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December 29, 2019 No.
8441

Russia This Week – Focus On Russia’s Bilateral Relations – December 29, 2019

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


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

In The News:

  • Friendly Game Of The All-Russian Night Hockey League
  • Russia-Iran Relations
  • Russia-Libya Relations
  • Russia-Belarus Relations
  • Meeting Of The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council
  • Head Of The Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin: Putin Saved Russia's Economy
  • WWII – Putin: ‘But What Did The Other Countries Do, Poland, For Example? They Actually Conspired With Hitler’
  • Nord Stream 2
  • News in Brief: Information Warfare; START 3; Defense; BRICS; Russia-Israel Relations; National Projects

Friendly Game Of The All-Russian Night Hockey League


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

 


(Source: Kremlin.ru)


(Source: Kremlin.ru)


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

On December 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in a friendly game of the All-Russian Night Hockey League on the eve of New Year on a skating rink on Red Square.

As usual, the Russian leader wore his No. 11 jersey. His team included Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the legendary Russian hockey players Pavel Bure, Valery Kamensky, Sergei Fyodorov and Alexei Kasatonov.

They played against governors Andrei Vorobyov and Alexei Dyumin, business managers Gennady Timchenko, Vladimir Potanin and Roman Rotenberg, musician Igor Butman and others.

Vladimir Putin’s team won 8–5.

(Kremlin.ru, December 25, 2019)

Russia-Iran Relations

On the "Great Game" talk show on Russia's First Channel Russian FM Lavrov stated:

"One must not approach Iran in the way they are trying to do from Washington. This is not simply a very flagrant violation of the UN charter to refuse to fulfill a resolution adopted by the UNSC and having a binding character, but moreover it is quite coarse to address demands to the Islamic Republic of Iran – a country with a civilization of thousands of years, traditions and with a huge sense of its own dignity.”

(Ria.ru, December 22, 2019)

Russia-Libya Relations


Haftar with Russian FM Sergey Lavrov (Source: Sputniknews.com, August 14, 2017)

The Russian media outlet VZGLYAD reported that in recent days, the diplomatic activity around Libya has reached a new level. According to Lev Dengov, head of the Russian contact group on the intra-Libyan settlement, the current military-political situation proves the relevance of the negotiations between Russia and Turkey for resolving the conflict. "This will depend only on the results of the negotiations between the leaders of Russia and Turkey. The same applies to the discussions about the options of compromise between Moscow and Ankara," Dengov said.

The Russian expert Kirill Semenov also does not exclude the possibility that Moscow and Ankara may reach a compromise, and that mutual concessions might be relevant also for Syria. “First of all, Moscow does not aim at supporting Marshal Haftar [leader of the Libyan National Army], as the press says. Russia has even less close contacts with his opponent Fayyez Al-Sarraj [the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA)]. Secondly, Moscow officially denies supporting any of the parties to the conflict, advocating [instead] a peaceful resolution. The differences between the two countries over Libya have nothing to do, for example, with the differences over Syria. Therefore, there is a chance for compromise. And we have repeatedly observed how Putin and Erdogan are able to negotiate with each other,” Semenov said.

Professor Mikhail Roshchin, a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, suggests that Erdogan, as a compromise, could offer Moscow "something to appease Marshal Haftar" so that he "doesn't attack Tripoli so harshly" and agrees to negotiate with Sarraj. In return, Ankara will abandon its plans to send troops to Libya.

“This is a real option for compromise. At the official level, we do not support Haftar. But it is well known that Russia gives him some protection. Therefore, we have no choice but to persuade the Marshal to negotiate with Tripoli,” Roshchin told the newspaper VZGLYAD.

Roshchin said that, at this stage, the compromise consists precisely in getting Sarraj and Haftar to the negotiating table.

However, the implementation of such agreements between Russia and Turkey will hit U.S. interests, Russian experts say. "Washington is not against Sarraj or Haftar. But Washington doesn't like the Russians working with Haftar. That's why he met with the Americans in November, explaining his position to them," Kirill Semenov recalled. “It should also be borne in mind that Haftar retained [his] American citizenship, he lived in the USA for a long time and has always been associated with the Americans. Therefore, they are trying to maintain their leverage, fearing Moscow's excessive strengthening in this Arab country,” the expert added.

“And now the Americans are twice as dissatisfied: Moscow, in their opinion, is increasingly influencing Haftar, and Turkey, with which the Americans also have problems, is increasingly supporting Sarraj. In light of the aggravation of the relations between Washington, Moscow and Ankara, this is not a good sign for the Americans,” Semenov summed up.

(Vz.ru, December 19, 2019)

Read More:

  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reiterated on Thursday his support for the Libyan National Army (LNA). Putin said that the situation in Libya must be resolved in a peaceful way. "We believe that any intervention by third countries in this situation is unlikely to contribute to a settlement, but any attempts by third countries to directly resolve the problem and help parties to the conflict come to a solution are always welcome," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry stressed. Turkey will send troops to Libya at the request of Tripoli as soon as next month, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. Erdogan backs the GNA that is led by al-Sarraj. (Aawsat.com, December 26, 2019; read the full article)

Russia-Belarus Relations

Belarus President Lukashenko: We Have Not Drifted Far Away From Each Other In Economic, Political And Social Terms After The Breakup Of The Soviet Union


(Source: Kremlin.ru)


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

On December 20, Putin met with the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko ahead of the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. The two leaders met earlier on December 7, in Sochi.

Putin: “Mr President, friends, We are happy to see you, this time in St Petersburg.

“Today we have another important and pleasant event with our colleagues from integrational organizations.

“Recently, on December 8, we marked the 20th anniversary of the Union Treaty. First of all I would like to note that although many things – we have spoken with you about this – have not been done under this treaty, there are significant results.

“When we began this process, our bilateral trade was $9 billion. Today it amounts to $35.5. This is a significant result. Besides, there are issues resolved in the social spheres and people are getting good support.

“And, of course, the experience we have acquired together, I mean between the two countries as part of this interstate building, is widely used in forming integrational organizations, such as the EAEU. So this also has a prolonged effect for us and our partners.

“I know that our colleagues have been working actively since our previous meeting. We are very happy to see you so we can continue this discussion.”

Lukashenko: “Yes, Mr President, a lot has been accomplished.

“For some reason, we do not always say what has been accomplished, and how much has been accomplished. True, we have accomplished a lot in the social sector, for our people, but we can also boast many economic achievements as well.

“You mentioned the main statistics, namely, trade volumes, but we have established a common defense infrastructure, as well as one for the operation of our secret services that maintain contacts.

“We have always stated that we have no questions for our diplomatic agencies, and we have a common border and a joint customs system in the west. Today, 110 million tons of freight are delivered from the east to the west and vice versa via Belarus.

“We have a joint customs system, a common border, a joint air defense system, and Russia and Belarus have established a joint army group in the western sector.

“Russia has no problems overflying Belarus, and we always provide decent air traffic control. Belarus and Russia have never had any disagreements on air traffic matters. Our airports in Moscow and Minsk and elsewhere function very efficiently. They also cooperate well with our regions.

“In addition, as I have already mentioned to you, our company, Belarusneft, has resumed operations in Russia and already provides services to various companies. It not only reactivates old fields using various technologies; Belarusneft has been going strong since the Soviet era. It already produces oil in the Russian Federation together with other companies. In other words, there is huge progress in the economy.

“Speaking of people, Belarus now buys Russian-made raw materials and components. Over ten million Russians work at Russian companies with which Belarusian companies maintain contacts. Speaking of families, we usually multiply by four. Just imagine, how many people are involved in our mutual trade and joint co-production arrangements.

“Therefore, generally speaking, we have not drifted far away from each other in economic, political and social terms after the breakup of the Soviet Union. This, too, is a major achievement of this Treaty. We have failed to implement its provisions, but we have not drifted away completely, as is the case in Russia’s relations with other former Soviet republics, and not just the three Baltic states and Ukraine. This is what we have accomplished in the past few years.

“As you have noted correctly, we have a lot of work to do.”

(Kremlin.ru, December 20, 2019)

Belarus Expert Bolkunets: Lukashenko Is Crossing Some Boundaries

On December 24, in an interview with the Echo of Moskow radio station, Belarus President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said that Moscow every year “puts pressure” on Minsk and “tightens the grip”. In addition, he noted that, to date, the trade deficit between the two countries has reached $ 9 billion, and compared the situation to the US-Chinese trade conflict.

Belarusian political analyst Dmitry Bolkunets, in an interview with "Evening Moscow", commented on Lukashenko's remarks.

According to Bolkunets, Lukashenko is crossing some boundaries and barriers in his statements, which doesn't reinforce his position, but on the contrary his behavior shows his weakness as a country's leader. Contrary to Lukashenko's alarm about a loss of sovereignty, Bolkunets claims that the terms currently being discussed within the framework of the Union State are aimed at strengthening Belarusian sovereignty, and not at weakening it.

He then added that when Lukashenko is in Russia, he never makes scandals - he behaves peacefully, smiles and is tactful.

(Vm.ru, December 24, 2019)

Lukashenko On Belarus’ Sovereignty

In the interview with editor-in-chief of the Ekho Moskvy radio station Aleksei Venediktov on 24 December, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko commented on Belarus’s sovereignty.

Asked whether Belarus' sovereignty is threatened right now, Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that the country is in the focus of many events and parties working at cross-purposes. “All interests interlace here these days. From the west to the east (and not only Russian ones), from the south to the north. This is the situation we have. And while we are in this cauldron, we have to act carefully and precisely to avoid getting boiled. It is the problem I have to deal with. And you criticize me for turning either to the west or the east. Let me tell you that I turn to neither. Here is the land god has given us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

At the same time Aleksandr Lukashenko said he does not feel some growing threat to Belarus' sovereignty. He explained that no one wants to threaten Belarus' sovereignty because the interests of global players will be affected. “Is it a threat from the side of Russia as some say? Does Russia need another headache in this situation? It doesn't. Certainly, Russia will act gently and carefully,” Aleksandr Lukashenko believes.

“If Russia tries to violate our sovereignty, you know how not only the international community will react. It will get involved in a war. The West and NATO will not tolerate it because they will deem it as a threat. They will be right to some extent in this regard.” On the other hand, if the West wants to capture or subdue Belarus, it will be deemed as a threat to Russia's sovereignty.

“There is a difference between small-range and medium-range rockets deployed near Smolensk and the same rockets deployed far away in Poland,” the head of state noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that only economic hardships may pose a genuine threat to his country's sovereignty. “When the state of economy gets terrible, when people cannot live with it,” he said.

(Belta.by, December 24, 2019)

Lukashenko Describes Belarus As Russia's Outpost

Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “I said this at our latest meeting. I said that we are Russia's outpost. I asked the president [Vladimir Putin] the question: do you really think we will let tanks go towards Moscow should they decide to invade. Of course I am speaking figuratively here. They do not use tanks for warfare today. They do not start with tanks, tanks are used later.”

“But should anyone want to get into some fighting with Russia, we will not stay away”, Lukashenko emphasized.”

(Belta.by, December 24, 2019)

Lukashenko On Ukraine

I do not see Ukraine's possible accession to NATO as a potential threat to Belarus, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said in the interview with Ekho Moskvy radio station.

“I do not see it that way. I have already told Putin about this and I will tell you: the biggest threat to Russia, as far as Ukraine is concerned, will not be accession to NATO, but if the ‘nazis' as you brand them will come to power and get their hands on all the weapons and ammunition. I certainly do not agree with the way you call them. I do not want to insult anyone. Everyone has their own concepts. But you know these radical national forces in Ukraine. This will be scarier for you than NATO. You think about it. It is a dangerous thing," the Belarusian leader said.

(Belta.by, December 24, 2019)

Read More:

  • ‘Russia Is a Part of Belarus,’ President Lukashenko Quips. (Themoscowtimes.com, December 25, 2019; read the full article)
  • Belarus serves as Russia's outpost, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said in an interview with editor-in-chief of the Ekho Moskvy radio station Aleksei Venediktov on 24 December. (Belta.by, December 26, 2019; watch the video)
  • Editor-in-Chief of the radio station Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) Aleksei Venediktov said that, during the interview, Aleksandr Lukashenko presented his view on further integration in the Union State of Belarus and Russia in detail and sincerely. In particular, he said that the interview will help change the Russian public's inaccurate perception of Aleksandr Lukashenko as a capricious leader. “This is quite a popular belief not only among the general public but the elite as well. Because when disputes happen, the stance moves all the time and the actions may seem capricious. The Belarus president has presented his views in no-nonsense terms now,” the journalist noted. (Belta.by, December 24, 2019; read the full article)
  • Izvestia: Russia, Belarus set sights on signing integration deal by early 2020. (Tass.com, December 27, 2019; read the full article)

Meeting Of The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

On December 20, Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, First President of Kazakhstan and Honorary Chairman of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council Nursultan Nazarbayev and President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov held a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, in St. Petersburg. The President of Moldova Igor Dodon also attended the meeting in an expanded format. In 2020, the rotating Presidency of the EAEU will pass from Armenia to Belarus.

Watch Video:

  • More Integration and More Subsidies: Putin’s Negotiates New Deal With Belarus’ Lukashenko. (Vesti, December 23, 2019; watch the video)

Head Of The Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin: Putin Saved Russia's Economy


Alexei Kudrin (Source: Silaedinstva.ru)

Alexei Kudrin, head of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to create reserve funds actually saved the country's economy. Putin gave this order in 2008, when he was serving as prime minister [and Kudrin served as finance minister\.

According to Kudrin, Putin was the only one who supported the idea of organizing the Stabilization Fund, then the Reserve Fund, then the National Heritage Fund, Kudrin opined that these measures helped resolve the crisis that engulfed the country in 2008-2009.

“In this sense, it is to his credit in many respects, despite the fact that we came up with it or we thought it through, nevertheless, it was created only thanks to his political will,” Kudrin noted.

Kudrin noted that thanks to the funds, the level of wages remained at the same level and did not fall, while the size of pensions doubled.

The Russian government has accumulated significant reserves in the Stabilization Fund at the beginning of the financial crisis. In 2008, it was decided to divide the fund into the Reserve and National Wealth funds. It was at the expense of the Reserve Fund that the authorities managed to support the economy and fulfill all the budget obligations. By 2018, the Reserve Fund was completely exhausted.

Currently, the authorities are redirecting all additional oil and gas revenues to the National Welfare Fund, which acts as a “safety cushion” for the budget.

According to the Ministry of Finance of Russia, total reserves in the National Welfare Fund reached 7.9 trillion rubles ($ 124 billion) as of December 1, 2019.

(Vm.ru, December 25, 2019; Rt.com, December 25, 2019)

WWII Putin: ‘But What Did The Other Countries Do, Poland, For Example? They Actually Conspired With Hitler’


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

On December 24, Vladimir Putin took part in the Defense Ministry Board meeting held at the National Defense Control Centre. During the Defense Ministry Board meeting, Putin also discussed the role of European countries in WWII. Commenting on Poland, Putin used strong words to criticize the Polish ambassador to Nazi Germany, Josef Lipski, who backed Hitler in 1938. “That bastard! That anti-Semitic pig – I have no other words,” Putin said referring to Lipski.

Putin said:

“… The USSR was the last country in Europe to sign the Treaty of Non-aggression with Germany. The last. All the other leading European countries did this before the Soviet Union. Yes, the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (let me remind you that Ribbentrop was Germany’s foreign minister, and Molotov was the foreign minister and chairman of the Council of Ministers) was signed, and there was also a secret protocol which defined the spheres of influence.

“But what have the European countries been doing before that? The same! They had all done the same thing, starting in 1938, when Hitler claimed part of Czechoslovakia, and Great Britain and France turned their backs on their ally, although France had a treaty of mutual assistance with Czechoslovakia. Thus Hitler got a chance to seize part of the country.

“But what did the other countries do, Poland, for example? They actually conspired with Hitler. This much is directly evident from the documents – from archive documents. Another question is whether there were any secret annexes or not – but it doesn’t matter. It is important how they acted. They acted in collusion for certain – just from the documents on how they negotiated. And at the so-called Munich Conference, Hitler directly represented the interests of Poland, and partly of Hungary. He directly represented their interests, and then he said to the Poles: It was so difficult to defend your interests, you know. We have it all in the documents. Thank God, we have enough archival documents that we attained as trophies from the European countries after World War II.

“But that’s not all. What really hit me hard, I’m telling you honestly, was how Hitler and the official representatives of Poland discussed the so-called Jewish problem. Hitler told the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and later bluntly said to the Polish Ambassador to Germany that he had a plan to send the Jewish population to Africa, to the colonies. Imagine, in 1938, to expel Jews from Europe to Africa. [This meant] sending them to their extermination, to destruction.

“And here is what the Polish ambassador wrote to the Polish Foreign Minister, Mr Beck: When I heard this, he wrote, I responded (to Hitler, he means), that if this happens and this issue is resolved, we will build a beautiful monument to him (to Hitler) in Warsaw. That bastard! That anti-Semitic pig – I have no other words. He was in complete solidarity with Hitler in his anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic sentiment and, moreover, he proposed erecting a monument to Hitler in Warsaw for persecuting the Jewish people. And he wrote to his patron, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, apparently hoping for understanding and approval. He would not have written this without a reason.

“I won’t go into more detail now, but in any case, I want to emphasize again: we have enough materials to prevent anyone from corrupting the memory of our fathers, our grandfathers, and all those who gave their lives for the victory over Nazism.

“I just want to note that this kind of people, people like the ones who were negotiating with Hitler back then, they now deface monuments to the liberator soldiers, Red Army soldiers who liberated the countries of Europe and the European peoples from Nazism. These are their followers. In this sense, unfortunately, little has changed. And we must keep this in mind, also with regard to the development of our Armed Forces.”

(Kremlin.ru, December 24, 2019)

Putin: The West Tries To Catch Up With Us; Not A Single Country Possesses Hypersonic Weapons, Let Alone Continental-Range Hypersonic Weapons; We already have Kinzhal And Peresvet


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

During the Defense Ministry Board Meeting, Putin then added:

“Here is what I would like to say in this regard, which I think is critically important. Please note: neither the Soviet Union, nor Russia have ever tried to create a threat to other countries. We were always catching up in this regard. The United States created the atomic bomb, and the Soviet Union caught up with it. We did not have nuclear weapon delivery vehicles or carriers. There was no such thing as strategic aviation, and the Soviet Union was catching up in this area, as well. The first intercontinental missiles actually were not built here, and the Soviet Union was trying to catch up.

“Today, we have a unique situation in our new and recent history. They try to catch up with us. Not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons. We already have Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile systems in the field, and Peresvet laser combat systems have already been deployed with the troops as well.

“The Minister just told us that we have begun to equip the first regiment of the Strategic Missile Forces with the latest Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle. Work on other systems is underway, including Sarmat boosted intercontinental ballistic missile; Zircon ground- and sea-based hypersonic rockets; the Poseidon UUV; and the Burevestnik nuclear-armed cruise missile.

“Other systems have been fielded as well, including the ones that were tested during various exercises and in combat conditions in Syria, such as Kalibr cruise missiles.

“There are also other technologies. They are not covered much in the media, but they do exist, are sent to the army and are operational.

“In this regard, I would like to say that even though we spend much less than other countries (we rank 7th at this point, the Minister said, and could even slide to the 9th), this does not mean that we are ready to compromise our combat readiness. No. All we are doing we are doing according to a plan.

“At one of the board meetings I deliberately said, and maybe someone in the audience remembers it; I would like to repeat what I said back then. I didn’t say it accidentally. I said it because it represents our competitive advantage and it is about our ability to maintain the defense capability we need. What exactly will help us move forward? I said then literally the following: brains, intelligence, better organization of work, minimizing theft and negligence, and concentrating efforts on key areas will lead us to a high state of defense capability.)

(Kremlin.ru, December 24, 2019; read the full transcript)

Watch Video:

  • Putin Commits to New Nuclear Weapons Development - Russian Missiles Now Superior to US! “Russia will develop its nuclear forces until the world begins working on new agreements on arms control. That's what Vladimir Putin promised today.

“The President held an expanded meeting of the panel of the Ministry of Defense. One of the main results of the passing year — The share of modern arms in the nuclear triad has amounted to 82%. Already entering into service are the Avangard hypersonic glide systems, against which no aggressors will be able to defend themselves in the foreseeable future. That's exactly what domestic arms must be like — the best in the world.” (Vesti, December 25, 2019; watch the video)

  • First regiment of Avangard hypersonic missile systems goes on combat duty in Russia. (Tass.com, December 27, 2019; read the full article)

Nord Stream 2

Russian FM Sergey Lavrov: The Construction Of The Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline Is Nearing Completion, Which Is Why Its Opponents Have Redoubled Their Efforts To Derail It

In an interview with Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency on December 27, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov discussed Nord Stream 2.

Question: “The end of the year has witnessed a resumption of activities by the opponents of Nord Stream 2. Could this project be derailed? Considering the unbalanced position of our Western partners, should Russia plan a radical diversification of its hydrocarbon export routes? Is China considered as the most attractive alternative to Europe?”

Sergey Lavrov: “The construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is nearing completion, which is why its opponents have redoubled their efforts to derail it. The addition of sanctions to the US 2020 National Defense Authorization Act is shameless interference in the affairs of European businesses. Some US senators have openly threatened the management of the companies involved in the project. The aim of this is not the protection of European energy security, which Nord Stream 2 will strengthen, but furthering the interests of US LNG on the European market. It is a shocking example of unfair competition and politicization of energy relations.

“We have no doubt, however, that the gas pipeline will be completed even despite this pressure. Europe is aware of the advantages of an alternative export route, although some countries are willing to work for their overseas curators even to the detriment of their own energy security and the prosperity of their citizens, which is regrettable.

“Europe so far remains the biggest market for our gas; we deliver some 200 billion cubic meters of gas there annually. At the same time, we are expanding our energy cooperation with Asian-Pacific countries, where the demand for hydrocarbons continues to grow. In early December of this year, we launched the Power of Siberia pipeline, which will be used to deliver up to 38 billion cubic meters of gas to China every year. We are working with our Western partners to develop Arctic resources, including within the framework of the Yamal LNG and Arctic LNG 2 projects. We are developing the transport logistics of the Northern Sea Route so as to ensure the export of Russian energy to Asia Pacific countries.

“Russia will continue to diversify its hydrocarbon export routes.”

(Mid.ru, December 27, 2019)

News in Brief:

Information Warfare

  • The US Cyber Command (CyberCom) is working on information warfare tactics that could be used to counter allegedly possible Russian interference in the 2020 election, The Washington Post reported. (Sputniknews.com, December 12, 2019; read the full article)

START 3

  • Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated that Russia had officially sent the US a proposal to “immediately” resume negotiations for extending START-3. (Vm.ru, December 26, 2019; read the full article in Russian)

Defense

  • In Severodvinsk, a new submarine of the Yasen-M project was launched. It's the RFS Novosibirsk, a 4th generation nuclear cruiser. The solemn ceremony took place at the Sevmash facility where they built it. (Vesti, December 26, 2019; watch the video)
  • The Ministry of Defense has published the footage of the testing of the new Gibka-S mobile air defense missile system. (Vesti, December 26, 2019, watch the video)

BRICS

  • Russia will assume presidency of the BRICS international association on January 1, 2020. (Mid.ru, December 26, 2019; read the full statement)

Russia-Israel Relations

  • Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israeli side's initiative. The leaders discussed current issues on the regional agenda, as well as certain aspects of bilateral relations in the context of the President of Russia’s visit to Israel scheduled for January 2020. (Kremlin.ru, December 26, 2019; read the full statement)

National Projects

  • Demographics is Key to Survival! Putin Expects National Project Indexes to Be Reached! “There won't be any relaxation in the requirements to fulfill the national projects. Target indexes should be reached to their full extent at every point. This is what Vladimir Putin stated today when he summed up the results of the first year of the implementation of the national development goals. Industrial exports are $8 billion less than planned. The mortality rate is going down slower than announced. Only a quarter of the funds allocated to the digital economy have been spent. Some officials aren't used to working at such pace, the President pointed out.” (Vesti, December 27, 2019; watch the video)