Russia Monitor
The Kremlin to Strengthen Russia’s Far East

On November 3, Russia’s Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree on adding the Republic of Buryatia and Zabaykalsky Krai to the Far Eastern Federal District. The President’s decision came amid poor results of the recent regional elections held in this part of the country. At the same time, Putin sought to stress out that the region is a top priority for the Kremlin.

Russia’s New Weapon: Putin Did Not Keep His Word

According to Russian information agencies, quoting sources in the country’s armaments industry, the new generation inter-continental ballistic missile Sarmat is scheduled to enter duty no sooner than in 2021. Back in May this year, President Vladimir Putin announced that the Russian army was expected to receive a weapon in 2020. Such was the initial schedule, yet it is not known whether it would be possible to enter the system into service by 2021 as the missiles do not appear to have started testing yet.

Putin Voices Solid Support for GRU Military Intelligence

Vladimir Putin’s presence in a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of Russia’s military intelligence services – as well as his speech – clearly indicate that the GRU should not be afraid of any purges, even in the face of a series of mishaps that have occurred over the past few months. The state’s military intelligence services obediently follow the Kremlin’s instructions, thus gaining Putin’s trust. Moreover, the President’s announcement to restore the GRU to its original name constitutes a symbolic part of the Kremlin’s aggressive policy.

Gazprom and Ukraine Face Another Litigation over Gas Supplies

Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom has filed an appeal against Ukraine to an international arbitration tribunal. It was about a fine imposed on Russia’s firm almost three years ago by the country’s Antimonopoly Committee for allegedly abusing its position in the gas transit through Ukrainian pipelines. This is yet another episode of the legal and financial wrangle between Russia’s Gazprom and the Ukrainian authorities. Earlier, the court in the Swedish capital considered complaints from both parties related essentially to the provisions and further implementation of two large gas deals, both of them dating back to 2009. They provided for the purchase of gas by Kiev as well as the transit of Russian gas to Western countries, via Ukraine’s territory.

Moscow Hopes for Iraq’s New Government

Following the recent parliamentary elections, Iraq has still to face a long and complicated process of forming its government. It seems that the country’s ruling team will pursue even a more open policy towards Russia than the previous one. Speaking of Moscow, it hopes to deepen its military and economic partnership with Iraq as there has even emerged an offer to set the Russian permanent military presence on the state’s territory.

More Tensions in the Sea of Azov: Russia to Scare on Eastern Flank

Russia responded to joint EU and NATO allegations go blocking the sea passage to Ukrainian ports with the ever-increasing military activities in this region. The state’s Black Sea Fleet launched military drills while Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated that Russia would never agree to let any NATO vessels to enter the Sea of Azov.

Russia to “Launder” Iranian Oil?

In April this year, it became clear that the United States would impose severe sanctions against Iran’s oil sector. Since that time, Tehran sought to circumvent the blockade of its black gold exports to the outer markets. Naturally, Russia is perceived as the country’s greatest ally in this respect. Moscow has always emphasized its reluctance towards U.S. sanctions while offering help to Iran. At the same time, the head of Russia’s largest state-owned oil company has threatened the global markets with price spikes being results of the American restrictions. Unofficially, there are already some speculations on how Russia would possibly help Iran to gain oil revenues.

Russia Gets New Ally as Shoigu Pays Visit to Mongolia

Not incidentally, this year’s edition of Russia’s military drills Vostok 2018 was attended by Mongolian servicemen. The state’s current authorities seek to strengthen their military cooperation with Moscow. Wedged between Russia and China, Mongolia seems to have no other choice.

Italy to Withdraw From Rosneft Project

Prior to the Moscow visit of Italian Prime Minister, a Russian government official confirmed Italy’s energy company would have intention to withdraw from a joint venture with Rosneft in the Black Sea. In addition, such may also be the case of other projects in the Barents Sea. Eni seeks to pull out of the undertaking even though, back in spring, its CEO assured that the firm would still be present in Russia and it would continue to develop its further cooperation with local energy business concerns.

Great Game over the INF Treaty

The order of events was not accidental: first, the Western press was informed that U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton had pushed for President Donald Trump to withdraw from the INF Treaty with Russia. Shortly after, such a decision was publicly announced by the American leader before Bolton’s long-planned visit to Moscow. During his two-day trip, U.S. security chief held meetings with Russia’s top officials. It does not come as a surprise that their talks were dominated by the future of the INF deal. Bolton announced that Trump and Putin would meet in Paris on November 11 where the two are expected to attend events to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One. Thus, it will be their first bilateral meeting since the famous Helsinki summit in July. It seems that Bolton presented some proposals and conditions to the Russians whereas Putin is supposed to consider them before holding talks with his American counterpart in the French capital.

German-Russian Rapprochement: Gas and Common Enemies
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