Russia is developing air defense systems in space, which does not violate its arms control treaties with the United States. The country is enhancing its strategy for taking down U.S. satellites in the event of a conflict, believing this would curb America’s military advantage in this respect.
Eye-watering gas prices are equivalent to a massive increase in profits for gas companies, including Gazprom, which accounts for a third of all gas imports into Europe. The tense situation in the energy market is profitable for the company and the Russian state authorities in general. In fact, Gazprom’s bigger profits mean more money to the Russian federal budget.
Moldovagaz, a Moldovan utility company, has paid for Russian natural gas it received in the last month and a half. The move came shortly before the deadline from Russia and just after Moldovan lawmakers voted amendments to settle the debt for recent deliveries.
President Vladimir Putin has fired the head of Russia’s prison system, Alexander Kalashnikov, replacing him with Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Gostev (since 2012) as head of Russia’s Federal Prison Service (FSIN). The high-profile sacking of Kalashnikov followed the firing of prison officers involved in the case. The latest personnel reshuffle came in the aftermath of leaked videos showing rape and torture in Russian prisons.
Russia raised its oil output by 0.3 percent in November, marking another growth this year. Since early January, Russia saw its total output of some 8.3 percent. Russian oil and gas condensate output rose to 1.485 million barrels per day (bpd) in November 2021. The country is expected to see growth in the months that come amid unlocked output curbs as stipulated in a deal Russia committed itself to within the oil-producing cartel and its allies (OPEC+).
Russia uses gas supplies as a tool for pursuing its international policy. By offering cheaper energy, Moscow is expecting its customers to remain political friends, as was the case of Hungary, and now Serbia. The Kremlin is trying to lure other countries, including Moldova and Bulgaria.
As Germany suspended the certification procedure for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline while the country’s new government is taking shape with the Green Party, Russia proposes hydrogen production to convince Berlin to give its green light to the contentious gas link. What might confirm that is the latest statement from the chief of the Russian trade bureau in Germany.
Moscow is making it clear it was not satisfied with the latest decision by the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Russia is seeking to exert further pressure on the authorities in Kabul to milden its stance. The Taliban’s overly radical approach is barring Moscow and Beijing from making the new Afghani government an internationally recognized actor.
The optimistic moods that the leaders of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan showed at a meeting in Sochi cannot dispel doubts about future peace in the South Caucasus. Russian President Vladimir Putin recalled Russia’s role as a mediator, but he could curb military tensions in the region for some time only.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus informed it would revise its 2021–2022 preparedness scheme while Nikolai Patrushev, a top Russian silovik, said Russia and Belarus would jointly respond to all provocations, also military. The reason is the migrant crisis that Moscow and Minsk are blaming the West for, which is yet another sign of ever-growing military ties between the two states.
Russia and France have increased contacts between their top officials. It is not only about a phone conversation between the presidents, but also a two-plus-two meeting in Paris, where French and Russian defense and foreign ministers met.
Russian diplomacy has successfully dragged Germany and France into talks on the situation on the Belarusian border. Migratory pressure was more and more doomed to failure with each passing day in the face of effective defence of Poland’s borders, so the Kremlin is being helped — not for the first time — by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.
Floated by the Belarusian dictator, the possibility to halt gas transit into Poland and Germany amid fresh EU sanctions is part of the game Minsk and Moscow are playing against a background of the EU-Belarus border crisis. Contrary to what the Kremlin claims, it is hard to believe that Alexander Lukashenko would threaten to retaliate against any new European Union sanctions by shutting down the transit of natural gas via Belarus without the Kremlin’s knowledge. It is all the more so that a new component of Lukashenko’s aggressive policy towards the EU may fit into the Russian gas strategy.
It was only on November 9 that Russian energy giant Gazprom started refilling European gas-storage facilities. Nonetheless, the company so far has pumped very small amounts of gas into its European storage facilities that remain mostly empty. As Russian gas is a major part of the EU’s total storage capacity, inventories in Europe are facing a tough situation while entering the winter heating season.
From the beginning, the Russian Federation has supported, and perhaps even inspired, Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s hybrid war against neighbouring EU and NATO countries. It has achieved its first goal, namely the escalation of migrant attacks directed by Belarusian services primarily at the border of Poland.
Russia is whipping up tensions in relations with Ukraine. Perhaps it is incidental that Vladimir Putin’s visit to Crimea coincided with reports of an alleged Russian military buildup at the border with Ukraine. The fact that the Russian leader went to the annexed peninsula to observe Russia’s most important public holiday was also meaningful.
Eye-watering oil prices and calls from the globe’s leading economies have been of no avail. The world’s biggest oil-producing coalition and its partners, or OPEC+, will not release more oil to the market. Prices will continue to grow, which is good news for the Russian federal budget. The U.S. administration rebuffed the bloc’s decision.
On Unity Day, a top Russian public holiday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko signed an agreement providing for a total of 28 integration road maps. In addition, the two leaders approved a joint military doctrine and a common migration policy.
CIA Director William Burns flew to Moscow for two-day talks with top Russian officials. At President Biden’s request, Burns was leading a delegation of senior American officials on the trip to Moscow. In the Russian capital, Burns held at least two meetings: with the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) chief and the secretary of the Security Council.
It seems Russia is repeating the deceived war-like scenario it first played out earlier this year. In March and April, Moscow sounded so convincing in its threats to attack Ukraine that U.S. President Joe Biden invited Vladimir Putin for talks in Geneva to ease tensions. Now there is much to indicate that Moscow is playing a game to exert pressure on Western states. It is unlikely for any war to start under current weather conditions.