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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2008

New steps toward Nordic security;
A comeback for "United Russia"?

Edited by Ilan Berman and Dominika Iszczek
October 12, 2015

September 10: 

Worries over Russia are nudging America and the Nordic states closer together. 
Defense News reports that the first-ever meeting of deputy defense ministers between the U.S. and Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland has just concluded in Oslo, Norway. The talks centered on common defense arrangements to mitigate against the threat of possible Russian incursions into Norway - with whom it shares a common border - or similar aggression against other regional states. 

"This body has both NATO allies, as well as non-NATO allies," U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work told reporters, "but we all have a shared interest in peace and stability in the Baltics and the High North. And so Nordic defense cooperation is a very innovative way for non-NATO and NATO countries to get together to describe, or to
discuss, common security problems." 

Moscow may be hurting economically as a result of Western sanctions and low world oil prices, but that has not stopped the Kremlin from propping up its allies in the "post-Soviet space." 
Eurasianet reports that Russia has provided fellow members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization with half a billion dollars in high-tech arms and war materiel over the past several years. "In recent years the volume of deliveries, purchases of weaponry by our allies for the collective forces of the CSTO has significantly increased," Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO General Secretary, has told Russian news agency Interfax. "Over the last few years the effect has exceeded $500 million. That is, our allies have saved as a result of the agreement on subsidies for military-technical cooperation. These purchases are increasing every year." 

September 11:

Russia's recent incursion into Syria was coordinated in advance with the Iranian government, 
Fox Newsreports. Moscow's new role "co-leading" Syria's four-and-a-half year old civil war, sources say, is believed to have been planned out in advance with top Iranian military official Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran's Qods Force paramilitary unit, during the latter's July visit to Moscow. 

September 14:

Russian President Vladimir Putin's "United Russia” party, which has suffered in recent times from high unfavorability ratings on account of official corruption, has dominated the most recent local and regional elections in Russia. 
According to Germany's Deutche Welle, the party had a strong showing in all 21 regions where elections were held in recent days, handily beating out the liberal RPR-PARNAS party of late opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. 

Election observers, however, are crying foul. "The results of the election were overwhelmingly predetermined by decision and actions of the current government and election authorities... as early as at the stage of nominating and registering candidates and parties," Golos, a polling monitor agency, has concluded.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program; Ukraine

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