Russia Monitor Articles
Russia Moves Troops From Far North To Ukraine
The Norwegian and Estonian intelligence agencies recently presented their open threat and risk assessments in 2023. Both emphasized that Russia poses the greatest threat to European security. Interestingly, Russia has relocated large ground forces from the High North to Ukraine, according to both reports.
Russia’s Hydrocarbon Exports in 2022: Moscow Bets On Bigger LNG Output
Last year saw somewhat bittersweet results in Russia’s hydrocarbon exports and related figures. Although the country sold more oil, the situation will now deteriorate. Russia saw more modest gas sales figures, but the liquefied natural gas sector stands out.
Austria, Netherlands Increase Hydrocarbons Imports From Russia
While the EU ban on Russian fuel is biting Moscow, Russia has been delivering some crude to EU countries. Among those that bought oil from Russia were Austria and the Netherlands.
Russia Boosts Presence in Mali
The Malian junta appointed several pro-Russian figures to high-ranking military positions, indicating growing Russian influence over the Malian government. In addition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov traveled to Bamako, the Malian capital, where he was awarded one of the highest Malian orders. All this points to the growing influence of Moscow in the African country.
Staff Reshuffles in Russia’s Security Council
It was long ago when Russia’s Security Council saw major staff changes. They may undermine the reputation of Nikolay Patrushev, its chairman. Recent appointees include people from outside the inner circle of the former FSB chief. In addition, a new person linked to Vladimir Putin took a job at the Council. Perhaps the institution saw some personnel changes ahead of the forthcoming Federal Assembly address. Or possibly Putin is seeking to chasten some hawkish officials within the Council.
Russia Cuts Oil Output As Sanctions Bite
Russia will cut crude oil production by half a million barrels per day starting in March. That means the country’s major challenge is to export crude oil. Reduced export volumes for crude means that Russia is unable to sell as much of its oil – even at a discounted price – as before the price cap and the EU embargo came into effect.
Lavrov Visits Sudan to Conclude Red Sea Naval Base Agreement
Following the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Sudan last week, Moscow and Khartoum have finalized the terms of an agreement on establishing a logistical center for the Russian Navy in Sudan, concluded a few years ago. The deal was somewhat derailed due to an unstable situation in Sudan. Sudan has been without a parliament after a popular uprising led to the military overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al Bashir. Russian officials get on well with the Sudanese military junta while some top Sudanese generals have benefitted from collaboration with the shadowy military contractor Wagner Group.
Will France Be Replaced by Russia in Another African Country?
The new military junta in Burkina Faso is making effort to team up with Russia, a sign that Russia is becoming a major player in Africa after the Central African Republic and Mali. Possibly, Wagner Group, a shadowy paramilitary group, will serve a key role in Burkina Faso – as it already has in the two African states.
Rosneft, Novatek Gains, Gazprom Loses
The figures for the Russian gas sector in 2022, in particular an increase in liquefied natural gas output, show that Gazprom is weakening while two other companies – Novatek and Rosneft – are rising in power. Rosneft has boosted output while Novatek is now producing more liquefied natural gas. In an attempt to wean the country from its dependence on the European gas market, Russia has increased gas exports to China, where its three biggest energy companies compete.
Iranian, Russian Speakers Meet, Calling for Strategic Cooperation
Russian State Duma speaker headed to Tehran, a more powerful sign of cooperation between Russia and Iran than just a parliamentary cooperation commission. Volodin is a hawk with strong ties to Vladimir Putin. Perhaps he traveled to Iran to consolidate his position in the “party of war” and open a new chapter in Russian-Iranian ties.
Russia Remains Idle In Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis
Since December, Azerbaijan has blocked only land connection between Armenia and the ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan. No transport link by air has been established for three decades. Russian “peacekeeping” do nothing about Azerbaijani militants sent by the government in Baku to prevent traffic on the only road linking the province to Armenia. As Moscow remains idle, Armenia no longer believes in Moscow’s allied commitments while Western states are eager to take advantage of that.
Russia Expels Estonian Ambassador
The Estonian ambassador in Russia has been ordered to leave the country, the Estonian foreign ministry said in a statement. Many ambassadors will now be replaced with a chargé d’affaires – a diplomat of a lower rank acting in place of an ambassador. That is a new chapter in souring ties between the Baltic states and Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
South Africa, Russia’s Biggest African Ally
Due to its location and its role in African politics, let aside from its membership in the BRICS group, South Africa is a valuable partner for Moscow. The country’s ruling party, the African National Congress, is following a policy that favors Russia, which matters now as Russia continues to shell Ukraine.