Making the Front Longer: Russia to Strengthen Its Western Flank
Russia's Head of Intelligence Service and Deputy Defence Minister in Pakistan
The Russians seek to mark their presence in Pakistan; first, the country was visited by Russia’s Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin, who took part in a meeting of leaders of intelligence services of Russia, China and Iran. Then, it was Russian Deputy Defence Minister who paid visit to the country with the aim of discussing a deal on training Pakistani officers in Russia. In addition, a Pakistani warship was presented during the recent parade of the Russian fleet in St. Petersburg; thus, it seems that security cooperation between both countries is dynamically developing, as we wrote in our report a few month ago.The Russians tend to replace the Americans while their recent rapprochement with Pakistan may considerably affect the development of the situation both in a neighbouring Afghanistan as well as in the region.
Russian Problems in Gazprom-Naftogaz Conflict
As informed by Reuters, Gazprom has already suspended its external borrowing program. The reason is simple: an intensifying legal dispute with Ukraine's Naftogaz within the framework of the award of the Stockholm Arbitration. In June, a court in London froze Gazprom's assets in Great Britain at the request of Naftogaz. The Ukrainian company has been using its best efforts to force Gazprom to pay a compensation of 2.6 billion dollars, as ordered by the tribunal. It seems that the British verdict has scared off Western banks that traditionally cooperate with Gazprom. Thus, it is more likely that any new funds, which may be acquired by Gazprom in London, might also been frozen under the aforementioned decision. Such state of affairs has seemingly complicated Gazprom's plans, as the company is obliged to repay 15.2 billion dollars of external indebtedness until the end of the year. In addition, the corporation needs some extra funds for the implementation of gas pipeline projects to China…
Oil-For-Goods and Investments: Will Russia Save Iran's Oil Industry?
Huge protests have recently erupted in Iran in response to the deteriorating economic situation in the country; as a result, the Parliament expects President Hassan Rouhani to provide it with necessary explanation. U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (reached in 2015) keeps increasing the pressure on Iran's economy. Nevertheless, the worst is yet to come for Tehran as it may be most threatened by sanctions imposed on the state's oil sector. It is rather certain that Western companies will withdraw from Iran, as they will not risk any American repressions. And now Tehran counts primarily on Moscow's further steps. The Russians have already assured that they would provide Iran with any necessary help; at the same time, many Iranians warn that the Kremlin might sell its Middle East ally to the Americans. So one may be afraid of political tensions amid Iran's military presence and Syria as well as reports about an alleged secret…
Russian Intrigue in the Heart of Africa
The fact of murdering three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic (CAR) may have serious political repercussions both for the authorities in Bangui and Russia's interests in the country. The journalists were investigating a Russian private military company; disclosing some information would harm mercenaries from the Wagner Group as well as they would possibly hit the policy implemented by the Kremlin in Africa.
Western Sanctions: Little Impact to Russia's Oil and Gas Sector
It is expected that Western restrictions, imposed on Russia by the United States and the European Union after the annexation of Crimea, will become troublesome for the state's economy only in a few years. The Russians are currently managing all resources they have at their disposals; in addition, they have been also maximally exploiting the existing infrastructure. President Vladimir Putin is aware of any dangers caused due to such long-term cut-off of Russian business from Western technologies. So this issue will certainly constitute one of the main themes of his closer relations with the U.S. President Donald Trump after the Helsinki summit. In this respect, the most urgent problem is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.
Attractive Russian Woman and Guns
Mariia Butina, a Russian national indicted by a federal grand jury, has been spying for Russia for years. The 29-year-old has specialized in an alleged fight for the broadest possible right to bear a gun in her native country. Moreover, she used this pretext to infiltrate the Russian opposition; since 2015, Butina has been spying on American right-wing circles, including the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Rosneft to Start Extracting Oil in Iraqi Kurdistan
The Russians will start to extract oil in the Kurdish part of Iraq at any moment, as confirmed by reports from both sides of a deal concluded in October 2017. At that time, Russia's oil company Rosneft purchased 80 percent of shares in five oil fields. From the very beginning, the agreement was widely criticized by the government in Baghdad. However, the Russian oil giant did not seem to care about it.
Russia's Tax Manoeuvre: Triumph of Oil Lobbies
A long-time battle over the shape of taxation changes in Russia’s oil industry will probably end up with the success of oil companies. The government will use its best efforts to make sure that they feel as less affected by the consequences of the so-called tax manoeuvre as possible. Thus, there will be some discounts for refineries while the authorities may refund export duties to companies in the case of sharp increases in oil prices.
Oil Companies Damage Russian Environment
An environmental NGO Greenpeace has recently drawn attention to damages made to Russia's natural environment due to the disastrous state of the country's pipelines. The main defendant, Russia's oil giant Rosneft, has accused Greenpeace of performing actions ordered by other entities. The organization has long been under Russia's scrutiny. Nonetheless, their findings have been recently confirmed by official data issued by state institutions. Thanks to the current Russian law and, more importantly, political connections, the Sechin-ruled group, as well as other oil companies, managed to avoid any punishment. And they have no intention to change their approach to the problem.