JRL NEWSWATCH: “Senators to Announce Sanctions Bill on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline” – Reuters

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

“U.S. senators [reportedly] will announce a bill this week expanding sanctions on … [the] Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 project … [that] Washington says will make Europe too reliant on Russian gas. The Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act[, spearheaded by Republican Senator … Ted Cruz[ and Democratic Senator] Jeanne Shaheen … follows legislation signed by … Trump last year …. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian government presents National Recovery Plan to President Putin” – bne Intellinews

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has presented the National Recovery Plan to … Putin … [with] a launch at the beginning of July. … [T]he government has rolled out two economic support packages, worth RUB3.1 trillion ($42.1bn), or 2.8% of GDP. The RUB7.3 trillion final recovery plan was cut from the previously reported RUB8 trillion plan … includ[ing] the two […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Says Only ‘Coronavirus Immune’ Troops Will March at Victory Day Parade” – Moscow Times

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 2, 2020) The Russian military will march asymptomatic troops and those who have developed immunity to coronavirus at its landmark parade marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War II later this month, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday. President Vladimir Putin ordered the military to hold the previously postponed Victory […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Prices Economic Recovery Plan at $70Bln” – Moscow Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Russia will launch a 5 trillion ruble ($73 billion) recovery plan next month to offset economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said in a televised meeting with President Vladimir Putin […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Tanker crosses Russian Arctic route without icebreaker assistance; Commercial shipping on the Northern Sea Route starts earlier than ever before.” – Barents Observer/ Atle Staalesen

Arctic Map

By late May, a carrier had set out on the icy route without icebreaker escort. “… [S]ea ice along the Russian Arctic coast is quickly vanishing as temperatures … have been reaching record highs. With the retreating ice comes tanker traffic. … [T]he ‘Christophe de Margerie’ … on May [19th] kickstarted this year’s shipping season across the eastern part of […]

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Putin, Trump discuss by phone G7 summit, Covid-19, oil market

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

… Putin and … Trump have discussed in a telephone call the situation surrounding Covid-19, the Crew Dragon spacecraft launch, the Group of Seven (G7) summit, as well as the situation on the oil market, the Kremlin press service said. […]

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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 small businesses left out in the cold by Covid-19” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Local service-sector enterprises flounder in an economy dominated by large industrial groups.” “… the Kremlin … [must] demand two seemingly opposing outcomes: maintain restrictions to smother the world’s second-largest number of Covid-19 infections and lift a lockdown [that is shrinking GDP] …. [with] [s]mall and medium-sized businesses … trapped in … between. … forced by … Putin to pay salaries […]

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Many Russians Expect to Lose Jobs, Take Pay Cuts in Wake of Pandemic

File Photo of Empty Chair and Desk with Computer, adapted from image at osha.gov

Almost half of Russians expect layoffs within their household in the coming months and almost one-third have already had someone in their household recently fired, according to a poll conducted April 26-28 […]

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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: “Putin Wants Russia to Get Back to Normal. New Outbreaks Show It May Be Too Early.” – Moscow Times

Russia Regions Map

Budget deficits are driving regions to lift quarantine restrictions. But poor data could be hiding a second coronavirus wave. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – May 21, 2020) Before 136 employees of the distribution center for the popular Krasnoe & Beloe discount liquor chain in central Russia’s Sverdlovsk region tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday, the region […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian Ruble Hits 10-Week High on Investor Optimism; The Finance Ministry sold a record volume of government bonds Wednesday, and the government is reportedly mulling increasing foreign currency sales.” – Moscow Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 21, 2020) The ruble has hit its strongest level in more than two months, pushed higher by investor confidence, renewed appetite for risk and a partial recovery in worldwide oil prices. The ruble was trading at 70.8 against the U.S. dollar Thursday morning – a 12% appreciation since panic on the financial markets in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s GDP shrinks by 20% in April, but government maintains a triple surplus” – bne Intellinews

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Russia’s nominal GDP shrank … 28%, of which two-thirds was due to the nation-wide lockdown … another third … due to … oil prices, the Ministry of Finance said …. The real contraction of the economy in April could be 20%, according to the Ministry …. [T]he government has reported … surplus[es] [for] the trade balance, currency account and […]

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Global Cities Versus Russian Rustbelt Realities

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

… According to Kudrin, Moscow and St. Petersburg are Russia’s only “global cities” and the rest of Russia’s cities are “barely noticeable on the map of the world.” …

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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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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Coronavirus crisis leaves Russian government rudderless” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy, Max Seddon

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

Prime ministerial stand-in faces task of managing pandemic while getting economy moving again ….

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin Eases Nationwide Virus Lockdown as Russia Becomes 3rd Most-Infected Country” – Moscow Times

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

… Putin has eased Russia’s “non-working” period imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus even as Russia emerges as Europe’s new coronavirus hotspot. …

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Economic Woes Continue to Mount During Coronavirus Outbreak” – Moscow Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

As the Kremlin resists pressure to spend, official statistics show economic activity down by a third and tax revenues crashing. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – May 6, 2020) Jake Cordell covers business & economics for The Moscow Times. A third of the Russian economy has ground to a halt because of the coronavirus lockdown, the Russian government […]

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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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RUSSIALINK: “Arrears now main threat for production chains in Russian economy – Belousov” – Interfax

Cash, Calculator, Pen

MOSCOW. May 6 (Interfax) – The main threat for production chains in the Russian economy is now arrears; governors must bring this problem under their supervision, said First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, who is currently acting prime minister. “Where do I see the problem? I see the problem in the fact that now, as enterprises are launched, breaks will […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “As coronavirus hits record numbers in Russia, this is a dangerous moment for Putin” – CNN/ Nathan Hodge

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“Russia hit a grim milestone … officially recording the highest number of coronavirus cases the country has seen in a 24-hour period, with 10,633 people testing positive. … [T]he economic pain is worsening … Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on state television … ‘I don’t recall anything like this,’ … adding that plummeting global oil prices — a primary source […]

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Russia To Adjust Spending On Putin’s ‘National Projects’ As Economy Hit By Coronavirus

Kremlin and River

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – May 3, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-to-adjust-spending-on-putin-s-national-projects-as-economy-hit-by-coronavirus/30590575.html) Russia may alter spending plans for a series of national goals promoted by President Vladimir Putin two years ago as the spread of the coronavirus slashes budget revenues. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on May 3 that the […]

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Russia’s Energy Czar, Disliked And Feared, Catches Blame As Oil Prices Collapse, Venezuela Deals Crumble

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

March was the cruelest month for one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s longest-serving and most hawkish confidants[,] Igor Sechin … head of state oil company Rosneft …

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin’s Business Tsar Attacks Economic Lockdown; Poverty and starvation are as much a problem as the coronavirus, said Boris Titov” – Moscow Times

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 27, 2020) President Vladimir Putin’s “business tsar” has called for the government to end the economic lockdown and reopen the economy. Boris Titov, the president’s business ombudsman, announced Monday he will organize an online protest Friday calling for businesses to be reopened, as frustration at the government’s economic response to the coronavirus grows throughout […]

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Russia Expects A Protracted Oil Price Plunge

Oil Wells File Photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – April 29, 2020) Even though the new OPEC+ deal is set to come into force this week, oil prices will not rise much in the near future because of very high global inventories, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an article published in the ministry’s publication Energy Policy on Tuesday. The oil market could […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economic woes will clip Vladimir Putin’s wings; Pandemic combined with collapsing oil prices spells real hardship” – Financial Times

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

“… Putin’s … oil price war with Saudi Arabia … was disastrously timed. … days before the coronavirus pandemic began forcing economies around the world into lockdown, cutting crude demand. Russia then succumbed to the virus itself. … [Putin] had to cancel a referendum to approve constitutional changes …. The IMF forecasts Russian [GDP] could contract by 5.5 per cent […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Facing Disaster, Russian Businesses Find Kremlin Aid Lacking” – AP

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Desperate [Russian] business owners … have been pleading with the Kremlin for help in the pandemic shutdown. The response … has been slow and largely focused on big industries, leaving most smaller companies to fend for themselves … raising the prospect of massive unemployment and social unrest. The Kremlin’s anti-crisis measures reflect its long-held emphasis on state-controlled companies and a […]

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Saudi Arabia And Russia Fight Bitter Market Share Battle As Oil Prices Collapse

Oil Wells File Photo

(Oilprice.com – Vanand Meliksetian – April 27, 2020) The Chinese word ‘crisis’ consists of the characters for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. The unprecedented situation in global energy markets has provided traditional producers with an opportunity to displace incumbents in primarily the U.S. The price war Saudi Arabia started after Russia refused to reduce output in early March has decimated budgets of […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Starts Drawing Up Lockdown Exit Plans; Putin’s spokesman said the situation will become ‘easier’ in June” – Moscow Times

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 27, 2020) Russia will begin drawing up lockdown exit plans to switch the economy back on, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Monday. In a meeting with ministers, Mishustin ordered various government departments to start working out how businesses could get back to work once the coronavirus pandemic becomes less severe, news site RBC reported. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “CBR reiterates, strengthens monetary policy signal: scale of shock requires broad steps, economy to require low-cost funds” – Interfax

Central Bank of Russia file photo

MOSCOW. April 28 (Interfax) – The Central Bank of Russia (CBR), which cut its key rate by 50 basis points last Friday for the first time in six months and said that further monetary easing was possible at its next meeting, has reiterated its dovish signal and even strengthened it somewhat. “We must be able to mitigate the blow to […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Seeks to Revive Coronavirus-Hit Tourism Industry by Cutting Visa Red Tape” – Moscow Times

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

Russia’s Federal Tourist Agency (Rostourism) wants to help the industry recover from the coronavirus crisis by relaxing visa rules after the country reopens its borders, the RBC news website reported Friday. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 24, 2020) Russia grounded international flights, except those that return its nationals from abroad; closed border crossings; and suspended issuing visas and e-visas […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Cuts Interest Rate to Shore Up Faltering Economy” – Wall Street Journal/ Georgi Kantchev

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The central bank takes action as the country lurches towards a recession. “Russia’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate in a move to shore up the country’s economy as it lurches toward a deep recession due to depressed oil prices and shutdowns over the spread of the coronavirus. … lower[ing] its key rate by a deeper-than-usual 50 basis points […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Explainer: What Happened to Oil Prices and What Does it Mean for Russia?” – Moscow Times

Oil Wells File Photo

Oil prices in the U.S. went negative for the first time in history. Should Russia be worried? (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – April 21, 2020 – Jake covers business & economics for The Moscow Times.) What happened? The headline price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil fell into negative territory for the first time […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Oil prices fall to less than zero for the first time in history” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

Oil prices dropped to less than zero dollars as producers are forced to pay buyers to find some place to store their output “Oil prices for the US WTI blend fell to less than zero on the futures market for May deliveries on April 20 for the first time in history as producers ran out of places to store crude. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Major U.S. companies intend to stay in Russia – AmCham” – Interfax

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

MOSCOW. April 20 (Interfax) – Nearly half of the U.S. companies operating in Russia will have to cut the number of their employees because of the restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus infection epidemic, but major companies are not thinking of leaving this market, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia (AmCham) Alexis Rodzianko said. “We have regularly […]

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RUSSIALINK: “In 4th Coronavirus Address, Putin Calls for Stronger Business Support” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 15, 2020) President Vladimir Putin announced a new package of measures to support Russia’s businesses hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday. In the Russian president’s fourth televised statement in as many weeks about the coronavirus pandemic, he promised direct financial support to businesses hit hardest by the nationwide lockdown, including […]

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As Economic Crisis Deepens, More Russians Say Putin Defends the Interests of the Oligarchs than Say He Supports Those of the Siloviki

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 12, 2020) Something remarkable has happened: For the first time since he became president, more Russians say that Vladimir Putin works to defend the interests of the oligarchs than the number who say he defends the positions of the siloviki, according to a Levada Center poll reported by Vedomosti. The percentage […]

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RUSSIALINK: “OPEC+ Deal Will Help Russia Avoid ‘Market Chaos,’ But Provides Little Support to Embattled Economy” – Moscow Times

Oil Well file photo

The production cut will support oil prices and avoid a further ruble crash while the wider economic damage from coronavirus continues to build. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – April 13, 2020) The fresh OPEC+ deal struck between Russia and Saudi Arabia over the weekend will provide little support to the Russian economy, analysts believe. Instead, the deal […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Should Launch Cash Handouts and Quantitative Easing, Economists Argue” – Moscow Times

Cash, Calculator, Pen

The Russian government needs to spend up to $136 billion to fight the economic impact of the coronavirus, a group of liberal economists argues (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 14, 2020) The Russian government should dramatically accelerate its economic relief measures by launching a quantitative easing program and handing over large cash payments to Russian citizens, a group of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia has zero FDI in 1Q20; Russia’s FDI in 1Q20 was next to nothing, which means in reality it was probably negative” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

“Russia received almost zero foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first quarter 2020, dropping from $10.3bn in the same period a year earlier to $200mn, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) reported …. This number almost certainly understates the real FDI, which was most likely negative. … a quirk of Russian national statistics means that foreign companies working and registered […]

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Part Two: COVID-19 Siberia: Life in the Village: March 29- April 4 “Non-work Week #1” in Manjerok, Altai Republic

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

Subject: Part Two Date: Sat, 11 Apr 2020 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> Part Two COVID-19 Siberia: Life in the Village March 29- April 4 “Non-work Week #1” in Manjerok, Altai Republic By Sarah Lindemann-Komarova [Sarah Lindemann-Komarova has been a community development activist in Siberia since 1992. Currently she is focusing on research and writing about civil society in Russia.] With […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Coronavirus Upends Putin’s Political Agenda in Russia” – AP

Kremlin and River

“… A nationwide vote on April 22 was supposed to finalize sweeping constitutional reforms that would allow [Putin] to stay in power until 2036 …. But after the coronavirus spread in Russia, that plebiscite had to be postponed – an action so abrupt that billboards promoting it already had been erected in Moscow and other big cities. Now under threat […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Makes Painful Climbdown as He Sues for Peace in Oil War” – Bloomberg/ Evgenia Pismennaya, Ilya Arkhipov, Henry Meyer

Oil Wells File Photo

“… Putin’s deal with OPEC … three years ago was a triumph … bolstering his clout on the global stage. But now he’s had to to make stinging concessions after … Trump stepped in to end a price war. Amid relief in Moscow at the unprecedented deal with Saudi Arabia and other major producers to slash oil output, the accord […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump, Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Scramble to Fix Oil Markets” – Wall Street Journal/ Georgi Kantchev, Summer Said, Andrew Restuccia, Justin Scheck

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

All three leaders face economic threat from low prices. Moscow and Riyadh bury the hatchet. “… On Thursday, Saudi Arabia and Russia ended their stalemate and convinced a handful of other major oil producers to join them in the biggest monthly oil-production cut ever. … Mexico … [also] said it would reduce … production by 100,000 barrels a day …. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Plans $14 Billion Stimulus as Pressure Mounts for Spending” – Bloomberg/ Eugenia Pismennaya, Anna Andrianova

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Putin’s government … [reportedly] will roll out about 1 trillion rubles ($13.5 billion) of new spending …. Some of the money will … subsidiz[e] salaries of workers idled by isolation measures to fight the coronavirus …. The stimulus will be funded by increased borrowing, not Russia’s $165 billion rainy-day fund …. The central bank estimated that a government order […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia will have to cut oil output by 1.8 mln bpd under OPEC+ deal” – Interfax

Oil Well file photo

MOSCOW. April 10 (Interfax) – OPEC+ countries agreed on Thursday to cut oil production by 10 million barrels per day from the October 2018 level, although for Russia and Saudi Arabia the baseline for the cut will be 11 million bpd, a communique from the meeting seen by Interfax shows. OPEC+ countries, the communique said, produced 43.85 million bpd in […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Coronavirus Revolutionizes Russia’s Retail Scene; Retailers have been forced to digitize, move online and transform their businesses in the space of weeks” – Moscow Times

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Adrien Henni – April 9, 2020) Russian retail players have been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic, with the country on a month-long partial shutdown and major cities under strict quarantine, shopping habits have been transformed in a matter of days, forcing both online and offline sellers to react quickly. Even before the shutdown of many […]

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