Belarus: Militarily, Belarus is Russia’s biggest supporter having allowed both its land and airspace to be used by the Kremlin’s forces. Despite resisting pressure thus far from Putin to send troops into Ukraine, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has had no qualms about the thousands of missiles launched from his territory toward Ukraine’s cities. Lukashenko has little choice in the matter given he’s only still in power because Russia helped him quash a popular uprising after a contested election in 2020.

Iran: Iran has emerged as one of Russia’s few remaining allies, with Moscow increasingly isolated because of the invasion. The Iranian government shares the Kremlin’s deep distrust of anything Western at the outset of the full-scale invasion, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told Putin that: “NATO expansion is a serious threat to the stability and security of independent countries in different regions.”  There is an extensive and developing relationship between Iran and Russia involving equipment such as helicopters, fighter jets and kamikaze drones. These drones are being smuggled into Russia using boats and Iran’s state airline. There are also fears Iran could supply Russia with ballistic missiles.

North Korea: North Korea is a staunch supporter of Russia and has heavily criticized the U.S. and blamed it for the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion. The US has accused North Korea of supplying Russia with weapons, artillery shells in particular, funneling them through the Middle East and Africa.

Syria: Syria has become one of Putin’s biggest fans. President Bashar al-Assad praised the full-scale invasion as a “correction of history” and accused Western nations of using “dirty methods to support terrorists in Syria and Nazis in Ukraine.” Assad has been entirely dependent on Russian military support to suppress a popular uprising in Syria which escalated into a now nearly 12-year civil war.

China: The closest thing Russia has to global superpower support is China, though it is far from definitive or unconditional. China has never condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, nor has it endorsed it. China has walked a delicate and slightly ambiguous line that has at times echoed the Kremlin’s line, referring to the invasion as a “special military operation”, for instance and abstaining from United Nations votes condemning it. Last year China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country would help Russia “overcome difficulties, eliminate disturbances, realize the strategic goals of development, and further establish Russia on the international stage.” Yet this contrasted sharply with comments from Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, who called for de-escalation, adding, “all countries deserve respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity,” and that “support should be given to all efforts that are conducive to peacefully resolving the crisis.” Russia has repeatedly requested arms from China, but as far as is known, Beijing has balked. China has, however, provided non-lethal equipment such as flak jackets and helmets, according to U.S. intelligence sources. One way in which China is undoubtedly supporting Moscow is by increasing imports of Russian oil and gas. But China remains wary of doing more in case it incurs the wrath of debilitating Western sanctions.

India: India is another country that has walked an ambiguous line and the closest it has come to criticizing Russia was during an awkward televised meeting in September, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Putin, “I know that today’s era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this.” And yet, just like China, India has increased imports of Russian gas and oil since February of 2022, indirectly helping finance the Kremlin’s military. India has abstained from voting on nearly every resolution condemning Russian aggression at the UN. The general public in India appears to have strong support for Russia, which may be a result of both India’s current reliance on Russian military hardware and recollections of the Soviet Union assisting India in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Central African Republic: The CAR in partnering with Russia  has made itself instrumental to Russia’s ability to continue its war. The Wagner group has for years developed a military partnership with CAR, even providing security to its president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra. Russia has, in return, gained access to the CAR’s plentiful gold and diamond mines through a company called Lobaye Invest, founded in 2017 and linked to Wagner. Wagner-linked mining operations in CAR could generate profits of $1 billion per year, profits likely to be used to recruit fighters, purchase weapons, and fuel the war in Ukraine. Many Central Africans support Wagner’s presence in their country, despite evidence of Wagner’s human rights crimes.

Mali: Mali has recently swung sharply into the Kremlin's orbit after the French ended and withdrew Operation Barkhane, its military mission to save the capital from being sacked by jihadists. Currently ruled by military putschists who have denounced France, the authorities have enlisted the help of Russian Wagner mercenaries to solidify their power.

Eritrea: The African continent has become somewhat of a diplomatic battleground since the Ukraine war began. Eritrea is one of the most closed off countries in the world and has been ruled by the iron fist of President Isaias Afwerki since the country gained independence from Ethiopia since 1993. The country's army has been accused of numerous atrocities against civilians during a brutal two-year war in Ethiopia's northernmost region of Tigray.

Sudan: Russia and Sudan signed cooperation agreements in 2017 in the area of military training, exchange of expertise, and warship entry to the two countries’ ports. Putin approved the establishment of a naval base on November 16, 2020, and a technical military cooperation agreement between the two sides, stipulating the establishment of a Russian naval logistics base in Port Sudan on the Red Sea, was signed in December 2020. The 25-year agreement, which can be automatically extended for another ten years if neither party objects, allows Russia to anchor four ships, including nuclear-powered vessels, with up to 300 personnel at port. The agreement also grants Russia the freedom to use Sudanese airports to move the “weapons, provisions, and equipment” needed to support the base and help it to impose a degree of control over the flow of oil that passes through the northeastern part of Africa. The Russian Wagner Group began to operate in Sudan in 2017, during the era of the former Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir. The group provided military training to members of the intelligence services, special forces, and the paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces.

Nicaragua: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was one of the first world leaders to back Russia's stance over Ukraine saying President Vladimir Putin was right to recognize two regions controlled by Moscow-backed separatists as independent. The former Marxist guerrilla, who has led Nicaragua since 2007 after having first come to power in 1979, defended Putin's move to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk .

Cuba: Cuba and Russia are united by sanctions and historic confrontations with the United States. Miguel Díaz-Canel the president of Cuba and the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba has praised the illegal annexation of several Ukrainian provinces by Russia, while accusing the United States of having provoked the war by NATO expansion.

Venezuela: On the day following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Maduro sided with Putin, placing blame on NATO and the U.S. for provoking Moscow. 

Brazil: Brazil's president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has said it was "not just Putin" who was guilty for the war. "Putin shouldn't have invaded Ukraine and the U.S. and Europe "should have said 'Ukraine won't join NATO'. The statements of Lula have given added credibility to Putin's claim that it's only Western countries that accused Russia of the aggression, and that the global south somehow has a different position." Lula's case indicates that leftist progressives in the Global South are also susceptible to Russian views,"

The Collective Security Treaty Organization: The Moscow-led CSTO is a military alliance in Eurasia made up of six post-Soviet states: Armenia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, but not all of them have played ball over the last year. Russia  is losing influence in the Southern Caucasus after decades of playing the role of power broker. Despite being a member of CSTO, Kazakhstan denied a Russian request to take part in the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. And while the country’s government has avoided directly criticizing Russia, it has also not officially recognized the Russian-backed Luhansk and Donetsk Republics in eastern Ukraine. Armenia similarly has refused to host CSTO military drills. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan have been wary of supporting Russia “in ways Moscow may find irritating”.

Myanmar:  Myanmar’s military junta, which overthrew a democratically elected government two years ago, supports Russia, which it has said was “acting to protect its sovereignty,” and praised Russia’s role in “balancing global power.” Russia is a major supplier of arms to Myanmar.

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