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AssessmentsFeb 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
This photo is a close-up shot of Russian ruble banknotes.
A Slowing Economy Tests Russia’s Tight Spending Habits
With 2021 parliamentary elections in mind, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently announced a package of broad social measures designed to boost consumer spending and, in turn, economic growth. But while the investments are notable, they fall short of more structural advances in infrastructure development and industrial stimuli needed to significantly improve Russia's dimming financial prospects. Accessing the funds needed to make such efforts effective, however, would require breaking away from Moscow's tried-and-true method of fiscal restraint, which has helped guarantee a rainy day fund for when things get tough (as they did most recently during the country's 2015 recession). But by keeping the economy stuck in a cycle of stagnation, maintaining this penny-pinching policy will come at the risk of degrading Russia's living conditions and industrial capacity -- and ultimately, its political stability and global standing.
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SnapshotsJul 10, 2019 | 21:37 GMT
Russia: Moscow Divvies Up 5G and Quantum Development Among Its Proxies
Russia has pursued various efforts to strengthen its position in the face of sanctions and deteriorating relations with the West and its allies. One major element of this strategy has been reducing Moscow's economic reliance on the rest of the world. In tune with Russian goals of self-sustainability in the domains of internet and communication, Moscow is now also pushing for "technological sovereignty" as a way to reduce economic and intellectual dependencies.
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AssessmentsDec 28, 2017 | 18:23 GMT
Russia has begun insulating its economy from additional U.S. sanctions.
Russia Won't Sit Still for Additional U.S. Sanctions
Heading into the new year, tensions between Moscow and Washington show no sign of abating. The United States is continuing its investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election; both sides have accused each other of arms treaty violations; and both countries are continuing to build up their positions across the globe as they prepare for a long-term struggle. In addition, the United States has specified four areas -- each with varying effects and degrees of political fallout -- for further sanctions against Russia. The added pressure on the Kremlin comes as President Vladimir Putin faces re-election and Russia grows increasingly fragile.
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SnapshotsNov 29, 2017 | 20:11 GMT
U.S.: Washington Weighs Its Options to Tighten the Squeeze on Russia
As the Russian economy continues to languish, the United States is evaluating its options for increasing pressure on the Kremlin as part of a two-pronged approach that would prohibit U.S. citizens from buying up Russian debt and also target Russian oligarchs. The U.S. Treasury Department will craft the proposal and is expected to release it early next year. Though neither prong is assured implementation and both will likely spark a political tussle between the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump and Congress, the proposals will give the United States two weighty options to further damage Russia's already battered economy.
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AssessmentsNov 3, 2017 | 20:45 GMT
Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev (C) meets with members of the government's finance and economy ministries in 2014 to discuss policy
Russia Cleans Up Its Banks on Borrowed Time
Turbulence has characterized the Russian banking sector since the fall of the Soviet Union. In the economic free-for-all of the 1990s, newly minted oligarchs, politicians, business executives and criminal groups opened private banks to grow their asset bases, massage their books and funnel money to their various interests. More than 2,500 banks had popped up in Russia by the middle of the decade. With no clear rules or strategy to guide it, the sector grew unchecked, contributing to the financial crisis of 1998. The Kremlin began trying to bring order to Russia's banking system, and over the past 20 years, the Central Bank of Russia has shrunk the sector by closing, consolidating or nationalizing hundreds of failing banks. But deep problems persist. A stagnant economy and depleted resources are increasingly limiting the Kremlin's ability to intervene, stoking fears of a looming systemic crisis and threatening to exacerbate dissent in the
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AssessmentsAug 11, 2017 | 09:00 GMT
Whether Russia's hybrid warfare strategy will succeed depends in large part on whether Moscow can fulfill its strategic imperatives to counter encroaching Western influence in its periphery and entrench its power there.
Russia's Targets Hit Back
In its hybrid war against countries near and far, Russia has fought its share of losing battles. The country's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, for example, prompted Congress to redouble its sanctions against Moscow, even though the Kremlin's desired candidate won the race. Similarly, in the Baltic states, Russia hasn't managed to replicate the success of its disinformation campaign in Moldova -- where voters elected a presidential candidate sympathetic to Moscow in November 2016. Hybrid warfare, after all, is not a one-sided game. In each of the three tiers of countries that Russia has targeted, states have responded in kind with a full range of countermeasures.
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AssessmentsApr 19, 2017 | 09:14 GMT
Russia Parts Ways With a Longtime Trade Partner
Russia Parts Ways With a Longtime Trade Partner
Until about three years ago, Ukraine and Russia were thick as thieves. Their close friendship dated back centuries, to Ukraine's incorporation into the Russian empire in the 17th century. Throughout the years that followed, the two countries forged deep ties across every field imaginable, from agriculture and energy to infrastructure and defense. Even after Ukraine gained its independence in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse, those links held strong. Russia remained Ukraine's biggest trade partner, and Kiev relied on Moscow for nearly all of its energy imports. It also counted on the Kremlin to buy its primary exports, including agricultural goods, steel and military equipment. But all of that changed when the Euromaidan uprising swept across Ukraine in February 2014. The overthrow of Ukraine's pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovich, and his replacement with an ally of the West upended Kiev's relationship with Moscow. It wasn't the first time Ukraine had given
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AssessmentsFeb 9, 2017 | 09:15 GMT
Making Sense of Russia's Cyber Treason Scandal
Making Sense of Russia's Cyber Treason Scandal
The scandal surrounding a shadowy Russian computer intelligence unit has captivated the Russian public over the past few months. The story of a series of high-profile arrests continues to evolve in scope and complexity, implicating members of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and prominent hacking groups. Now, possible connections have emerged to the alleged hacking campaign targeting the United States during the presidential election. Mystery remains over the exact purpose of the crackdown on the cyber unit and why it is happening now, leading to intense speculation in the Russian media. The guarded nature of Russian organs of state means that the story playing out in the public eye is indicative of more dangerous struggles taking place deep inside the Kremlin.
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AssessmentsJan 30, 2017 | 09:15 GMT
Payback Time for Russia's Federal Government
Payback Time for Russia's Federal Government
After two and a half years in a deep economic recession, the Russian economy has taken a turn for the better. Moscow has tightened its belt, and its efforts are paying off, even though oil prices have not recovered and the economic sanctions against the country remain in place. In fact, Russia stands to pull out of recession this year. The country's economy is expected to start growing again this year -- by 1.5 percent according to World Bank projections -- thanks to a budget based on more realistic oil prices and a slimmer spending plan. Foreign investment has also started trickling back in as the rest of the world grows accustomed to navigating Russia's sanctions. Western credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor have even raised the country's outlook from negative to stable. But despite the overall economic upturn, Russia's people [LINK] are still in dire straits. One-quarter of
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AssessmentsJul 18, 2016 | 09:45 GMT
Russia's Muslim Regions Turn to the Gulf for Help
Russia's Muslim Regions Turn to the Gulf for Help
As Russia's economy continues to stagnate, the country's 83 regions are being forced to compete with one another for outside investment to stay afloat. The quest for funding was a popular theme at the recent St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, where regional governments and corporations tried to woo foreign partners and financiers. Some regions have focused their campaigns on Asia and Europe: The Kaluga and Kaliningrad provinces, for example, have signed investment deals with Bavaria, and Kaluga's governor visited Vietnam earlier in the year seeking funding. But four of Russia's Muslim republics -- Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chechnya and Dagestan -- have set their sights on Muslim states in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, a strategy that has put Moscow on edge.
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AssessmentsJun 15, 2016 | 09:15 GMT
Russia Is Saving Jobs, but Not the Economy
Russia Is Saving Jobs, but Not the Economy
Russia's economic downturn has left many of the country's biggest companies struggling to make ends meet. Now, AvtoVAZ -- Russia's largest automobile manufacturer and the recession's latest victim -- is on the verge of laying off thousands of workers unless the Kremlin can find a way to prevent it. The company, which employs some 2 million Russians, intends to let some of its people go through a "voluntary" dismissal over the next two weeks, offering hefty compensation packages to those who leave. The announcement prompted the governor of the region housing AvtoVAZ's biggest plant to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 6 to ask for the government's help. But whether the Kremlin props up Samara province's unemployed automotive workers or pressures AvtoVAZ into keeping them, it will not be able to fix the worsening economic conditions that threaten citizens' livelihoods and, by extension, the legitimacy of
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AssessmentsJan 29, 2016 | 09:00 GMT
In Russia, State Firms Will Stay Public For Now
In Russia, State Firms Will Stay Public for Now
Moscow is once again taking a hard look at its finances during this period of prolonged economic woe, this time considering privatizing of some of Russia's large state-owned firms and entities. Such a plan could help cover the possible shortfall looming over the federal budget. Whether the government can overcome the elite who want to maintain control over the companies, however, remains to be seen.
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AssessmentsNov 3, 2015 | 09:15 GMT
Russia Prepares to Tighten Spending in 2016
Russia Prepares to Tighten Spending in 2016
After months of battles over the details in the Russian Cabinet and among the Kremlin elite, the Russian State Duma is currently debating the 2016 federal budget. The draft submitted to the Duma shows the Kremlin's priorities for the next year, as well as the constraints on Russia both internally and externally. How Russia spends its limited resources this year will affect the country far beyond 2016. There are three areas of particular concern in the draft budget that could have far-reaching effects for Russia: spending the Kremlin's reserves, supporting regional governments and spending on defense.
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