Russia Monitor Articles
Russian President Vladimir Putin called for one-off cash payments to be awarded to Russia’s pensioners and military service personnel in a highly anticipated pre-election move. The payments will total more than 500 billion roubles. The Kremlin and the government are doing whatever they can to give the ruling party the best possible result in the upcoming vote.
Russia and Belarus are putting into practice their military cooperation deal both have concluded this spring. Units of the anti-aircraft missile forces of the Russian Federation arrived in Grodno to create three joint “combat training centers” for the air force and air defense forces of the two states. Thus for the first time in many years, Russia is beefing up its permanent military presence in Belarus.
Russia and China are now following a coordinated policy towards the rapidly developing situation in Afghanistan. Both countries have been long in contact with the Taliban, seeking friendly ties with Afghanistan’s new government and business deals in the country. Meanwhile, Moscow and Beijing are right to voice concern over the Taliban policy in the future while staying aware of possible threats Islamic fundamentalists pose to Afghanistan.
A German court in Düsseldorf has rejected an appeal by Nord Stream 2 AG to allow its pipeline to be exempt from the EU’s gas directive rules. Thus Russia will be unable to use the full transport capacities of the new gas pipeline once it is launched soon. This will not affect EU customers, but Gazprom will still have to send large gas flows through Ukraine.
Moscow’s recent decisions show it hesitates whether the Taliban will meet their commitments to stop the Islamic expansions northwards to Central Asian countries. The Russian military is beefing up its Tajik base, Vladimir Putin says Islamic factions could “infiltrate” the region while the country’s deputy foreign minister adds that Moscow is not racing to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s rulers.
Communication forces kickstarted their part of the joint Russia-Belarus military exercise on August 26 in the run-up to the Zapad-2021 war games. Some Russian soldiers are already in Belarus while in the August 23 phone call, Vladimir Putin exchanged views on the drills with Alexander Lukashenko.
Inaugurated on August 23 in Kyiv, a worldwide platform causes serious headache to Russia and its reputation. Not only does the world refuse to recognize Moscow’s occupation of Crimea, but the issue is also gaining new momentum as the Crimea Platform was set up. That is the triumph of Ukraine’s authorities and symbol of Zelensky’s firm policy as the Ukrainian president does not focus solely on Donbas in his country’s ties with Moscow but also bring back the peninsula to the international agenda.
While Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin made a symbolic deal to the completion of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, the United States imposed new sanctions on the project. They do not change much while the gas pipeline is set to be completed any day now. Moscow does not conceal that not only will it scrap the existing transit deal with Ukraine after it expires, but also it has no intention of meeting its commitments by 2024. It is pointless for Merkel and the EU to promise to do their utmost to make Russia continue sending gas through Ukraine.
Possible Russian aggression gives rise to increasing concerns in Kyiv. First, the United States gave its green light to complete the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that is a great danger to Ukraine. Now Washington is displaying helplessness in Afghanistan, which may encourage its enemies to take aggressive steps. Among them could be Russia, prone to attack Ukraine.
New days are bringing more than 800 new coronavirus deaths in Russia. The number of new infections remains high, too. The authorities do not know how to persuade people to get vaccinated. The poor vaccination rate in Russia and an uptick fueled by the Delta variant are both responsible for the surge in new cases across the country.
A few hours after German Chancellor Angela Merkel left Moscow, the Russian government published a new extended list of sanctions on Ukrainian officials. Kyiv says Moscow is taking its revenge for the Crimea Platform summit, scheduled for August 23. Merkel had been in Ukraine a day before.
Russia has now a positive opinion about the new authorities in Afghanistan, seeking effective cooperation with the Taliban. For Moscow, it would be best for the Taliban to involve other political forces in forming a new government.
Russia completed joint military exercises with troops from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on August 10 as the Taliban gained control of much of northern Afghanistan, which borders Moscow’s Central Asian allies. It seems that it is just a matter of time when Kabul falls and the Russians are negotiating with the Taliban.
Sanctions imposed on Belarus and people doing business with the Lukashenko regime by the European Union and the United Kingdom forced a Russian oligarch to formally sell off stakes in oil companies. Mikhail Gutseriev, a Russian businessman, handed over his shares in Russneft and Neftis to his brother.