Infrastructure in Russia’s Arctic: Environmental Impact and Considerations

File Photo of Arctic Fox Running Across Snow, adapted from image at USGS.gov, with photo credit to Mike Lockart and USGS

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Kennan Cable No. 73 – Thomas Eric Rotnem – Nov. 2021) Professor of Political Science and Associate Director, School of Government and International Affairs, Kennesaw State University In 2007, Russia signaled its commitment to pursue territorial claims in the Arctic by planting a titanium Russian flag on the polar seabed. Now, Russia is moving well […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Rosneft announces energy transition strategy as climate conference approaches” – bne Intellinews

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

“Oil giant Rosneft announced the creation of a plan to transition to green energy, but also warned that fossil fuels would never fully be replaced.” “Russian state oil major Rosneft is developing a new strategy centred on the transition to renewable energy resources. … [according to] CEO Igor Sechin …. However, … [he] stress[ed] that oil and gas would continue […]

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Iran Cements Alliance With China, Russia In Clear Message To Washington

Iran Map and Flag

The seismic, multi-generational Iran-China deal is set for full roll-out. Full membership of the economic, military and political, SCO alliance will lead to major strategic investments in Iran’s up-and-downstream sectors […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia, Belarus Agree on Economic Integration Pacts; The agreements, which cover trade, labor, currencies, taxes and energy, will deepen Moscow’s sway over its neighbor” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“… Putin … [said] that in the end all 28 integration programs were approved. [Putin said that] [t]hey include the integration of currency systems, the principles of levying indirect taxes … the fight against terrorism … [and] the pricing of Russian energy resources, … that a document would be signed by Dec. 1, 2023, to create a single gas market […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Economic Reality Is Dragging Russia Toward Climate Acceptance” – Bloomberg

File Photo of Polar Bear on Snow with Bare Ground in the Background, adapted from image at nasa.gov with photo credit to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Eric Regehr

“Europe’s border tax and China’s carbon-neutral ambitions might just force a fossil fuel giant to face climate facts.” “… Sooner than expected, Putin’s hydrocarbon-dependent regime has found itself watching key markets slip away as China targets net-zero emissions and Europe introduces measures including a levy on heavy industry imports that fail to meet its climate protection standards. Having lauded the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Storm, rains near Novorossiysk help reduce pollution in Black Sea after oil product spill – WWF” – Interfax

Black Sea Satellite Photo file image

MOSCOW. Aug 13 (Interfax) – The concentration of oil products in the Black Sea following a spill in the area of Novorossiysk is decreasing due to a storm and heavy rains, the head of the WWF Russia program for corporate environmental responsibility, Alexei Knizhnikov told Interfax on Friday. “There is a very strong storm happening now in the vicinity of […]

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Why Russian Oil Giant Lukoil Won’t Give Up On This Huge Oilfield

Iraq Map, adapted from image at cia.gov

(Oilprice.com – Simon Watkins – Aug. 10, 2021) There was always something that did not look quite right about Lukoil’s recent announcement that it was going to withdraw from Iraq’s huge West Qurna 2 oil field, located 65 kilometers northwest of the southern port of Basra and with roughly 14 billion barrels of reserves in place. So it has proven, […]

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Putin Says Russia Is Ready To Hand Over Cybercriminals, But Only If U.S. Does The Same

Gas Pump File Photo with Nozzle in Car

… a cybercriminal group that U.S. authorities said operates from Russia penetrated a pipeline operator on the U.S. East Coast, locking its systems and demanding a ransom. … caus[ing] a shutdown … [leading] to a spike in gas prices, panic buying, and localized fuel shortages […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Military Seeks to Outmuscle U.S. in Arctic” – Wall Street Journal

File Photo of Polar Bear on Snow with Bare Ground in the Background, adapted from image at nasa.gov with photo credit to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Eric Regehr

“For Moscow it is the last geopolitical battleground where it holds the advantage over Washington and Beijing” “… [N]ew and refurbished bases [are] meant to service the Kremlin’s ambitions in the resource-rich Arctic. … combined to form a new military district … under … the Northern Fleet, Russia’s foremost Arctic naval force[] … [with fleet] headquarters … on the Kola […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Arctic-Superpower Jostling Heats Up as Russia Takes on Key Role” – Bloomberg

File Photo of Arctic Fox Running Across Snow, adapted from image at USGS.gov, with photo credit to Mike Lockart and USGS

“Russia’s Sergei Lavrov claimed this week that ‘this is our land and our waters’ as NATO allies boost military activity” “… Russian and U.S. diplomats … [signal] rising tensions between [powers] racing to seize Arctic resources …. Arctic Council [participants] weren’t due to discuss security. But … Russia’s … Sergei Lavrov declared … the Arctic ‘is our land and our […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia: Foreign Policy and U.S. Relations [Excerpt]” – Congressional Research Service

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rise to leadership more than 20 years ago, tensions have increased steadily between Russia and the United States […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia seizes on Suez blockage to promote merits of Arctic route” – Financial Times

Suez Canal and Environs Aerial File Photo, adapted from image at nasa.gov

Moscow is busy highlighting the northern sea route and Nordstream as alternatives for world trade […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Could Russia Benefit From the Suez Canal Blockage?” – Moscow Times

Suez Canal and Environs Aerial File Photo, adapted from image at nasa.gov

The Kremlin wants to use the grounding of the Ever Given ship to promote its Northern Sea Route and counter European concerns over Nord Stream 2. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – March 26, 2021) Almost $300 million worth of Russian oil products are waiting to enter the Suez Canal, which remains closed following the grounding of the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “About the Kremlin Propaganda — Our Democracy Needs To Be Protected” – Bild

Brandeburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, file photo adapted from image at state.gov

“As a dictator, … Putin has continued what he failed to do as a KGB agent in the GDR [East Germany] … his fight against a freedom-loving Germany and a united Europe. For years, Putin has been running riot with impunity in [Germany]. … buying off influential ex-politicians with lucrative oil projects, such as Nord Stream 2. … support[ing] the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Where Climate Scientists See Danger, Russia Sees an Opportunity” – Bloomberg

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

“Rising temperatures in the Arctic are a warning sign for the planet. The melting ice has an economic upside for Russia.” “Russia … fourth-biggest [greenhouse gas] emitter … [also faces Arctic] temperatures … warming more than twice [that of global rates] …. [With] more than a fifth of the planet’s forests, Russia has [had] two consecutive years of record-breaking wildfires […]

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Russian Company Pays Largest Legal Award In History — Almost $2 Billion — For Devastating Arctic Fuel Spill

File Photos of Law Books and Gavel, adapted from image at fjc.gov

… [T]he Krasnoyarsk City Court of Arbitration ruled that almost all of the sum, the largest legal award in Russian history, must go to the federal treasury […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Global structure of energy consumption unlikely to change much in coming decades, role of hydrocarbons to remain – Putin” – Interfax

Oil Wells file photo, adapted from image at usda.gov

MOSCOW. Jan 25 (Interfax) – The structure of energy consumption worldwide is unlikely to change significantly, with hydrocarbons all the same set to remain in demand for a long period, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday during a meeting of the government with university students to mark the occasion of the country’s Students’ Day. “The whole world is absorbed […]

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Putin: Russia Reduces Its Dependence On Oil

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – Dec. 17, 2020) Russia is successfully weaning itself off oil revenues, President Vladimir Putin said today during an annual end-of-the-year news conference, as quoted by RT. “This means that, while we’re not completely there, we are nonetheless starting to get off the so-called oil and gas needle,” Putin said, adding, “If someone still wants to […]

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Russia Calls For A Global Response To The Oil Demand Crisis

Oil Wells file photo, adapted from image at usda.gov

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – Sept. 28, 2020) All players on the global energy market need to act together to tackle the effects of the pandemic on oil demand, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said at a virtual meeting of G20 energy ministers this weekend. “Our task, as the leaders of the energy industry, is to show stamina and solidarity […]

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Belarus Crisis Highlights Europe’s Energy Problem

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

(Oilprice.com – Vanand Meliksetian – Sept. 24, 2020) The ongoing demonstrations in Belarus and the looming instability are a threat to both Russia and the EU. Moscow prefers the continuation of Lukashenko’s regime due to political reasons. Europe, on the other hand, faces an energy crisis if the situation escalates which could lead to a disruption of supplies. Belarus’ geographic […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Crumbling Power Vertical: Decreasing Disposable Income Drives Discontentment” – PONARS Eurasia

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Accumulating evidence points at prospects of growing destabilization at the regional level in Russia. In 2019, five consecutive years of economic stagnation ignited a wave of protests across the country. In 2020, as Russia’s economic situation worsened dramatically due to a pandemic-driven halt to economic activity combined with a fall in oil prices, support for Kremlin appointees might start crumbling […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Travel Ban, Oil Supplies on Russia-Belarus Agenda” – Moscow Times

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sept. 4, 2020) Russia and Belarus are preparing to reopen borders that were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and are discussing rerouting Belarusian oil exports through Russia, news outlets reported after high-level talks Thursday. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and his delegation met Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his government in Minsk amid continuing […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus’ Soviet-era economy still propped up by Moscow” – Deutsche Welle/ Nik Martin

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Belarus has one of the lowest poverty rates in Europe, but economic growth is anemic due to archaic state-run industries and the ending of Russian energy subsidies. Its biggest political crisis is even more of a threat.” “… Belarus’ dependence on energy-rich Russia is ever more evident …. Moscow has already offered to help bolster security [amidst the current crisis] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia should rethink its role in new energy economy” – The National (UAE)/ Robin Mills

Gas Flame file photo

“Global gas market remains oversupplied and renewables only makes up a small part of the country’s energy mix.” “Russia’s energy sector has so far come through the pandemic better than some might have expected. … Opec+ … has shored up oil revenue and the rouble. But [Russia’s] longer-term outlook is cloudy, both in petroleum and its unstrategic approach to new […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Economy Shrank 8.5% in Second Quarter – Official Data; Fall in GDP is less severe than government and Central Bank feared” – AFP

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia’s economy contracted … 8.5% year-on-year in the second quarter, the state statistics agency [Rosstat] said … in its first assessment of the impact of … coronavirus and an oil crisis. GDP fell in ‘all areas of the economy except agriculture’ … Rosstat … said …, with passenger transport down 79% and the services industry down 37.2% The sharp drop […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Vladimir Putin Is No Mastermind, But He Has Played Russia’s Cards Well; It verges on impossible to forecast what Moscow will do tactically. What it will do strategically, however, is more intelligible and thus more predictable.” – The National Interest/ James Holmes

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“…. The Russian armed forces … have to live within their means. Russia depends heavily on exporting oil and natural gas … [L]ow energy prices constrict … national income and … ability to afford pricey armaments. Prices …  have run off a cliff amid coronavirus lockdowns. … [F]or instance … the Severnoye Design Bureau, a division of the United Shipbuilding […]

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Russia Considers Emulating The World’s Largest Oil Hedge

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – July 22, 2020) Russia is considering whether to adopt a kind of state oil hedging program, similar to Mexico’s oil hedge, to protect government revenues from oil price crashes in the future, Russian news agency Interfax reported on Wednesday, quoting sources familiar with the matter. The Mexican oil hedge, or the Hacienda Hedge, is considered […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “There Is No Arctic Axis; Russia and China’s partnership in the north is primarily driven by business, not politics.” – Foreign Policy/ Elizabeth Buchanan

Arctic Map

“… [C]ommercial realpolitik is at the heart of [Russia and China’s Arctic] engagement. … [even as it] navigates existing fault lines, such as Beijing’s failure to acknowledge Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s nonalignment in the … India-China conflict. … [R]egional cooperation is due to … shared interest[s] in maintaining domestic stability. Long-term economic development ventures and the viability of […]

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Russians Increasingly Angry that They Live in Poverty in a Country So Rich in Natural Resources

Oil Well file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 28, 2020) The pandemic and associated economic crisis have exacerbated widespread anger among Russians that they live in poverty despite the enormous natural wealth of their country and its sale earlier abroad for more than six trillion US dollars. Had even a small part of that money gone to the people, […]

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Who Will Pay For Russia’s Unprecedented Oil Spill?

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

(Oilprice.com – Alex Kimani – June 11, 2020) Five days ago, Russia suffered its worst oil spill in modern history after a fuel storage tank owned by Russian nickel and palladium mining company, Nornickel, collapsed and spilled 21,000 tonnes (about 158,000 barrels) of diesel into the nearby Ambarnaya river outside the Siberian city of Norilsk. The accident–which has drawn comparisons […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The massive Norilsk fuel spill could be linked to permafrost thaw, a growing threat to Arctic infrastructure” – Arctic Today / Melody Schreiber

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

“Infrastructure built on permafrost needs to be better monitored, experts and officials say.” “… [O]ne of the largest ever oil spills in the Russian Arctic may have been caused in part by permafrost thaw, according to the [polluting] company …. Experts … long warned that … [without] precautionary steps … such thaw could cause[] billions of dollars in damage to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Pandemic Upends Putin’s Plans to Raise Russia’s Dwindling Birthrate” – Wall Street Journal/ Ann M. Simmons

File Photo of Russian Crowd, with Russian Flag Being Waved

“President Vladimir Putin has been trying for years to push Russia’s birthrate higher, but the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is undermining his efforts” “… The Kremlin has been trying for years to encourage Russians to have more children. … Putin sees replenishing … population as … key to expanding Russia’s economic and political power. But … falling incomes […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Global Ambitions Are Upended by Coronavirus’s Heavy Toll in Russia” – Wall Street Journal/ Yaroslav Trofimov, Thomas Grove

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

Russian president’s efforts to showcase the country’s strength abroad backfired amid virus troubles at home […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia says has stopped spread of Arctic fuel spill” – AFP

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

“Russia has … contain[ed] a massive diesel spill into [an Arctic] river … the emergencies ministry [stated] … Environmentalists said the oil spill, which took place [a week earlier] … was the worst such accident ever in the Arctic region. … [A] diesel reservoir collapsed at a power station outside the northern Siberian city of Norilsk[ owned by a subsidiary […]

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Khodorkovsky Marks the Spot: Russia’s Turning Point From Economic Freedom to State Control

File Photo of Judge and Clerk in Russian Court, with Russian Flag Behind Bench

… Khodorkovsky was not the first oligarch harassed by Putin, but this was indeed a turning point. Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia at that point precisely because he cleaned up his oil company’s corporate governance. […]

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Putin To Bail Out Russian Oil Industry

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – May 25, 2020) Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has tasked the government with implementing a set of measures aimed at supporting the oil industry for the duration of the OPEC+ production cut agreement. According to a document published on the website of the Russian presidency, the measures include a prescription not to sanction companies that stray […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Economy Suffers Double Hit From Oil Slump and Coronavirus” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove, Georgi Kantchev

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“As infections grow, Russia finds a shortfall in oil revenue hurts its ability to offer the kind of emergency support provided in the West.” “… [Russia’s] slump … began … when coronavirus lockdowns in China and elsewhere pushed oil prices lower. … Putin’s hesitance in joining … big producers to curtail output compounded the problem, driving oil to its lowest […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Profit Slumps Herald More Trouble Ahead for Russia’s Corporate Giants” – Moscow Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Russian companies’ first quarter financial results are already showing the impact of the coronavirus. The worst is yet to come. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – May 18, 2020) Russia’s blue chip companies have posted some of the bleakest financial results for years in the first few months of 2020, with analysts saying the hit to earnings will […]

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Why Russia Finally Accepted Deeper Oil Output Cuts

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – May 5, 2020) When Russia refused two months ago to join the deeper OPEC oil cuts, it was because Moscow found them unnecessary. Two months later, Russia agreed to cut quite a bit more than it was asked to at the ill-fated March meeting. It is now doing its best to achieve its promised cuts. […]

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