Kudrin sees budget maneuver adding 0.5%-1% to Russian GDP growth

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. April 24 (Interfax) – The so-called budget maneuver, which the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) sees as one of the main conditions for achieving sustainable economic growth and a tangible improvement in Russians’ living standards, will make it possible to achieve additional annual economic growth of 0.5% to 1%, CSR chairman and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said in […]

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Russians Primarily Concerned With Rising Prices – Poll

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 24, 2018) Rising prices remain the primary concern among Russians polled by the independent Levada Center, followed by poverty and unemployment. While Russia’s economy grew 1.5 percent last year after two years of recession, it fell short of a government target of 2 percent. In March, one month before U.S. sanctions were imposed, real […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin to Back $162 Billion Spending Spree for New Term” – Bloomberg

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Putin is planning a roughly 10 trillion-ruble ($162 billion) increase in spending on health care, education and infrastructure, hoping to kick-start sputtering economic growth in his new presidential term, according to people familiar with the plans. …. Some of the new spending will be offset with cuts … — the budget already calls for gradual reductions in military spending […]

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Ten Signs Putin and His Russia have Serious Problems

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 21, 2018) Vladimir Putin and his country are in far deeper trouble than the Moscow media he controls or than the Western media which all too often relies on what the Putin outlets say and views his standing and that of his country almost exclusively as a derivative of what the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Influential economist says sanctions-hit Russian firms must not be compensated” – Interfax

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax – April 21, 2018) Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has said the Russian government should not compensate Russian companies which have been hit by US sanctions. “Companies should be helped so that they don’t stop, but you don’t have to…[ellipses in original] compensate billionaires for the loss in their value,” Interfax news agency quoted Kudrin as saying on 21 […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Frustrated at visa holdup, Russians give up on American vacations” – Washington Post/Amie Ferris-Rotman

File Photo of Airplane Approaching Runway About to Land

“… Escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington are putting a damper on Russians’ vacation plans, catching ordinary people in a diplomatic crossfire …. A year ago, obtaining a U.S. tourist visa could take less than a week. Now, it comes with an eight-month delay. * * * The Kremlin may be delighted that fewer of its citizens are being exposed to […]

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RUSSIALINK: Interfax: “Duma speaker warns of Russia’s dangerous dependency on U.S. pharmaceutical imports”

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

MOSCOW. April 20 (Interfax) – Russia must take efficient measures to swiftly make available in its market domestically produced medicinal drugs to secure itself from a possible halt of U.S. imports, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said. “The U.S. has around 50 billion rubles of annual net profit from supplying pharmaceuticals to our country,” Volodin told reporters on Friday after […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia is opposed to ‘sanction-swapping’ with the U.S. – but is prepared to defend itself, finance minister says” – CNBC

Anton Siluanov file photo

“Russia stands ready to retaliate against the latest round of U.S. sanctions … Finance Minister Anton Siluanov [said] …. The U.S. slapped sanctions on several Russian oligarchs, businesses and agencies thought to have ties to … Putin …. prompt[ing] a dramatic market sell-off in Moscow …. Siluanov told CNBC: ‘We are not in favor of sanction-swapping. Nevertheless, our MPs (members […]

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Moody’s says Russian economy resilient to latest U.S. sanctions

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 19, 2018) Rating agency Moody’s Investors Service said on Wednesday Russia’s strong public and external finances would shield its economy from the impact of the latest U.S. sanctions. However, the sanctions will be credit negative for some Russian debt issuers, especially Russian aluminum giant United Company Rusal Plc, Moody’s said in a report. The […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Can Russia Afford Its Save-a-Billionaire Relief Program? Russia’s poorest will end up footing the bill” – Moscow Times/ Vedomosti/ Pavel Aptekar, Vladimir Ruvinsky

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… new sanctions … the West imposed against companies and businesspeople with close Kremlin ties pose a new challenge for the Russian government and economy. Like in 2014, the authorities have already promised support to those targeted …. ‘Supporting those who support you’ might make sense politically, but how much of this … can the Russian economy bear? * * […]

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NEWSWATCH: “‘Market Fundamentalism’ Tested as New Economic Storm Hits Russia” – Bloomberg

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia is gambling that a policy mix born amid its confrontation with the West four years ago is good enough to carry it through an even worse standoff …. allowing its ruble to trade freely  …. that flexible currency provides support for the Russian economy as … Putin faces the fallout of the most punitive U.S. penalties yet and … […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Medvedev threatens Russian counter-measures on U.S. goods” – Financial Times/Kathrin Hille

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

“Moscow has threatened to hit imports from the U.S. or even products made by American companies in Russia as a retaliation against the crippling sanctions imposed Washington last week that battered Russian markets and have pushed Russian aluminium company Rusal to the brink. … Medvedev … said … that the government would ‘look into’ the possibility of counter-measures on ‘a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “No longer safe assets: Invest in Russia at your own risk after U.S. sanctions, strategist says” – CNBC/Natasha Turak

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

“Russian assets, in recovery mode following a deep recession after the global oil price collapse in 2015, have been ravaged since Friday over fears of U.S. sanctions.  Popular among many emerging market investors for the past year, this progress now appears on the brink of becoming undone as market analysts call for a re-evaluation of Russia’s risk pricing. * * […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump Says U.S. Could Help Russian Economy” – Reuters

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“… Trump … said the U.S. could aid Russia’s economy and sought an end to what he called an ‘arms race,’ lamenting that relations with Moscow had reached an all-time low. …Trump … on Twitter warned Russia that missiles ‘will be coming’ in Syria following a suspected chemical attack and chided … Putin for being ‘partners’ with … Assad. … […]

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NEWSLINKS: “Kremlin backers warn of threat of war with U.S. as Syria tensions rise” – Washington Post/Anton Troianovski

File Photo of Bashar al-Assad and Sergei Lavrov

“… The United States is considering strikes on Russian ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria, prompting ominous speculation among people close to the Kremlin that such a move could touch off a wider conflict. One scholar who advises the Russian Defense Ministry even raised the specter of ‘World War III.’ … U.S. sanctions against top Russian business executives wiped billions of […]

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Ruble Falls Further, Russian Officials Seek To Calm Nerves

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(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – April 10, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-ruble-continues-fall-officials-seek-to-calm-nerves/29156379.html) The Russian ruble is falling for a second straight day following the imposition of new U.S. sanctions, while the Central Bank chief and other officials are seeking to calm investors in the wake of a big sell-off in shares of Russian companies […]

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‘No Doubt’ Russia Can Weather U.S. Sanctions, Economic Development Minister Says

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 10, 2018) Russia’s Economic Development Minister has promised that the country will be able to withstand losses suffered since the latest round of U.S. sanctions triggered sell-offs. The ruble sank to its lowest exchange rate against the U.S. dollar and euro since December 2016 on the second day of losses. Stocks in major Russian […]

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Interfax: Kudrin notes stability of Russian financial market Tuesday after Monday’s crash

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. April 10 (Interfax) – The head of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR), former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said the situation on the Moscow Exchange after Monday’s crash is stable. “Today’s opening of the exchange, if nothing has changed in the last few minutes, shows that the exchange is stable. Stock market indexes are stable so far,” Kudrin said […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting of the State Council on promoting competition” – KremlinRu

Russia Regions Map

(Kremlin.ru – April 5, 2018) In the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin chaired a State Council meeting on priority areas of activity of the Russian regions to promote competition in the country. Head of the Republic of Udmurtia Alexander Brechalov, Head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service Igor Artemyev, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin and Governor of the Ulyanovsk Region Sergei Morozov […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How Russia’s Economic Recession Benefits Moscow Politically in its ‘Near Abroad’ [Excerpt]” – PONARS Eurasia/Mariya Omelicheva

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

Mariya Y. Omelicheva is Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas. “Over the short run, Russia’s acrimonious relations with the West are serving the Kremlin’s broader effort of heightening its influence in its ‘near abroad.’ In 2014, Russia was hit by a triple whammy of low oil prices, Western sanctions, and Moscow’s counter-sanctions. During the […]

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“Gangster’s paradise: how organised crime took over Russia; Under Vladimir Putin, gangsterism on the streets has given way to kleptocracy in the state” – The Guardian (UK)/Mark Galeotti

“… The challenge posed by Russian organised crime is a formidable one – and not just at home. Across the world, it trafficks drugs and people, arms insurgents and gangsters, and peddles every type of criminal service, from money laundering to computer hacking. For all that, much of the rest of the world remains willing – indeed, often delighted – […]

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Interfax: Dvorkovich: president to decide income tax rate; difference between 13% and 15% not critical

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

MOSCOW. March 22 (Interfax) – The difference between the current individual income tax rate, 13%, and the rate now under discussion, 15%, is not dramatic, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said, emphasizing that the president would make a final decision on the rate. “The 13% income tax rate is not a fetish. I don’t think that the difference between 13% […]

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Kremlin Officials Split Over Putin’s Economic Promises

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 23, 2018) Russian fiscal policymakers are wrangling over how to fulfil newly re-elected President Vladimir Putin’s spending promises, with one senior Kremlin figure advocating a quick but painful revenue grab and another a more radical overhaul of taxation. During his campaign Putin promised higher healthcare and infrastructure spending, but did not say how this […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What to Expect From Putin and a Resurgent Russia” – AP

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

“… [Putin’s] domestic opponents are largely resigned to another six years in the shadows. …. Even widespread voting violations are unlikely to dent Putin’s armor. … accusations that he meddled in the U.S. election and sponsored a nerve agent attack in Britain have only bolstered his standing at home. Here’s a look at what to expect … NEW COLD WAR? … SYRIA […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Voters Left Guessing at Putin’s Economic Plan” – Reuters

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Putin will enter Sunday’s election with little agreement among his top policymakers on an economic strategy for his next term …. Many Russians … prospered … [when] high oil prices contribut[ed] to bumper growth rates before … 2008 …. But the economy sank into recession after Western … sanctions … [over] Ukraine. A collapse in oil prices and the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Life in Vladimir Putin’s Russia explained in 10 charts” – BBC/ Alex Murray, Tom Housden, Anastasia Napalkova, Sandra Rodriguez Chillida, Joy Roxas, Zoe Bartholomew

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

“1. Fewer people are poor … 2. But wage growth has stalled recently … 3. More people have a car, and there are more microwaves than households … 4. Russians fell in love with Ikea … 5. And champagne … There’s some dispute over how much Russians drink. … 6. … the internet took off … 7. But circuses are […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin and Xi Are Dreaming of a Polar Silk Road; The Northern Sea Route might not be the next Suez Canal, but it’s at the heart of Moscow and Beijing’s play for the high north.” – Foreign Policy Magazine/Keith Johnson, Reid Standish

Arctic Map

“The unprecedented melt of Arctic sea ice is … rejuvenating hopes of a shipping shortcut …. It shouldn’t be. China is dreamy-eyed about the prospects of shipping goods from Asia to Europe across the top of Russia … dominating its brand-new Arctic strategy. … Russia is convinced that the melting Arctic will open up a new economic frontier rich in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What Another Six Years of Putin Spells for Russia’s Economy; No level of debt-fueled spending can overcome the stagnation caused by the state’s continued domination of the economy” – Eurasianet/David Szakonyi

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Officials are taking no chances to ensure turnout isn’t embarrassingly low, however, mobilizing students and workers, plastering the regions with pro-Putin materials, and seemingly handpicking the other candidates allowed to run. There are many consequences to holding stage-managed elections. Clearly they are a violation of basic political rights. … [and] the Russian presidential campaign offers nearly zero discussions of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How realistic are Putin’s promises to massively increase social spending?” – bne Intellinews/Vadim Dumesh, Ben Aris

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“The militarism of … Putin’s … state of the nation speech on March 1 has overshadowed the economic part … set[ting] out the Kremlin’s development strategy … remain[ing] merely declarative and if anything show[ing] the lack of consensus between the Kremlin, government and policy advisers … [with]the Kremlin … attempting to fudge policy to keep all the various factions – […]

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Interfax: Putin: import substitution in Russia is temporary phenomenon

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

SAMARA. March 7 (Interfax) – Import substitution in Russia is a temporary phenomenon; a temporary tool to balance out the current situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “The idea of import substitution is not, in and of itself, universal and is not what we should be aiming for in the long run; import substitution mustn’t disrupt competition. This is an […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Putin Takes His Campaign to Leading Industrial Town” – AP

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

“… Putin … took his campaign to one of Russia’s leading industrial companies, vowing to bolster high-tech industries and improve living standards. … travel[ing] to … the Urals to visit Uralvagonzavod, a huge factory producing … battle tanks … and railroad cars. … seek[ing] to shore up his support base before the March 18 presidential election. * * * The Uralvagonzavod […]

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Russia should allocate at least 3.4 trln rubles for demographic development within next 6 years – Putin

Couple in Hospital with Newborn

MOSCOW. March 1 (Interfax) – At least 3.4 trillion rubles should be allocated for demographic development within the next six years, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his annual address to the Federal Assembly on Thursday. “We will have to allocate at least 3.4 trillion rules for demographic development measures and for the welfare of mothers and children within the […]

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January data a ‘pleasant surprise’, Russian seasonally adjusted GDP up 0.6% – VEB

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MOSCOW. Jan 28 (Interfax) – January was an unexpectedly successful month for the Russian economy, which slackened at the end of 2017, and the year got off to a “very good start” even despite the compensatory nature of the uptick and non-representative character of January as a month with fewer working days, Vnesheconombank (VEB) said in a report. According to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “‘Russia’s Arctic military construction bigger than other countries’ – Shoigu” – Interfax-AVN

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

With regard to Russian military construction in the Arctic: “[Says] Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu … ‘Since 2013, we have built 545 installations on over 710,000 square meters under Far North conditions. No other country in the world has carried out such massive construction on the Arctic latitudes’” Apparently with regard to broader Russian military infrastructure: “‘The geography of construction […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia stuck in a groove as Putin faces existential quandary” – Asia Times/Sergey Aleksashenko

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

“Vladimir Putin will be elected to another six-year term on March 18 – and his country’s economic and political environment will continue to deteriorate. What remains to be seen is whether he will change the constitution to stay in power beyond 2024 …”

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Russia Gets $41.5 Billion Boost From OPEC Deal

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – February 13, 2018) Since the start of the OPEC-Russia production cut deal, Russia’s oil companies and government have received the equivalent of around US$41.5 billion more in proceeds, thanks to the higher oil prices, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday. Due to the higher oil prices as a result of the pact, Russia’s […]

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Interfax: Russia could have budget surplus of 1.2% of GDP, NWF could grow 3.5 trillion rubles in 2018 – Econ Ministry

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Feb 13 (Interfax) – Russia could have a budget surplus of 1.2% of GDP in 2018 if current oil prices persist, the Russian Economic Development Ministry said in its latest monthly monitoring report. The National Welfare Fund (NWF) could in that case grow by 3.5 trillion rubles or around $60 billion at the current rate, it said. The NWF […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting with finalists of the Leaders of Russia national management competition” – KremlinRu

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Kremlin.ru – February 12, 2018) Vladimir Putin met with the finalists of the national management competition, Leaders of Russia. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. I am glad to see you all here, welcome. I know the competition was quite a marathon. I was surprised. Perhaps, Mr Kiriyenko already told you. Surprisingly, instead of the 12,000 to 15,000 applicants […]

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Russian parliament moves to extend capital amnesty

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Interfax – February 9, 2018) The State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament, has passed in third and final reading a package of bills extending the existing capital amnesty programme, which was proposed by President Vladimir Putin late in 2017. In December, Putin announced that Russia’s existing programme – aimed at encouraging wealthy Russians holding assets abroad to transfer […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting of the Council for Science and Education” – KremlinRu

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Kremlin.ru – February 8, 2018) The President held a meeting of the Council for Science and Education in Novosibirsk. The agenda focused on the sector’s main tasks and prospects, as well as the key areas of international research and technical cooperation. Transcript of meeting of the Council for Science and Education President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, I […]

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Interfax: Russia starts sending North Korean labor migrants back home – ambassador in Pyongyang

North Korea Map and Flag, adapted from .gov image

NEW YORK. Feb 7 (Interfax) – Russia has started sending North Korean labor migrants home consistent with the latest resolution of the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador in Pyongyang Alexander Matsegora told the Russian press in New York. “That would affect the Russian economy, especially the Far East, rather seriously. […] Yet we are strictly and unwaveringly complying with the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Why does Trump hate Russia?” – The Hill/Frank R. Gunter

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… has Trump helped Russia? The economic, political and diplomatic evidence supports a negative view – Trump’s actions have severely damaged Putin’s Russia. The collapse of energy prices since 2014 devastated the Russian economy. It is generous to call Russia an industrial state. It is more like a developing country in that its exports are dominated by raw materials such […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Surprising Success of Putinomics; Behind Putin’s Formula for Holding Onto Power” – Foreign Affairs/Chris Miller

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Russia survived the twin challenges of the oil price crash and Western sanctions thanks to a three-pronged economic strategy. First, it focused on macroeconomic stability-keeping debt levels and inflation low-above all else. Second, it prevented popular discontent by guaranteeing low unemployment and steady pensions, even at the expense of higher wages or economic growth. Third, it let the private […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Starving Wolf No Longer: Can Russia Sustain Its Military? Russia is having to balance its demand for more advanced weapons with a slew of other priorities” – Moscow Times/Michael Kofman

Russian Soldiers Marching

“… the military … will probably continue operations [in Syria]. … [and] continue to fuel its other major conflict, Ukraine … supporting proxy forces in breakaway republics in the … east. But … Russia’s … Armed Forces are at a crossroads. Divergent spending priorities, resource constraints and myriad dilemmas loom …. * * * The Armed Forces may expand, but … […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Low Energy Superpower: Russia’s Dim Growth Prospects” – Bear Market Blog/Joseph Webster

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Few Russians are nostalgic for the nightmarish 1990s, a time when GDP fell by approximately 40%, inflation skyrocketed, and life expectancies tumbled. While history doesn’t repeat itself, it often rhymes: Russia won’t relive the nightmarish 1990s, but the pattern of declining living standards in contemporary Russia increasingly resembles the last decade of the 20th century. Russia will likely suffer a […]

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Russia Struggling To Expand Arctic Oil Production

Arctic Satellite Image and Map

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – January 30, 2018) Oil production from Russia’s Arctic region increased in 2017 as new onshore developments and the only offshore producing platform ramped up production. But challenges in Russia’s arctic remain. Last year, production from onshore fields in Yamal-Nenets autonomous region in northern Russia contributed the most to the rise in oil production in the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin: From Oligarch to Kleptocrat” – New York Review of Books/Ruth May

Vladimir Putin

“… Putin’s real intention—and not from the day he entered the Kremlin, but from the day he left Dresden—was to reassert the authority of the autocratic state. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia global top oil producer in November” – bne Intellinews

Oil Well file photo

“Russia produced an average of 10.12mn barrels of oil daily in November 2017, down from 10.86 a month earlier[,] but … is still the world’s top oil producer in the reporting month … Rosstat [says]. … followed by Saudi Arabia with 9.9mn barrels of average daily oil output. The combined output of the Opec states amounted to 32mn barrels in […]

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Interfax: Sovereign debt sanctions may cause brief volatility, no real effect on economy, financial stability – Nabiullina

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

ROSTOV-ON-DON. Feb 1 (Interfax) – U.S. sanctions targeting Russian sovereign debt, if introduced, might lead to short-term volatility on the sovereign debt market, but would not have a substantial effect on the economy or financial stability, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said. “We saw this risk previously, we see it now. We evaluated it, evaluated the effect of two possible […]

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Investors Take U.S. List Of Russian ‘Oligarchs’ In Stride — For Now

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – January 30, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-investors-brush-off-us-treasury-oligarchs-list/29007996.html) For months Russia’s business and political elite were fretting about the planned release of a U.S. list of potential Russian targets for fresh sanctions — including government officials and “oligarchs” purportedly close to the Kremlin. After that unclassified list […]

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