Russia Monitor

China Gets First Oil Cargo from Russia's Arctic
10/10/2019

For the first time in history, Russia's Arctic oil volumes have been delivered to the Asian market in a rare trade shipment on the Northern Sea Route. Lukoil's trading arm, Litasco, sold the cargo of 100,000 tonnes of Varandey Blend oil to Chinaoil, the trading branch of state-owned CNPC. The delivery was made by the tanker Korolev Prospect in mid-September. For the first time in history, Russia's Arctic oil volumes have been delivered to the Asian market in a rare trade shipment on the Northern Sea Route. Lukoil's trading arm, Litasco, sold the cargo of 100,000 tonnes of Varandey Blend oil to Chinaoil, the trading branch of state-owned CNPC. The delivery was made by the tanker Korolev Prospect in mid-September.

Putin Introduces Personnel Shifts in Law Enforcement Agencies
10/08/2019

Under a presidential decree, Vladimir Putin made a number of personnel reshuffles amongst senior officials who held top positions in the Investigate Committee, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Emergency Situations, and the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN of Russia). Several officials and officers have been relieved from their duties, while some of their colleagues were transferred to other positions. Under a presidential decree, Vladimir Putin made a number of personnel reshuffles amongst senior officials who held top positions in the Investigate Committee, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Emergency Situations, and the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN of Russia). Several officials and officers have been relieved from their duties, while some of their colleagues were transferred to other positions.

Ways to Keep Putin in Power
09/30/2019

A new voice in favor of changing Russia’s constitution. This time, in a press interview, this idea was supported by Sergey Chemezov. The head of Rostec, a state-owned mega-corporation, and Putin's former KGB comrade, is considered to belong to a close circle of the president's co-workers and friends. His statement means that the subject of constitutional changes that could keep Putin in power is still being discussed at the top governmental levels. The speech of Chemezov, previously unknown for such actions, also signalizes a possible conflict escalation between various interest groups in Putin's environment. A new voice in favor of changing Russia’s constitution. This time, in a press interview, this idea was supported by Sergey Chemezov. The head of Rostec, a state-owned mega-corporation, and Putin's former KGB comrade, is considered to belong to a close circle of the president's co-workers and friends. His statement means that the subject of constitutional changes that could…

Russian Military Personnel in Mozambique: Bringing Another African Nation Closer to Moscow
09/30/2019

According to unofficial reports that have been on since mid-September, Russian military personnel has been deployed to a few of Mozambique's naval ports, a step that might have been taken in the wake of a batch of deals inked by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi during his August visit to Moscow. Mozambique is yet another African country where Russia has been looking to push forward its economic and military presence. According to unofficial reports that have been on since mid-September, Russian military personnel has been deployed to a few of Mozambique's naval ports, a step that might have been taken in the wake of a batch of deals inked by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi during his August visit to Moscow. Mozambique is yet another African country where Russia has been looking to push forward its economic and military presence.

Belarus Merges Oil Firms That Operate Druzhba Pipeline
09/29/2019

Starting from October 1, the Belarusian leg of the Druzhba oil pipeline will be handled by one company instead of two, as before. This step was taken to economize operator-related processes and push ahead stricter control of the oil pipeline, a top-priority answer after the Druzhba contamination incident in April. Merging two operators into one may lay the groundwork for talks to restore oil shipments to the Baltics. Starting from October 1, the Belarusian leg of the Druzhba oil pipeline will be handled by one company instead of two, as before. This step was taken to economize operator-related processes and push ahead stricter control of the oil pipeline, a top-priority answer after the Druzhba contamination incident in April. Merging two operators into one may lay the groundwork for talks to restore oil shipments to the Baltics.

Putin Meets China's Parliament Chairman in the Kremlin
09/29/2019

On September 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin received for talks Li Zhanshu who serves as a member of the Standing Committee of the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China and the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China. Putin's talks with the newly appointed chairman of the Chinese parliament is yet another top-level political meeting between Russian and Chinese officials, a step that confirms ever-closer ties between Moscow and Beijing. On September 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin received for talks Li Zhanshu who serves as a member of the Standing Committee of the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China and the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China. Putin's talks with the newly appointed chairman of the Chinese parliament is yet another top-level political meeting between Russian and Chinese officials, a step that confirms ever-closer ties between Moscow and…

In the Kremlin, Venezuela's Maduro Gets Russia's Full Support
09/27/2019

There is no question that Russia will neither reduce nor halt its support for Venezuela. Quite the contrary, in fact – the more sanctions are being introduced by the United States and the European Union, the stronger is Russia’s involvement in supporting Maduro's regime. Russia's state-run oil firm Rosneft is safeguarding the government in Caracas by trading its oil volumes, and Maduro's recent visit in the Kremlin blatantly shows that Putin has no intention to abandon his ally. Interestingly, in addition to being Maduro's most prominent diplomatic and military backer, Moscow is now offering its financial help. There is no question that Russia will neither reduce nor halt its support for Venezuela. Quite the contrary, in fact – the more sanctions are being introduced by the United States and the European Union, the stronger is Russia’s involvement in supporting Maduro's regime. Russia's state-run oil firm Rosneft is safeguarding the government in Caracas by trading its oil…

Rosneft and Transneft Continue to Clash over Oil Quality
09/27/2019

A new factor has emerged in an ongoing dispute that sparked in front of the domestic and international audience between Rosneft's Igor Sechin and Transneft's Nikolay Tokarev in the wake of the Druzhba oil pipeline failure in April this year. Both companies have been at loggerheads over the quality of oil that runs through a Rosneft-owned refinery via Transneft's pipeline system. The former's CEO Igor Sechin accused the pipeline operator of mixing clean oil volumes with tainted crude, as a result of which the quality of oil that is being shipped to the refinery may pose a risk to the proper functioning of the facility. Tokarev, for his part, has rebuked these allegations, saying that Rosneft is injecting to the system oil with higher pollution levels that Sechin has claimed. The clash, which is now going on with the participation of the country's top officials and that uses press leaks to hit the other side, is dealing a massive blow to Russia's domestic oil industry. A new factor has…

Missiles, Bases and Drills: Russia Flexes Military Muscles in the Arctic
09/25/2019

Within the past two months, Russia has deployed new missiles systems on the territory of the Kola Peninsula. This comes as yet another stage of the country’s military build-up in the Arctic, a step that raises concern mainly in Norway. Russia keeps expanding its military infrastructure also east of the Kola Peninsula. Within the past two months, Russia has deployed new missiles systems on the territory of the Kola Peninsula. This comes as yet another stage of the country’s military build-up in the Arctic, a step that raises concern mainly in Norway. Russia keeps expanding its military infrastructure also east of the Kola Peninsula.

Rosneft's Sechin: Oil Cluster in the Arctic Only With State Aid
09/25/2019

The head of Russia's biggest oil company has no intention to give up in his fight for tax incentives for creating a vast oil cluster in the Arctic. For Igor Sechin, this is to become a vital source of crude for maritime transport via the Northern Sea Route. But the total costs of the project are sky high, and Sechin expects that all companies involved in its implementation will be granted tax exemptions. The problem is that the finance minister has said no to these plans. So as usual, Sechin is trying to sort the things out at the top political level, and he has sent a letter to Vladimir Putin. The head of Russia's biggest oil company has no intention to give up in his fight for tax incentives for creating a vast oil cluster in the Arctic. For Igor Sechin, this is to become a vital source of crude for maritime transport via the Northern Sea Route. But the total costs of the project are sky high, and Sechin expects that all companies involved in its implementation will be granted tax…

Russian “Contractors” In the Service of the Kremlin
Latest Special Report from 08/13/2019

RUSSIA MONITOR MONTHLY 08/2019
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