Russia Monitor
Austria and Nord Stream 2: Judge in Its Own Case

On July 1, Austria took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This is great news for all participants of the Nord Stream 2 project especially due to the fact that an Austrian company is involved in its implementation. Vienna, which is currently governed by a political party declaring its cooperation with Putin's United Russia party, will probably seek to sabotage and to delay the EU initiatives that could harm the construction of the gas pipeline along the Baltic Sea bed.

Trump’s Syrian Trap Before the Summit with Putin

Speculations about a meeting between Russian and American presidents aroused at the very beginning of a new war campaign in Syria. Such a date can hardly come as a coincidence. Having attacked a so-called "de-escalation zone" in southwestern Syria, Bashar al-Assad put the United States in a very difficult position. It is not only about their credibility, but also about the arguments prepared before Helsinki summit.

Gazprom Against Generals

It does not come as a surprise that state-owned gas giant Gazprom has to fulfil three main functions. First, the company is expected to provide income to subcontractors, more precisely, to businessmen associated with the Kremlin. Secondly, Gazprom aims to pursue Russia's foreign policy, which seems to explain various business projects that do not appear to be profitable for the state's interest. And thirdly, export revenues will make it possible to subsidise supplies for domestic customers, especially the most important ones. So Gazprom's financial situation is already so poor that the company decided to publicly ask the Ministry of Defense to pay off its debts. So what does it mean? Such a state of matters indicates Gazprom's financial problems and the company is supposed to implement large projects such as Nord Stream 2 and, at the same time, it is forced to pay for some abuses from the past (including Stockholm international arbitration award in the dispute with Naftogaz). On the…

Russia and the War for Libyan Oil

The short-term occupation of the two largest oil ports in Libya, as well as damaging some important facilities in Ras Lanuf, has recently shown that the country was not able to benefit from increases in world's oil prices. It will be possible only after the end of the civil war and the division of the country into two main parts. At present, there is no good solution since none of the sides has enough advantage to tilt the fate of the conflict in their own favor. Russia's authorities seem to be perfectly aware of the situation, as they have recently stopped supporting General Khalifa Haftar; instead, the country seeks agreement with both sides to the conflict. So if Moscow succeeds in its mediation mission, it will get the largest part of Libya's oil resources.

Putin and Government’s Popularity Is Dropping in Polls

Contrary to some expectations, the FIFA World Cup did not cover all Russian problems. Undoubtedly, Russia's authorities have thought that the propaganda noise around the football championship would soften some harsh social consequences of recent unpopular economic decisions. As a result, they will probably withdraw to a certain extent from the pension reform; such was the case of the increase in excise taxes on fuels. Due to his current problems, Russian president is more likely to give up his idea of aforementioned reforms and adopt a more market-oriented approach to the state's economic policy.

Oil and Tanks: Russians Strengthen Their Position in Iraq

New Baghdad government, elected after the May parliamentary ballot, will not have any significant impact on the existing good relations between Russia and Iraq. Instead, it should be expected that the Iraqi army would purchase Russian military equipment while Russian state-owned oil companies will develop their further activities in the country. Recent political events in Baghdad are beneficial above all for Rosneft; the oil giant plans to invest in the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region (KRG). The fact that such strongly pro-Iranian forces entered a coalition may be positively received in Moscow: Tehran constitutes one of Russia's allies while Iran's new government may limit American influence in Iraq.

Missiles, Fleet and Trump. Football World Cup Overshadows Russia's Policy, Part 2

As for its image, the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony could not have the same effects as the inauguration of the Olympic Games in Sochi. The recent event was attended by numerous world leaders who arrived to Moscow mainly from Asia, Africa, Latin America and post-Soviet countries. But even the visit of the heir to the Saudi throne has brought some fruitful results. Nonetheless, apart from conducting "football diplomacy", Russia is clearly flexing its military muscles. What is the reason of such behaviour? The Kremlin once again put Donald Trump first so it does not come as a surprise that Moscow begins to implement its strategy before a planned summit between presidents of Russia and the USA.

Regime's Unpopular Decisions: Football World Cup Overshadows Russia's Politics

The beginning of the FIFA World Cup has appeared to be favorable for Russia and the Kremlin so the country's authorities decided to announce extremely unpopular economic decisions. The Russian government plans to raise the retirement age; in addition, it has intention to increase value-added taxes. In this way, Russia's officials aim to boost state budget as it has been generously used subsidize billions to Mr Putin and members of his inner circle; the funds have been transferred to organize such events as the current World Cup.

Rosneft's Problem with Venezuela

Venezuela, ruled successively by Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, has become Russia’s main ally in the Western Hemisphere. The alliance appears to be quite costly as Russia actually subsidies Venezuela's socialist-managed economy. Russia’s state oil giant Rosneft plays the main role in the alliance while its CEO Igor Sechin has become the principal liaison between Moscow and Caracas. However, the country’s dramatically worsening economic situation increases the risk of Russian investments and loans in the local oil sector. The assets of Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA concern were in the pinnacle of Western creditors, and Rosneft is no longer interested in paying money to support a bankrupt. Such complete collapse of Venezuelan economy along with the political change in Caracas may even end up with losing billions of dollars invested by the Russians.

More U.S. Marines to Be Deployed in Norway? Russia Protests and Threatens

The government in Oslo has recently suggested that the United States double the number of U.S. marines stationed in the country as well as deploy them closer to Russia's borders. Such move has already triggered a violent response from Moscow as it strongly disapproves of any steps aiming to strengthen the military potential of NATO countries in the north. For several years, Russia has been intensively developing its military capabilities in this area, mostly by expanding infrastructure facilities as well as increasing the number of troops stationed there. The Norwegian Arctic is very important for Russia as evidenced by the country has recently set up another its fifth territorial military district. So it does not come as a surprise since the region is located very close to the U.S. territory while the North Sea holds enormous oil and gas reserves.

Putin Tempts Europe with a New “reset” Policy
Latest Special Report from 07/03/2018

Latest Monthly Summary