A Winter Of Discontent For Russia

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

(Oilprice.com – Colin Chilcoat – August 25, 2015) Winters are the stuff of legend in Russia and – despite a fair bit of warming – winter 2015/16 is shaping up to be one of the harshest, and most formative, in recent memory. After a brief period of respite – and muted acceptance of the “new normal” – to start the […]

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Russia Faces Reality With Prediction of Deeper Economic Slump

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova, Olga Tanas – August 25, 2015) Russia’s government is starting to face reality. While insisting the worst of its recession was over, it cut its economic forecasts for this year and next amid the renewed plunge in energy prices and persistent sanctions over Ukraine. Economists said the revisions fell short of their estimates predicting […]

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‘Black Monday’ inflicts further damage on Russian markets

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

Amid turmoil on global financial markets, the Russian ruble fell to a historic low against the U.S. dollar on Aug. 24, while the key stock market index, the RTS, dropped 6 percent. Russian analysts say that there is little room for optimism while oil prices remain low. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan – August 25, 2015) […]

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Russia Won’t Suffer the Soviet Union’s Fate

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 25, 2015) If you believe low oil prices killed the Soviet Union, it seems reasonable to wonder whether the current commodities bust will topple President Vladimir Putin or even break up Russia. Cheap oil, however, didn’t destroy the Soviet empire: Communism did. Putin’s Russia is more oil-dependent than its predecessor, but it […]

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Russian economy minister says oil price expected at 52 dollars

Oil Wells File Photo

(RIA Novosti – August 24, 2015) Russian Economic Development Minister has said the price of oil will find a new balance in a few months at the level of just over 50 dollars a barrel, RIA Novosti (part of the state-owned International News Agency Rossiya Segodnya) reported on 24 August. He said the average price of Urals oil will amount […]

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Sanctions not responsible for Russia’s falling GDP, say experts

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

According to a new report by Central Bank analysts, sanctions against Russia have not played a significant role in the decline of Russia’s economy, with experts agreeing that low oil prices are principally to blame. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan, RBTH – August 24, 2015) The introduction of Western sanctions against Russia is responsible for only […]

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Washington ups the ante with sanctions on Gazprom

Gas Facility file photo

RBTH presents its weekly analytical program TROIKA REPORT, featuring a look at three of the most high-profile recent developments in international affairs. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – TROIKA REPORT: Sergey Strokan, Vladimir Mikheev – August 20, 2015) 1. Engaging the West U.S. sanctions on Gazprom: Washington ups the ante The recent move by the U.S. administration to restrict […]

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Oil Prices Must Rebound. Here’s Why.

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Steve Brown – August 19, 2015) [Charts here http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/Oil-Prices-Must-Rebound-Heres-Why.html] Last week I spotted a very interesting chart that Gregor MacDonald tweeted which showed world oil production over recent years excluding the USA. The chart was pretty flat and that got me wondering about the extent to which the world has come to depend upon Light Tight Oil in […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post: Russia used to have a powerful weapon in its energy sector. Not anymore.

Gas Flame file photo

The Washington Post assesses shifts in Russia’s position within the energy sector, and the impact upon Russian coercive pressure on the West. For years, Russia’s ability to choke off energy shipments any time tensions spiked with the West was a potent threat, one that could force much of Europe to shiver during the wintertime. But with energy prices swooning, the […]

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Putin Aide Who Called Shock Rate Cut Sees Pause as Oil Nears $40

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas, Evgenia Pismennaya – August 18, 2015) Andrey Belousov went largely unheeded the last time he forecast a shift in monetary policy. Now President Vladimir Putin’s top economic aide is lending weight to a growing consensus that Russia’s easing cycle is wearing out. The central bank may pause its interest-rate cuts after five decreases this […]

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Russian Press Digest (17 August 2015)

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(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA) This Monday, the Russian press reports on the import ban on foreign medicines, Rosneft’s taxes, and an attack by Orthodox activists on a Moscow sculpture exhibition. Kommersant opens with an article on new plans to ban imports of a range of medical products. Several large NGOs, including Vera and Podari zhizn, involved in medical […]

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RBTH: The battle for Arctic heats up

Arctic Map

Russian scientists say their new model for the Arctic’s tectonic evolution shows that the underwater Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges are part of the Eurasian mainland. This apparently substantiates Russia’s claim to 1.2 million square kilometers of Arctic sea shelf. At stake is control over vast natural resources, and opposition from western nations is almost certain. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – […]

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Why Putin Is Losing

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 10, 2015) Are little green men about to appear on the North Pole? Russia’s claim last week, using an extremely creative interpretation of international law, to exclusive economic rights to nearly half a million square miles of the Arctic Sea, was certainly a head scratcher. Sure the territory is valuable due to […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: As the Arctic Thaws, New Temptations

Arctic Map

The New York Times comments on Russia’s attempt to use the United Nations to expand Russian territory in the Arctic, accompanied by expanded Russian military activity in the region. As the Arctic rapidly thaws and surrenders access to its awesome wealth of energy and precious minerals, it is inevitable that nations in the far north will stake claims over huge […]

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Russia is swimming in oil; Russia’s oil industry lacks the infrastructure to avoid spills and leaks; and the environmental consequences are horrific

Oil Wells File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – July 28, 2015) Georgy Borodyansky is an Omsk-based correspondent for Novaya Gazeta. Russian oil giant Rosneft has dumped on us northerners once again. It’s unlikely that anyone apart from the locals would have heard about the pipeline which burst on the outskirts of Nefteyugansk if not for photos of the aftermath on social media. The pictures were taken […]

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Electric Yerevan and the end of apathy; Electric Yerevan may not have been an Armenian Maidan but activists hope and analysts believe it marks the end of the country’s era of apathy

Armenia Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Monica Ellena in Yerevan – July 27, 2015) The intricate mandala that Lidia painted no longer adorns the boiling tarmac in Marshal Baghramyan Avenue. The whirling white-chalked pattern got washed away as the Armenian police dismantled a nearby makeshift barricade of rubbish bins and pushed away a few hard-core demonstrators, who were camping a […]

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Power to the people; As Electric Yerevan showed, governments throughout Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia will face the risk of social and political unrest when they move to compel their citizens to pay market rates for electricity.

Electrical Yard file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow and Nick Allen in Berlin – July 27, 2015) The Electric Yerevan protests in Armenia burned brightly before police finally quashed them in early July. But the issue of electricity tariffs that sparked the protests will not go away: nearly half the countries in Emerging Europe also face a similarly […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: Bypassing Ukraine Will Be Costly for Russia’s Gazprom – Analysts

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Russia’s plans to drop Ukraine as a route for pumping natural gas to Europe will still leave state-run Gazprom facing about $1 billion in annual transit fees to Slovakia and Bulgaria for years to come, analysts and industry sources say.

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Russia Braces for Longest Recession in Decades With $50 Oil

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – July 22, 2015) For an economy that lives and dies by crude prices, the latest downturn in the world oil market means Russia’s recession may stretch into next year for the longest slump in two decades. Russia’s first economic slump since 2009 looked like it would plateau as oil gained 40 percent from […]

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Are The E.U. And Asia Turning A Blind Eye To Russian Sanctions?

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Oilprice.com – Robert Berke – July 8, 2015) In a previous article on Oilprice, I questioned whether western sanctions imposed on Russia were being regularly breached by E.U. and Asian companies, noting that sanctions only work if all countries unite behind them. In June, the Financial Times reported that only one year after being imposed, the sanctions are eroding. It […]

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What Does Greece’s ‘No’ Vote Mean for Russia?

Ancient Temple Ruins in Greece with Tourists

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova, Delphine d’Amora – July 7, 2015) As EU leaders gather Tuesday to seek an answer to Greece’s sweeping rejection of international bailout terms, Russia -the EU’s third-largest trading partner – is quietly waiting to see where the chips fall. Hailed as a victory for democracy by Greece’s new far-left leaders, the resounding “no” […]

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Is Russia Ready To Make A Comeback?

Gas Flame file photo

(Oilprice.com – Colin Chilcoat – July 6, 2015) As world markets nervously react to any news out of Greece, a sense of calm prevails in Russia. In short, a Greek sovereign default and exit from the euro zone is unlikely to inflict much damage on the Russian economy, already largely isolated from western financial markets. That’s not to say the […]

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RBTH: Why Gazprom became so flexible

Gas Facility file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan, RBTH – July 6, 2015) Russia’s natural gas giant is planning to put three billion cubic meters of gas up for auction – yielding to pressure from European customers, experts say. It may also scrap plans to stop Ukrainian gas transits, reducing supply risks linked to the construction of a new […]

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And now … a murder rap for Khodorkovsky?

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – July 2, 2015) On June 30, the spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin, made a shocking allegation. He accused the former head of Yukos oil major Mikhail Khodorkovsky of ordering the 1998 murder of Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk, and several other crimes. The announcement […]

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Ruble’s Top Forecaster Sees Deeper Rout as Companies Repay Debt

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ksenia Galouchko – July 2, 2015) Sanctions are once again catching up on the ruble. While still the best performer in the world this year, no emerging-market currency has fallen more in the past month as the effect of rebounding oil prices faded. Approaching foreign-debt payments and a shrinking economy probably mean it has a further […]

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Is Saudi Arabia Leaving The U.S. Behind For Russia?

Middle East Map

(Oilprice.com – Robert Berke – July 1, 2015) The news from the recent St. Petersburg Economic Forum, which took place from June 18 to 20, inspired a torrent of speculation on the future direction of energy prices. But the real buzz at the conference was the unexpected but much publicized visit of the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince, as an emissary […]

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Ukraine cancels gas supplies from Russia in pricing row

Gas Flame file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – July 2, 2015) Ukraine suspended Russian natural gas purchases on July 1, citing its inability to secure from Gazprom a heavily discounted price for the third quarter of the year. Henceforth, the country’s state-owned monopoly Naftogaz will rely on supplies from the European Union, and claims that volumes bought from EU […]

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Russia-China pipeline to be largest infrastructure project in world – premier

Gas Flame file photo

(Interfax – June 29, 2015) Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev has announced that the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, which is set to run from Russia to China, will be the world’s largest infrastructure project, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 29 June. Speaking at a ceremony dedicated to the start of construction of the Chinese part of the […]

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The long decline in Russia’s international reserves has stopped

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Heli Simola of Bank of Finland – June 18, 2015) [Charts here bne.eu/content/story/comment-long-decline-russias-international-reserves-has-stopped] Russia’s international reserves have declined substantially, by around $150bn, since the start of 2014. However, during the second quarter of this year the level of reserves has been relatively stable, fluctuating at around $350bn-360bn. The recent stabilization has been supported by […]

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Interfax: Russia basically contented with hydrocarbon prices, says Putin

Oil Wells File Photo

(Interfax – June 18, 2015) Current prices on the hydrocarbon market could stay at this level for the next one or two years; this affects the ruble exchange rate against the U.S. dollar and the euro, and the Russian government is contented with this, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “It’s roughly clear how the hydrocarbon market is going to develop, […]

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Ukraine Seeks New Russia Gas Deal as Military Tensions Rise

Gas Flame file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Mazneva – June 9, 2015) Ukraine needs to negotiate a new natural-gas deal with Russia just as the conflict between the two countries risks escalating again. A gas-price agreement with Russian exporter OAO Gazprom expires at the end of the month and Ukraine requires fuel to replenish stockpiles before the winter. At the same time, […]

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NEWSLINK Interfax-Ukraine: Gazprom: gas transit through Ukraine to end after 2019, come what may

Gas Flame file photo

Gazprom has no plans to continue using Ukraine as a transit country for gas exports after 2019, Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev told journalists. “When the transit contract with Ukraine expires, there will be no prolongation, no conclusion of a new transit agreement under any circumstances. In light of the economic, commercial, technological, investment and political risks for gas transit, there […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: Russia’s Gazprom presses on with Turkey pipeline despite questions

Turkey map

Russia’s Gazprom plans to start building a pipeline to Turkey this month to get gas to Europe without going through Ukraine, company sources said, although it has no firm agreement with Ankara and faces opposition from the European Union.

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Russia to continue dealing with low oil price as no Opec cuts on agenda

Oil Wells File Photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – June 3, 2015) [Charts here http://www.bne.eu/content/story/russia-continue-dealing-low-oil-price-no-opec-cuts-agenda] Opec members gathering in Vienna for the cartel’s biannual meeting on June 5 are indicating there will be no cuts in production, implying a calmer meeting to the last one in November that featured calls from some members for Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies […]

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Russian Gas: There Is No Alternative For Europe

EU Map

(Oilprice.com – Colin Chilcoat – May 17, 2015) The sanctions are now in their second year; the ruble is still not quite itself; and national champions Gazprom and Rosneft are both bracing for what can generously be called a down year. Still, while Russia’s political relationship with the west continues to be redefined, the broader element of codependence remains relatively […]

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A wakeup call for Gazprom

Gas Flame file photo

Widely considered one of Russia’s most potent weapons, Gazprom’s financials show the slow erosion of its core business. (Business New Europe – bne.eu – Mark Adomanis in Philadelphia – May 19, 2015) As with almost every other major Russian company, 2014 was not a particularly good year for Gazprom. In fact, at first glance, the headline numbers were nothing short […]

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Russia Was Right: Shale in Europe Has Proved a Dud

Europe Map

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ladka Mortkowitz Bauerova – May 11, 2015) When Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. opened an office in Poland in 2009, it had a reason to be optimistic: the shale boom was transforming the U.S. into the world’s largest producer of natural gas. To the companies rushing to imitate that success in Europe, Poland looked like the next Texas. […]

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Punitive Tax Regime Is Crushing Ukraine’s Oil And Gas Sector

Gas Flame file photo

(Oilprice.com – Robert Bensh – May 6, 2015) Each country blessed with oil and gas discoveries initially tries to create a tax regime that maintains the balance between generating tax revenues from the extraction of these hydrocarbons while also encouraging investment. If the country gets too greedy and imposes an excessive tax burden, the inverse effect occurs – investors abandon […]

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Oil’s Rebound Is Here

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – May 6, 2015) As Brent crude oil reached more than $68 per barrel Wednesday, a high for 2015, analysts started to backtrack on earlier predictions of $40-$50 oil. The rebound, however, may not last: Speculators appear to have disrupted Saudi Arabia’s strategic game against U.S. shale oil producers. Predicting oil prices is a […]

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Is Gazprom a “buy”?

Gas Facility file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – May 7, 2015) [Chart here http://www.bne.eu/content/story/moscow-blog-gazprom-buy] With the RTS Index up 30% year-to-date, foreign investors are drifting back into Russian shares simply because they are so cheap. But is the bluest of Russian blue chips and long-time market proxy Gazprom a buy again? Russian investment bank Renaissance […]

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Russian Economy May Be Stumbling Back To Its Feet

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Oilprice.com – Andy Tully – May 3, 2015) The Bank of Russia has cut interest rates for the third time so far this year, reinforcing forecasts by some government ministers that the country’s economic woes are beginning to stabilize. The central bank cut its key rate on April 30 to 12.5 percent, a reduction of 1.5 points, and said it would […]

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Strengthening of ruble due to growth of oil prices over – Yudayeva

Oil Wells File Photo

MOSCOW. April 22 (Interfax) – The strengthening of the ruble due to growth in prices for oil has ended, First Deputy Central Bank Governor Ksenia Yudayeva told journalists at the Forum for Financial Stability on Wednesday. “The strengthening of the ruble has ended, it has partially ended, what we saw was connected with the sharp movement upwards in prices for […]

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Is Gazprom’s changing export strategy a threat to Europe?

Gas Flame file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – James Henderson – April 17, 2015) James Henderson is Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies The visit of Chinese Premier Xi Jinping to Moscow in May to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II could also mark the next stage in Russia’s “pivot to Asia” if, as some […]

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Russia Economy Recovering as Oil Reliance Eases, Dvorkovich Says

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – David Tweed, Haslinda Amin – April 20, 2015) Russia’s economy showed signs of recovery in the first and second quarters amid a declining dependence on oil, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said. “Oil prices are not as important to the Russian economy as before,” Dvorkovich told Bloomberg TV Monday at the World Economic Forum on […]

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Putin’s Mideast Gains Trump $27 Billion Loss From Iran Agreement

Middle East Map

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Stephen Bierman – April 14, 2015) As Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, he’s willing to take an economic hit to expand his political influence. He’s taking the same approach with Iran. Lifting sanctions and allowing Iranian oil onto global markets would threaten to deepen the plunge in crude […]

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Millions of Russians Edge Toward Poverty as Economic Pressure Mounts

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – April 13, 2015) Clutching two plastic bags full of clothes she had just collected from a charity center in central Moscow, Svetlana Burkutskaya said that rising prices were making it harder for her to find enough money to put food on the table for her three school-age children. “There is not sufficient […]

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