November 2023

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November 2023

November 2023

New Strategy Center publishes the November edition of its monthly newsletter, where we assess the most relevant information and events in or impacting the Black Sea and Balkan region.

On 8 November, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova received a recommendation from the European Commission to start the negotiation process for accession to the European Union. However, the final decision will be taken by member states at an EU summit on 14-15 December, and Hungary has so far shown clear signs that it will exercise its veto on Ukraine.

On the Ukrainian front, the town of Avdiivka and the surrounding area were some of the main hotspots in November, where the Russian army deployed tens of thousands of troops without progress and suffered significant losses. In parallel, Ukraine continued attacks on Russia’s naval capabilities in Crimea, and Russia carried out massive drone strikes on port facilities and the capital Kyiv. The US Congress has been unable to reach a decision on an aid package for Ukraine, with uncertainty in the US political environment heightening concerns that Western support for Ukraine could wane amid a sense of “war fatigue”.  On the other hand, Russia has approved its largest military budget since the dissolution of the USSR, at around $110 billion (39% of total budget revenues), with military spending exceeding the budget for the social package. Investment in the war effort is also confirmed by reports of increased ammunition and weapons production capacity.

Local elections were held in two rounds in Moldova. President Maia Sandu’s Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) remains the strongest pro-European party, but failed to win the capital and any of the country’s major cities, which will make its task more difficult in the next presidential elections in 2024.

In the Balkans, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s visit focused on Russia’s malign influence in the region, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. November intelligence showed that Turkey was a major trading partner of Russia this month, importing energy and exporting dual-use technologies in record quantities. Ankara has also continued to delay Sweden’s accession to NATO. On the other hand, North Macedonia announced the training of Ukrainian troops.

See the full PDF version here.