52% of Russians favor open borders with Ukraine, without visas or customs

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Interfax – February 3, 2016) Half of Russians (52 percent) believe that Russia and Ukraine should be independent countries but friends, with open borders and without visas or customs, Levada Center told Interfax. The opinion was held by 52 percent of respondents in 2015, and 59 percent in 2014, the sociologists said. A third argue that Russia-Ukraine relations should be […]

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Oil prices could reach $40 a barrel if Russia made deal with OPEC

Oil Well file photo

Analysts say that if Russia reduces its oil production by 5 percent, black gold prices may increase to $40 a barrel and over. However, the Russian government admits that it has no real control over production policy in private companies, though firms may reduce production themselves due to the fall in hydrocarbon prices. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – […]

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Is There A Non-West for Russia to Lead?

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Keith Darden – January 28, 2016 – ponarseurasia.org/memo/non-west-for-russia-to-lead) Keith Darden is Associate Professor in the School of International Service at American University. (PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo) Recently, Russian policymakers and strategists have articulated a vision of a vibrant non-Western world, one in which the United States and European leaders are increasingly marginal and where Russia […]

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Who benefits and who loses from revocation of anti-Iranian sanctions

Iran Map and Flag

If Moscow plays its cards correctly, it will be able to strengthen its positions not only in Iran but also throughout the entire Middle East. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – GEVORG MIRZAYAN – January 29, 2016) The lifting of sanctions against Iran has generated an entire wave of speculation about the upcoming reformation of the Middle East. However, […]

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NEWSLINK Carnegie Moscow/Mikhail Krutikhin: “The Russian Oil Industry in the Era of Cheap Crude. A recent slight increase in Russia’s oil output is likely to be short-lived. Oil production may decline almost twofold by the end of the year due to a lack of financing for new field exploration and development.”

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At Davos forum Russia promises to eliminate its dependence on oil

Oil Well file photo

Russian representatives announced imminent large-scale economic reforms at the World Economic Forum. The proposed changes would affect the country’s dependence on oil and the facilitation of investors accessing the market. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEI LOSSAN, RBTH – January 25, 2016) Low oil prices are helping the Russian government carry out large-scale reforms despite the drastic reduction […]

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Kudrin: Sanctions against Russia could start to ease late 2016-early 2017

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(Interfax – January 22, 2016) Relations between Russia and the West are normalizing and sanctions will be lifted, Alexei Kudrin, a former Russian finance minister, said. “I’m sure the sanctions will start to soften at the end of this year or start of next year. Nobody in Russia wants to keep up confrontation. I think the Minsk accords will be […]

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U.S. Beats Russia in ‘Most Powerful’ Ranking

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 22, 2016) Russia is second only to its former Cold War foe the United States in terms of its power to influence the global agenda but lags behind many other countries in most categories, a new ranking presented at the Davos World Economic Forum said. Moscow scored a 9.4 in the “Power” category, which […]

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Netflix’s Desire for World Domination Reaches Russia

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – January 15, 2016) China, the world’s most populous country, might have slipped through its fingers, but with Russia Netflix in January pocketed the largest country by landmass and the promise of tapping into a booming online market. Netflix’s move into Russia, along with 129 other countries, was heralded by its CEO as […]

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Hidden Sting Raises Costs for Ukraine in Russian Trade War

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Daryna Krasnolutska – January 14, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-13/hidden-sting-drives-up-costs-for-ukraine-in-russian-trade-war] With the conflict in Ukraine already having ravaged bilateral trade, Russia canceling a free-trade pact with its former ally wasn’t seen as a big danger. But there was a twist. On top of annulling the accord, a response to Ukraine’s trade agreement with the European Union, Russia […]

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China’s Economic Turmoil Ruins Russia’s New Year

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – January 14, 2016) New fears over China’s economy and sharp falls in the price of oil have worsened the outlook for Russia as it tries to emerge from recession. The price of crude, the linchpin of Russia’s economy, fell almost 20 percent in the first two weeks of January to just above […]

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Russian Ministry Predicts More Recession, Lower Incomes and Less Employment

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 15, 2016) New falls in the oil price mean that Russia’s economy will likely shrink again in 2016, as incomes continue to fall and unemployment rises, according to a draft outlook prepared by the Economic Development Ministry. Officials had hoped for an end to recession this year, but a near 20 percent decrease in […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Medvedev at] The 7th Gaidar Forum [excerpts]

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(Government.ru – January 13, 2016) The theme of the 2016 Gaidar Forum is “Russia and the World: Looking to the Future.” The Gaidar Forum is an annual international academic and practical conference in the field of economic policy. It was first held in 2010 in memory of Yegor Gaidar, an outstanding academic and economist and the architect of Russian reforms […]

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Putin’s Power Failure: He’s had Time and Resources to Transform Russia but has Failed to Do So, Inozemtsev Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 12, 2016) Vladimir Putin has had the time and resources “to transform Russia if not into the next China then into a new Emirates by laying the foundations for economic growth over several decades,” Vladislav Inozemtsev says. But he didn’t do so and as a result, these years for Russia were […]

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Why Vladimir Putin won’t go to Davos

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The Russian delegation at the Davos Forum will be headed by Yury Trutnev, a deputy prime minister and the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far East. According to experts, this means that Russia will primarily focus on the presentation of Asian projects at the forum. Neither the president nor the prime minister will travel to Switzerland. (Russia Beyond the Headlines […]

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Russian-Chinese Trade Plummets in 2015

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 13, 2016) The volume of Chinese exports to Russia fell by 34.4 percent last year to $32.9 billion, the TASS news agency reported Wednesday, citing China’s customs department. Trade turnover between China and Russia dropped by 27.8 percent to $64.2 billion in 2015. The volume of Russia’s exports to China declined last year by […]

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Russian Oil Prices Drop 50% in 2015

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 11, 2016) The average price of Russian oil dropped almost 50 percent last year, the Interfax news agency reported Monday, citing Finance Ministry analyst Alexander Sakovich. In 2014, the average price of Russia’s key export, Urals crude oil, stood at $97.6 per barrel, while last year it price fell by 47.5 percent to $51.23, […]

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Russia Seeks To Drive Wedge Into Central Asia

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Bruce Pannier – January 5, 2016) Russia appears to be practicing a bit of “divide-and-conquer” politics in Central Asia, and state-owned Gazprom is spearheading the campaign. On January 4, Russia’s main news agencies quoted a “source” within Gazprom Export, the Gazprom wing charged with handling gas imports from other countries, saying Russia would not be importing any […]

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100 Million Fewer People Speak Russian Now than Did 25 Years Ago

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia Staunton, December 26, 2015) The number of people who speak Russian has declined by 100 million since 1989 or 27 percent, according to Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the Duma committee on compatriots and Eurasian integration. (In 1989, 370 million said they spoke Russian; now, 270 million do.) But instead of seeing this as […]

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This Russian Bear Is Hitting the Mall

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After sweeping YouTube and Netflix, Masha and the Bear looks to licensing. (Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – By Ilya Khrennikov – December 17, 2015) The bear has long been a ferocious projection of Russia’s power at home and abroad. Lately, a Russian bear that’s more like a kindly uncle has been winning hearts from Baltimore to Berlin: the affable and patient […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Statement for the press following Russian-Indian talks

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(Kremlin.ru – December 24, 2015) President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, The first official visit to Moscow by India’s Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, is coming to an end. Our talks were very substantive and fruitful. I hope they would assist in promoting the privileged Russian-Indian strategic partnership. Yesterday Mr Modi and I had a […]

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After Default to Putin, What’s Next for Ukraine-Russia Bond Row

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Natasha Doff and Marton Eder – December 20, 2015) A two-year feud between Ukraine and Russia is on the verge of being played out in a London courtroom after the government in Kiev defaulted on $3 billion in bonds. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko followed through on months of threats on Friday by reneging on the debt […]

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Another False Start for Russia as Oil Spells Longer Recession

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – December 21, 2015) A renewed sell-off in oil means the Russian economy will be testing new lows for much of next year. With crude trading near the lowest since mid-2004, banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. say a second year of recession is all but inevitable. JPMorgan reversed its call for 0.5 percent […]

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How much are Western sanctions hurting Russia’s economy?

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The difficult economic conditions have forced Russian businesses to reassess, which could be a good thing in the long run. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Ben Aris – December 21, 2015) Sanctions imposed by Western nations on Russia over its involvement in the Ukraine crisis and absorption of Crimea have hurt the country’s economy, but not mortally wounded […]

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Sino-Russian energy relations reversed: a new little brother

Asia Map

Don’t be fooled. Russia’s growing ties to China may not be what they seem. (opendemocracy.net – Morena Skalamera – December 22, 2015) Morena Skalamera is a post-doctoral fellow at the Belfer Center, Harvard University, where she researches the geopolitics of energy and European-Russian energy co-operation. In the year since Russia and China signed a landmark $400bn natural gas pact in […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Putin: Russia Did Have People in Ukraine Doing ‘Certain Military Tasks'”

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

Reuters covers Russian President Vladimir Putin’s admission at a press conference that Russian personnel are present in conflict-torn eastern Ukraine, even while disputing whether that meant regular Russian troops were present. … Putin said … Russia did have personnel in eastern Ukraine who were carrying out certain military tasks but denied Moscow had deployed regular troops …. ‘We never said […]

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Is Russia’s Cheap Oil Nightmare Coming True?

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – December 17, 2015) [Chart here themoscowtimes.com/business/article/is-russias-cheap-oil-nightmare-coming-true/553010.html] Picture the scene. It is 2016, oil costs on average $35 per barrel, and Russia’s recession rolls into its second year. The economy shrinks by 2-3 percent. Unemployment creeps up, and wages continue to fall, depressing consumer spending. The ruble devalues, driving up inflation. To keep […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with Renmin Ribao

Asia Map

(Government.ru – December 13, 2015) Ahead of his visit to China, Dmitry Medvedev gave an interview to the Chinese daily. Question: Russia and China are good neighbours, reliable partners and friends. The leaders of the two countries frequently meet each other and are consistent in their efforts to strengthen bilateral relations as a comprehensive strategic partnership, which has already become […]

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Russian Finance Minister Siluanov expects oil price to go under $30 per bar

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(Interfax – December 12, 2015) Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov anticipates that price for oil in some periods of time in 2016 could drop to $30 per barrel. “We had hardly passed the budget before we saw that the macroeconomic situation was changing. It’s changing not for the better. We based our budget on the presumption that the price would […]

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Over one-third of Russians expect big changes in country following ‘shift to the East’ – poll

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MOSCOW. Dec 14 (Interfax) – Russians believe that Russia and Asian countries are being drawn together primarily through common interests in political (20%) and economical (25%) areas, a public opinion poll conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) suggests. However, almost half of the respondents (47%) could not decide what mostly gives a common ground to Russia and […]

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EU Council divided on procedure for prolonging sanctions against Russia

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(Interfax – December 11, 2015) The EU restrictive measures against Russia may not be prolonged on Dec. 14, a high-ranking EU official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters in Brussels on Dec. 11. The source assumed that the sanctions will be prolonged fully, but not necessarily on Dec. 14. The source said such a decision does not have […]

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2015: A mixed bag for Russia’s Asian ‘Pivot’; Ties with ASEAN and China grow, but relationship with Japan remains frosty

Asia Map

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – AJAY KAMALAKARAN, RBTH – December 10, 2015) Russia’s strategic and economic push towards Asia achieved mixed results in 2015, with Moscow strengthening ties with ASEAN countries and China, while its ties with Japan and Australia remained frosty. “When it comes to Asia, the biggest strategic economic gains came to Russia from the ASEAN […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: “Kremlin’s beef with Turkey hits Russians at home – and on holiday”

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

The acrimony between Moscow and Ankara over the downing of a Russian bomber in Syria has cut Russians off from Turkish produce, and reduced their vacation options to boot.

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RIA Novosti : “Russian envoy: Raised focus on relations with China predates Western sanctions”

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(RIA Novosti – December 8, 2015) Russian ambassador to the People’s Republic of China Andrey Denisov has denied that Russia’s “eastward turn” – its visible attempt to improve relations with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, primarily China – was a response to the introduction of sanctions against Russia by several Western countries; rather, he said, it had been mooted over […]

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TRANSCRIPT: In Conversation with Dmitry Medvedev: Interview with five television channels

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(Government.ru – December 9, 2015) Prime Minister answered questions from TV anchors Irada Zeinalova (Channel One), Sergei Brilyov (Rossiya), Kirill Pozdnyakov (NTV), Yelizaveta Osetinskaya (RBC TV) and Mikhail Fishman (TV Rain). Sergei Brilyov: Good afternoon. On behalf of the media holding that hosts this broadcast it is my pleasure to welcome you on Rossiya 1, Rossiya 24 TV stations, as […]

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Truckers’ Strike Won’t Lead to Political Change in Russia, Gontmakher Says

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 7, 2015) Pro-Kremlin writers have argued that the deteriorating economic situation will lead Russians to willingly tighten their belts, and opposition ones have suggested that economic problems will lead to political protests and even regime change. But both are wrong, Yevgeny Gontmakher says. In a commentary today, the Moscow economic analyst […]

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