Russia Monitor
02/28/2021

Saudi Arabia and Russia Head for Another Clash on OPEC+ Oil Cuts

Saudi Arabia says an increase in oil output should be addressed cautiously despite a recovery in global oil prices. Officials in Riyadh will keep in force the oil cuts. Moscow, on the other hand, is indicating that it still wants to proceed with a supply increase. Saudi Arabia says an increase in oil output should be addressed cautiously despite a recovery in global oil prices. Officials in Riyadh will keep in force the oil cuts. Moscow, on the other hand, is indicating that it still wants to proceed with a supply increase.

02/28/2021

Russia's Audit Chamber Confirms Large Decline in Oil and Gas Budget Revenues

The Audit Chamber, Russia’s government spending watchdog, said the country saw a massive drop in budget revenues from selling oil and gas. In 2020, these were just a fraction of the federal budget while a relatively modest increase in non-related revenues failed to make up for this loss. The Audit Chamber, Russia’s government spending watchdog, said the country saw a massive drop in budget revenues from selling oil and gas. In 2020, these were just a fraction of the federal budget while a relatively modest increase in non-related revenues failed to make up for this loss.

02/28/2021

What Role for Russia in Armenian Turmoil?

The General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces has demanded the ouster of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, a move that exacerbated the political turmoil the country had plunged into after the defeat in the war with Azerbaijan. Thousands of opposition protesters take to the streets of Yerevan every day. However, Pashinyan is reluctant to step down. It seems that he can do it only if Moscow takes sides with Armenian opposition politicians. The General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces has demanded the ouster of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, a move that exacerbated the political turmoil the country had plunged into after the defeat in the war with Azerbaijan. Thousands of opposition protesters take to the streets of Yerevan every day. However, Pashinyan is reluctant to step down. It seems that he can do it only if Moscow takes sides with Armenian opposition politicians.

02/26/2021

"Strategic Partnership:" New Kyrgyz President Visits Russia

Russia as the first destination for new Kyrgyz president Sadyr Japarov was no surprise. The new leader of the Central Asian country had a mission to reassure his Moscow partners that the latest unrest – and lingering plans to amend the constitution to give more powers to the president – would not affect Russian political interests in Kyrgyzstan. There are still Russian troops in the country (the air base in Kant), and Bishkek is forced to juggle between Russia and China as the Central Asian country has become economically dependent on the latter. Russia as the first destination for new Kyrgyz president Sadyr Japarov was no surprise. The new leader of the Central Asian country had a mission to reassure his Moscow partners that the latest unrest – and lingering plans to amend the constitution to give more powers to the president – would not affect Russian political interests in Kyrgyzstan. There are still Russian troops in the country (the air base in Kant), and Bishkek is forced…

02/25/2021

Gazprom Reappoints Alexey Miller for Further Five Years

There was again no truth in the rumor that the long-serving CEO of Gazprom was about to quit the Russian gas giant. The board of directors of Gazprom has reappointed Alexey Miller as the head of the group for a new five-year term. If Miller completes his tenure, he will be the longest-serving chief executive of Russian large state-run companies, with twenty-five years at the helm. There was again no truth in the rumor that the long-serving CEO of Gazprom was about to quit the Russian gas giant. The board of directors of Gazprom has reappointed Alexey Miller as the head of the group for a new five-year term. If Miller completes his tenure, he will be the longest-serving chief executive of Russian large state-run companies, with twenty-five years at the helm.

02/25/2021

More Than Just Spies: Putin Mobilizes FSB Officers

Speaking at a meeting of top officials of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the agency for being efficient in disrupting the activities of foreign spies. He focused mainly on what he named "the policy of containment of Russia." The president warned against foreign meddling in his country's domestic affairs before the upcoming State Duma elections. He also claimed that foreign intelligence services used terrorists against Russia. The issue of the Russian fight against coronavirus and its homegrown vaccine was also on the agenda. The speech shows that Putin sees the FSB – where he started his career – as the top shield for its regime even amid its spectacular trainwreck of the operation to poison Alexey Navalny. Speaking at a meeting of top officials of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the agency for being efficient in disrupting the activities of foreign spies. He focused mainly on what he named…

02/24/2021

Not Only Nord Stream 2: What Will Biden Choose?

Unfortunately, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is another issue in U.S. foreign policy that the new administration tackles somewhat indecisively. Just as the United States has not taken any firm measures against Russia amid the Navalny case or GRU-linked cyberattacks targeting Washington, Biden and his team now are not taking any action towards the Russian-German energy link as promised during the campaign – to the growing bipartisan disappointment. A stance of the new administration towards Nord Stream 2 will also reflect Biden's attitude to Europe and what policy he plans to adopt there. Will he be simply placing a safe bet on Germany or will Washington manage not to lose everything it has achieved so far under the Three Seas Initiative? Unfortunately, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is another issue in U.S. foreign policy that the new administration tackles somewhat indecisively. Just as the United States has not taken any firm measures against Russia amid the Navalny case or…

02/23/2021

Lukashenko, Putin Change Their Strategies As Both Meet in Sochi

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko for six-hour talks on Monday, February 22, 2021, in Russia's ski resort of Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi. After greeting the Belarusian visitor, Vladimir Putin invited him to go skiing. They later held an hours-long talk, mainly on some solutions on how to integrate Belarus and Russia. It is certain and now Lukashenko is just bargaining the price. His negotiating position this time was stronger than the last time both leaders met in Sochi in September 2020. Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko for six-hour talks on Monday, February 22, 2021, in Russia's ski resort of Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi. After greeting the Belarusian visitor, Vladimir Putin invited him to go skiing. They later held an hours-long talk, mainly on some solutions on how to integrate Belarus and Russia. It is certain and now Lukashenko is just bargaining the price. His negotiating…

02/23/2021

Armenia Invites More Russian Troops to Its Territory

After its humiliating defeat last fall, Armenia can only see Moscow as its guarantor of security. Yerevan is expressing concerns over the further military expansion of Azerbaijan and an ever-bigger influence of the Azeri-Turkish alliance in the Caucasus. Recent months have seen a joint Azeri-Turkish military exercise while Russia and Turkey agreed to set up an observation center to monitor a ceasefire deal in Nagorno-Karabakh. Thus it is little surprising to observe calls – also from Armenian opposition politicians – on the Kremlin to cement the Russian-Armenian alliance. After its humiliating defeat last fall, Armenia can only see Moscow as its guarantor of security. Yerevan is expressing concerns over the further military expansion of Azerbaijan and an ever-bigger influence of the Azeri-Turkish alliance in the Caucasus. Recent months have seen a joint Azeri-Turkish military exercise while Russia and Turkey agreed to set up an observation center to monitor a ceasefire deal in…

02/22/2021

Belarus, Russia Sign Agreement to Ship Belarusian Exports through Russian Ports

Whether it likes it or not, the Belarusian regime is meeting further expectations from Moscow, most of which Vladimir Putin outlined to Alexander Lukashenko during the meeting in Sochi in September 2020. Back then, the latter politician secured full support from the Kremlin to thwart massive anti-government rallies, making some political and economic concessions instead. While Lukashenko is making efforts to postpone any political decisions, his country is becoming more and more economically dependent on Russia. Whether it likes it or not, the Belarusian regime is meeting further expectations from Moscow, most of which Vladimir Putin outlined to Alexander Lukashenko during the meeting in Sochi in September 2020. Back then, the latter politician secured full support from the Kremlin to thwart massive anti-government rallies, making some political and economic concessions instead. While Lukashenko is making efforts to postpone any political decisions, his country is becoming more and…

02/18/2021

Russian Fleet Holds Naval Drills in Indian Ocean

Russia is carrying out naval drills involving many countries off the Pakistan coast simultaneously with other maneuvers in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. Two units of the Russian navy took part. Moscow is showing interest and flexing military muscle in the Indian Ocean, not only in support of Iran. Russia is carrying out naval drills involving many countries off the Pakistan coast simultaneously with other maneuvers in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. Two units of the Russian navy took part. Moscow is showing interest and flexing military muscle in the Indian Ocean, not only in support of Iran.

02/17/2021

A Number of Generals Quit Russia’s National Guard

Top generals in charge of key Rosgvardia boards and department have recently filed their resignation from the National Guard. No other Russian power structure has ever experienced such a wave of dismissals among its senior officers. What is the reason? Rosgvardia declined to comment, but there are two top plausible reasons behind this. Top generals in charge of key Rosgvardia boards and department have recently filed their resignation from the National Guard. No other Russian power structure has ever experienced such a wave of dismissals among its senior officers. What is the reason? Rosgvardia declined to comment, but there are two top plausible reasons behind this.

02/16/2021

Rosneft's Net Profit Drops Dramatically

Poor financial performance is not surprising for the biggest Russian oil business as 2020 was a horrible year for the whole industry, the CEO of Rosneft Igor Sechin told at the meeting with Vladimir Putin. It is hard to expect the Russian leader to scold the businessman. Rosneft is facing a strategic task that is crucial to develop the Kremlin's high-priority plan to build up the Northern Sea Route and the country's Far North. Poor financial performance is not surprising for the biggest Russian oil business as 2020 was a horrible year for the whole industry, the CEO of Rosneft Igor Sechin told at the meeting with Vladimir Putin. It is hard to expect the Russian leader to scold the businessman. Rosneft is facing a strategic task that is crucial to develop the Kremlin's high-priority plan to build up the Northern Sea Route and the country's Far North.

02/16/2021

Russia Reports Biggest Increase in Mortality in 70 Years

Russia noted a dramatic surge in mortality in 2020 fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic. The latest figures from the federal statistics agency Rosstat are far more pessimistic than those so far reported by the government. According to critics of the authorities, these rushed too much to ease lockdown measures last summer, which resulted in a uptick in new infections and deaths. Russia noted a dramatic surge in mortality in 2020 fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic. The latest figures from the federal statistics agency Rosstat are far more pessimistic than those so far reported by the government. According to critics of the authorities, these rushed too much to ease lockdown measures last summer, which resulted in a uptick in new infections and deaths.

02/15/2021

A Record-Breaking Deal in the Russian Oil Sector

Only recently has it been made public that Rosneft and NNK, a firm owned by Eduard Khudainatov, were involved in a deal to purchase oil fields in the Taymyr peninsula. In fact, it is all about swapping oil-rich deposits of crucial importance for Rosneft's flagship project and already drilled fields elsewhere in Russia. While Rosneft is building up its Vostok Oil project, NNK becomes one of the Russian top oil producers. Both the current CEO of Rosneft (Igor Sechin) and its former president (Eduard Khudainatov) can be satisfied with the deal. Sechin purchases oil deposits far below their actual value – and so does Khudainatov. Only recently has it been made public that Rosneft and NNK, a firm owned by Eduard Khudainatov, were involved in a deal to purchase oil fields in the Taymyr peninsula. In fact, it is all about swapping oil-rich deposits of crucial importance for Rosneft's flagship project and already drilled fields elsewhere in Russia. While Rosneft is building up its Vostok Oil…

02/15/2021

Kremlin Again Plays Donbas Card as Ukrainian Troops Die in Blast

Ukrainian service personnel again died on the Donbas frontline despite the truce being in force. At the same time, many signs are that the government in Moscow might in the future push harder for its narrative of "serving the Russian-speaking population in southeastern Ukraine." Six years have passed since the so-called Minsk agreements were inked, and Russia still has not attained its strategic goal of ending the conflict to formally give the occupied part of Donbas back to Kyiv while enjoying broad autonomy in the region infiltrated by its proxies, a move that might impede Ukraine's pro-Western course. Ukrainian service personnel again died on the Donbas frontline despite the truce being in force. At the same time, many signs are that the government in Moscow might in the future push harder for its narrative of "serving the Russian-speaking population in southeastern Ukraine." Six years have passed since the so-called Minsk agreements were inked, and Russia still has not attained its…

02/10/2021

U.S and Russian Bombers In Tug-of-war Over Arctic

The U.S. Air Force said it was preparing to deploy bombers B-1 to Norway for the first time. Shortly after, Russia informed its strategic bombers had flown for several hours over this part of the Arctic. These events show again that the Norway-Russia border and the seas nearby are turning into another strain in NATO-Russia ties. The U.S. Air Force said it was preparing to deploy bombers B-1 to Norway for the first time. Shortly after, Russia informed its strategic bombers had flown for several hours over this part of the Arctic. These events show again that the Norway-Russia border and the seas nearby are turning into another strain in NATO-Russia ties.

02/09/2021

Russian Plane Violated NATO Airspace Over Baltic Sea

A Russian military cargo plane has violated Estonia's airspace, an incident that prompted the country's authorities to hand Russia's ambassador a protest note. Moscow denies any incident took place. As NATO's easternmost territory, Estonia is an obstacle for a military connection between the Kaliningrad exclave and the rest of Russia. A Russian military cargo plane has violated Estonia's airspace, an incident that prompted the country's authorities to hand Russia's ambassador a protest note. Moscow denies any incident took place. As NATO's easternmost territory, Estonia is an obstacle for a military connection between the Kaliningrad exclave and the rest of Russia.

02/08/2021

Nord Stream 2 Returns Amid Favorable Political Conditions

Russia's vessel Fortuna has resumed laying pipes for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Danish waters, as informed back on February 6. Although works were suspended amid bad weather conditions, Russia and Germany won a symbolic victory, trying to complete the gas link as favorable conditions materialized. The United States does not seem to know what to do next while the European Union showed its weakness after Josep Borrell's visit to Moscow. France denied any reports that it had anything against the project. Russia's vessel Fortuna has resumed laying pipes for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Danish waters, as informed back on February 6. Although works were suspended amid bad weather conditions, Russia and Germany won a symbolic victory, trying to complete the gas link as favorable conditions materialized. The United States does not seem to know what to do next while the European Union showed its weakness after Josep Borrell's visit to Moscow. France denied any reports that it had…

02/08/2021

"Operation Borrell": Russian Triumph, European Humiliation

Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs, made a horrible mistake, viewed as absolutely unacceptable in diplomacy. His decision to go ahead with the trip to Russia as planned outraged many while what he said and what he did not in Moscow was an even bigger disgrace for the bloc's top diplomat. Also, the EU press service played its part in the failed visit. It seems that Sergey Lavrov and the Russian foreign ministry were perfectly prepared for the diplomatic clash. Was that just Borrell's naivety? Rather doubtful. Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs, made a horrible mistake, viewed as absolutely unacceptable in diplomacy. His decision to go ahead with the trip to Russia as planned outraged many while what he said and what he did not in Moscow was an even bigger disgrace for the bloc's top diplomat. Also, the EU press service played its part in the failed visit. It seems that Sergey Lavrov and the Russian foreign ministry were perfectly…

01/28/2021

"Fuel Charge": Lukashenko Pays For Russian Help

The Russian government published a regulation allowing Belarus to ship Belarusian oil products destined to third countries through Russian seaports, according to latest publication by the government of Mikhail Mishustin. Belarusian oil export through Russian seaports is on the list of the conditions Moscow imposed on Lukashenko when agreeing to help him during the political crisis in August last year. The Russian government published a regulation allowing Belarus to ship Belarusian oil products destined to third countries through Russian seaports, according to latest publication by the government of Mikhail Mishustin. Belarusian oil export through Russian seaports is on the list of the conditions Moscow imposed on Lukashenko when agreeing to help him during the political crisis in August last year.

01/28/2021

Putin, Biden Agree To Extend New START Treaty

The United States and Russia have agreed to extend the New START, an arms control treaty, by five years, marking number one news after Joe Biden’s first phone call as president with Vladimir Putin. This yet does not mean any breakthrough in U.S.-Russia ties as at the same time, Biden raised concerns about the arrest of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny and Russian aggression on Ukraine. The United States and Russia have agreed to extend the New START, an arms control treaty, by five years, marking number one news after Joe Biden’s first phone call as president with Vladimir Putin. This yet does not mean any breakthrough in U.S.-Russia ties as at the same time, Biden raised concerns about the arrest of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny and Russian aggression on Ukraine.

01/27/2021

Russia Produces More Liquefied Natural Gas

In 2020, Russia's liquefied natural gas output grew by 3.5 percent year on year. Throughout last year, the country produced 30.5 million tons of LNG, according to data from Rosstat, the Russian federal statistics agency. In 2020, Russia's liquefied natural gas output grew by 3.5 percent year on year. Throughout last year, the country produced 30.5 million tons of LNG, according to data from Rosstat, the Russian federal statistics agency.

01/26/2021

Vostok Oil: Rosneft Starts Works On Vankor Field

Igor Sechin announced his grandiose plan to develop the Russian Far North to Vladimir Putin and all signs are now that he is under major pressure to forge ahead with the project. The Rosneft-developed Vostok Oil project should already produce 30 million tons of oil in just three years. But the construction work does not move forward as planned. Igor Sechin announced his grandiose plan to develop the Russian Far North to Vladimir Putin and all signs are now that he is under major pressure to forge ahead with the project. The Rosneft-developed Vostok Oil project should already produce 30 million tons of oil in just three years. But the construction work does not move forward as planned.