Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Photo Of The Week
Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks in the Kremlin with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. (Source: Kremlin.ru)
In The News:
Attack On Saudi Oil Facilities
News In Brief: Abkhazia's Armed Forces; Family Of Putin's Chief Of Staff Found To Own 1.6 Billion Rubles' Worth Of Real Estate; Russia-China Relations; Russia-Turkey Relations; Russia-Egypt Relations
On September 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks in the Kremlin with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. From the Russian side, the meeting was attended by First Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov, Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin.
President Vladimir Putin: "Bilateral trade has grown 10 percent in recent months. It is satisfying to note that to a large extent, the growth is due to mutual supplies, including agricultural produce.
"We believe it is very important, given the difficult situation in Venezuela because of external pressure. So I think this part can be viewed as a kind of humanitarian cooperation, because these products are essential to the people's well-being and their immediate food needs...
"We are also implementing our major projects, primarily those in the energy sector. In all, Russia has invested about $4 billion in the Venezuelan economy.
"I would also like to note our military and military-technical cooperation. First of all, this is linked with Russia's obligations to service the Russian-made equipment purchased by Venezuela in the past. Components are delivered, and service centers are established on time and in strict compliance with our agreements.
"Of course, we also cooperate actively on the international arena. You know that Russia consistently supports all legitimate institutions of state authority, including the institution of the President and Parliament. We certainly support dialogue that you, Mr. President, and your Government conduct with the opposition forces. We consider any refusal to maintain dialogue as something irrational, detrimental to the country and jeopardizing the well-being of the Venezuelan people. We always support legitimate institutions of state authority. We are very happy to see you in Russia."
President Nicolas Maduro: "I am very happy to be here, in Russia, once again. I believe that we can jointly cope with any difficulties.
"We support our cooperation in all areas. Members of the Venezuelan-Russian high-level commission met this past May, and many matters discussed at its meeting were successfully resolved. This includes a number of areas, such as food supplies, healthcare, energy and many others.
"That is why our meeting today is very important. We can review this year's achievements and see what problems remain, what realities we are facing, how the situation is developing in a number of areas, and we can chart future plans.
"We always feel very comfortable in Moscow, and we are always happy to be here."
(Kremlin.ru, September 25, 2019)
"Successful visit to Moscow! A working meeting with our brother President Vladimir Putin, with whom we reviewed the entire map of cooperation in the political, economic, diplomatic, international, regional fields, among other important issues for Russia and Venezuela."
(Twitter.com/NicolasMaduro, September 27, 2019)
(Twitter.com/NicolasMaduro, September 27, 2019)
At their Kremlin talks on September 25, Putin and Maduro discussed military and technical cooperation, whereas the issue of extending loans to Caracas was not raised, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. (Tass.com, September 26, 2019; read the full article)
A group of Russian military specialists has arrived in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Interfax reported, as Maduro meets with Putin to improve cooperation. (Themoscowtimes.com, September 25, 2091; read the full article)
Putin: Russia Develops New Generation Weapons Capable Of Ensuring A Global Strategic Balance For Decades To Come
On September 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent greetings to participants in an event for Nuclear Industry Workers' Day. In his speech he said:
"It is important to ensure that this tremendous intellectual and technological legacy and the truly inexhaustible innovative potential of the nuclear industry are fully utilized to modernize the nation's economy, ensure national defense capability and energy security, and enhance Russia's competitive edge in global markets. I would like to note that unquestionable achievements of the current generation of nuclear industry workers include the development of new generation weapons capable of ensuring a global strategic balance for decades to come; development of nuclear generation in line with the latest requirements and fast neutron reactors; completion of the construction of the world's first floating nuclear power plant; and a tangible contribution to digitization, as well as applied and fundamental science…"
(Kremlin.ru, September 24, 2019)
Russia is capable of ensuring nuclear parity without being drawn into an arms race, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a meeting with students from the Higher Schools of Economics (HSE). (Tass.com, September 24, 2019; read the full article)
Russia will have to carry out additional analysis of threats to national security and strategic stability with regard to U.S. plans to arm its military forces with short- and medium-range missiles as soon as possible, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. (Tass.com, September 21, 2019; read the full article)
Moscow is accusing Washington of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and remains committed to the spirit and letter of the document, Kremlin spokesman Peskov told reporters. "As far as NATO is concerned, we absolutely disagree with any accusations against Russia. The Russian side has not violated the letter and spirit of the INF Treaty, and on the contrary, it continues consistently accusing the US of violating the INF Treaty, and there are grounds for that," he said. (Tass.com, September 26, 2019; read the full article)
NATO decision to reject Russia's proposal about a moratorium on deploying short- and medium-range missiles came as no surprise to Moscow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said. (Tass.com, September 26, 2019; read the full article)
Attack On Saudi Oil Facilities
(SVR) Director Sergei Naryshkin Slams 'Flimsy' Accusations Regarding Attack On Saudi Oil Facilities
Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergei Naryshkin said that unfounded allegations about some country being involved in the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities are inadmissible.
"We obviously condemn such actions. However, very clear unbiased evidence of guilt is required. Flimsy allegations about some country, movement or any other force being the initiator of those actions are inadmissible," he said.
The situation around the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities was discussed at a meeting on September 23, Naryshkin said. "We discussed our cooperation in reversing the situation in the Middle East as well. Of course, we mentioned the dangerous events connected with attacks on the energy infrastructure of Saudi Arabia," he noted.
(Tass.com, September 23, 2019)
Saudi Arabia did not request Russia's assistance after the attacks on oil facilities, Kremlin spokesman Peskov said. "It's unclear whether they need help. It's unlikely. They already have all the necessary capabilities." (Vedomosti.ru, September 15, 2019; read the full article in Russian)
Comment by the Information and Press Department on attack against oil infrastructure facilities in Saudi Arabia: "Moscow is seriously concerned about these developments. We resolutely denounce strikes against non-military targets, the destruction of the socio-economic infrastructure and any actions that can destabilize fuel and energy supply and demand, provoke a new wave of instability on the global hydrocarbon market and spell negative consequences for the world economy..." (Mid.ru, September 16, 2019; read the full statement)
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak: "We have a law on the safety of fuel and energy facilities, it is being implemented, and in accordance with this law all necessary measures are taken to protect such facilities. Such situations as an attack on the facilities of Saudi Arabia require once again an assessment of the current situation." (Tass.ru, September 16, 2019; read the full article in Russian)
Putin: S-300 And S-400 Triumph Anti-Aircraft System Would Offer Reliable Protection For Any Saudi Infrastructure Facilities
On September 16, following a trilateral meeting between the leaders of the guarantor states of the Astana process on the settlement in Syria, Russian President Putin answered a question about the attacks in Saudi Arabia with a quote from the Quran.
Putin said: "We did not discuss the airstrikes against Saudi Arabia's refineries. However, you know our position, I mean Russia's position. First, it is true that an extreme humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Yemen. Disaster is the right word to describe what is going on in that country. We are ready to help and call on everyone who can do this to follow our lead. This is my first point.
"Second, we believe that the best way to overcome this crisis is to facilitate agreements between all the parties involved in the conflict. Here in Turkey, in a predominately Muslim country, a verse from the Quran comes to mind: 'And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers.' I believe that this message is highly relevant: you became, by His favor, brothers. It is emphasized that things that set people apart and bring about conflict must be relegated to the background, while the spiritual kinship among people must prevail.
"As for assisting Saudi Arabia, it is also written in the Quran that violence of any kind is illegitimate except when protecting one's people. In order to protect them and the country, we are ready to provide the necessary assistance to Saudi Arabia. All the political leaders of Saudi Arabia have to do is take a wise decision, as Iran did by buying the S-300 missile system, and as President Erdogan did when he bought Russia's latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft system. They would offer reliable protection for any Saudi infrastructure facilities."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani then asked: "So do they need to buy the S-300 or the S-400?"
Putin answered: "It is up to them to decide."
(Kremlin.ru, September 16, 2019)
A leading expert at the Russian Union of Oil and Gas Industrialists, Rustam Tankaev, said: "Saudi Arabia was negotiating with Russia about the possible purchase of the S-400. And, apparently, this incident will spur this process."
(News.rambler.ru, September 16, 2019)
Russian expert Gevorg Mirzayan commented: "Saudi facilities are protected by American air defense systems, but they are outdated. And now Moscow offers Riyadh its help, since Russia, in particular, has quite a successful experience in protecting against the drones in Khmeimim. If Saudi Arabia chooses to purchase the Russian S-300 or S-400 systems, it will be an even bigger blow to the credibility of American arms manufacturers than the purchase of similar systems by Turkey..."
(Radiosputnik.ria.ru, September 17, 2019)
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Saudi Ambassador to Moscow Raid Krimli discussed preparation for President Putin's visit to Riyadh, as well as the situation in Yemen and the Persian Gulf, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Putin's Riyadh visit is scheduled for October. (Urdupoint.com, September 23, 2019; read the full article)
Telephone conversation with Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud. (Kremlin.ru, September 18, 2019; read the full transcript)
News In Brief:
Abkhazia's Armed Forces
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered to sign an agreement on earmarking funds on modernizing Abkhazia's Armed Forces, according to an executive order published on the legal information website. (Tass.com, September 23, 2019; read the full article)
Family Of Putin's Chief Of Staff Found To Own 1.6 Billion Rubles' Worth Of Real Estate
The family of Anton Vaino, chief of staff of Russia's presidential administration, reportedly owns properties in Moscow and the Moscow region worth a total of 1.6 billion rubles ($25 million). The Russian outlet Republic reported its discovery of the properties on September 23. (Meduza.io, September 23, 2019; read the full article)
Moscow hopes to cooperate with Beijing on Syria's post-conflict recovery, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said in an article published in the International Affairs magazine. (Tass.com, September 20, 2019; read the full article)
Turkey's purchase of Russian-made S-400 air-defense systems should not negatively affect the country's relations with the U.S., Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. (Dailysabah.com, September 26, 2019; read the full article)
Egypt, Russia coordinate preparations for Russia-Africa summit in October. (Ahram.org.eg, September 26, 2019; read the full article)