Russia / by Lewis McKinnon

Russia's most publicised move this month was its 29 July veto of the United Nations Security Council resolution draft to set up a criminal tribunal for the disappearance of Malaysian Airline flight MH17, a decision which attracted heavy criticism. This continues Russia's isolation from the West, which was reaffirmed in the expanded list of sanctions the United States adopted against Russia this month. The sanctions also were in reaction to the Kremlin's new naval doctrine, which seeks to strengthen Russia's border defence in response to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) activities, and Russia's recent decision to ban a list of 12 'undesirable' NGOs from operating in the country. However, on July 16, after over a year-long delay, the United States, Russia, and other Arctic nations signed an agreement banning their fishing fleets from fast-thawing seas around the North Pole. Russia also garnered criticism during the preliminary draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, when officials highlighted allegations of racism in its domestic football league. Furthermore, European Union (EU) officials took note of Georgian claims that Russian troops were marking and re-drawing South Ossetia's unrecognized 'state border.' Following Serbian and Bosnian Serb lobbies for help, Russia's indication that it would veto the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica as genocide resulted in a rescheduling of the vote, drawing further international criticism. The Russian central bank lowered interest rates for the fifth time this year, albeit this months' cut represented the smallest of the five adjustments made in 2015. During a 30 July meeting between the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporing Countries (OPEC) Secretary-General and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, both parties agreed that they expect the global oil market to stabilise in 2016.