Russia Monitor Articles
Within the past two months, Russia has deployed new missiles systems on the territory of the Kola Peninsula. This comes as yet another stage of the country’s military build-up in the Arctic, a step that raises concern mainly in Norway. Russia keeps expanding its military infrastructure also east of the Kola Peninsula.
The head of Russia’s biggest oil company has no intention to give up in his fight for tax incentives for creating a vast oil cluster in the Arctic. For Igor Sechin, this is to become a vital source of crude for maritime transport via the Northern Sea Route. But the total costs of the project are sky high, and Sechin expects that all companies involved in its implementation will be granted tax exemptions. The problem is that the finance minister has said no to these plans. So as usual, Sechin is trying to sort the things out at the top political level, and he has sent a letter to Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin is consistently leaning towards boosting cooperation with China while making efforts to build, along with its Chinese ally, the Moscow-Beijing anti-U.S. axis. What stands out as the top assets are hydrocarbon resources that Russia seeks to export in large amounts to the Middle Kingdom, though such a business is less economically viable than trading gas to the European market. It cannot be ruled out Moscow’s gas tilt towards Asia is to some extent triggered by fears over mounting competition from U.S.-sourced liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The activity of Russia’s state-run oil firm Rosneft on Venezuelan soil is a matter of mounting concern for the U.S. administration. U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said Washington could impose sanctions against Igor Sechin’s company over its alleged assistance for the Nicolas Maduro-led regime. Following the withdrawal of other oil importers from the Venezuelan market, Russia’s Rosneft is for Venezuela the last-ditch solution.
Russia has long made efforts to narrow down, or to derail Western, and chiefly the U.S., military troop presence in Afghanistan. Moscow’s top goal in Afghanistan consists in becoming a key mediator in the Afghan civil war and securing dominant influence in Kabul. It is therefore vital to eye the Taliban as Russia’s allies in its fight against what is called the Islamic State on Afghan soil.
The liquefied gas segment is doing well in Russia, with LNG exports running high since the beginning of the year. This will undoubtedly translate into the financial results of Russia’s private-owned firm Novatek that holds the lead in this respect.
A few days before the election, Israeli Prime Minister yet again sought to get support from Vladimir Putin. Although during his latest visit to Sochi high on the agenda were the issues of Syria and Iran, it is widely speculated that Netanyahu’s trip to Russia may help boost his electoral popularity among the Russian-speaking electorate. And as for Iran, Moscow has no intention of shifting its current policy.
Russia’s annual grandiose war games Tsentr 2019 are not the sole military undertaking to take place within the Russian army in the upcoming days. In a couple of days ahead of the planned drills, the Russian and Belarusian militaries had kicked off the joint army exercise Union Shield 2019.
All significant political factions in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia believe in close cooperation with Moscow in a move that is de facto comparable to a Russian protectorate. A presidential election held recently in the self-proclaimed statelet was of great importance for another reason, which was somewhat strife for reclaiming control of Russian subsidies.
Following massive pollution of oil running through the Druzhba pipeline in Russia, attempts are being made to make settlements and play up financial responsibility for what happened. So far no new mechanisms have been pushed forward to monitor the quality of oil in Russian pipelines in an effort to stop similar failures striking a blow into the entire energy sector in the future.
Russia’s economy is buoyed up by the export of raw materials. Profits it makes from selling gas and oil abroad are the top source of revenue for the federal budget. This means that any changes in hydrocarbon prices immediately translate into how much money flows into the budget. Russia’s incumbent government says, however, that the budget is less prone to the ongoing economic fluctuations owing to the recently adopted reforms. The Russian economy and budget will still do pretty well even if oil prices drop to $40 per barrel, Russia’s Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said in a recently published press interview.
Russia keeps strengthening cooperation with Mongolia, with Russian companies getting more and more active on the neighboring market, especially in the areas such as transport, infrastructure and energy. Signed by Russian and Mongolian officials, a new friendship and cooperation treaty confirms both the Kremlin’s interest in Mongolia and Ulaanbaatar’s political strategy that sees Russia as a counterbalance for pressure from China. Besides, Mongolia’s incumbent president is seeking to win as much as possible from his being closer to cooperation between Moscow and Beijing.
A several-day trip paid by U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton shows Washington’s increased interest in the countries of our part of Europe. Top three topics on the agenda of Trump’s influential aide were Russia, China, and the energy industry. While on tour in Europe, Bolton visited Kiev, Chisinau, Minsk, and Warsaw. Most considerable political significance was given to his meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko while culminating Bolton’s tour in Warsaw corroborates Poland’s crucial role in U.S. roadmap for countries between Russia and NATO. And this is all the more that the necessity of having friendly ties with Warsaw was brought upon in talks that the U.S. representatives held both with Lukashenko and Ukraine’s Zelensky.
More and more Russians are saying they are dissatisfied with the political activity of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, as found by polls by several sociological research centers, both state and private.