Russia Monitor Articles
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission and a close associate of Chinese President Xi Jinping, met on Wednesday, November 8, in Moscow for talks.
Russia has attacked Ukrainian energy infrastructure 60 times in the last several weeks, Ukrainian officials have reported as winter approaches, driving up energy consumption. According to Ukraine’s intelligence agency, Russia has already begun a campaign of attacks on the Ukrainian power grid.
Russia has formally withdrawn from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), an agreement that sets limits on key categories of conventional military equipment. In response to Russia pulling out of the agreement, NATO froze operations for the treaty, saying it would not be feasible for the treaty to exist where allied parties abide by it and Russia does not. According to sources in the United States, a new reality will exert a positive impact on NATO’s deterrence and defense capabilities.
German oil and gas producer Wintershall Dea decided to legally separate its local activities in Russia, including joint ventures with Gazprom. “What we are saying is that we cannot predict when an exit will be possible in terms of the actual disposal of shares,” according to Wintershall Dea CEO Mario Mehren. Currently, the company is pursuing plans to completely exit the Russian market by mid-2024.
An anti-Israeli mob stormed Makhachkala International Airport in the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan on October 29 searching for Jews and Israelis rumored to have arrived on a flight from Tel Aviv. Law enforcement agents arrived at the scene while Russian President Vladimir Putin convened a meeting to discuss the mob invasion at the airport. Antisemitic riots occurred elsewhere in Russia.
Moldova’s energy minister says the government will propose that Moldovagaz, a subsidiary of Gazprom, pay the Russian gas giant $8.6 million to settle a debt that Gazprom says is more than $700 million. Moldovan President Maia Sandu said that the audit had disproved Gazprom’s claim that the Moldovan government owes it hundreds of millions of dollars.
The price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, has gained about 30 percent in late Q3 this year. The biggest beneficiary is Russia while Saudi Arabia––by drastically curbing its crude output––has also played its part. The cartel is likely to impose further curbs as the strategy of reducing output and releasing less crude to the market has proved successful. The question is how long Riyadh will continue such a policy that might result in a gradual loss of Asian markets in favor of cheaper Russian oil.
It is a tough task to replace the Wagner Group in Africa where it has sent numerous mercenary deployments. Some local military juntas trust Wagner mercenaries and refuse their withdrawal as they are struggling to consolidate a grip on power. Moscow has sought to persuade multiple African countries, including Libya, Sudan, Mali, and the Central African Republic, though with no result. A game-changer could be Wagner’s withdrawal from Syria where a major communications point between Russia and Africa has been lost.
Thousands of former Wagner Group fighters are a valuable asset that the Kremlin, involved in a bloody war in Ukraine, will never give up. The process of recruiting former members of the Wagner Group for MoD-affiliated private military companies (PMCs) or the regular army seems to make little progress. Hence, the Kremlin has decided to stage discussions regarding the potential inclusion of Wagner units within the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia).
The plane crash that allegedly killed Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin on August 23 was caused by an explosion, closing the case of the short-lived mutiny in June. Before Prigozhin was killed in the crash, Russian officials made a draft order to seize Wagner Group’s assets and other businesses linked to Prigozhin in several African countries.
Russia’s General Sergei Surovikin, an arch critic of General Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, has been removed from his leadership role in Moscow’s war on Ukraine. Kremlin officials sought to keep Surovikin to prevent the defense minister and the chief of general staff from declaring victory after Prigozhin’s death.
An assault was launched in an airfield in Novgorod Oblast, damaging a Tu-22M3 aircraft. Two days later, Russian bombers were damaged in Russia’s Kaluga Oblast at the Shaykovka airfield as a result of a drone attack. Russian officials said there was no damage after an attempted drone attack in the district where Shaykovka is located. Earlier, another aircraft was burned despite initial reports of damage.
President Vladimir Putin visited the commander of Russia’s war in Ukraine and other top military brass, including Valery Gerasimov, in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. The visit was announced on August 19 in a statement on the Kremlin website.
Never before has India bought so cheap crude oil. More crude supplies from Russia drive oil and fuel consumption in India, which is now the world’s third-largest oil importer.