NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economy is recovering well” – CNN

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“[Russia] is recovering nicely from a recession and should see economic growth of 1.4% this year, according to [the IMF] … Russia is heavily dependent on oil exports and was hit hard when crude prices started to crash in 2014. Economic sanctions imposed by Western governments as punishment for Russia taking control of Ukraine’s Crimea region dealt the economy another blow. […]

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Interfax: Reports on U.S. intention to monitor Russian ports in Primorye wrong – source in U.S. Congress

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

WASHINGTON. May 6 (Interfax) – Reports on the United States’ intention to monitor Russian ports in Primorye for their compliance with the sanctions imposed on North Korea are wrong, a source in the U.S. Congress said. “The report you passed along is wrong,” the source in the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives told Interfax, replying to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Despite Sanctions, Russia’s Oil Industry Powers On” – Wall Street Journal/ Bradley Olson, Jay Solomon

Oil Well file photo

“Exxon Mobil … is suffering from sanctions on Russia. The same can’t be said for other big Western energy companies, or for Russia’s oil production. … sanctions, put in place by the U.S. and European Union in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine, were meant to limit Russia’s pursuit of new technology for extracting more crude oil […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Western sanctions and languid Russian economy; Stringent international sanctions imposed on Russia for its role in the Ukraine conflict have sucked the momentum out of the Russian economy over the past couple of years. The nation’s growth prospects remain lethargic.” – Deutsche Welle/ Srinivas Mazumdaru

EU Map

Talks between … #Merkel and … #Putin … focused mainly on geopolitical and security problems, such as … #Ukraine and #Syria. … [they] did not explicitly bring up … #sanctions at the press conference … with the #German chancellor simply saying she hoped some of the sanctions could be lifted if Moscow helped make significant progress in implementing the Minsk peace plan. * * * The sanctions […]

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NEWSLINK: “ExxonMobil Just Challenged Trump to Get Serious With Russia Policy” – Fortune/ Richard Nephew, Colin Rowat

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

“Earlier this month, news leaked that ExxonMobil was pushing the Treasury Department to grant it a sanctions waiver, which would allow the company to resume its joint venture Black Sea drilling operations with Russian oil giant Rosneft. The Treasury Department has since denied the waiver application, as waivers are granted for humanitarian and policy reasons, not for business reasons—which was […]

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Kudrin sees sanctions as primarily negative for Russian economy

Alexei Kudrin file photo

KRASNOYARSK. April 21 (Interfax) – Sanctions are having a negative impact on the Russian economy, the chairman of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR), former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said. “We are sooner losing position on the global market. The problem is not only related to the drop in oil prices and sanctions. Sanctions are in general very sensitive and […]

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In Annual Report, Medvedev Says Russian Economy Avoided Catastrophe

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – April 19, 2017) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has promised not to raise taxes in 2017 and vowed to consider indexing retirement payments for working pensioners, delivering a moderately upbeat annual report on the troubled economy. Addressing the lower house of parliament on April 19, Medvedev said the Russian economy had avoided “catastrophe” despite low world […]

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Trump Lacks Room to Move on Sanctions on Russia, Economists Say

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Andre Tartar, Anna Andrianova – April 3, 2017) What a difference three months can make. Donald Trump dropped enough hints during the campaign and in the run-up to his inauguration as U.S. president to turn most economists into believers in an imminent easing of sanctions imposed against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. But as scandals […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The fate of Russian stocks hinges on politics and oil” – CNBC/Rebecca Ungarino

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

“… The Moscow composite index is down nearly 8 percent year to date, underperforming the U.S. by nearly 15 percent as optimism around the possibility of the removal of trade sanctions against Russia fades. And crude oil, which weighs heavily on the Russian economy, has traded in a narrow range so far this year, offering no help to Russian stocks. […]

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End of Kremlin’s Dream of ‘Big Deal’ with Trump Makes Putin More Dangerous Not Less

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 16, 2017) Andrey Piontkovsky is undoubtedly correct that “‘a big deal’” between Moscow and Washington has become “impossible” given the fallout from the Flynn scandal because “any step by Trump in this direction would mean for him political death” (nv.ua/opinion/piontkovskiy/novaja-realnost-kremlja-647586.html). But while the Russian commentator doesn’t say so in his latest […]

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The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eli Lake – February 14, 2017) Eli Lake is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI. If we are to believe the Trump White House, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn just resigned […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economy grows at $40 per barrel oil; Russia’s Central Bank last week said appetite was low for an increase in lending rates” – UPI/Daniel J. Graeber

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

The Russian economy will be on the positive side of growth even if the price of crude oil falls to $40 per barrel … [Central Bank Gov. Elvira Nabiullina] said. … The number of economic sectors expected to expand this year is not much greater than those in contraction, but losers are outnumbered. Much … depends on the price of […]

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Interfax: Lifting of some restrictions from FSB confirms Trump’s intention to normalize relations with Russia – former FSB Director Kovalyov

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

MOSCOW. Feb 9 (Interfax) – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s decision to drop some restrictions imposed earlier on the issuance of licenses and permits to export computer technologies to Russia shows that the Donald Trump administration is consistent in its efforts to normalize cooperation with Russia, Nikolai Kovalyov, a State Duma deputy and former head of the Federal Security […]

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Moscow Doesn’t Expect Trump to End Sanctions All at Once but ‘Cleverly’ Over Time, Markov Says

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 3, 2017) “Russophobia is so deeply rooted in European-American ideology,” Sergey Markov says, that Moscow doesn’t expect new US President Donald Trump to end all sanctions all at once but rather “in a clever fashion” that avoids problems for him and over a significant period of time. The words of Markov, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump-Putin ties now seen as key to peace in eastern Ukraine” – CNBC/Silvia Amaro

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“Escalating violence in eastern Ukraine … has underlined the importance … Trump now plays in the region … promising to restore peace after a phone call with … Poroshenko. Trump has signaled his intent to have a closer relationship with Russia and … Putin. And with an open line of communication with Poroshenko, Trump could well prove … instrumental. * […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Russians can no longer afford to pinch pennies on food”

Cash, Calculator, Pen

If incomes continue to drop, however, Russians won’t be able to cut their food budgets and still adequately feed themselves. Any further cuts could mean risking malnutrition. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – IGOR ROZIN, RBTH – Feb. 6, 2017) Consumers are not willing to further cut food spending even if their financial situation continues to deteriorate. Grocery spending […]

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American Business Lobby In Moscow Sees Sympathetic Ally In President Trump; The American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow isn’t happy about sanctions. But don’t call it a policy position.

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – February 2, 2017) In mid-December, with Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency looming, former Republican congressman Jack Kingston flew to Moscow. Kingston, a senior Trump surrogate, was dispatched to liaise with American firms working in Russia. The topic on everyone’s minds was the U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its […]

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What Vladimir Putin Could Explain to Donald Trump

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Jack Matlock, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991 – jackmatlock.com – January 31, 2017) The telephone conversation last Saturday between the American and Russian presidents seems to have been amicable and constructive, at least in a general sense. They are reported to have discussed key world issues as potential partners, not as adversaries or enemies. That […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The sanctions on Russia are working, Mr. President: Don’t lift them prematurely” – The Hill/Alexander Vershbow

Alexander Vershbow file photo

“… I have seen many U.S. presidents seek to engage … Russia. While it has never been easy, it was possible to find areas of common ground that increased the security of both sides — as long as the U.S. set clear objectives and stuck with them. … The sanctions are working. … Russia is interested in having sanctions removed. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Survived Sanctions, And BlackRock Goes Overweight” – Forbes.com/Kenneth Rapoza

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Russian oil and gas companies, along with its biggest banks, were sanctioned in the summer of 2014 following the March annexation of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula in southeastern Ukraine. Tension between the West and Russia increased that year as a new, U.S. backed government led by Arsesniy Yatsenyuk took hold in Kiev, sending Moscow into panic mode. Russia […]

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Putin and Trump Want to Team Up, but That’s Not Going to Be Easy

Donald Trump

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner, Mikhail Fishman – January 27, 2017) No actor on the world stage was as publicly energized by the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency as Russia. At first glance, the support seemed entirely emotional. But there was also a rational interest: Trump was open to lifting sanctions, after all. Sanctions have had a […]

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Easing Russia Sanctions ‘Under Consideration’

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Jennifer Epstein, Stepan Kravchenko – January 27, 2017) President Donald Trump is willing to consider removing U.S. sanctions against Russia when he has his first official discussion with Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin on Saturday, according to senior advisor Kellyanne Conway. “All of that is under consideration,” Conway said in a TV interview Friday on Fox News, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian retail slump clouds forecasts for economic recovery” – Reuters

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

Russian retail sales fell more than expected in December, official data showed on Wednesday, challenging the government’s optimistic predictions for an imminent economic recovery. Retail sales are the largest contributor to Russian gross domestic product and have suffered steep falls since the economy entered a deep slump in 2014, when oil prices collapsed and the West imposed sanctions over the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump’s pick for U.S. Treasury chief says 100% committed to Russia sanctions” -bne/Intellinews

“US #Treasury secretary nominee Steven #Mnuchin said he is 100% committed to enforcing the #sanctions against #Russia, as he gave evidence during the #Senate #Finance Committee confirmation hearings on January 19. * * * … Relations between the two countries plunged to their lowest ebb since the Cold War in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea and encouraged a separatist conflict […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Simple Reason Russia and America Keep Inching towards Crisis” – The National Interest/Ted Galen Carpenter

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Tensions between the United States and Russia rose rapidly during the final months of the Obama administration. Symbolizing that trend is the new deployment of three thousand U.S. troops along with tanks and other military hardware in eastern Poland, directly on [the] border with Russia. … Long gone was the hope Obama expressed early in his presidency for a ‘reset’ […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia shouldn’t pin hopes for lifting of sanctions on foreign elections – Medvedev” – RT/Russia Today

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev with United Russia Logos Behind Him

“‘It’s time to discard the illusions that any sanctions imposed on our country would be lifted. Obviously, they are there to stay for a long time. And don’t lay your hopes on someone else’s elections,’ [Medvedev] said Sunday, in a speech addressing a United Russia party meeting in Moscow. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Listen, liberal. Alexei Kudrin wants to liberalise Russia’s economy to save it. But with Donald Trump’s election, many Russians think Putin’s model is winning.” – The Economist

Alexei Kudrin file photo

“… Kudrin’s verdict was grim. Russia, he said, is at a low pace of economic growth even compared with the period of stagnation in the 1970s and 1980s that led to the Soviet collapse. The reasons go well beyond low #oil prices and Western sanctions: The main problems lie within Russia and they are structural and institutional.’ Russia lags far […]

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Remarks by the President in Final Press Conference. (excerpt re: Russia)

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(The White House – Office of the Press Secretary – January 18, 2017) Q Mr. President, thank you. The President-elect has said that he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia if they substantially reduced their nuclear stockpile. Given your own efforts at arms control, do you think that’s an effective strategy? Knowing this office and Mr. Trump, how would you […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Will Russia cut its nuclear arsenal in exchange for lifting sanctions?”

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

The U.S. may reconsider sanctions against Russia if the latter agrees to reduce its nuclear arsenals, said U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in an interview with the British newspaper, The Times. According to military experts, if the reduction is reciprocal then such an agreement will be to Russia’s advantage. Russia, however, will first want a change in NATO policy. (Russia Beyond […]

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NEWSWATCH: “China Goes Food Shopping-to Russia; ‘Everything that can be consumed by a human being in China is something they’re interested in,’ Russian official says” – Wall Street Journal/AMIE FERRIS-ROTMAN/Liyan Qi

Asia Map

China bought more than $1 billion in food products from Russia last year, replacing Turkey as the top importer of Russian foodstuffs. … central to Russia’s economic and political pivot toward Asia, as the Russian economy continues to suffer under Western sanctions and the low price of oil, and U.S.-Russian relations deteriorate …. Russia and China … describe current relations […]

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Lift Russian Sanctions for ‘Positive Developments’ in Ukraine – OSCE Chair

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 9, 2017) Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has called on European leaders to begin lifting sanctions against Russia in exchange for “any positive development” in the Ukrainian crisis. Kurz, a politician for the Austrian People’s Party, claimed that the change in policy would “send a clear signal to Russia.” “My concept is clear. I […]

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Russian Ruble Ended 2016 As Second Best Emerging Market Performer

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – January 4, 2017) The Russian ruble continued to make gains against the euro and U.S. dollar in the first two days of trading in 2017 after ending last year as the second-best performer among emerging market currencies. The ruble ended trading in Moscow at 60.51 to the dollar and 62.76 to the euro on January 3. […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Statement by the President of Russia

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Kremlin.ru – December 30, 2016) We regard the recent unfriendly steps taken by the outgoing US administration as provocative and aimed at further weakening the Russia-US relationship. This runs contrary to the fundamental interests of both the Russian and American people. Considering the global security responsibilities of Russia and the United States, this is also damaging to international relations as […]

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Trump Has Tough Choice After Obama Sanctions on Russia Hack

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Nick Wadhams, Justin Sink – December 30, 2016) President Barack Obama is forcing his successor, Donald Trump, into a difficult choice: reverse the sanctions the departing president just imposed on Russia for hacking e-mails in the U.S. election or put at risk his campaign vow to improve relations with Vladimir Putin. Hours after Obama imposed penalties […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Russian Restaurateur With Ties to Putin; Yevgeny Prigozhin is accused of possessing links to private military force that fought in Ukraine, Syria” – Wall Street Journal

“The U.S. has imposed sanctions on a Russian restaurateur and caterer with connections to President Vladimir Putin who has been accused of funding Russian online ‘troll farms’ and possessing links to a private Russian paramilitary group that fought in Ukraine and Syria. The U.S. Treasury Department officially sanctioned Yevgeny Prigozhin on Tuesday for contributing to the conflict in Ukraine through […]

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NEWSWATCH: “In Moscow, Trump’s tapping of Tillerson lifts hope of U.S. rapprochement; Russian experts know ExxonMobil CEO and Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson well, and see Trump’s selection of him as a signal that genuine detente is a possibility.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Rex Tillerson file photo, adapted from image at readyagain.gov

“It’s a rarity for Moscow to be enthusiastic over a US president’s choice for secretary of State. It certainly wasn’t the case for either of the past two secretaries, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. … Trump’s decision … to nominate ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is proving to be a pleasant surprise to Russia. … the nomination … seems evidence to […]

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Putin Caps a Turnaround Year as Rosneft Deal Beats Sanctions

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Jake Rudnitsky, Ilya Arkhipov – December 8, 2016) As the U.S. and #Europe try to isolate #Russia with #sanctions, Vladimir #Putin just managed to oversee one of the biggest investments in the global #energy industry this year. The surprise $11 billion sale of shares in oil giant #Rosneft PJSC to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and Glencore […]

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Sanctions, economic pressure are increasingly used for political pressure – Putin

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

MOSCOW. Dec 7 (Interfax) – Russia should take into account the increase in the use of methods of economic and sanction pressure when working on its long-term economic strategy, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Economic restrictions, pressure, and sanctions are being increasingly used for political purposes, under the guise of political purposes, often in competition. We should take these tendencies […]

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NEWSLINK CNN: “Dining under Putin: How sanctions are fueling a Russian food revolution”

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

“Import bans have failed to put the kibosh on Russia’s culinary inventiveness. Restaurants are returning to what Russia does best, such as traditional dishes made with root vegetables such as beetroot.”

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Big Western Companies Are Pumping Cash Into Russia

File Photo of Ikea Store with Russian Language Facade and Shopping Carts

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Khrennikov – November 22, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-23/bouncing-back-putin-s-shrunken-economy-lures-foreign-investors] Even before the U.S. presidential election raised hopes of warmer ties with the Kremlin, some big Western companies were betting Russia’s economy will soon come out of the deep freeze. Big retailers like Sweden’s Ikea Group and France’s Leroy Merlin SA have begun pumping billions of dollars […]

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RUSSIALINK TASS: “Central Bank anticipates remaining anti-Russia sanctions”

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

“The recovery may be stretched over time at present because [economic growth] factors should be different, unlike those before the oil price collapse. We understand this pretty well and speak about changing the behavior model of the economy and its development model. Economic recovery signs surfaced by now and the Bank of Russia expects minor growth of GDP,” Nabiullina said.

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NEWSWATCH: “World Bank Improves Russia Economic Outlook, Sees 1.5 Percent GDP Growth in 2017” – Reuters

World Bank Building

… the World Bank said …. Russian gross domestic product will contract by 0.6 percent … oil prices are projected to recover to an average of $55 per barrel in 2017 [and] the Russian economy is expected to bottom out in the second half of this year. The World Bank sees it growing by 1.5 percent in 2017 and 1.7 […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: “Pro-Russian Candidate Wins First Round of Bulgarian Election”

Bulgaria Map, adapted from image at cia.gov

“Socialist-backed candidate Rumen Radev, who has called for an end to European Union sanctions against Russia, has won the first round of Bulgaria’s presidential election, partial official results showed on Monday. Radev’s close-fought victory over ruling party candidate Tsetska Tsacheva makes the former air force commander favorite to win a run-off on Sunday, a result that could push the Black […]

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NEWSLINK Forbes/Sara Hsu: “Is A Russia-China Economic Alliance On The Horizon?”

Asia Map

“As Russia continues to contend with sanctions from the United States and European Union after annexing Crimea in 2014, it has cast its eye on a new ally: China. The two countries are already aligning themselves for security purposes, a prime example being their position against the U.S. missile shield deployment plans in South Korea. Both China and Russia have […]

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NEWSLINK Politics.eu: “Russia’s boom (farming) economy. Kremlin credits Western sanctions. The truth is more complicated.”

Field of Grain file photo

“… When the West slapped sanctions on Russia in 2014 and Moscow retaliated with a trade embargo, the consensus was that Moscow was shooting itself in the foot by banning fresh produce from the EU. A little more than two years later, the Kremlin insists the sanctions have galvanized a new generation of Stakhanovite farmers to smash production targets and propel the country […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s renewed might rests on weak economic foundations. Putin bravado does not extend to modernisation of the economy” – Financial Times/Neil Buckley

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

… the gap between the image … Putin portrayed … and the reality was exposed by a sobering assessment of Russia’s economy by another senior official … further emphasised by a draft budget … envisaging a 27 per cent cut in defence spending …. the official … made it clear how Russia’s ambitions clash with its capabilities. … western sanctions […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian oil production reached post-Soviet high. Moody’s says profitability of Russian energy companies will be robust” – UPI

Oil Well file photo

A ratings agency assessing the profitability of Russian energy companies said oil production for September reached a post-Soviet high. … Sanctions and lower crude oil prices put pressure on the Russian economy. Moody’s said … most Russian energy companies were shielded by a look toward the domestic market and state-controlled banks. … Meeting with … Putin this week, … Medvedev […]

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U.S. Stuck With Nobody Left to Sanction in Russia Over Syria

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Nick Wadhams – October 26, 2016) The U.S. put sanctions on Russia’s main arms exporter, Kremlin aides and the black leather-loving head of a motorcycle gang nicknamed “The Surgeon” after the 2014 invasion of Ukraine. Now, as Washington seeks ways to punish Moscow for its actions in Syria, it may be running out of options. President […]

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