Russia Monitor

With President Trump's Signature, Russia's Nord Stream 2 Is in Deep Trouble
12/27/2019

U.S. President Donald Trump did not hesitate to sign into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, a move that must have worried the Kremlin for two reasons. First, due to the federal budget's record-high levels. Secondly, the law inflicts sanctions against companies involved in building Russia's Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines. The effects came quickly. Construction on the new Nord Stream 2 energy project has stopped, though less than 10 percent of the pipeline still needs to be laid. Russia must now figure out how to close the project with no help from Western contractors. U.S. President Donald Trump did not hesitate to sign into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, a move that must have worried the Kremlin for two reasons. First, due to the federal budget's record-high levels. Secondly, the law inflicts sanctions against companies involved in building Russia's Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines. The effects…

Stabilization Efforts High on Agenda of Putin’s Annual News Conference
12/25/2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin held on December 19 his annual news conference. This year the Russian leader yet put on a mask of a peaceful statesman, with little aggression in what he said and a more moderate rhetoric that prevailed. But one thing has not changed: the president’s words were full of lies. The latest edition of Putin's end-of-the-year televised news conference fits into the Kremlin's policy of stabilization and endeavors to preserve the status quo. Putin's regime has no means to keep up with its belligerent external policy as it did before, but the country's internal affairs require all focus being placed on calming down opposition sentiments and consolidating the current political model. Russian President Vladimir Putin held on December 19 his annual news conference. This year the Russian leader yet put on a mask of a peaceful statesman, with little aggression in what he said and a more moderate rhetoric that prevailed. But one thing has not changed: the…

Russian Oil Producer Rosneft Reshuffles Management
12/24/2019

Russia's most prominent oil firm has seen a series of personnel shake-up, a move that hints the company's plans to strengthen its exploration and production divisions. These may also refer to Rosneft's new gas plans. Russia's most prominent oil firm has seen a series of personnel shake-up, a move that hints the company's plans to strengthen its exploration and production divisions. These may also refer to Rosneft's new gas plans.

Russian Government Pursues Insufficient Policy to Halt Population Decline
12/21/2019

Russia's overall population totaled 146.9 million in early 2019, as shown by official data. It is already known that this number will be lower next year. Russia's natural population decline will set an 11-year record by the end of 2019, the State Statistics Service Rosstat said in a report. More people die than are born in Russia while even the influx of migrants, though lower than expected, could by no means offset the country's population fall. Russia's worsening demographic situation may exert long-term effects on the country's economy, politics and society. Russia's overall population totaled 146.9 million in early 2019, as shown by official data. It is already known that this number will be lower next year. Russia's natural population decline will set an 11-year record by the end of 2019, the State Statistics Service Rosstat said in a report. More people die than are born in Russia while even the influx of migrants, though lower than expected, could by no means offset the…

Is the Russian Navy in Serious Trouble?
12/21/2019

Of all the branches of the Russian armed forces, the Navy is considered the most underinvested. The vast majority of Russian naval vessels, including almost all larger units, were built back in the Soviet times, which is why they need to undergo regular maintenance work. The problem is yet that recent renovations have seen a series of major mishaps. Russian vessels are more vulnerable when they remain at the dock than when they are deployed to the sea, as evidenced by the flaws of the Russian Navy's shipbuilding industry. With delayed repairs, the Kremlin's superpower aspirations seem to sail away while exhibiting that Moscow is lagging far behind the United States. Of all the branches of the Russian armed forces, the Navy is considered the most underinvested. The vast majority of Russian naval vessels, including almost all larger units, were built back in the Soviet times, which is why they need to undergo regular maintenance work. The problem is yet that recent renovations have seen…

Germany Echoes Russian Arguments, Criticizing U.S. Nord Stream 2 Sanctions Threat
12/21/2019

German business circles active on the Russian market and holding business ties to Russian entities have lambasted a U.S. decision to impose sanctions against firms building the Nord Stream 2 energy pipeline. They have even called for taking retaliatory steps. Both German politicians and businessmen speak with one voice while a company involved in constructing the pipeline seeks to push ahead with necessary work to have the project completed before imposing U.S. sanctions on Nord Stream 2. German business circles active on the Russian market and holding business ties to Russian entities have lambasted a U.S. decision to impose sanctions against firms building the Nord Stream 2 energy pipeline. They have even called for taking retaliatory steps. Both German politicians and businessmen speak with one voice while a company involved in constructing the pipeline seeks to push ahead with necessary work to have the project completed before imposing U.S. sanctions on Nord Stream 2.

Russia Is Terribly Afraid of Anti-Missile System
12/20/2019

Recent statements from Russian military and Kremlin officials corroborate Moscow's mounting fears over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in Europe. Although Russia is accusing NATO of preparing for a conflict, Russian military and politicians most often pointed to the U.S. defense shield. What grapples Moscow most is that, once deployed and with its critical elements in Romania and Poland, the anti-missile system could seriously narrow down Russian offensive capabilities across Europe. Recent statements from Russian military and Kremlin officials corroborate Moscow's mounting fears over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in Europe. Although Russia is accusing NATO of preparing for a conflict, Russian military and politicians most often pointed to the U.S. defense shield. What grapples Moscow most is that, once deployed and with its critical elements in Romania and Poland, the anti-missile system could seriously narrow down Russian offensive capabilities across…

Drones, Battle Tanks, Aircraft and Iskanders: Russia Advances Military Buildup in Kaliningrad
12/19/2019

The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is becoming a major military challenge for NATO. Already packed with army and weaponry, the Russian region is being additionally strengthened by more military measures, on land, in the air and on the water. Moscow says that the military buildup in the Baltic region is a response to an increased threat from both NATO and the United States, but how Russia is developing its defense potential across Kaliningrad shows that the exclave could perform defensive and offensive roles in the event of the war breaking out. The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is becoming a major military challenge for NATO. Already packed with army and weaponry, the Russian region is being additionally strengthened by more military measures, on land, in the air and on the water. Moscow says that the military buildup in the Baltic region is a response to an increased threat from both NATO and the United States, but how Russia is developing its defense potential across Kaliningrad…

From War to Stabilization: Russian Plans for Syria
12/18/2019

Recent changes in the Russian command and Moscow's diplomatic efforts toward Syria show that the Kremlin has reshuffled its course in the Middle East country. Now the Kremlin is anxious to calm down moods in a move to shift to the next stage, which is to "reconstruct the country" and provide humanitarian aid to the Syrians. Moscow's push for these two serves as an introduction to the consolidation of the post-war order in Syria to retain as much influence as possible. To accomplish this, the rebel-held province of Idlib must be demolished, and this requires an agreement with Turkey. Ankara would probably no longer lend support to Idlib-based Islamists if it got what it wanted in northeast Syria. This may yet prove difficult as Russia is in talks with the Kurds. Recent changes in the Russian command and Moscow's diplomatic efforts toward Syria show that the Kremlin has reshuffled its course in the Middle East country. Now the Kremlin is anxious to calm down moods in a move to shift to…

Lukashenko Faces Tough Ordeal: Will Russia Swallow Up Belarus?
12/13/2019

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin failed to agree on closer integration between the two countries. The leaders’ next meeting is set to take place on December 20. Alexander Lukashenko is striving to negotiate the most favorable deal for his country in a bid to secure economic interests and safeguard his authority in Belarus. Minsk has long benefited from Russia's financial aid while making efforts to provide Moscow with the fewest number of its business assets as well as to preserve its security and political sovereignty. And yet Belarus's ever-worsening economic situation and Russia's fiscal policy have backed Lukashenko into a corner. As Belarus is soon expected to undergo an economic collapse, it has no other choice than to either embark on radical reforms or to obtain relevant guarantees from Russia. Any changes could become a threat to Lukashenko's authority. With Moscow-sourced financial support, Belarus could get involved in…

Sweden Faces the Russian Threat in the Baltic Sea
Latest Special Report from 12/11/2019

RUSSIA MONITOR MONTHLY 10/2019
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