainly on Luhansk and Donetsk Oblast. Until 9th January, there were no meaningful changes on frontline. Positional fighting without significant development has been continuing in Eastern Ukraine.

Although the invasion was made by the Russia, effect of the war is not isolated on Ukraine soil. 2th of January city of Belgorod, which is located near Russian-Ukraine border was strike by Ukrainian forces. 5 was wounded by this attack. 9th of January nearly 100 children was evacuated n Belgorod because of the repeated Ukraine attacks. Belgorod is the first Russian city that was attacked by the Ukraine and been suffering since. Currently there is no visible Ukraine forces on the area.

There was visible civil unrest, protest of families of Russian conscripts and activists being charge by the government indicates that Russian society is suffering from long war. But there is no visible political protest that could threaten regime or presidential election of 2024. One of the few remaining political adversary of Putin is Alexei Navalny, who is currently serving 19-years prison sentence was transferred to a IK-3 penal colony located in Yamalo-Nenets region. It is one of the Soviet-era Gulags, which is located at 1,900km northeast of Moscow. It is assumed this action is to deter Navalny’s public activities before presidential election.

Economical ties between Russia and the West have been damaged severely. And this is being replaced by China. Trade between China and Russia has reached a record of $240 billion in 2023, which is grown 26.3% comparing with 2022. Both countries has pledged to boost bilateral trade, and it is expected to grow in the near future because of deteriorated relation with the West. In 2023, half of Russia’s oil and petroleum was received by China, making Russia more dependent on Chinse relations.


Ukraine is suffering long war, but Ukrainian public is still having positive attitudes toward the Ukrain government. Survey published on 18th December 2023 shows that 99% trust Ukrainian Commander in Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, and 66% trust President Zelensky. However, it is noticeable that comparing to 2022, trust in President Zelensky has been declined from 84%.

Conflict with Russia is mainly focused on Eastern Ukraine, countering Russian effort to strengthen control of Eastern part of the country. Each side is positional fighting without significant changes on the frontline. Currently, Ukraine is building further barricades near Kupiansk, which is the northeastern city of Ukraine. This indicates that soon Ukraine is not planning counter offensive. Such defensive position of Ukraine would lead to a long stalemate. Current weather condition in Ukraine is extremely cold, and temperature is not forecasted to rise over the next week, which would complicate both side’s operations.

However, Ukraine is suffering from Russian missiles strikes. In 8th January Russia have stroked with nearly 60 missiles nationwide. Most of the major Eastern cities such as Zaporizhzhia, Pokrovsk and Kharkiv was stroked, but some of the attacks was targeted on the other side of the country. Kharkiv region suffered again by Russian strike on 11th January.

In 3rd January, more than 200 soldiers was returned by the largest prisoner exchange. It was mediated by the UAE, and the location of the exchange was not announced by both governments. This was the 49th prisoner exchange during the war, and Ukraine announced among the returned 230 Ukrainian prisoners were veterans from milestone battles.

Ukraine defence audit found $262m worth of financial violations over the last four month. Corruption issue is especially sensitive issue in Ukraine currently. Because of unstable public opinion of Ukraine support in West, and application to join EU, Ukraine government is tackling corruption.