We hosted a half-day event on the margins of the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London to help cement a stronger recovery and reconstruction in Ukraine and to showcase Ukraine’s financial integrity and transparency efforts. Watch the recording of the discussion here.

Our Take

The Putin regime’s expeditious solution to last weekend’s Wagner rebellion kept internal tensions from spiraling out of control and ostensibly assisted Putin with his war aims in Ukraine, Managing Director David Salvo writes for GMF. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine is a direct response to Ukraine’s moves against oligarchy and corruption, Senior Fellow Josh Rudolph and Amb. Norman Eisen write in MSNBC.

As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan begins his third term, the real question is whether or not he will double down on his authoritarian ways, Head of European Operations Vassilis Ntousas writes in Encompass.

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Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media focused on three main narratives about the Wagner rebellion this week:  

  • Prigozhin’s revolt: There was an outpouring of Russian propaganda on Twitter related to Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s aborted revolt. Initially, state media relayed claims that Prigozhin’s statements were fake, suggested there were no Wagner troops moving across Russia, and amplified tweets that said the Wagner Group’s actions were part of a Kremlin-aligned scheme. They later said that Prigozhin was a traitor and threatened “harsh” punishment. 
  • Russia’s unity: Kremlin-linked accounts promoted claims that President Vladimir Putin’s “effort and will” suppressed the Wagner uprising, that military personnel responded with “courage, valor, and loyalty”, and that “Russian society was united” against the revolt. Only days after the mutiny, Sputnik insisted that things were back to normal inside Russia. 
  • Western involvement: Kremlin-linked outlets pushed claims that Western spy agencies had “goaded” Prigozhin into rebelling against the Russian state. Oriental Review, a Russian intelligence-directed site, argued that NATO had “awakened its sleeper agents in Russia” to carry out the revolt. Propagandists also contended that the United States expected more chaos than occurred and that Ukraine was unable to capitalize on the situation. 

Chinese diplomats and state media focused on three main topics this week:

  • The “Wagner incident”: Chinese diplomats and state media were keen to distance themselves from the chaos taking place in Russia over the weekend. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ official statement on the “Wagner Group incident” explained that it was simply “Russia’s internal affairs”. Still, Chinese state media actively relayed Putin’s commitment to “neutralize” the “armed rebellion”, predicted that the crisis would strengthen the Kremlin, and attacked other media outlets for their supposedly biased coverage.
  • Criticism of the United States: China’s messengers continued their attacks against the United States last week. Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying generated high engagement by criticizing the US response to the opioids crisis, and deploring Washington’s lack of appreciation for China’s supposedly cooperative stance. The Chinese Embassy in Mexico also attacked US charges against Chinese companies in relation to fentanyl production. Other accounts rejected the supposed politicization of the investigation into COVID-19’s origins, highlighted wealth inequality in the United States, and derided the country’s lack of infrastructure investment.
  • Relations with France: France was the fourth most mentioned country in tweets by Chinese diplomats and state media last week, behind China, the United States, and Russia. Chinese Premier Li Qiang was in Paris last weekend, where he praised “the French government for opposing bloc confrontation” and told the French president that both France and China “share [a] common strategic, holistic perspective”.

News and Commentary

SCOTUS rejects giving state legislatures unchecked power to set election rules: On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court ruled against a legal theory at the heart of a North Carolina voting map case that would have given state legislatures unchecked power to set rules for federal elections and restricted the power of state courts to review certain election laws. Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson said, “There was a big sigh of relief with the Supreme Court’s ruling this week. A decision in favor of ‘independent state legislature’ theory would have created substantial chaos in our political and election systems when both are already under strain. It’s a potential crisis averted—now Americans can focus on securing and building trust in US elections as we hurtle toward another presidential election year.” 

France, Germany, Italy to diversify critical raw material supply chains: Leaders of the EU’s largest three economies—France, Germany, and Italy—agreed to diversify their supply chains of critical raw materials as the EU considers legislation to divert the bloc’s supply of key resources from competitors like China. Head of European Operations Vassilis Ntousas told the Dispatch, This joint pledge for cooperation to ensure access to critical raw materials exemplifies the growing realization of the need to rely less on foreign, and often authoritarian, countries for commodities that are key to Europe’s green transition, digital transformation, defense sector, and industrial base. The trilateral statement also comes in reaction to the European Commission’s long-awaited proposals for a Critical Raw Material Act that were unveiled earlier this year, where Germany, France, and Italy—given their relative weight within the EU—will want to shape the direction of travel in the negotiations. We will see what this means for what will be ultimately decided and the speed at which negotiations will conclude. But in the meantime, it is important to note that after Paris and Rome announced plans to dedicate funds for direct investment in critical European mineral value chain projects, Berlin also expressed its willingness to earmark funds for similar projects.”

In Case You Missed It

  • The United States sanctioned four companies and one individual across Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Central African Republic for engaging in illicit “gold dealing” to fund Wagner Group operations in Ukraine and Africa.
  • Meta announced it will end access to news on Facebook and Instagram in Canada after the country’s senate approved legislation requiring big tech companies to negotiate compensation deals with publishers.
  • Japan and NATO agreed to strengthen cooperation on emerging technology and combatting disinformation, according to a document to be released before NATO’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania next month.
  • A top TikTok lawyer suggested in a confidential memo that the platform is facing an “anti-TikTok disinformation” campaign, led in part by journalists, and proposed the creation of a TikTok “fact-checking” website to “correct false narratives”.
  • US election workers are already bracing for—and, in some cases, receiving—threats of violence ahead of the 2024 elections, according to an NPR investigation; meanwhile, Pinal County, Arizona’s elections director resigned after less than a year in the position, citing politicized oversight in one of the state’s more troubled counties.
  • The Biden administration threatened to investigate any potential US company takeover of Israel’s NSO Group, which produces the world’s most sophisticated spyware technology, over potential counterintelligence threats to the US government.

ASD in the News

West Supports Ukraine Anti-Corruption Efforts at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London. Senior Fellow Josh Rudolph and Amb. Norman Eisen write for ASD at GMF

GOP state legislatures seek greater control over state and local election offices. Senior Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine quoted in AP News

What’s next for Wagner and Prigozhin as Putin rages over rebellion. Managing Director David Salvo quoted in The Hill

Cracks in Putin’s Disinformation Machine Emerge After Uprising. Research Analyst Joseph Bodnar quoted in Bloomberg

Moving beyond divisiveness: Building a stronger republic. ASD research highlighted in The Fulcrum

Quote of the Week

“Over the past four days in Russia, everything happened and nothing happened… Although the rebellion shattered the illusion of Putin’s control, it changed very little.”

  • German Marshall Fund of the United States President Heather Conley wrote on June 27, reflecting on the Wagner Group mutiny in Russia.


The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.