Russia Monitor
06/03/2020

Putin For Life? Kremlin Wants Nation Support Now

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that a referendum on constitutional changes that would allow him to stay in office past his current term will be held on July 1, or basically throughout the whole last week of June. With a blend of the Victory Day parade and plausible vote-rigging tools, the Kremlin seeks to hit both an adequate turnout vote and a much-desired result. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that a referendum on constitutional changes that would allow him to stay in office past his current term will be held on July 1, or basically throughout the whole last week of June. With a blend of the Victory Day parade and plausible vote-rigging tools, the Kremlin seeks to hit both an adequate turnout vote and a much-desired result.

05/31/2020

Russia–NATO Tensions Continue On Both Flanks

Russian aircraft have made a number of provocative moves both in the Baltic Sea, as well as along the bloc's southern wing, in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. There are more and more reports of Russian jets seizing NATO planes. Russian aircraft have made a number of provocative moves both in the Baltic Sea, as well as along the bloc's southern wing, in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. There are more and more reports of Russian jets seizing NATO planes.

05/12/2020

Rosneft's Sechin Asks Officials For New Tax Reliefs Despite Recent Mishaps

Igor Sechin, the head of Russia's energy giant Rosneft, was the first to blame for Russia's downfall in the oil price war. Furthermore, he was a key driver of Moscow's exit from the OPEC pact. Oil prices dropped to record-time lows while Russia made a comeback to the cut deal –– yet on worse conditions. Nonetheless, the country's biggest oil suppliers were wrangling over how to distribute the country's promised cuts, with Rosneft being in favor of a proportional share. All in all, Sechin's energy group brought on the biggest burden yet hoping to win some state aid instead.

05/08/2020

Moscow: The Capital of Russian Coronavirus Outbreak

Moscow remains by far the biggest Russian coronavirus outbreak despite having introduced timely measures to contain the spread of the virus. City officials said stay-at-home restrictions would remain in place beyond May 12. Even though some businesses are allowed to resume operations, employees must obey extra safety rules, municipal officials said.

04/30/2020

Russia's Federal Authorities See Falling Ratings Over Coronavirus Crisis

Russian people have delivered somewhat ambiguous assessments of the state's measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. They seem to trust more low-ranking officials who have direct contact with society. Yet Vladimir Putin is experiencing a fall in his trust figures, possibly as an outcome of some poor image-related strategies taken shortly after the plague broke out.

04/29/2020

Russia's Gazprom Sees Fall in Gas Output and Export Volumes

The company’s results were hit by weakening demand for Gazprom’s gas in Europe. Also, with lowering export numbers, Russia's biggest gas firm must curb output. The company has experienced a sharp fall in natural gas demand this year due to the economic fallout from non-flexible contracts, Europe's huge gas excesses, mild winter, and the global spread of the novel coronavirus. The company’s results were hit by weakening demand for Gazprom’s gas in Europe. Also, with lowering export numbers, Russia's biggest gas firm must curb output. The company has experienced a sharp fall in natural gas demand this year due to the economic fallout from non-flexible contracts, Europe's huge gas excesses, mild winter, and the global spread of the novel coronavirus.

04/29/2020

Amid Coronavirus Pandemic and Oil Crisis, Russian Economy Is Suffocating

The coronavirus situation is not getting any better in Russia, with the growing number of both the infected and deaths. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the peak of the epidemic had not yet been reached and ordered Russians to remain under lockdown through May 11. Also, the government has not done enough to mitigate the coronavirus's impact on the economy. The next chapter is the oil crisis. The coronavirus situation is not getting any better in Russia, with the growing number of both the infected and deaths. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the peak of the epidemic had not yet been reached and ordered Russians to remain under lockdown through May 11. Also, the government has not done enough to mitigate the coronavirus's impact on the economy. The next chapter is the oil crisis.

04/28/2020

Russia Is Open for Talks with U.S. on Nuclear Disarmament

Kremlin strategists have taken some steps to mend ties with the West, especially with the United States, since the coronavirus outbreak. Thus, Moscow is sending signals to relax –– or even lift sanctions, and, from time to time, makes an offer to launch disarmament talks with Washington. This is yet somewhat a trial balloon, at least for Russia's foreign ministry. There is a slim chance for an agreement –– even if Russia and the United States sit at the negotiating table.

04/28/2020

Does Turkey's S-400 Delay Mean No Longer Close Ties with Russia?

Turkey's Idlib offensive in spring this year and the clash of Russian and Turkish strategic interests display that these two's rapprochement is not unconditional, mainly in Syria. And as an economic disaster is brewing across the country, Turkey sees that a lasting alliance with Russia means less than if it remained within the Western orbit, through both NATO membership and cooperative links with the United States. Turkey's Idlib offensive in spring this year and the clash of Russian and Turkish strategic interests display that these two's rapprochement is not unconditional, mainly in Syria. And as an economic disaster is brewing across the country, Turkey sees that a lasting alliance with Russia means less than if it remained within the Western orbit, through both NATO membership and cooperative links with the United States.

04/26/2020

Russian Top Defense and Interior Officials Arrested for Bribery and Extortion

Russia's interior ministry is passing through a difficult time. After four deputy ministers were placed under quarantine – once their colleague had been tested positive for coronavirus – two other generals were detained. Russia's interior ministry is passing through a difficult time. After four deputy ministers were placed under quarantine – once their colleague had been tested positive for coronavirus – two other generals were detained. They were accused of having helped an arrested businessman in exchange for some gains. But this is yet another corruption case that haunted the country's defense and interior institutions. A senior Russian National Guard official was jailed on bribery charges.

04/25/2020

Coronavirus Outbreak Puts Russian Jails Under Severe Threat

In response to calls from both health experts and the World Health Organisation, most world countries reduced the number of people in detention – as a coronavirus outbreak in prison walls could make the COVID-19 pandemic worse. In response to calls from both health experts and the World Health Organisation, most world countries reduced the number of people in detention – as a coronavirus outbreak in prison walls could make the COVID-19 pandemic worse. Notwithstanding this, so far Russia has taken no action to follow suit. Yet, quite contrary to that, the country's prison officials made some decisions that run a higher risk of the pandemic outbreak in penal colonies, prisons, and detention centers.

04/19/2020

Russian Oil Companies Squabble Over New OPEC Deal

A new deal struck in mid-April between major oil-producing nations to slash production is hugely unfavorable for Russia. But with this may come the closure of some of the country's fields. No wonder that Russian oil companies are now wrangling over how to share out the state's vowed reductions.

04/19/2020

Who Will Complete Nord Stream 2?

The Akademik Cherskiy, a Russian flagship pipelayer meant to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, is expected to reach the Baltic Sea by early May this year. In the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, the vessel could be equipped with any tools necessary to finish the pipeline. The Cherskiy is now en route to Kaliningrad, where it is expected by May 10. Just 160 kilometers –– or in fact 320 kilometers with its two strands –– of the total length of the two-string line is still left to lay. For Gazprom, the Akademik Cherskiy has emerged as the presumptive alternative to foreign pipelayers. The vessel is now heading towards the Baltic Sea from the Nakhodka harbor in the Russian Far East. The trouble is yet that the Russian-flagged pipelayer –– instead of going the shortest and thus the fastest way –– went the other way round. Akademik Cherskiy left the port of Nakhodka on February 10, heading toward Singapore. Yet it set a new course for the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.…

04/19/2020

In the Balkans, TurkStream Pipeline Sees Further Delays

TurkStream, a brand-new gas pipeline running from Russia to Turkey, has been in operation since January, yet only partially. There is one string carrying Russian natural gas to Turkey. Yet its sister line is vital here as gas is projected to flow through it to the Balkans and then Hungary via Turkey. Nonetheless, the project has not yet seen the light of day amid some hurdles at its Bulgarian portion, seen as most crucial one. TurkStream, a brand-new gas pipeline running from Russia to Turkey, has been in operation since January, yet only partially. There is one string carrying Russian natural gas to Turkey. Yet its sister line is vital here as gas is projected to flow through it to the Balkans and then Hungary via Turkey. Nonetheless, the project has not yet seen the light of day amid some hurdles at its Bulgarian portion, seen as most crucial one.

04/18/2020

Russia's Shoigu Goes to a Monument War with the Czech Republic

Russia has been at odds with Prague municipal officials over the recent removal of a controversial statue of a Soviet World War II marshal in the Czech capital. At the front line of the "monument war" is Russia's Defense Ministry. While Sergei Shoigu has scoffed at the Czech Republic, his ministry suggested a law to protect memorial sites, including Red Army monuments abroad. Russia has been at odds with Prague municipal officials over the recent removal of a controversial statue of a Soviet World War II marshal in the Czech capital. At the front line of the "monument war" is Russia's Defense Ministry. While Sergei Shoigu has scoffed at the Czech Republic, his ministry suggested a law to protect memorial sites, including Red Army monuments abroad.

04/16/2020

Russia Wages Spy War with Ukraine

The Ukrainian counterintelligence services have detained a security service general on accusations of working for Russia as a spy. The Ukrainian counterintelligence services have detained a security service general on accusations of working for Russia as a spy. Many details were revealed about his activities, including an FSB officer who had recruited him. Also, the SBU collected many photos and footage corroborating the traitor's guilt. This is a massive flop of Russia's FSB, especially given who the detainee was. Russia attempted to mask its failure by announcing the next day that the Federal Security Service, or FSB, uncovered a sabotage and terrorism ring in annexed Crimea. Nonetheless, Russia has provided some general details while the narrative it has hinted raises severe doubts whether these were really Ukrainian spies that had been caught.

04/15/2020

Coronavirus Crisis Hits Hard Russia's Healthcare, Business and Military

The epidemic outbreak is sending new shockwaves across Russia. On April 14, the country confirmed 2,774 new coronavirus infections, bringing its official figure to 21,000 and marking a one-day record in new cases. Moscow is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Russia. The country’s capital is seeing further restrictions to come. Meanwhile, independent media outlets say that Russia’s weak health system can soon get out of control. While the country’s military saw first cases within its ranks, the traditional parade is expected to be postponed from May 9 to September 2. The coronavirus situation in Russia is worsening and the next two or three weeks will be critical for the country. The epidemic outbreak is sending new shockwaves across Russia. On April 14, the country confirmed 2,774 new coronavirus infections, bringing its official figure to 21,000 and marking a one-day record in new cases. Moscow is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Russia. The country’s…

04/13/2020

Small Russian Oil Firms Ask Prime Minister for Help

Deprived of both big resources and state aid, small oil companies are more affected by plummeting oil prices worldwide, which prompted them to call the government for help. Thus, Elena Korzun, the director general of Assoneft, an independent association of the Russian Federation oil and gas industry, sent a letter on behalf of them to the country's Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin Deprived of both big resources and state aid, small oil companies are more affected by plummeting oil prices worldwide, which prompted them to call the government for help. Thus, Elena Korzun, the director general of Assoneft, an independent association of the Russian Federation oil and gas industry, sent a letter on behalf of them to the country's Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

04/09/2020

Coronavirus in Russia: Nationwide Paid Holidays Deliver Severe Blow to Economy

Vladimir Putin's latest decision to prolong the non-working period in the country to April 30 poses a grave problem to many Russian companies. Business circles have not yet got further policies or a broad stimulus package to support the economy and businesses. Putin signed legislation to allow the government to declare a state of national emergency to stem the spread of coronavirus, either throughout the country or in some of its regions. The government has introduced a state of heightened readiness for the whole country, which is somewhat between a normal state and a regime of extraordinary measures. It is worth adding that the regime of extraordinary measures is not as strict as a state of emergency and martial law, both enshrined in the Russian constitution. Perhaps the government will enforce a state of emergency in its most vulnerable regions that are unable to fight against the novel virus. Vladimir Putin's latest decision to prolong the non-working period in the country to April…

03/31/2020

Russia Suffers Major Setback in the Balkans

North Macedonia has officially become NATO's 30th member. With the new North Atlantic Alliance member in the Balkans, Russia has seen a blow delivered to its policy aimed at banning former Yugoslav republics from joining Western blocs. Though Russia used a wide range of methods –– from economic to intelligence ones –– it is unable to stop their friendly Orthodox states' march towards EU and NATO membership.

03/31/2020

Russian Arms Industry Gets a Lifeline

Russia's intense and long-term efforts to modernize its military inventory got the country's arms industry into deep trouble. Some of the state's flagship arms production plants are now in a difficult situation, thus the Kremlin seeks to help them by erasing their outstanding debts. Naturally, the money to keep them afloat will come from the taxpayer's pocket as Russian state-run banks are to bear the brunt of canceled debts.

03/31/2020

Russia Seeks Good Ties with Taliban

In its policy towards Afghanistan, Russia has long attempted to make U.S. and NATO military forces quit the country. What Moscow sees as a milestone is the U.S.-Taliban peace accord, saying it is ready to cooperate with Islamists once they seize power in the country. But they may get on badly with the incumbent government in Kabul. While offering support to the Taliban, Russia should be cautious as this could hamper its ties with Kabul. Afghanistan is yet another country where Moscow is playing a double role, attempting to keep the best possible relations with all major actors involved.

03/30/2020

Nord Stream 2 Stuck in the Waiting Room

Though the Russia-to-Germany gas link was frozen after Washington had introduced a batch of sanctions, there is still a chance to complete it. Both Berlin and Moscow so far have invested many financial and political means to defend their joint undertaking. Perhaps, Russia will keep its promises and complete Nord Stream 2 on its own.

05/31/2020

Russia Aims To Boost Military Facilities in Syria

The Kremlin has decided to put an end to the years-long rivalry between its foreign and defense ministries in Syria. President Vladimir Putin reportedly tasked both with securing additional land and naval rights in Syria. Also, the Russian leader appointed his special envoy to monitor economic and investment issues.