January 27, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: Russia in ‘existential conflict against modern Nazi movement’, says Putin

Institute for the Study of War

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, and Kremlin officials claimed that Russia is in an existential geopolitical conflict with an alleged modern Nazi movement that extends beyond Ukraine while marking the 80th anniversary of the breaking of the siege of Leningrad. Putin attended the opening of a memorial to the Soviet victims of Nazi genocide in Leningrad Oblast on January 27 and focused heavily on long-standing claims that Russia is fighting “Nazis” in Ukraine. Putin also asserted that select countries have adopted Nazi ideology and methods and tied this assertion to a number of European states promoting “Russophobia as a state policy.” Putin declared that Russia will ”do everything to suppress and finally exterminate Nazism” and cast Russia as pursuing the ”aspirations of millions of people…all over the planet for true freedom, justice, peace, and security.” Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko also attended the ceremony and stated that Belarus and Russia ”are again faced with the question of the right to life of our civilization and the preservation of ancestral…[and] cultural values.” Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergei Naryshkin stated that Russia will not stop halfway in its fight against current Nazi followers, and Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin explicitly stated that “fascist ideology is becoming the norm…for leaders of NATO states” and specifically accused US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz of sponsoring genocide in Ukraine. Volodin framed this alleged growing fascist movement as a “dangerous path that could lead to a new world war.”

Myanmar banks reportedly connected to the Russian System for the Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS) banking system, a Russian analogue for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) banking system. Russian Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov stated on January 27 that Myanmar banks recently connected to SPFS, which will allow Russian and Myanmar businesses to freely buy and sell products. Russia began developing its SPFS banking system in 2014, following US threats to disconnect Russia from SWIFT in response to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, and roughly 20 countries have joined SPFS in the past 10 years. The Washington Post reported that internal Russian Security Council documents show that Kremlin officials are working to undermine the dollar’s role as a world reserve currency and hope to work with China to create a new financial system to bypass Western dominance of global financial transactions. Unnamed European security officials told the Washington Post that it is unclear if China has any real interest in this effort.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, and Kremlin officials claimed that Russia is in an existential geopolitical conflict with an alleged modern Nazi movement that extends beyond Ukraine while marking the 80th anniversary of the breaking of the siege of Leningrad.
  • Putin has long tried to construct an ideology for Russia that he can use to support a geopolitical confrontation with the West reminiscent of the Cold War, and the Kremlin may increasingly use existing rhetoric about fighting Nazism to support this effort.
  • Putin specifically accused the Baltic states of adopting “Nazism,” likely as part of continued Kremlin efforts to set information conditions for future Russian aggression against NATO members.
  • Myanmar banks reportedly connected to the Russian System for the Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS) banking system, a Russian analogue for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) banking system.
  • Russian forces conducted a limited series of drone and missile strikes against Ukraine on January 26 and 27.
  • Russian authorities are likely blocking communications in the Sakha Republic for the fourth consecutive day following January 24 protests in support of a Russian citizen allegedly murdered by a naturalized Russian citizen from Tajikistan.
  • Russian forces made recent confirmed advances near Kupyansk, Kreminna, and Avdiivka amid continued positional engagements along the entire line of contact on January 27.
  • UK outlet the Telegraph reported on January 26, citing an unnamed Western official, that Russia is spending roughly 40 percent of its GDP on the war in Ukraine, more than Russian national spending on health and education.
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