Russia’s deputy prime minister and finance minister Anton Siluanov, who has recently grown in strength in domestic policy, clashed with the country’s favored financial sector. Given his increasing importance as a member of the government, it should be said that a signal was sent to Russian oil firms to watch their backs and even to support the Kremlin.
The Kremlin’s sole success is that the meeting between the two leaders took place at all, and Vladimir Putin should not count on anything else, which is what he might have known a few days ahead of bilateral talks with Donald Trump on Osaka. This was due to Putin’s mounting actions, a step that triggered off provocations in Cuba and Venezuela.
The joint Serbian-Russian-Belarusian tactical military maneuvers Slavic Brotherhood have recently culminated in Serbia. The state authorities emphasized the political importance of the drills amid tensions with neighboring Kosovo. Military exercises and the rhetoric adopted by the majority of local politicians and media confirm ever-closer cooperation between Belgrade and Moscow.
It has not yet been established who is responsible for the pollution of oil in the Druzhba pipeline. With the ongoing investigation, it seems that small companies from distant parts of Russia will be to blame for tainting crude shipped via the pipeline. Naturally, none of them accounts for the technical failure that must have been caused by a large oil firm.
The Russian government has decided not to prolong the deal to retain control over the retail prices of fuels it concluded a year ago with oil companies. Gasoline prices will slightly go up starting from July 1, with the two parties to the agreement saying that the growth in prices will not be higher than inflation. Although the deal will not be renewed, the fuel sector will still be manually controlled by the regime.
A few days ahead of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Osaka Russia showed its military engagement in the Western Hemisphere close to the United States. The Kremlin showed at the same time its firm support for Cuba and Venezuela, both of which have strained relations with the United Staes.
The head of the Russian region of Ingushetia Yunus-bek Yevkurov has announced his intention to step down. But it is not known whether his resignation will help alleviate tensions sparked by an unfavorable border agreement with the neighboring region of Chechnya. What happened in the republic got out of the control, and Russian federal siloviki even came to the region.
What Putin reassured during his annual live phone-in show answering questions and appeals from the Russian citizens, will fail to change the country’s political situation and leverage the president’s popularity ratings. The Russian leader took part in the seventeenth edition of the Q&A session, but this time he did not do well at all, missing to allay widespread fears over the decay in living standards and suggesting that the country will not reorient its current policy.
Several thousand people took to the streets of Tbilisi to protest against Russia; however, their rallies quickly took on the anti-government character, and Russia uses mounting tensions to escalate its relations with Georgia. But Moscow gave a threatening tone to the situation and took extraordinary yet unjustified steps. As it seems, the Kremlin will soon seek to play the Georgian issue in several aspects.
In just a few days, Russian Audit Chamber head Alexei Kudrin, seen by the ruling team as a “liberal outsider,” has suffered painful blows both from the government and, more importantly, from the Kremlin. First, he got a sharp rebuke from the Russian prime minister for his critical views on the state’s economic policy.
Venezuela’s Chavist regime seems to be well aware of Russia as the sole guarantor for its functioning and U.S. concerns over how Moscow could respond to a feasible armed operation in the country. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro uses his best efforts to tighten cooperation with Russia by offering natural resources or purchasing Russian-made military hardware.
Russia’s federal authorities have devised a new yet typical for its governing tradition method to safeguard the regions plunged in the economic crisis by appointing national supervisors. This task was delegated to government ministers. It is, however, questionable whether Moscow’s solution could anyhow help poor regions, but the Kremlin has at least found those who might potentially be to blame for.
What happened in Moldova might have been triggered by a possible EU-US agreement with Moscow. But removing Plahotniuc and his peers from power could in the long run bring benefits to Moscow. And the Kremlin’s long-term goal consists in drawing Moldova into its sphere of influence.
As expected, what was concluded at the U.S.-Poland meeting has received an immediate reaction from Moscow, whose political elites lambasted Poland for mounting tensions in the region while accusing Warsaw of implementing Washington’s aggressive policy. The Kremlin’s rhetoric is nothing new, given Russia’s stance towards cementing strategic cooperation between Poland and the United States.
Lukoil, known as one of Russia’s largest oil firms, has invested in yet another African country, acquiring interests in the Marine XII licence offshore in the Republic of Congo for $800 million. This is how much Lukoil paid for buying a 25-percent stake in the hydrocarbon project operated by Italian oil and gas company Eni. Lukoil’s move has marked the beginning of its expansion in the Republic of Congo.
The motive of Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia and a leading role played by a Chinese delegation at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum were the Russian-Chinese shared struggles against what was called Donald Trump’s aggressive economic policy. Beijing has made demonstrative efforts to cement its relations with Moscow to gain an argument in its trade war with the United States.
Russian and Chinese leaders’ verbal declarations on their shared approach to vital international issues have recently been put into action, as exemplified by a stance adopted jointly by Beijing and Moscow toward the Sudan crackdown. This is where Russia and China earlier had backed the regime of Omar al-Bashir.
The situation on the global oil market was in the agenda of this year’s economic forum in St Petersburg. The head of the largest Russian state-run oil company considered U.S.-led policy as the main nuisance to the global energy market while the CEO of the country’s most prominent private-held firm said what could become an optimal crude oil for Russia.
Polluted oil flows in the Druzhba pipeline have undermined export ambitions of many Russian firms, with state-run oil giant Rosneft having been especially hit by the export constraints. The company’s CEO Igor Sechin publicly admitted that halting oil flows through Poland was detrimental to Rosneft’s interest and expressed hopes for resuming exports via the pipeline.
A failed attempt to topple the Maduro regime in late April and early May brought Venezuela to a standstill. The Venezuelan opposition is too weak to take power in the country with no support from its allies, with the United States at the forefront. Russia has consequently backed the Chavist regime yet time does not seem to play on Maduro’s favor.