Russia Monitor

German-Russian Company Signs Agreement on Energy Project in Egypt

On the occasion of the recent security conference in Munich and Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Germany, a meeting has been held between the head of Russian diplomacy and his German counterpart. Sergey Lavrov and Heiko Maas have also attended a working breakfast with representatives of German business. This further emphasises the increasingly closer economic cooperation between Russia and Germany. The most evident manifestation of it is the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. However, it also needs to be highlighted that there are other German-Russian projects in the field of energy that are underway.

“January Revolution” Gone Wrong: Putin Continues to Lose Public Support

Another opinion poll conducted by the Levada Centre, an independent research centre, has confirmed the decline in Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings. The latest survey showing a drop in confidence in the president is all the more worrying for the Kremlin, as it was carried out shortly after the recent political shake-up in Russia, that is, Putin’s annual address to parliament and the dismissal of the unpopular prime minister.

Russia Strengthens Its Military Bases in Central Asia

Moscow is increasing its military presence in Central Asian countries. What it all boils down to is air defence. In autumn 2019, the Russians deployed S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems at their military base in Tajikistan, and now they intend to strengthen air defence facilities at their military base in Kyrgyzstan. Not only is this the pretext to combat the Islamist threat in Afghanistan, but it also confirms Russia’s rivalry with both the U.S. and China throughout Central Asia.

Russia Puts Pressure on Norway: Svalbard as the Bone of Contention

Moscow has accused Oslo of discriminating against Russian activity on the Svalbard archipelago. Sergey Lavrov has sent a letter to Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding the matter and is awaiting a meeting. The Russians emphasise that they intend to intensify their activities on the islands located over 800 kilometres north of Scandinavia. Although the archipelago is not of great economic significance, for the Russian military it is an important point on the map of the Arctic, a region that is being heavily militarised by Moscow.

Deputy Chief of Russia’s General Staff Arrested: The FSB Hits the Military

The FSB, Russia’s military counter-intelligence service, has detained the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, and a court has sentenced him to two months in prison. It is about the embezzlement of state funds intended for the repair of military equipment. Although the case began back in 2013, only now has it hit General Khalil Arslanov, a senior communications officer in the Russian military. Taking into account the fact that in Russia everyone is, pretty much, corrupt and steals from the state, every high-level corruption scandal has its own political background. Kompromat, that is, compromising materials, can be found on everyone, which suggests that the selective fight against corruption has become a tool for achieving one’s political ends. In this case, the civil service (the FSB) deals a blow to its traditional rivals from the military.

Putin “Supreme Leader”? Slowdown in Russia's Constitutional Overhaul

The second reading of the draft bill on Russia's constitutional amendments was scheduled to take place as early as February, followed by a nationwide vote in April. Nonetheless, recent days have brought a slowdown in the sweeping political reshuffles Vladimir Putin launched on January 15, quite unexpectedly for many. No one knows precisely what he could do to stay in power beyond 2024. As many as 50 percent of Russians believed that the president’s desire to maintain power is the sole purpose of Putin's proposed overhaul. But only a handful has taken to the streets.

Belarus Loses Dispute Over Oil Transit Fees

Minsk and Moscow failed to reach a new oil deal after lengthy negotiations over an increase in the tariff on oil transit via the territory of Belarus. Russia refuted new rates as suggested by Belarus, so Minsk could raise its transit rates, albeit to a smaller extent it had initially intended. In doing so, Belarus attempted to recoup at least some of the profits it had failed to reap in 2019 amidst the contamination of the Druzhba pipeline. Oil transit tariffs will be set based on the 2010 methodology, a move that will yet yield more profits to Russia.

Pompeo Pledges US Support For Sovereign Belarus During Minsk Visit

Held in a warm atmosphere, the U.S. top diplomat's meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has come as a vital signal of Washington's support for sovereign Belarus. The move has grown in importance amid Moscow's escalating pressure on Minsk in its effort to integrate more closely, or rather to absorb Belarus. Lukashenko, for his part, has no intention to bow to pressure, hence his country's crude spat with Russia.

Gazprom Struggles to Maintain Position in Europe

Russian gas giant Gazprom plans to maintain gas exports to European countries at the record-hitting level of previous years, Elena Burmistrova, the head of Gazprom's exporting arm Gazprom Export, was quoted as saying. But the year 2020 may become the toughest ever experienced by the Russian energy firm. With an unusually mild winter and mounting competition from the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market, Gazprom has fewer opportunities to eliminate any drawbacks from a decrease in gas production in Europe. In consequence, not only does the Russian gas giant export less, but it also offers cheaper energy.

Erdogan Criticizes Russia: Crisis or Tactical Move?

New Gas Pipeline Geopolitics in Central and Eastern Europe
Latest Special Report from 01/28/2020

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