The Center for Strategic Studies in Moscow reports that Vladimir Putin is facing discrete political and economic risks due to Eurozone turmoil.
Greece leaving the euro could trigger a global crisis that would drop the price of oil, writes institute chief Mikhail Dmitriev, meaning a worsened Russian economy. That could lead to increased anti-Putin sentiment and more political repression.
Ksenia Yudaeva, chief economist at Sberbank, the country’s biggest lender, said Russia’s economy could contract 2.1 percent, with $95 billion in capital leaving the country in a year, should the euro start to crumble.
“This [departing] capital,” added Dmitriev in Bloomberg News, “is flying into the epicenter of the global financial crisis, which is in Europe. That is actually the same as creating a food supply in the center of an atomic explosion.”
Bank of America sees Russian oil dropping to $60-$80 should Greece and other nations leave the Eurozone. Russian oil prices need to stay around $127 per barrel for the government to balance the budget this year.
Read more about the study in Bloomberg News.
United Civil Front leader Garry Kasparov writes in the Wall Street Journal today that given Vladimir Putin’s repression of his own people and the way he cozies up to dictators (Chavez, Assad, Lukashenko), the U.S. should not be interested in a strategic partnership with the Kremlin.
Rather, he writes, U.S. lawmakers should do what they can to promote human rights in Russia, namely through the passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which would “bring visa and asset sanctions against Russian government functionaries culpable of criminal and human rights abuses.”
Read Kasparov’s entire op-ed here.
ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson (left) and Russian Prime Minister Putin (GETTY IMAGES)
Pavel Ivlev, founder and chairman of Committee for Russian Economic Freedom, released the following statement today on the Exxon-Rosneft alliance:
Through today’s agreement with Exxon, Rosneft has finally managed to give an aura of legitimacy to its theft of assets stolen from Yukos and its shareholders, including hundreds of American investors, as well as its CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who languishes in a Russian prison for crimes he did not commit.
Perhaps more than any other company, Exxon understands the pitfalls of conducting business in Russia, and while it is willing to assume the risks, the company must also seek opportunities to advocate for the pro-business reforms needed to make Russia a safer, freer place to invest and conduct business.
As it becomes a key partner to a Kremlin-run concern, Exxon can either play a formative role in pushing for much-needed rule of law protections in Russia or it will bear responsibility for abetting the Putin regime as it launders its ill-gotten gains and seeks to expand its personal wealth at the expense of the Russian people.
After more than 18 years of negotiations, Russia has finally been accepted into the World Trade Organization, making it the last of the world’s major economies to join the international body.
The Russian parliament has six months to ratify the responsibilities that are part of WTO membership.
For more information on the WTO accepting Russia, read this.
As tens of thousands of Russians demonstrated across the country this weekend, protesting the rigged Duma elections of Dec. 4, two prominent figures, billionaire industrialist Mikhail Prokhorov (also known as the owner of the New Jersey Nets) and former finance minister Aleksei Kudrin have announced their intentions to run for president against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in March.
More on this development here.
“Trust, but verify” – “doveryai, no proveryai” or “Доверяй, но проверяй” – was President Ronald Reagan’s catchphrase in pressing Soviet leaders for weapons inspections. Now nearly a quarter-century later, trust between the US and Russia is in short supply as President Obama and Russian President Medvedev were unable to show progress on missile defense. Tension levels were already edging higher after the U.S. State Department raised concerns over a Moscow appeals court’s decision to uphold a guilty verdict for former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky on a second round of politically motivated charges, spurring capital flight from Russia amid investors fear that Prime Minister Putin will elbow Medvedev from power.
Pavel Ivlev, CREF’s chairman remarked,
The US and the Western world shall not forget what President Reagan said. “Trust, but verify” is very much applicable to Medvedev today, who is known of saying right words, but very weak on delivery.