Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lauded the nuclear deal with Iran, but most Russian analysts and officials were quick to point out that the deal locks in Iran’s return to global oil markets, essentially guaranteeing a price cut at a time of extreme vulnerability for Russian government revenue. The Kremlin chose to stress the positives from the deal, and Lavrov made it clear that he expects that backing the deal will reap dividends with Washington, particularly as it pertains to the reduction of missile shields which are inching closer to Russia’s borders and setting off renewed development within Russia of its nuclear weapon reserves. Vladimir Putin has identified the missile shield as the single largest threat to security. However, Obama, replying directly to these remarks, said that the missile shield plan would remain in place to defend against a threat from Iran.
Analysts anticipate that if sanctions are immediately lifted (unlikely, given most Western objections to this without extremely significant reductions in centrifuge activity and security oversight into nuclear R&D activity) it will largely restore the 2.5 million barrels per day Iran was pumping out in 2011 before sanctions were imposed. This number is over the longer term, in the short term, they expect an additional 700,000 barrels from Iran will need to be priced in to the global market.
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- Russian troops in South Ossetia have begun to demarcate a Georgian oil pipeline (the Baku-Supsa) – forcing President Giorgi Margvelashvili to make a statement that the situation would not affect the transit of oil through the strategic pipeline and the source of much of the Georgian government’s wealth.
- Moscow local authorities have denied a proposal to erect a memorial near the bridge where famous Russian dissident Boris Nemtsov was shot in late February. Such a monument would supposedly not “commemorate the man, but he murder itself – and do we need to do this?” Supporters have protested, saying that the decision insults the memory of Nemtsov. The suspected killers have been detained but investigators have not brought forth any official charges yet.
- A Kyrgyz lawmaker has been detained on charges of receiving a bribe of $100,000, according to an announcement by Kyrgyz state committee for national security, Rakhat Sulaimanov. Current lawmaker Khajimurat Korkmazov was suspected of extorting money from relatives of Nariman Tuleev, another member of Parliament accused of corruption in 2013.
- The reclusive and mysterious leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar, released a statement expressing his support for ongoing talks with Kabul today. This is a major departure from previous Taliban leadership statements which center around the theme that no meaningful talks can begin until all foreign military forces leave Afghan soil. It is the first time Mullah Omar has supposedly made a statement in many years. Omar himself has not been photographed or seen by the public since near the beginning of the war in 2001, leading some to speculate over if he is simply a figurehead at this point.
- French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel are both planning on flying out to Iran on the 19th of July this weekend. Apparently both invitations are at the behest of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who wanted to discuss the possibility of accelerating the sanctions relief schedule. This comes on the heels of the announcement that a deal with Iran had been reached, but negotiations and renegotiations on terms are likely to continue.