Russia Monitor
Russian Spy in Estonian Army
09/05/2018

The Estonian authorities have recently announced that they had arrested two people suspected of spying for Russia. The detainees – father and son, Russians with Estonian passports – worked for the GRU, Russia's main military intelligence agency. Such is yet another case of revealing Russian spying activity by the Estonian counterintelligence services; however, it is the first time that an army officer has been arrested and accused of state treason. And the fact that it was possible to disclose some information seems to confirm that any personal contacts – also from the period of the Soviet occupation – may be dangerous from the state's point of view. Thanks to them, the Russian services manage to recruit their agents, even after many years.

Gazprom-Naftogaz Conflict: Russia’s Gas Giant Confirms Assets Seizures
08/31/2018

Russia’s concern confirmed in its latest quarterly reported that the court had imposed arrest on its shares in yet another company in a further European country. It is all about the Netherlands-based operator of the Blue Stream gas pipeline. Such is the result of legal actions undertaken by Ukraine’s Naftogaz as the company seeks to seize a debt from the Russian company, according to the Stockholm ruling.

Putin Aids Sechin as Russia’s Rouble Drops
08/31/2018

Vladimir Putin’s recent decision constitutes yet another example of special treatment given to a state-owned oil giant Rosneft. The President has signed a bill that will make it possible to Sechin’s company to handle its dollar profits and invest money outside the country. Of course, the legal act did not specify the firm’s name; nonetheless, the regulations were adopted in such a way that would concern exclusively one entity. And any steps that act to the benefit of Sechin’s enterprise may appear unfavorable to Russia’s economy as well as the country’s citizens.

Austrian Wedding: Russia’s Trojan Horse in Europe
08/29/2018

Inviting Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to the wedding of Austrian Foreign Minister has been sparked a storm also outside Vienna. Putin’s relations with the members of Austria’s ruling elite have already gone beyond generally accepted diplomatic principles. Apart from participating in the Nord Stream 2 project, the Austrians decided in June to extend the contract for Russian gas supplies. Austria’s partner services have recently been alarmed by the fact that a pro-Russian party forms a political coalition in the Austrian government while their politicians have considerable influence on the country’s security structures. The Austrian press has quoted an anonymous employee of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism (BVT) who feared that any top-secret information from his office might be deliver to Putin’s desk only a day later.

Russia's Vostok-2018 Strategic Drills: Top Three Facts
08/28/2018

In fact, Russia's biggest war games since 1981 have turned out to be what is referred to as an announced test of combat readiness of most units of both the Central and Eastern Military Districts, held between August 20-24. Officially, the Vostok-2018 military drills are scheduled for September 11, 2018. So what is their most important aspect, apart from the propaganda one? Both the scope of the drills as well as their targets seem to indicate that the Russians are pursuing to exercise scenarios of a potential conflict – either continental or global one. This fact is additionally reinforced by significant military presence of Chinese units. Moreover, during the exercises, Russia's armed forces are likely to use tactical nuclear weapon.

Caspian Convention or Russian Concession?
08/27/2018

The signing of the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea officially ended a long-time dispute between its coastal states over the reservoir and its formal division. Interestingly, the problem has been solved in a quite original way: the parties to the agreement have recognized the Caspian neither as the sea nor the lake. The Aktau deal has opened the way for the construction of some trans-Caspian pipelines that can be used to transport hydrocarbons from Central Asia to Europe while bypassing Russia’s territory. So why did Moscow agree to sign the treaty?

Russia to Test NATO’s Black Sea Flank
08/27/2018

Both Russian and NATO air forces have been recently involved in a number of air incidents over the Black Sea. Thanks to their military facilities on the Crimean Peninsula, the Russians managed to increase their aviation activity in the vicinity of the Romanian border. The country, due to the presence of some U.S. military amenities located on its territory, has become the main target of Russia’s hostile behavior. Both recent incidents as well as Moscow’s provocative attitude seem to confirm that Bucharest has been right: while strengthening NATO’s eastern flank in the Baltic region, the Alliance has somewhat neglected its Black Sea section – the region that has a strategic importance because it provides Russia with a sea connection with both the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East.

More Tensions Between Moscow and Washington
08/25/2018

Does anyone still remember the Helsinki summit? On August 23 in Geneva, Russia and the United States have participated in the first top-level meeting since the July summit in the Finnish capital. Following the talks held between U.S. national security adviser John Bolton and his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev, it may be said that the Helsinki summit has not changed anything in U.S.-Russian bilateral relations. Interestingly, they have significantly deteriorated in recent weeks. It seems that Moscow has already understood that the Helsinki summit had considered only apparent victory of the Putin’s regime. Such state of affairs may explain Russia’s harsh rhetorics against the United States; at the same time, the Kremlin has been preparing for a potential economic war with America. And, on the other hand, both the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress have recently undertaken further anti-Russian steps while Donald Trump is yet expected to prove that he has never acted as…

Fundraising For al-Assad: Russia Shows its “Humanitarian” Face
08/23/2018

To reconstruct Syria so as to make thousands of refugees come back to their homeland – judging by recent statements from prominent Russian politicians, the issue seems extremely bothersome for Moscow. During his visit to Berlin, President Vladimir Putin called Western countries to rebuild the country – destroyed to a great extent by the bombs – while Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, referred to the Americans as ungenerous. In addition, Russia has suggested Europe that rebuilding Syria constitutes the best way to get rid of a part of refugees from the Old Continent. However, it is only a pretext to get from other countries – as Russia certainly cannot afford it – some money that would be subsequently spent on stabilizing the situation in the war-tormented Syria. Needless to say that such state of matters would result with strengthening the regime of President al-Assad. First, Russia gained some political capital on the refugee issue; now, it seeks to get as many…

Sanctions, Oil and Gas: Russia's Strengths and Weaknesses
08/20/2018

Introduced at the beginning of the year, new sanctions constitute yet another package of economic restrictions against Russia. First economic limitations were imposed in 2014. Over the last four years, the Russians have somewhat learned to cope with such unfavorable conditions in the oil and gas industry. However, Moscow seems particularly prone to other activities of its Western partners, especially in the case of such project as exploiting deposits under the sea bottom in the Arctic or constructing large gas pipelines to Europe.

Caspian Summit: Consequences for the Region
Latest Special Report from 09/14/2018

RUSSIA MONITOR MONTHLY 07/2018
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