Russia Monitor
12/27/2019

With President Trump's Signature, Russia's Nord Stream 2 Is in Deep Trouble

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…

12/25/2019

Stabilization Efforts High on Agenda of Putin’s Annual News Conference

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…

12/24/2019

Russian Oil Producer Rosneft Reshuffles Management

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.

12/21/2019

Russian Government Pursues Insufficient Policy to Halt Population Decline

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…

12/21/2019

Is the Russian Navy in Serious Trouble?

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…

12/21/2019

Germany Echoes Russian Arguments, Criticizing U.S. Nord Stream 2 Sanctions Threat

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.

12/20/2019

Russia Is Terribly Afraid of Anti-Missile System

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…

12/19/2019

Drones, Battle Tanks, Aircraft and Iskanders: Russia Advances Military Buildup in Kaliningrad

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…

12/18/2019

From War to Stabilization: Russian Plans for Syria

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…

12/13/2019

Lukashenko Faces Tough Ordeal: Will Russia Swallow Up Belarus?

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…

12/12/2019

Lavrov Visits Washington, China Among Topics Tackled

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on December 10 visited Washington for talks with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump. The two parties exchanged their objections and warnings in a polite, albeit chilly tone. The officials voiced their readiness to agree on multiple issues while acknowledging that they are unable to overcome the most profound differences. Somewhat a unique event, especially in the light of limited contacts between the Kremlin and the Trump presidential administration, Lavrov's trip to the United States yet failed to bring about a breakthrough. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on December 10 visited Washington for talks with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump. The two parties exchanged their objections and warnings in a polite, albeit chilly tone. The officials voiced their readiness to agree on multiple issues while acknowledging that they are unable to overcome the most profound differences. Somewhat a unique…

12/11/2019

Lukoil Makes Further Investments in Africa

A report by Russia's biggest privately held oil company has revealed that it had finally bought stakes in an oilfield in the Republic of Congo. A report by Russia's biggest privately held oil company has revealed that it had finally bought stakes in an oilfield in the Republic of Congo. As announced, in the second quarter of 2019, Lukoil closed a purchase of a 25 percent interest in the Marine XII License area from New Age M12 Holdings Limited. The contract was signed during the visit of the President of the Republic of Congo to Moscow in May this year. The sale was completed for $768 million a few months later, in September 2019, after Congo's state authorities greenlighted the deal.

12/11/2019

Unwanted Success: Russia's GRU Suffers Setback in Serbia

A disclosed fact that in the Serbian army there are many people holding ties to Russian military intelligence has dealt a blow to the authorities in Belgrade. A disclosed fact that in the Serbian army there are many people holding ties to Russian military intelligence has dealt a blow to the authorities in Belgrade. Recent time has seen Serbia making extra efforts to tighten cooperation with Russia, chiefly in the area of security. A spying incident involving an officer of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence, erupted right before President Aleksandar Vucic's trip to Moscow. This might not have been incidental, especially that files showing links between Russian intelligence and the Serbian military were cooked up by Western services, as admitted by the country's leader.

12/11/2019

GRU Spies Accused of Destabilizing Situation in Catalonia

Spain is yet another European country where Russian military intelligence has engaged in a campaign to destabilize the internal situation. Spain is yet another European country where Russian military intelligence has engaged in a campaign to destabilize the internal situation. Spanish services and judiciary are investigating into a group within Russia's military intelligence (GRU) known as Unit 29155, infamous for their subversive and terrorist actions across the European Union, including the United Kingdom and Bulgaria. Signs are that Russia has long been fuelled Catalonia's pro-secession drive, not only through its information-related operations.

12/10/2019

IEA Forecast Says Russian Oil Industry Will Record Losses

The United States is currently the world's largest producer of gas and oil. With their shale output staying higher for longer, the Americans are poised to become the world's second-biggest gas exporter only to Russia. The United States is currently the world's largest producer of gas and oil. With their shale output staying higher for longer, the Americans are poised to become the world's second-biggest gas exporter only to Russia. The United States will top as a leading exporter of oil, yet to the detriment of Russia, whose role in the oil industry is likely to shrink, both in terms of crude output and export. This is likely to hit a massive blow to the federal budget. Without full-scale reforms and efforts to diversify its economy, Russia will face major problems. Though Moscow will keep its status as the world's leading exporter of gas, the latest changes in trading conditions could hit Russia with some financial difficulties.

12/09/2019

OPEC+ Summit: Russia Attained Its Goal

At their latest meeting, OPEC and non-OPEC countries delivered an agreement to further cut oil production for in the first quarter of 2020. The states have set an output target of 1.7 million barrels per day, from the current level of 1.2 million barrels a day, a somewhat surprising decision nobody could have thought of before the summit. This might have been due to an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of OPEC and non-OPEC's most prominent players. At their latest meeting, OPEC and non-OPEC countries delivered an agreement to further cut oil production for in the first quarter of 2020. The states have set an output target of 1.7 million barrels per day, from the current level of 1.2 million barrels a day, a somewhat surprising decision nobody could have thought of before the summit. This might have been due to an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of OPEC and non-OPEC's most prominent players.

12/09/2019

NATO Summit: Kremlin's Unfulfilled Hopes

The NATO summit in London was what could be referred to as a successful meeting and went better than expected, also by Moscow. Both the outcomes of the talks and a joint declaration symbolize the bloc's push for maintaining the status quo in its policy adopted against Russia after its belligerent actions in 2014. Moscow has no reason to be satisfied or triumphant even though before the meeting, the Kremlin had forecast a failure of the NATO-led summit and a deep crisis within the Alliance's structures. The NATO summit in London was what could be referred to as a successful meeting and went better than expected, also by Moscow. Both the outcomes of the talks and a joint declaration symbolize the bloc's push for maintaining the status quo in its policy adopted against Russia after its belligerent actions in 2014. Moscow has no reason to be satisfied or triumphant even though before the meeting, the Kremlin had forecast a failure of the NATO-led summit and a deep crisis within the…

12/08/2019

Russia Complies with OPEC Deal, But There Is a Problem

There is no doubt that the OPEC+ format will continue to exist, with OPEC and its allies being likely to extend oil output cuts, albeit oil production calculations may be subject to change. There is no doubt that the OPEC+ format will continue to exist, with OPEC and its allies being likely to extend oil output cuts, albeit oil production calculations may be subject to change. Also, Russia has a good excuse to call on fellow oil producers to change the way Moscow's quotas are measured.

12/06/2019

Russia's Gazprom Sold $3 Billion in Stocks to Mystery Buyer

Russia's gas monopolist Gazprom sold 3.59 percent of its stocks in what it turned out to be a single buyer transaction, with the deal carried out via the trading platform of the Moscow Exchange. Russia's gas monopolist Gazprom sold 3.59 percent of its stocks in what it turned out to be a single buyer transaction, with the deal carried out via the trading platform of the Moscow Exchange. Also, the mystery bidder got a considerable discount. This is the second time that Gazprom has traded shares in recent months, with a total of 6.52 percent of the company's voting stakes being sold. The firm has not informed whether the same buyer bought shares both in July and November.

12/04/2019

Russia Catches Heat over Bloody Air Raids in Syria's Idlib

In the shadow of Turkey's incursion against the Kurds in northeastern Syria, forces loyal to al-Assad and their Russian allies are pursuing a military offensive in Idlib Province. In the shadow of Turkey's incursion against the Kurds in northeastern Syria, forces loyal to al-Assad and their Russian allies are pursuing a military offensive in Idlib Province. Located in northwestern Syria, the last remaining rebel enclave is still struggling against government forces. Syrian government army and its Russian allies keep their criminal assaults against civilians, seeking to crush their morale and force Idlib defenders to surrender.

12/01/2019

What’s True About Russian Military Spending?

Russian President Vladimir Putin informed that his country spent less for defense in 2018, saying that gone is the peak of the Russian military's equipment and hardware upgrade, and these do not need to be financed to the same extent as before. It is impossible to verify if the president tells the truth. The structure of Russia's federal budget makes it impossible to determine the country's actual defense spending. And it is not just that a great deal of the budget is classified. Russian President Vladimir Putin informed that his country spent less for defense in 2018, saying that gone is the peak of the Russian military's equipment and hardware upgrade, and these do not need to be financed to the same extent as before. It is impossible to verify if the president tells the truth. The structure of Russia's federal budget makes it impossible to determine the country's actual defense spending. And it is not just that a great deal of the budget is classified.

11/30/2019

Russia's Gazprom Sold $3 Billion in Stocks to Mystery Buyer

Russia's gas monopolist Gazprom sold 3.59 percent of its stocks in what it turned out to be a single buyer transaction, with the deal carried out via the trading platform of the Moscow Exchange. Also, the mystery bidder got a considerable discount. This is the second time that Gazprom has traded shares in recent months, with a total of 6.52 percent of the company's voting stakes being sold. The firm has not informed whether the same buyer bought shares both in July and November. Russia's gas monopolist Gazprom sold 3.59 percent of its stocks in what it turned out to be a single buyer transaction, with the deal carried out via the trading platform of the Moscow Exchange. Also, the mystery bidder got a considerable discount. This is the second time that Gazprom has traded shares in recent months, with a total of 6.52 percent of the company's voting stakes being sold. The firm has not informed whether the same buyer bought shares both in July and November.

11/29/2019

Russia Complies with OPEC Deal, But There Is a Problem

There is no doubt that the OPEC+ format will continue to exist, with OPEC and its allies being likely to extend oil output cuts, albeit oil production calculations may be subject to change. Also, Russia has a good excuse to call on fellow oil producers to change the way Moscow's quotas are measured. There is no doubt that the OPEC+ format will continue to exist, with OPEC and its allies being likely to extend oil output cuts, albeit oil production calculations may be subject to change. Also, Russia has a good excuse to call on fellow oil producers to change the way Moscow's quotas are measured.

11/27/2019

Novatek Boasts of Rising Output: Foreign Investors Enter Russian LNG Terminals

Russia's biggest private gas firm has beefed up its status as a leading natural gas producer and a top liquefied natural gas supplier in the Far North. Unlike Rosneft, its top energy rival in Russia's Arctic, that counts on nothing but Vladimir Putin's discretionary decisions and his pressure on the country's business and state actors, Novatek enjoys both the aid from the government and more excellent opportunities to entice foreign investors. Russia's biggest private gas firm has beefed up its status as a leading natural gas producer and a top liquefied natural gas supplier in the Far North. Unlike Rosneft, its top energy rival in Russia's Arctic, that counts on nothing but Vladimir Putin's discretionary decisions and his pressure on the country's business and state actors, Novatek enjoys both the aid from the government and more excellent opportunities to entice foreign investors.