Russia Monitor Articles
Kirill Seleznev, a close associate of Gazprom’s CEO Alexey Miller and Director General of Gazprom Mezhregiongaz, has been relieved of his post as a Gazprom board member. Seleznev’s dismissal may emerge as an outcome of the infamous Arashukov case, having links to the recent decision to relieve Chechnya’s gas debts. He is the fourth member of Gazprom’s management board to have been sacked over the past few weeks.
Nuclear drills carried out by Russia near Norway’s Lofoten archipelago confirms Moscow’s intention to expand its military activities to the Norwegian Sea, able to pose a threat to NATO strategic maritime corridor running through the UK, Iceland, and Greenland. Oslo has been aware of a growing threat from Russia while boosting its military forces in northern Norway for the fear of land-attack operations from the Russian Kola Peninsula.
Although the Sudanese army has seized power in the country, this has not put an end to social unrest that sparked a few months before. Sudan’s dictator Omar al-Bashir has been put under house arrest while the opposition did not allow a military junta to assume power in the country. Bashir’s political demise may thus put an end to Moscow’s hopes for making Sudan its strategic stronghold in East Africa.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Russia for his third meeting (and second in Moscow) this year with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. During his trip, the Turkish head of state confirmed his intention to purchase Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system despite the mounting pressure from both Washington and NATO allied countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has outlined general plans for the Arctic expansion. Speaking at the International Arctic Forum in St. Petersburg, Putin committed to developing naval ports and routes while expanding the energy sector (LNG) and the Northern Sea Route as a safe and economically viable route for international maritime shipping.
Facing the pressure from Russia’s major oil producers, with state-run Rosneft at the forefront, the government will probably be likely to boost production starting from the middle of the year.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visit to Moscow five days before parliamentary elections, confirmed Vladimir Putin’s interest in keeping the Israeli politician in power. Also, the Russian army has recently discovered in Syria the remains of an Israeli soldier missing since the 1982 Lebanon War.
Investments led by Russian Novatek are backed both by the Kremlin and regional authorities. The company’s plans to set up further LNG facilities in the Russian Far North is to serve purposes like: increase LNG output in the country and provide an economic stimulus to the areas located in the close neighborhood of the Northern Sea Route.
According to the Russian media and a certain group of politicians, Moscow may potentially deny recognizing the final results of the recent presidential election in Ukraine. Such a scenario seems more likely if Petro Poroshenko is elected for his second term of office yet from the Kremlin’s perspective, none of the two competitors who have entered the second round is favorable for Russia’s interests.
This is yet another chapter of Russia’s oil price-fixing scandal. On March 19, officers of Russian services entered the headquarters of the state’s largest oil traders where they carried out searches. As initially expected, these have hit all the entities that were allegedly found guilty of recent drastic increases in oil prices.
Russia is expected to experience a significant drop in oil production within the next dozen or so years, according to estimates by international agencies, independent energy experts and Russian state institutions. Given the state budget’s reliance on incomes from exporting oil, Moscow may soon apprehend unfavorable forecasts for the upcoming years.
Recent detainments of a former minister Mikhail Abyzov and an ex-governor Viktor Ishayev were aimed to undermine Russia’s “liberal” camp while warning regional elites, fitting into the Kremlin’s ever-tightening course in its domestic policy. Not only does the regime suppress the opposition but it is also capable of hitting potential weak links within its own milieu.
Sending Russian forces in Venezuela served a dual purpose: on the one hand showing Moscow’s full support for the Maduro regime while discouraging its enemies from launching a military intervention, and, on the other, carrying cybersecurity specialists to Venezuelan soil.
Russian state-run gas giant makes it difficult to at least secure its gas supplies to Europe as recorded last year. Gazprom’s huge challenge is related, in addition to the drop in gas demand and plummeting gas prices, also to growing import of liquefied natural gas into the European market. This comes as an aftermath of changes in the Asian market and U.S. ever-increasing export capabilities.