Russia Monitor
Rosneft – China. Another Conflict

Igor Sechin’s reassurances about the tightening cooperation between Rosneft and China are becoming less and less real. Not only did the sale of Russian company’s shares to the Chinese fail, but also Beijing fiercely criticised Rosneft’s operations in another country; it concerns extraction works on the South China Sea shelf within one of Vietnam’s projects. Until now, China was avoiding public criticism of their Russian partners. The case of South China Sea, therefore, is a sign of troubles in their relations.

Trump, Iran and More Petrodollars for Russia

World oil prices together with incomes to the Russian budget are rising. This is great news for Vladimir Putin and government at the beginning of new presidential term. Currently, Russian oil exporters earn one third more than six years ago. And prognoses for Moscow are optimistic. Does it mean that funds for realisation an ambitious “May decree” will be attainable?

Russia Again Threatens the USA with Atomic Bombers

After a long break Russian strategic bombers again appeared in the coastal zone of North America. Two Tu-95 were intercepted by American fighters on May 11 near Alaska – informed Northern Command. This is not the first such a move of the Russian army – it has more political, than military meaning.

Surprising Putin’s Inauguration

The beginning of the Vladimir Putin’s new presidential term may mean a shift in the Kremlin’s policy. Swearing-in was of technical, rather than “tsarist” nature and in his speech Putin focused on domestic matters, problems of ordinary people and ambitions of Russian development – but no longer military or geopolitical. Issues of international politics were almost skipped and accents of hostility towards other countries were also avoided. Such an inauguration in addition to the decree from May 7 and predicted composition of government, but also surprisingly less aggressive character of the Victory Day suggest, that Putin will aim to improve relations with the West – for now, it is possible only in the case of European countries, mainly Germany.

The Truth about Russian Defence Spending

The latest news from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) about a drastic decrease in defence spending in Russia has caused a great stir. However, it seems to be unjustified for a number of reasons. Firstly, this reduction is not as big as the Swedish think thank describes. Secondly, it has no major impact on the modernisation of the Russian army, let alone on Moscow’s military policy. Thirdly, the reduction in defence spending should not be perceived in any way as a political move, but rather as a technical and financial one.

The Caspian Flotilla Sails South

The Russian Defence Ministry has decided to relocate the main base of the Caspian Flotilla from the city of Astrakhan at the northern end of the sea to the city of Kaspiysk in Dagestan, which is located about 400 kilometers south. In this way, the Flotilla will be closer to the unstable Middle East. The number of officers and sailors serving in the Flotilla is also to be increased. This step is part of a larger Russian strategy for the gradual increase of military presence near the Southern Flank of NATO and the Levant region, which is important for political and economic reasons (oil and gas). The appearance of a permanent squadron in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea and the consolidation of military presence in Syria (bases in Tartus and Hmeimim) were the manifestation of such strategy. The relocation of the Caspian Flotilla to the central part of the body of water also means increasing the risk for energy projects considered by Moscow as competitive, which connect or are to…

Decree on Reforms, Putin’s Intrigue

Vladimir Putin, on the day of his swearing-in for his forth presidential term, issued a decree on Russia’s social-economic development. In this decree, he determined a long list of extraordinarily ambitious goals for the government one of them being the country’s introduction to the top leading economies in the world. Generally it is about improving Russians’ lives so that they will live longer, healthier and more prosperously. This plan is unreal however it is not Putin who will be reviewed for that, but the government. If these tasks are impossible, why is the president setting them out? It shows Russians that their good will always go first, and it shows the West that he is ready to change the course of, so far very aggressive, external policy. But it does not mean the victory of the "party of peace" (Kudrin, Medvedev, oligarchs) over the "party of war" (Sechin, Shoygu, siloviks).

Temporary Government: Medvedev and His Deputies

As expected, the new Russian government will consist of majorly the same people as the old one. The same PM, as well as many minsters and part of deputy PMs. But the positions of PM’s deputies are to undergo the biggest alternations. In general, it will be a team which will be even more than now fulfilling direct instruction of the Kremlin – and the position of Dmitry Medvedev will be even weaker. The fact that the government is dominated by the “old guard” – politicians who have long, sometimes ministerial experience – who in addition do not have any big personal ambitions, suggests, that this team will not manage to last till the end of Vladimir Putin’s presidential term. The change will come earlier – and then the new government will consist of new people probably with the successor of Putin among them.

Qatar Saves Rosneft from Chinese Fiasco

State fund of Qatar decided to buy almost 19 percent of Rosneft shares after the failed attempt of selling them to a company from China. Even though Russia will portray this as a success and beginning of strategic involvement of Qatar into Russian gas-oil market, the transaction was induced mainly by the necessity of finalisation the financial operation which had started yet in December 2016.

Russia and Pakistan to Strengthen Cooperation

In addition to its increased activity in Afghanistan, Moscow keeps improving relations with Pakistan, its Cold War era foe. Worse relations between Islamabad and Washington mean warmer ties of the former with Moscow. Both countries have recently enhanced their cooperation in security matters, which constitutes a threat to American and Western interests in Afghanistan, the country still being overwhelmed by civil war.

Russia In Shock Over New Sanctions
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