With a constitutional overhaul of the balance of power in Russia, Vladimir Putin is pushing to consolidate his eternal grip on power. As Russia is seeing a slew of rifts in its politics, economy as well as social matters, any attempts to repeat its past ‘tandemocracy’, or the joint leadership of Russia between 2008 and 2012, are considered by the Kremlin as far too risky.
If the Russian army is bracing for war, the one will be with the West, as hinted by the recent board meeting of the country’s defense ministry.
Belarus seeks to buy Russian gas for less, starting this year. Russian state energy group Gazprom is yet wary of resuming talks on an agreement it concluded with Belarus back in February, saying it will sit at a negotiating table only after the issue of Belarus’ gas debt is settled.
Russian aircraft have made a number of provocative moves both in the Baltic Sea, as well as along the bloc’s southern wing, in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. There are more and more reports of Russian jets seizing NATO planes.
The Kremlin has decided to put an end to the years-long rivalry between its foreign and defense ministries in Syria. President Vladimir Putin reportedly tasked both with securing additional land and naval rights in Syria.
Russia imposed a “non-working” period across the country at the end of April in a move that lowered the country’s industrial output and – along with an energy crisis and a shaky Russian economy – thus heaping pressure on the country’s financial strength.
With the gloomy prospects for the European gas market, Gazprom is making efforts to send more energy eastwards. Beijing is keen to buy more gas from Russia, yet it is wary of subsidizing Gazprom’s fresh energy projects.
The CEO of Rosneft, Russia’s crude oil major, made a proposal to cut transportation tariffs via the pipeline network that is managed by the Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft. The latter firm said these hit to a record-low level, with money flowing out from the federal budget, into pockets of private shareholders.
Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine has built up Russia’s military capabilities in the Black Sea. Not only did the Kremlin push Ukraine out from the basin, but it also made its way for testing its missiles there.
Russia is dependent on trading hydrocarbons, while the overall condition of the country’s oil sector serves a pivotal role in its entire economy. It has always been favored by the state. Certainly this seems apparent as the world has plunged into a deep crisis.
Russia is bound to witness a spike in mortality in the coming days. With new infections beginning to dip in many regions, local officials are now struggling to balance measures to prevent the virus.
Russia’s biggest state-run crude oil company Rosneft officially confirmed it saw the shift in its ownership structure – and is now no longer controlled by the state after the Rosneftegaz state holding company had relinquished its controlling stake.
Minsk’s oil price spat with Moscow pushed Belarus’s Lukashenko towards an oil alternative. Belarusians have begun importing crude oil from elsewhere. This step could mark the end of Russian energy hegemony.
The losing streak of Gazprom, Russia’s biggest gas company, seems to have no end in sight. To make matters worse, the first quarter of 2020 brought disturbing reports on the firm’s export figures.
Slowly but steadily, the world is recovering from the hardest blow from the coronavirus – and so are influential actors worldwide. Putin’s new aide on Ukraine met with Germany’s Angela Merkel a day after she conducted a phone call with Ukraine’s prime minister.
Whilst the Arctic is a geographical zone that could be labelled as “an area of potential competition between global superpowers”, this alone does not provide full insight into what is really taking place there. One could notice that solely Russia sees it as a key priority while comparing potentials of some of the region’s players, as well as the Arctic’s place on their respective political agendas.
On May 13, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree appointing Mikhail Fradkov director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, in short RISS. This was just a formality –– Fradkov has been in charge of the Kremlin-controlled agency since 2017.
Igor Sechin, the head of Russia’s energy giant Rosneft, was the first to blame for Russia’s downfall in the oil price war. Furthermore, he was a key driver of Moscow’s exit from the OPEC pact. Oil prices dropped to record-time lows while Russia made a comeback to the cut deal –– yet on worse conditions.
Russia is gradually relaxing its coronavirus lockdown measures. In a televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin said some regions might keep tighter controls if necessary and announced a fresh relief package for the crisis-wrecked Russian economy.
Politically, Belarus is Russia’s junior partner while economically, Minsk comes as a vassal state of its larger neighbor that keeps its economy afloat. With all the more satisfaction, Lukashenko seized an opportunity to cut Vladimir Putin down to size as far as the politics of history and public image were concerned.