RUSSIA MONITOR MONTHLY 8/2020

Contents
Can Western Balkans Serve as Role Model of Integration for Eastern Partnership?

Can Western Balkans Serve as Role Model of Integration for Eastern Partnership?

The article is a follow-up to the text by the Jagiellonian Club Przez Bałkany do Brukseli? Przyszłość Partnerstwa Wschodniego [Through the Balkans to Brussels? The future of the Eastern Partnership] whose authors compared the potential of the Western Balkans and the three outstanding Eastern Partnership nations.

Putin Uses Birthday Phone Call to Invite Lukashenko to Moscow

Putin Uses Birthday Phone Call to Invite Lukashenko to Moscow

During yet another record-breaking anti-government rally in Belarus, the Kremlin reiterated its full support for Alexander Lukashenko. Russian President Vladimir Putin made a phone call to Minsk –– as the Belarusian president turned 66.

Moscow Appoints New Head of Belarusian Orthodox Church

Moscow Appoints New Head of Belarusian Orthodox Church

The latest reshuffle in the Belarusian Orthodox Church is seemingly a concession that Moscow and Alexander Lukashenko both made by replacing an ethnic Russian with a Belarusian national. The new leader of the Orthodox Church is a safe bet for the country’s authorities in the whole turmoil Belarus has plunged recently.

Bulgaria Buys More LNG, Gazprom Will Lose Sales Market

Bulgaria Buys More LNG, Gazprom Will Lose Sales Market

In line with earlier declarations, Bulgaria bought stakes in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project in Alexandroupolis, Greece. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s government is following the diversification policy for the country’s gas supplies, aspiring to make Bulgaria a regionwide gas hub.

Russian Problems in Syria

Russian Problems in Syria

Russia’s military presence on the mostly-Kurdish and U.S.-backed eastern side of the Euphrates river in northeastern Syria entails a grave risk, as evidenced by a recent collision between American and Russian armored vehicles in eastern Syria and the killing of a Russian general in jihadi ambush.

Belarus Starts Military Drills, Lukashenko Threatens NATO with Russia

Belarus Starts Military Drills, Lukashenko Threatens NATO with Russia

Belarus started on Friday, August 28, three-day military drills in the western region of Grodno. On the same day, Alexander Lukashenko warned North Atlantic Alliance states that both Minsk and Moscow will be ready to pacify adversary. This confirms that Belarus is part of the Russian military theater.

Putin Threatens He Could Send Military Support to Belarus

Putin Threatens He Could Send Military Support to Belarus

What Vladimir Putin said about deploying “a law enforcement reserve assistance” to Belarus to help Alexander Lukashenko is nothing but part of a psychological game that both Minsk and Moscow are playing up against the West.

Russia Interferes in Georgia Polls

Russia Interferes in Georgia Polls

A parliamentary poll in Georgia is due for October 2020 and thus many signs are that Russia will make efforts to place its bets on the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, a radical pro-Russian party. Its political feats come in handy for Georgian Dream, the country’s governing party that depicts itself as a moderate and pro-Western group –– especially if contrasted with the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia.

Turkey Imports Less Gas from Russia

Turkey Imports Less Gas from Russia

Turkey buys more Azeri gas and liquefied natural gas whilst its gas imports from Russia are in decline. Ankara has just declared it would soon become self-sufficient in energy resources –– with its new sizeable gas deposits discovered off the Black and Mediterranean Sea.

Lukashenko’s Lesson For Putin

Lukashenko’s Lesson For Putin

Vladimir Putin and his aides are keeping an eye on the events in Belarus –– as Russian officials feel concern over their interests in the neighboring country as well as wonder about political future at home. Lukashenko’s current headache might be a lesson for Vladimir Putin.

The Moscow Patriarchate Has a Problem in Belarus

The Moscow Patriarchate Has a Problem in Belarus

The ongoing political turmoil in Belarus might bring severe consequences for the country’s religious organizations. The largest of them, the Moscow-occupied Belarusian Orthodox Church, was the only one to support Lukashenko and recognize the rigged ballot.

European Countries Expel Russian Diplomats

European Countries Expel Russian Diplomats

In just a few days in August, Norway and Slovakia –– two NATO countries –– expelled Russian diplomats linked to espionage activities or those who had served as intelligence officers themselves. The latter country asked the Russian diplomatic staff to leave amidst the high-profile murder of a Georgian man of Chechen descent in Berlin back in August 2019.

Russian Budget Gets Fewer Petroroubles

Russian Budget Gets Fewer Petroroubles

The share of oil and gas revenues in Russia fell below one-third throughout the first six months of 2020, reaching a low figure in the past few years, the Russian Audit Chamber wrote in a federal budget report.

Attack on Navalny: Poison the Service of the Kremlin

Attack on Navalny: Poison the Service of the Kremlin

With the suspected poisoning of Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin sets on a tighter course in its domestic policy –– as both Kremlin officials and the chekists are keen to perpetrate any crime to stay in power. Why has Navalny been targeted only now? And why like that?

The Awakening Of Private Military Companies

The Awakening Of Private Military Companies

Private military companies, or PMCs, are independent corporations that trade military services through a wide range of opportunities they have due to their corporate nature.

Lukoil Reduces Hydrocarbon Output

Lukoil Reduces Hydrocarbon Output

In the first six months of 2020, Lukoil, a Russian top energy producer, said its crude oil figures fell by 3.2 percent and recorded the fall of 14.7 percent in natural gas production. The cut was due to the new OPEC+ agreement and a decrease in gas supply from Uzbekistan to China –– both driven by a negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on hydrocarbon demand.

Scared Lukashenko, A Risk for Russia

Scared Lukashenko, A Risk for Russia

Just two days after the presidential vote in Belarus, the Kremlin saw its best-scenario of a landslide victory of weak Alexander Lukashenko nearly happening. Yet large-scale protests that swept throughout the country were a bitter surprise for both Minsk and the Kremlin.

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