NEWSWATCH: “Weak Oil Prices Fuel Ukrainian Hopes of a More Conciliatory Russia” – Wall Street Journal

Oil Well file photo

The Wall Street Journal covers Russian economic vulnerability amidst falling oil prices and its possible impact on efforts to resolve the Russo-Ukrainian conflict . Ukraine’s political elite is hoping that plummeting oil prices will restrain neighboring Russia’s interventionist ambitions—and give Western sanctions on Russia a bit more bite. … diplomatic overtures have raised hopes in Kiev that Moscow—which annexed Crimea […]

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When Baikal water will be more expensive than oil

Lake Baikal and Environs Satellite Photo

The average price of a bottle of drinking water in Moscow has become more expensive than what a bottle of Brent crude would cost. RBTH asks experts if it would be worthwhile for Russia to start exporting water from Lake Baikal. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – GLEB FEDOROV, RBTH – February 5, 2016) [Charts here rbth.com/politics_and_society/society/2016/02/05/when-baikal-water-will-be-more-expensive-than-oil_564923] In January, […]

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Investment in oil and gas exploration may drop 10-15% in 2016

Gas Facility file photo

(Interfax – February 7, 2016) Investment in geological exploration for oil and gas in Russia may reduce 10-15% in 2016, Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergei Donskoy said in a program aired by the NTV television channel. “Investment in hydrocarbon [exploration] will reduce somewhere between 10% and 15%, somewhere between these two digits,” he said. The minister said that […]

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Can Russia Be More Miserable? Judging by Oil, the Answer Is Yes

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Combining inflation and unemployment, Russia is among the world’s unhappiest economies (Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Popina – February 4, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-04/can-russia-be-more-miserable-judging-by-oil-the-answer-is-yes] The sinking price of crude has Russia hostage over a barrel of oil. For an inkling of how unhappy everyday Russians have gotten as Brent crude heads further south, take a look at the Misery Index […]

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Putin Opens Asset Sales to Foreigners as Budget Gap Widens

Empty Boardroom

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov and Andrey Biryukov – February 2, 2016) President Vladimir Putin will allow foreign investors to bid for stakes in some of Russia’s largest companies as the government prepares its most ambitious asset-sale program in years to close a widening budget gap. “Russia was and remains open for foreign investment and Russia is interested in […]

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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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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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Sweden delivers judgment in favor of Russia in dispute with Yukos holders

Map of Sweden and Environs

(Interfax – January 28, 2016) A Swedish appeals court upheld Russia’s appeal filed earlier in its dispute with the Spanish investment funds, which were holders of American Depositary Receipts (‘ADRs’) of Yukos, Kommersant newspaper reported on Jan. 28. The appeals court acknowledged the fact that the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce that sustained the funds’ claims to […]

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RBTH: Investors could benefit from Russia’s economic turmoil

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

As the Russian economy hits hard times, with business incomes falling, government spending facing cuts and the ruble losing value, RBTH spoke to Sergei Katyrin, president of Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to find out how foreign companies are enduring the current “perfect storm” for business. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ILYA KROL, RBTH – January 28, […]

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Nine lingering myths about Russia

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

We are often held prisoner by imposed stereotypes and opinions about countries, people and events. RBTH has collected nine myths about Russia that are far from accurate. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NATALYA PUKHOVA, SPECIAL TO RBTH – January 26, 2016) 1. The death rate in Russia is higher than its birth rate There is a widespread belief […]

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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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NEWSLINK: “Russian Oil: Output Grows as Prospects Shrink. Plummeting prices and U.S.-led sanctions raise questions about Russian oil’s capacity to continue underwriting Putin’s global ambitions.” – Wall Street Journal

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Facing Oil Price Plunge, Russia Considers Fire Sale of State Companies

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – January 22, 2016) Russian officials are touting a new wave of privatization to fill the hole in the government’s finances caused by the slumping oil price. With the cost of crude falling toward $30 per barrel early in the year, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov announced that 1 trillion rubles ($12.5 billion) could […]

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Russia identifies economic backwardness as national security threat

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Interfax – January 19, 2016) Russia’s new national security strategy identifies the key threats to the country. The main threats to national security in the economic sphere are the low competitiveness of the Russian economy and its continuing dependence on raw material exports, Sergey Vakhrukov, aide to the secretary of the Russian Security Council, told journalists on 19 January, as […]

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USSR collapsed because of oil prices heralding Russia’s future?

Oil Well file photo

(Pravda.ru – January 19, 2016) Pravda.Ru editor-in-chief Inna Novikova sat down with historian Alexander Fursov to speak about Russia’s foreign and domestic policy. “In connection with the collapse of the world prices on oil, many analysts say that the times that we are living now are very similar to the times of the 90s when the Soviet Union broke up.” […]

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Gref

Oil Wells File Photo

(Eric Kraus – Facebook – January 16, 2016) I often wonder whether Gref’s slightly hysterical tone is a good thing – as it is a goad to action against complacency – or it is a net-net negative because it simply adds to the ambient pessimism. Listening to his talk at the Gaidar Conference – there is one obvious problem – […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s pensioners squeezed as recession bites” – Financial Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The Financial Times covers the impact of Russia’s economic downturn on older Russians. Several Russian regions have over the past year been forced to suspend benefit payouts or stop the inflation indexing of public sector wages. … The dramatic slide in crude prices has slashed revenues from the export of oil and gas which account for more than half Russia’s […]

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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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Russian Finance Minister: Oil prices could continue to slide

Oil Wells File Photo

(Interfax – January 13, 2016) Oil prices are likely to go on sliding in the near future, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said. “Today there’s a very tight balance on the oil market, we’re seeing that nobody is cutting oil production. We’re likely in the short term to see further decline in prices for this commodity,” he said. “Indicators for […]

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Russian Oil Prices Drop 50% in 2015

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

(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

cis-asia-big

(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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Russian Economy Killers: Oil and Sanctions

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Voice of America – Bernard Shusman – January 6, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin gets a bad report card, even a failing grade, for his handling of the economic crisis in his country, according to 27 percent of analysts who participated in a major survey conducted by Bloomberg Business. These are hard times in Russia, with the collapse in oil […]

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2015 in review: From the murder of Nemtsov to blackout in Crimea

Nemtsov March of Mourning

The murder of Boris Nemtsov was arguably the most discussed domestic political issue in Russia this year, along with the bankruptcy of Transaero, the blackout in Crimea and protests by long-haul truckers. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Igor Rozin – December 30, 2015) Nemtsov’s murder shocks the nation A woman holds a portrait of Russian opposition leader Boris […]

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Eight Shades of Crisis – Russia’s Year of Economic Nightmares

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – December 26, 2015) [Charts here themoscowtimes.com/business/article/8-shades-of-crisis—russias-year-of-economic-nightmares/553703.html] Imagine Russia as a combustion engine. Oil and gas pumped from its vast territories wash through the economy as taxes, government spending and investment. Foreign currency from oil and gas sales is used to fund imported equipment and products on shop shelves. Cash from the energy […]

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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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Siberian Surprise: The Numbers Behind Russia’s Oil Resilience

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Dina Khrennikova – December 20, 2015) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-20/siberian-surprise-the-numbers-behind-russia-s-oil-resilience] OPEC has been putting a squeeze on rival oil producers by refusing to cut production to curb a global oversupply. Russia has no intention of succumbing to the pressure. “I will tell you when Russian companies are for sure going to decrease production — when oil costs […]

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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 Wall Street Journal: “Vladimir Putin Warns Government May Cut Budget Over Oil Price Fall. Russian president says peak of crisis is over, sees return to growth next year.”

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The Wall Street Journal reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s December address, and prospects of Russian budget cuts prompted by oil-related economy downturns. … Putin said on Thursday that the government may have to cut the federal budget because of a plunge in oil prices, but tried to reassure Russians that the worst of the economic crisis was over. At […]

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

Anton Siluanov file photo

(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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Putin orders resumption of coal supplies to Ukraine

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Interfax – December 9, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered that the government resume coal supplies to Ukraine in response to Kiev resuming electricity flow to Crimea. “They [Ukraine] might only have gotten only one line up and running, but it’s still one line [of power transmission]. It is necessary to resume coal supplies,” Putin said at a meeting […]

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NEWSWATCH CNBC: “Ex-Russia Fin Min [Kudrin]: We need ‘painful’ structural reforms”

Alexei Kudrin file photo

CNBC covers remarks by former Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, citing the ongoing impact of oil prices while also noting a need for Russian economic reforms, stymied by political considerations. … Kudrin acknowledged the ongoing impact of … commodities … ‘The drop in GDP (gross domestic product) this year mainly has to do with the drop in oil prices – […]

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Ruble Sinks to New Lows As Oil Prices Plummet

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 8, 2015) The Russian ruble has continued its slide to dramatic lows, falling to 69 against the U.S. dollar on Monday for the first time since September, according to news reports. The euro, too, reached a two-month high, climbing to 75 rubles on Monday evening, with Russian analysts linking the ruble’s downward spiral to […]

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Russia won’t turn off gas to Ukraine and risk transit to EU – energy minister

Gas Flame file photo

(Interfax – Vladivostok, December 5, 2015) Russia will in no circumstances turn off the gas supply to Ukraine and place the transit of gas to Europe at risk, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak has said. He said this in an interview with Vesti on Saturday with Sergey Brilyev, which was broadcast in the [Russian] far east. “Ukraine is receiving gas […]

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Will Crimea’s ‘energy bridge’ save it from dependency on Ukraine?

Russian Naval Vessel in Ukrainian Port

Electricity in Crimea has been partially restored: On Dec. 2 an underwater cable linked the peninsula’s electricity system with a Russian electrical grid. RBTH finds out why the Russian authorities were unprepared for the peninsula’s electricity being cut off by Ukrainian activists and asks whether the energy bridge will save Crimean residents from other infrastructure failures in the future. (Russia […]

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Interfax: Truthfulness of evidence of oil smuggled to Turkey from terrorists-controlled areas raises no doubt – senator Ozerov

Federation Council file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 5 (Interfax) – Russia has no doubt about the credibility of the evidence it showed of oil supplies to Turkey from ISIL-controlled areas, said Viktor Ozerov, head of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee. “These are objective documents. With the system of capabilities that the U.S. and other NATO states have, joking and serving – to put […]

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