Saudi Arabia says an increase in oil output should be addressed cautiously despite a recovery in global oil prices. Officials in Riyadh will keep in force the oil cuts. Moscow, on the other hand, is indicating that it still wants to proceed with a supply increase.
The Audit Chamber, Russia’s government spending watchdog, said the country saw a massive drop in budget revenues from selling oil and gas. In 2020, these were just a fraction of the federal budget while a relatively modest increase in non-related revenues failed to make up for this loss.
The General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces has demanded the ouster of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, a move that exacerbated the political turmoil the country had plunged into after the defeat in the war with Azerbaijan. Thousands of opposition protesters take to the streets of Yerevan every day. However, Pashinyan is reluctant to step down.
Russia as the first destination for new Kyrgyz president Sadyr Japarov was no surprise. The new leader of the Central Asian country had a mission to reassure his Moscow partners that the latest unrest – and lingering plans to amend the constitution to give more powers to the president – would not affect Russian political interests in Kyrgyzstan.
There was again no truth in the rumor that the long-serving CEO of Gazprom was about to quit the Russian gas giant. The board of directors of Gazprom has reappointed Alexey Miller as the head of the group for a new five-year term. If Miller completes his tenure, he will be the longest-serving chief executive of Russian large state-run companies, with twenty-five years at the helm.
Speaking at a meeting of top officials of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the agency for being efficient in disrupting the activities of foreign spies. He focused mainly on what he named “the policy of containment of Russia.” The president warned against foreign meddling in his country’s domestic affairs before the upcoming State Duma elections.
Just as the United States has not taken any firm measures against Russia amid the Navalny case or GRU-linked cyberattacks targeting Washington, Biden and his team now are not taking any action towards the Russian-German energy link as promised during the campaign – to the growing bipartisan disappointment.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko for six-hour talks on Monday, February 22, 2021. They held an hours-long talk, mainly on some solutions on how to integrate Belarus and Russia. It is certain and now Lukashenko is just bargaining the price.
After its humiliating defeat last fall, Armenia can only see Moscow as its guarantor of security. Yerevan is expressing concerns over the further military expansion of Azerbaijan and an ever-bigger influence of the Azeri-Turkish alliance in the Caucasus.
Whether it likes it or not, the Belarusian regime is meeting further expectations from Moscow, most of which Vladimir Putin outlined to Alexander Lukashenko during the meeting in Sochi in September 2020. Back then, the latter politician secured full support from the Kremlin to thwart massive anti-government rallies, making some political and economic concessions instead.
Russia is carrying out naval drills involving many countries off the Pakistan coast simultaneously with other maneuvers in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. Two units of the Russian navy took part. Moscow is showing interest and flexing military muscle in the Indian Ocean, not only in support of Iran.
Top generals in charge of key Rosgvardia boards and department have recently filed their resignation from the National Guard. No other Russian power structure has ever experienced such a wave of dismissals among its senior officers. What is the reason? Rosgvardia declined to comment, but there are two top plausible reasons behind this.
Poor financial performance is not surprising for the biggest Russian oil business as 2020 was a horrible year for the whole industry, the CEO of Rosneft Igor Sechin told at the meeting with Vladimir Putin. It is hard to expect the Russian leader to scold the businessman.
Russia noted a dramatic surge in mortality in 2020 fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic. The latest figures from the federal statistics agency Rosstat are far more pessimistic than those so far reported by the government. According to critics of the authorities, these rushed too much to ease lockdown measures last summer, which resulted in a uptick in new infections and deaths.
Only recently has it been made public that Rosneft and NNK, a firm owned by Eduard Khudainatov, were involved in a deal to purchase oil fields in the Taymyr peninsula. In fact, it is all about swapping oil-rich deposits of crucial importance for Rosneft’s flagship project and already drilled fields elsewhere in Russia.
Ukrainian service personnel again died on the Donbas frontline despite the truce being in force. At the same time, many signs are that the government in Moscow might in the future push harder for its narrative of “serving the Russian-speaking population in southeastern Ukraine.”
The U.S. Air Force said it was preparing to deploy bombers B-1 to Norway for the first time. Shortly after, Russia informed its strategic bombers had flown for several hours over this part of the Arctic. These events show again that the Norway-Russia border and the seas nearby are turning into another strain in NATO-Russia ties.
A Russian military cargo plane has violated Estonia’s airspace, an incident that prompted the country’s authorities to hand Russia’s ambassador a protest note. Moscow denies any incident took place. As NATO’s easternmost territory, Estonia is an obstacle for a military connection between the Kaliningrad exclave and the rest of Russia.
Russia’s vessel Fortuna has resumed laying pipes for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Danish waters, as informed back on February 6. Although works were suspended amid bad weather conditions, Russia and Germany won a symbolic victory, trying to complete the gas link as favorable conditions materialized.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, made a horrible mistake, viewed as absolutely unacceptable in diplomacy. His decision to go ahead with the trip to Russia as planned outraged many while what he said and what he did not in Moscow was an even bigger disgrace for the bloc’s top diplomat.