Russia's Putin May Return as President in 2009

November, 2008

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev could resign next year paving the way for his predecessor and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a Russian paper said on Thursday citing an unidentified Kremlin official. In his state of the nation address on Wednesday, Medvedev proposed extending the presidential term from four to six years, which Vedomosti said was part of an arrangement devised by first deputy head of the Kremlin staff Vladislav Surkov. The paper said, citing the Kremlin source that under the arrangement Putin's successor needed to amend the Constitution to secure a longer term in office for Putin and to carry out unpopular social reforms. The source told the paper that Medvedev may resign citing changes to the Constitution, leading to presidential elections being held next year. Vedomosti said Putin could then rule for two six-year terms, from 2009 to 2021. "There are no reasons why Putin should not return as president next year as the current president's term is not set to expire in 2009," the premier's press secretary Dmitry Peskov told the paper. Another source close to the Kremlin quoted by the paper said Putin had already started his election campaign. The premier has launched a personal website and is expected to lay out his manifesto as leader of the ruling United Russia party at a congress in November, following which he will broadcast a video link with the nation, the practice he resorted to as president. Political analysts and business have been playing a guessing game since Medvedev's election win in May trying to work out who is really in charge in Russia, the president or premier. A senior United Russia member quoted by the daily said the proposal to extend the presidential term, coupled with the increase in the parliamentary term to five years, was the beginning of constitutional reforms designed to turn Russia into a parliamentary republic. A source in the presidential administration said the amendments could be approved next year, the paper reported.


Putin Seeks to Further Build Ties With Iran

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia and Iran must continue to develop bilateral and multilateral projects, and welcomed Iran's contribution to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Putin met with Iranian First Vice President Parviz Davoodi on the sidelines of a meeting in Kazakhstan between the heads of government of SCO member states, comprising Russia, China, and four Central Asian countries. "Our relations are developing in a diversified manner in many directions," Putin said. He noted the countries' strong political ties, growing trade, which has reached $3.5 billion, and the large number of "perspective projects in bilateral as well as multilateral formats". On Iran's observer role in the SCO, Putin said: "we have welcomed Iran's participation in this international organization from the outset." The SCO, widely seen as a counterweight to NATO's influence in Eurasia, comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The group primarily addresses security issues, but has recently moved to embrace economic and energy projects. Iran and Pakistan, who have held observer status in the SCO since 2005, previously announced their desire to become permanent members of the organization, but their request was not considered at a SCO foreign ministers meeting in Tajikistan on July 25. Russia and China have been cautious over admitting Iran, embroiled in a long-running dispute with the West and Israel over its nuclear program and alleged support for radical groups in Lebanon and other countries. Both China and Russia have major commercial interests in Iran. China wants Iranian oil and gas, and to sell weapons and other goods to the country, while Moscow hopes to sell more weapons and nuclear energy technology to Tehran. The Kremlin also needs Iran's endorsement for a multinational arrangement to exploit the Caspian Sea's energy resources. The other observers in the group are India and Mongolia.


Russia Must Develop Ways to Influence World Oil Prices - Putin

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday that the country must develop a set of measures to influence world oil prices. World oil prices have fallen more than 50% from a record high of $147 per barrel in July, as the global credit crunch has brought fuel demand down in most oil-consuming economies. "As a major exporter and producer of crude and oil products, Russia cannot remain on the sidelines with regard to the formulation of world pricing for crude, and we must develop an entire range of measures that would allow us to actively influence the market situation," Putin said. On Monday, Putin met with the heads of Russia's top oil companies to discuss crude export duty cuts amid the ongoing global financial crisis. Putin met executives from state-run Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, the country's largest independent crude producer LUKoil, the Russian-British joint venture TNK-BP, and Surgutneftegaz, as well as the national pipeline monopoly Transneft.


In other news:

Russia Backing Iran-Armenia Rail Link

Russia could participate in the construction of a major railroad linking Iran and Armenia, according to the president of Russia Railroads. President of Russia Railroads Vladimir Yakunin, said the company is ready to participate in the construction of the rail line should Iran, Armenia and Russia agree on the project's finance, Fars News Agency reported. Armenia's Transport and Communications Minister Gurgen Sargsyan has said that the rail link would cost approximately $2 billion, announcing that the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have both shown interest in the project. Armenia currently has only one working international rail link that runs via Georgia, as rail tracks linking Turkey and Azerbaijan are inactive.

Under Review

The proposed link would require around 80 kilometers of new railroad construction in northwestern Iran, from the Armenian border on the Aras River to the Iranian city of Marand where the track would be connected to the Tabriz-Jolfa line. The railroad, which has been discussed since initial proposals were submitted in 2006, would be a major boost to the development of trade between the two countries. Armenia would also benefit from being able to use Iran as a transit route for transport links with the rest of the world. Sargsyan said the railroad's construction can take up to five years. Presently, three projects are under review. The first originates from Yeraskh, the second from Vardenis and the third from Gagarin, extending for 443, 449 and 397 km respectively. Armenia favors the project that starts from Gagarin and then through Gavar, Martuni and Jermuk.


At a meeting in Sochi in September, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev discussed the project with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian as part of a cooperation agreement between the two countries. Russia Railroads' subsidiary South Caucasus Railroad took over the operation of the Armenian rail network on June 1 under a 25-year concession. Iran and Armenia have agreed to set up a working group, in which the Russians may be invited to participate. ADB has allocated about $1.5 million to finance feasibility studies on Armenia's ambitious plans to build a railroad linking neighboring Iran, Yerevan's Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said. "By the middle of next year, we will be able to approve business approaches, calculations of cost-effectiveness and to present documents prepared by the Asian Development Bank to the private sector, which could also participate in the project," Sarkisian added. In an apparent reference to Russia, Sarkisian said Armenia's "strategic partners" can also finance the railroad's construction. "I hope that we will be able to report next year serious progress in this sphere," he said. The project has for years been discussed by the Armenian and Iranian governments. The Armenian authorities have recently signaled their desire to finally get it off the drawing board, with Sarkisian declaring its implementation as one of his administration's top economic priorities. Armenia considers Russia as well as international lending institutions like the World Bank as potential sources of funding for the project. The lack of a rail link between Armenia and Iran is a major obstacle to the expansion of bilateral trade. Officials of the three countries should realize the advantages of the proposed railroad for themselves as well as the region, and make concerted efforts for implementing the project as soon as possible.


Russian Warships to Visit Venezuela on November 24-30

A task force from Russia's Northern Fleet led by the Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser will visit Venezuela on November 24-30, a spokesman for the Venezuelan Defense Ministry announced Friday. "A group of Russian warships will visit Caracas on November 24-30, when the first joint naval exercises are due to take place," the spokesman said. The Northern Fleet task force also includes the large anti-submarine warfare ship Admiral Chabanenko. The Russian ships are currently in the Mediterranean. Another Northern Fleet task force, led by the missile cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov, will conduct joint exercises with Black Sea Fleet warships in the Mediterranean in December. Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo, an aide to the Russian Navy commander, said earlier that the Pyotr Veliky had called at a French naval base for the first time on Wednesday. He said the ship dropped anchor off Toulon on Wednesday morning, and would remain until Saturday.


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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.