Russia

Russia by Alistair Galloway

Russia blocked a United Nation’s Security Council (UNSC) draft resolution to denounce the chemical attacks made by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier this month. An explosion in St. Petersburg metro killed eleven and injured an addition forty five. According to United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the United States will maintain the Minsk II sanctions until Crimea is returned to Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for talks with North Korea in an attempt to curb aggression. According to Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, the risk of a direct collision between the United States and Russia has significantly increased following the United States’ missile strikes in Syria. Both Russia and Iran warned the United States that they will respond with force if red lines are crossed. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated in his annual address that the Russian economy narrowly avoided catastrophe despite low global oil prices. 

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Russia by Alistair Galloway

In what is being referred to as an act of state sponsored terrorism, a former pro-Ukrainian Russian MP was shot dead in public. Russia continues to deny any state involvement in Yahoo email hack. Japan and Russia met regarding a territorial dispute of several islands north of Hokkaido. Following concerns regarding the Libyan army, Russia has deployed Special Forces units to western Egypt. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared his intentions for a closer partnership between Pakistan and Russia in the near future. India and Russia are cooperating in an attempt to upgrade the Indian tank brigade’s tank technology. Russia to lift economic sanctions on Turkey according to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Russia and Iran ink an economic deal during Hassan Rouhani’s first official visit to Moscow. The Russian Central bank unexpectedly cuts interest rates as the Russian economy continues to struggle. 

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Russia by Alistair Galloway

Early in January, Syrian rebels froze talks on a Russian backed peace conference due to ceasefire violations. Russia played mediator between rebel factions and the Assad government, in Syrian Peace Talks taking place in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana. In his first remarks as United States (US) Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson stated that Russia is a threat and should be accountable for its actions on the global stage. According to Ilya Yashin, a Russian activist and active member of Russian government, if President Vladimir Putin’s pressure on Ukraine sees a rise in pro-Moscow politicians, similar tactics would likely be used in the Baltic States. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dimitry Peskov, stated in a press briefing that he believed NATO is a vestige of the past. According to a report by global investment management group BlackRock, Russia has far surpassed expectations despite the impact of Minsk II sanctions and a crashing oil market. According to a report released by the International Monetary Fund, Russia is anticipated to see an average GDP growth of 1.5 per cent over the next five years.

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Russia by Alistair Galloway

In a response to the alleged hacking of the United States (US) election in November, US President Barrack Obama expelled 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives as well as imposed sanctions on two of Russia’s leading intelligence services. Mevlut Mert Altintas, a Turkish police officer, gunned down the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov on 19 December. Russia, Turkey, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups reached an agreement regarding a ceasefire on 27 December, with peace talks promised to occur within the month. Russia, in a statement to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on 18 December, stated it will veto any effort made by the United Nations Security Council to oversee the evacuation of civilians from Eastern Aleppo. The Russian Coast Guard mounts a search and rescue mission regarding a Russian military transport airliner that crashed on 26 December. Russia and Japan, on 16 December, have announced a new bilateral trade deal that is valued at $2.5 billion. The European Union (EU) voted in favour of an extension of Russian sanctions until mid-2017 following a failure to meet the conditions of the Minsk Peace Deal, laid out in 2014. A representative of the Russian Economic Ministry stated that it was the ministry’s expected crude oil would value at around $53 per barrel by the end of December.

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Russia by Alistair Galloway

Russia and India will sign a multilateral agreement that includes provisions for increased cooperation among air defence and energy sectors. On 5 October, President Vladimir Putin once again had a cabinet shakeup, appointing Sergei Kiriyenko as the new State Domestic Policy Strategist. Russia vetoed a United Nations (UN) resolution that would end air strikes in Aleppo. President Putin exited nuclear security pact meetings, citing 'hostile actions' by the United States. Following several meetings between President Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two nations announced future economic, energy, and military cooperation. Russia moved nuclear capable missiles into Kaliningrad, sparking concern among neighbouring states. President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia is ready to join Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) effort to limit oil supply. The United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) are considering additional economic sanctions on Russia following its actions regarding military action in the United Nations Security Council. 

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Russia by Alistair Galloway

Despite record low turnouts of 47.8 per cent voter participation, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party secured a massive majority in parliament holding 343 seats in the 450 member parliament with 54.2 per cent of total ballots being for the party. Concerns following the results of the parliamentary election have caused strife among Russian and Ukrainian citizens, some of whom are calling voter fraud. United States (US) Secretary of State John F. Kerry and senior officials of over two dozen nations met in New York on 20 September to declare that the Syria cease-fire is not dead, though they did point to Russia as to the cause of bombings of a humanitarian aid convoy earlier in the month. War crimes accusations centred on the widespread use of bunker-busting and incendiary bombs on the 275,000 civilians living in the rebel-held east of the city were made by United Kingdom (UK) ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Matthew Rycroft at the most recent UN Security Council session. A nationwide ceasefire in Syria brokered by the US and Russia began at sundown on Monday 12 September, coinciding with the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, but there are concerns throughout the international community about whether it will hold. Following a meeting of the G20, President Vladimir Putin announced a cooperative partnership on oil between Russia and the oil superpower Saudi Arabia. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich asserted that another round of US sanctions against Russia would not have any serious effect on Russia’s economy and business. 

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Russia by Lewis McKinnon

In an unpredicted move, President Vladimir Putin fired long-time chief of staff Sergei Ivanov. On 9 August Putin received a visit from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, for the first time since 15 July’s failed coup. Russia stated that it would support a 48-hour ceasefire in the city of Allepo on 18 August, according to the Russian delegate to the United Nations Security Council. According to the Russian Federal Security Service, malware was placed on several critical infrastructure servers by spies. Following Russia’s use of an Iranian military base to launch attacks on Syrian rebel groups, the United States (US) approached the United Nations (UN) to see if this is a violation of a previous Security Council Resolution. Amid tensions over the Crimean Peninsula, both Russia and Ukraine have stepped up their security presence in the region. Following the escalation of military presence in the Crimean Peninsula, the Russian markets were thrown into potential crisis due to an increased belief in continuing European Union (EU) sanctions. According to Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev, the Russian GDP will begin its rebound in October 2016. 

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Russia by Lewis McKinnon

Thirty-seven Russian athletes were banned from competing in the 2016 Olympic Games hosted in Rio de Janeiro. The Russian ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) stated at the NATO summit in Warsaw that NATO military decisions were creating a new Iron Curtain across Europe. The Russian government strongly opposed the United States' installation of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile system. The Russian and Syrian governments promised to open a route from the city of Aleppo to allow besieged civilians and surrendering rebels to exit the city. After an internal audit of Baltic Sea leadership, the Russian government discharged 50 senior naval officers for dereliction of duty. Prior to the Central Bank of Russia's annual policy meeting, Russia's gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.5 per cent. However, Russia’s economic slowdown has levelled out, with the GDP contracting by 0.6 per cent during the second quarter of 2016. 

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Russia by Lewis McKinnon

Russian Government Hackers break into United States Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) database and stole the DNC’s research on Republican Party's presumptive nominee Donald Trump. Following the incessant harassment by Russian officials on US diplomats throughout Europe, United States Secretary of State John Kerry made a formal request to President Vladimir Putin for these actions to stop. President Vladimir Putin hinted that Russia would react in a hostile manner if Finland were to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Following an apology from President Erdogan of Turkey, Russia and Turkey have started a coordinated campaign in Syria. According to the Polish defence minister, Russia is the biggest threat to global security since the height of the Soviet Union. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended Russia’s efforts in Syria ahead of a formal visit to Moscow in an attempt to further develop the Russian-Israeli economic and security relationship. The European Union (EU) extended its previous economic sanctions on Russia as of 30 June 2016 due to the failure to implement the Minsk agreements projected to be finished on 31 December 2015. Russia’s manufacturing sector returned to growth in June due to a recovery in Russian based goods demand. As oil prices dropped and sanctions continued, President Putin turned to Chinese president Xi Jinping in an attempt to broker an energy and trade deal to support his country in their economic downturn. 

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Russia by Lewis McKinnon

Leaders from Russia and Japan met in Moscow in an attempt to ease tensions between the two nations. After spending almost two years in a Russian prison, Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko was released from prison in a prisoner exchange. Russia said that eight of their Olympic athletes failed the doping retests during the 2012 London Olympics. Russia and the United States (US) reached a deal to extend the ceasefire in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo. Russia believes that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's (NATO) new anti-missile site in Romania is a threat to their national security. Russian-owned oil company Rosneft and Greece’s Hellenic Petroleum planned to sign an agreement on the supply of oil and oil products to Greece. In an attempt to circumvent the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) price setting, President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia plans to open cooperation with Indonesia. Hoping to right the ship that is the Russian economy, President Vladmir Putin appointed former finance minister Alexei Kurdin to a senior economic advisory role. According to the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Suma Chakrabarti, Russia’s economy may return to growth by the end of 2017. 

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