Russia, Norway, NATO, drills, air forces, fleet, Arctic, Northern Fleet
Russian oil and gas giants, with Rosneft and Gazprom at the helm, believe that the state will treat them exceptionally, mainly as for taxes, a somewhat dubious expectation that keeps sparking off significant controversies amongst Russian senior authorities.
Russia has for several months disrespected a ceasefire deal on Syria’s rebel-controlled enclave of Idlib, reached earlier with Turkey, and continues to send support for forces loyal to Bashar Al-Assad. There have already been some cases of capturing Turkish observation posts in Idlib while whereabouts of Turkish battalions have been struck by air raids, possibly carried out also by Russian aircraft.
Fears are now being confirmed that Moldova will remain under greater influence from Moscow after latest government reshuffles. Although socialists have taken control over fewer ministries in Moldova’s new coalition government, they supervise most of the critical power structures, with President Igor Dodon having gotten actual authority over the Information and Security Service (SIS).
Russia keeps boosting cooperation with the countries of Africa. Leaders from the Dark Continent pay regular visits to the Kremlin, almost all of which are accompanied by inking bilateral economic deals with Russia. Oil giants benefit from the Kremlin’s policy: while Lukoil has recently gained the opportunity to enter the Republic of Congo, Rosneft has its door open to Mozambique.
Rosneft Deutschland GmbH, the Germany-based downstream unit of Russia’s state-controlled Rosneft, launched direct crude imports to Germany after having acquired the relevant license in the second quarter of the year. Until now the firm had been involved in processing crude. Extending business activities of Rosneft’s subsidiary shows Moscow’s growing interest in developing its energy expansion on the German market.
In the run-up for the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II, one should expect an increase in Russian propaganda activities. They consist in whitewashing history and selectively using archives to justify the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact while making attempts to shift responsibility for World War II onto Poland and its 1939 Western allies. Moscow says that the West yet again uses the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact as part of the “information warfare” campaign. The opposite is true, though.
Scheduled for August 21, a working visit by Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez to Moscow is yet another sign of ever-tightening cooperation between Russia and Venezuela. Only a few days before, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino had made a trip to the Russian capital.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has announced that around 128,000 people, over 20,000 military vehicles, 600 aircraft and choppers, and up to 15 ships will be employed in the Tsentr-2019 exercise (also referred to as Center-2019) this September. Soldiers from the People’s Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan will be engaged in the drills together with the Russians.
France seeks to replace Germany in the role of the top European participant in the Donbas peace talks. This is how recent events can be interpreted, with both a meeting between Macron and Putin and trilateral phone calls on Donbas held between French, Russian and Ukrainian leaders.
Nikolai Tokarev, the head of Russia’s state-controlled pipeline operator Transneft, has suggested Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev make his company responsible for operational control over raw material supplies being admitted into the pipeline system. The proposals concern greater control over crude oil delivery and acceptance points (CODAP), most of which remain in the hands of the oil companies. Transneft, for its part, has argued that while it is incapable of overseeing what kind of oil is injected to the system, it can no longer take responsibility for damages such as those incurred by the Druzhba contamination crisis in April 2019. But there is no knowing how oil firms will receive Tokarev’s demands.
Starting on September 1, 2019, Russia will apply a new adjustment reducing its crude exports duties by $3.4 per ton, the Russian Finance Ministry has informed. The government has decided to minimize duty tariffs from petroleum products while remaining at zero these for liquefied gas.
Though a truce is formally in force, with a Russian-Turkish buffer zone being supposed to protect the region’s inhabitants, forces loyal to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad are advancing towards further areas of the rebel-held enclave in northwestern Syria. Russian and Syrian air forces are ruthless in implementing their scorched-earth tactics in the country’s last rebel-controlled bastion
Two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers performed an eight-hour non-stop flight from their Saratov home base to Anadyr airfield in Russia’s Chukotka Region near the U.S. State of Alaska, covering over 6,000 kilometers, the Russian Defense Ministry informed on August 14.
Russia’s official propaganda has made efforts to ignore or disregard Moscow’s most massive opposition protests in many years, and so did the authorities. Russian President Vladimir Putin went to Crimea to meet with the representatives of the Night Wolves motorcycle club, known for its allegiance to the Kremlin.
There has been an unexpected shift in a quarrel between Russia’s two largest oil firms over the price of using an oil terminal in the Arctic. After Russia’s antimonopoly watchdog had given a favorable verdict for the state-owned oil firm Rosneft, a court issued a ruling in favor of Lukoil, an oil company the remains in private hands. But this does not bring to a halt the long-lasting spat between the two energy giants, with more clashes to be soon expected in the courthouse. The struggle may negatively affect Russian oil exports that are experiencing a tough time at the moment.
Seen as most affected by the Druzhba contamination crisis, the Belarusian section is said to have been thoroughly cleaned up of dirty oil. But the country has suffered massive financial losses after Russian-sourced crude flows were dramatically reduced, both in transit and for local refineries. Despite Minsk’s severe announcements, Moscow seems to be the one to dictate at least partial compensation for the failure.
Shortly after Washington’s pullout of the INF Treaty, U.S. President Donald Trump said he wants a new nuclear pact to be signed also by China. But this is now out of the question as Beijing has made its medium-range missile weapons a crucial part of its war strategy in the event of a conflict with the United States. So Russia may in the future need to sign a new nuclear disarmament deal.
Russian opposition activist Aleksei Navalny and his anticorruption foundation, until now tolerated by the regime, may fall first victim to the Kremlin’s counterattack. Targeting at Navalny’s project confirms that the regime is prone to steer an ever-sharper course in its domestic policy.