Eurasian Affairs – June 2020

The US Embassy in Russia flew the LGBTQ flag under the US flag for Pride Month, 2020. Picture shared on the US Embassy official Facebook page.

Eurasian Affairs looks at the wide expanse of Eurasia and particularly focuses on those issues affecting relations between Eurasian states and the US and/or with Russia. Also of specific interest within that focus are issues that might affect global economic, human rights, or military concerns.

This free resource from GeoHistory serves to track and analyze these issues as they develop.



Russia to Offer Simplified E-Visas to Tourists From 53 Countries in 2021
Russian lawmakers have passed legislation that will allow foreign tourists from 53 countries to visit Russia with an electronic visa starting next year, the Kommersant business daily reported on June 29.

Russia likely to decline any G7 invitation
US President Donald Trump expressed his intention to expand the Group of Seven (G7) to invite leaders of Russia, India, Australia and South Korea to the annual summit, which he has postponed until September. His proposal to include Moscow in the forum has caught global attention.

Global remittances to suffer a blow from COVID-19
Many low-income countries depend on remittances for survival. The World Bank expects remittances to fall 20% this year from a peak of $554bn in 2019.



Despite SpaceX Success NASA Will Pay Russia $90 Million To Take U.S. Astronaut To The ISS
NASA plans to pay the Russian space agency to launch one of its astronauts—and Russian cosmonauts will likely travel to space from Florida next year.


Oil Price

Russia Gets Higher Oil Prices as Payoff for Joining OPEC+ Cuts
Russian oil prices are surging, offering the country a timely reminder of why it’s helping OPEC and other producers to make the deepest output cuts in history.



Russian general decries ‘provocative’ NATO drills near its border
The Russian military on June 1 accused the U.S. and its NATO allies of conducting “provocative” military drills near the nation’s borders, a statement that reflected simmering Russia-NATO tensions.

Putin heightens the strategic role of the Northern Fleet
In an early June decree, President Vladimir Putin de facto equals the Northern Fleet with a military district.

US may trigger arms race cycle in Europe by moving troops from Germany to Poland
The US authorities may make a decision to redeploy part of their military contingent from Germany to Poland, thus triggering another arms race cycle in Europe, the Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the National Research University-Higher School of Economics, member of the Valdai discussion club Dmitry Suslov has said.

F-22s Intercept Two More Russian Bomber Formations Near Alaska
For the second time in a week, F-22 Raptors, supported by KC-135 Stratotankers and an E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, intercepted two formations of Russian bombers off the coast of Alaska, North American Aerospace Defense Command announced.

NATO’s budget is 20 times Russia’s military spending
As a result of NATO’s “soaring” military activity an unpredictable military-political situation is unfolding, according to the chief Russian delegate.

        – Nuclear

Decoding Russia’s Official Nuclear Deterrence Paper
In a world where major powers are unconstrained by mutual obligations regarding their most powerful arms, proper communication is key to avoid fateful mistakes.

Russia will never initiate use of nuclear weapons
The Kremlin spokesman noted that this is stipulated in the basic principles of Russia’s state policy in the sphere of nuclear deterrence.

F-15E becomes first aircraft compatible with new nuclear bomb design
America’s newest nuclear bomb design has been successfully tested on the F-15E, making the Strike Eagle the first fighter jet to be officially compatible with the B61-12 design.

Russia, China build case at U.N. to protect Iran from U.S. sanctions threat
Russia and China have started making the case at the United Nations against Washington’s claim that it can trigger a return of all sanctions on Iran at the Security Council, with Moscow invoking a 50-year-old international legal opinion to argue against the move.

Russia and US to resume nuclear disarmament talks in Vienna this month
ussia and the US confirmed that they will resume talks this month on extending a major nuclear disarmament treaty but Washington’s insistence China should be part of the deal may hamper dialogue.

Everything (we are allowed to tell you) about Russia’s next generation strategic bomber
The monster is to be equipped with nuclear missiles able to reach distances of up to 5,000 kilometers (3,106 miles).

U.S., Russian Envoys End First Day Of Talks On Nuclear Arms Treaty
The United States and Russia on June 22 opened two days of talks on their last remaining nuclear arms control, the New START treaty, which caps the number of deployed long-range nuclear warheads each can have.

Trump administration says it won’t carry out a nuclear weapons test ‘at this time’
The US told Russia that that there is no reason for the Trump administration to carry out a nuclear weapons test “at this time,” during nuclear negotiations in Vienna in late June, but reserved the right to conduct one if they see a need to do so.

Trump Administration Weighs Extending New START Nuclear Treaty
President’s decision about pact with Russia will be influenced by whether China joins arms-control negotiations and progress toward tougher agreement.

Russia’s priority is to involve UK, France in future nuclear arms control talks
The two states are the US closest NATO allies that possess nuclear weapons, the senior diplomat explained.

Nuclear watchdog says any US test would be ‘grave challenge to peace
Lassina Zerbo, head of body monitoring test ban treaty, responds to White House discussions about potential first US test for 28 years.


Central Asia 

China and Russia blur lines on “division of labour” in exerting influence over Central Asia
China’s growing influence over Central Asian economics, politics and security at the expense of Russia—a topic that is revisited repeatedly given its essential strategic import—continues to grab the attention of the region’s geopolitical observers.



Coronavirus success helps incumbent MPP to landslide win in Mongolia’s parliamentary election
The ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) has won a landslide victory in Mongolia’s eighth parliamentary election, winning 62 seats of the 76 seats in the State Great Khural compared to the 65 it took in the previous poll, and 40% of the vote. Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa can now move ahead and form a cabinet to serve as the 17th government since a revolution brought communism to an end in Mongolia 30 years ago.

The Sino-Indian Clash: Russia in the Middle
The Sino-Indian clash puts Russia in an awkward position.



Russia says Armenia to make Kalashnikovs, US senator ‘alarmed by Trump administration military aid for Azerbaijan’
Armenia reportedly has plans to start production of Russian AK-103 Kalashnikov rifles during the first 10 days of July.

Armenia and Karabakh announce construction of third connecting highway
Armenia and the de facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh will build a third road connecting the two territories next year, a senior Armenian official has announced.



NATO returns to Libya to challenge Russia
The great game in Libya has begun surging with the United States shedding its strategic ambivalence and resorting to a proactive role.



Lithuania spurns Baltic presidents’ meeting amid nuclear power rift
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda refused to attend a planned meeting with his Estonian and Latvian counterparts on June 25, saying he did so after the countries failed to agree to ban electricity purchases from a new nuclear power plant in Belarus.

EU Extends Economic Sanctions Against Russia Over Ukrainian Conflict
European Union member states have formally extended a six-month extension of economic sanctions imposed against Russia over its role in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Duda and Trzaskowski re-launch campaigns ahead of final stage of crucial presidential contest
Poland’s incumbent President Andrzej Duda and his rival Rafal Trzaskowski dived headfirst into the final two weeks of the presidential election campaign on June 29 after the near-complete results of the first round set up a run-off vote between the two.

        – Belarus

Western nations step up pressure on Belarus amid election crackdown
The embassies of United States and United Kingdom in Minsk have slammed the Belarusian authorities for the June 19 crackdown on protesters, while the European Union has urged Minsk to release recently detained Viktor Babariko, an outspoken critic of Belarusian authoritarian President Alexandr Lukashenko.

Thousands of protesters form line in Minsk as Belarus law enforcers detain Lukashenko’s main rival
Thousands of anti-government protesters spontaneously formed a line around four-five km long in central Minsk in the evening on June 18 following the detention by Belarusian law enforcers of Viktor Babariko, an outspoken critic of Belarusian authoritarian President Alexandr Lukashenko and who is going to participate in the August election.

Valery Tsepkalo out of the Belarusian presidential race, six candidates left in
Valery Tsepkalo, one of the three leading opposition candidates that want to run against Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in the August 9 presidential elections, has been excluded from the race. The other two are in jail.

        – Ukraine

Almost half Ukrainians believe Ukraine is collapsing
Residents of western Ukraine tend to be more positive in their views, while those residing in the east and the south of the country are more downbeat, as per the survey.

Ukraine’s green energy disaster is sliding towards a power crisis
Ukraine is heading towards a power crisis in the next few weeks if the government cannot come to terms with the irate owners of the country’s burgeoning green energy sector.

DOD Announces $250M to Ukraine
The Department of Defense announced on June 11 its plans for $250 million in Fiscal Year 2020 Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds for additional training, equipment, and advisory efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s capacity to more effectively defend itself against Russian aggression.

Second wave of coronavirus hitting Ukraine
Ukraine has recorded record-high new infection rates for five days in a row as it appears a second wave of infections has hit after the government eased restrictions in the last weeks.

Ukraine’s General Prosecutor Office is petitioning for a Poroshenko arrest warrant
Ukraine’s General Prosecutor Office is petitioning the courts for an arrest warrant for former president Petro Poroshenko and is asking for bail to be set at UAH10mn ($373,000), Ukrainska Pravda reported on June 16.

The Reconstruction of 3 Russian Gas Pipelines Will Turn Two-Thirds of Ukraine’s Gas Transit System Into Scrap Metal
Russia’s Gazprom has started to dismantle pipes in the direction of Ukraine for two reasons – asset optimisation and manoeuvring against EU pretensions.

Ukraine to review, axe treaties with Russia
Ukraine continues revision of bilateral documents signed with Russia and intends to quit another part of Ukrainian-Russian treaties, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Bondar said.

Poll indicates sharp decline in Ukrainian president’s approval rating
As many as 23% of respondents approve of the Ukrainian government’s performance and 59% disapprove of it, a poll conducted by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology indicates.



U.S. senators move to tighten sanctions on delayed Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline
U.S. senators announced a bill on Thursday expanding sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline and targeting the project Washington says will boost Moscow’s economic and political influence in Germany and other European countries.

Russia Gets More US Ventilators as Coronavirus Cases Climb
A planeload of 150 ventilators arrived in Russia from the United States on Thursday, Washington’s embassy in Moscow said, to help fight the novel coronavirus in further medical aid collaboration between the two politically-estranged nations.

Russian Newspaper Coverage of the US Time of Troubles
How are the recent events in America described in major Russian media outlets?

“We Have No Trust, No Confidence Whatsoever” in America
The National Interest editor Jacob Heilbrunn interviews Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov about the New START Treaty and the state of U.S.-Russia relations.

Russia’s Nord Stream II Handed A Potential Death Knell
The Russian energy giant Gazprom isn’t going to like this. Angela Merkel might like it even less.

Russia, US agree to meeting of experts on military doctrines
Russia and the US agreed to a meeting of experts on military doctrines and nuclear strategies during the June 22 Vienna talks on stability and arms control, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on June 25.

US-Russian relations
Russian analytical digest, issue 253, June 2020.

New York Times takes anti-Russian hysteria to new level with report on Russian ‘bounty’ for US troops in Afghanistan
The New York Times published an article claiming that Russia was paying out monetary bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan. There’s just one problem — none of what they reported was true.

About the Author

Alex Sitnikov

Alex holds a BA in Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language (RFL) and is currently on his way to get an MA in Translation. He came to Moscow from Tolyatti to study at Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2013 and has been in love with the city ever since. In March 2018 Alex joined SRAS to help coordinate student activities in Moscow. When he’s not occupied with that, Alex likes to play guitar and read.