|Bid||0.00 x 0|
|Ask||0.00 x 0|
|Day's Range||7.69 - 7.74|
|52 Week Range||4.28 - 8.50|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||0.17|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||2.30|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||0.50 (6.51%)|
|1y Target Est||N/A|
Ukraine's military has confirmed that Russia is returning three Ukrainian naval ships it captured last year. The vessels were seized in the Kerch Strait in November 2018. Two gunboats and a tugboat were taken in the narrow strip of water between mainland Russia and Crimea. Russia's Foreign Ministry said earlier Monday (November 18) that Moscow had handed over the three ships. Ukraine has pushed for their return as a goodwill gesture from Russia ahead of a four-way peace summit on eastern Ukraine next month in Paris. Russia and Ukraine will be joined by France and Germany in the talks. The boat return isn't the only deal Russia and Ukraine are talking through. Russian energy giant Gazprom has sent a letter to Ukraine proposing either to extend a current gas deal or sign a new one-year agreement. The current deal expires on December 31st. Gazprom supplies gas to Ukraine, which also acts as a transit country for Russian gas to Europe.
The US House and Senate armed services committees have agreed on a defence bill that would force the Trump administration to sanction companies that help Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas company, complete the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. Lawmakers on Monday evening reached agreement on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the measure to punish companies involved in Nord Stream 2, from Russia to Germany, and Turk Stream, a Russian pipeline that crosses the Black Sea to Turkey.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine and Russia had "unblocked" the issue of gas transit and the countries' advisers would work on the details of an agreement. Zelenskiy was speaking just after midnight local time on Tuesday morning after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at a four-way summit of leaders in Paris. Speaking at the same news conference, Putin said gas for Ukraine would be cheaper if both sides worked together.
MOSCOW/KIEV, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Russia and Ukraine do not plan to hold face-to-face talks on Thursday about a new deal on gas supplies and transit, two sources familiar with the plans said. Ukraine's energy ministry had previously said that the two countries were expected to hold talks either in Vienna or Brussels on that day. Russia has ratcheted up the pressure on Ukraine, saying that Kiev's new proposed tariffs for Russian gas transit to Europe were too high and unacceptable.
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump is under pressure from two key senators to thwart completion of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany by sanctioning companies involved in the project.Senators Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, and New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen are pushing to put a provision that would sanction companies involved in the construction of the pipeline in a defense spending bill that is viewed as a must-pass measure before Congress leaves Washington for the year.Cruz expressed frustration with the Trump administration for not acting on its own to impose sanctions that could stop the pipeline, which is a project of Russian energy company Gazprom PJSC.“I have heard no good arguments from the administration against imposing these sanctions,” Cruz said. “It makes no sense whatsoever that we’re failing to act and act swiftly. The window is nearly closed. We have maybe 60 days until this pipeline is completed.”Cruz and Shaheen sponsored legislation, which was approved by the Foreign Relations Committee in July by a vote of 20-2, that would target vessels that lay the pipeline and sanction executives from companies linked to those vessels. It would deny visas to those individuals and block transactions related to their U.S.-based property or interests.The bill would also penalize entities that provide insurance to the project.Defense BillIt was never brought to the floor for a vote, but Senator Jim Risch, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told Defense News that the sanctions measure had been added to the draft of the National Defense Authorization Act. The sanctions measure may fall victim to haggling between Democrats and Republicans about what should or shouldn’t be included in the defense bill.“There is bipartisan support for the bill and for putting it in there if we can deal with the other issues that are outstanding,” Shaheen said. “There are issues that are important to various people in the caucus and I don’t know what all of them are.”Cruz added that “There has been real partisan tension on passing the underlying bill.”The Nord Stream 2 project has divided the European Union, with nations led by Poland concerned about Russia’s Gazprom tightening its grip on the region if the new pipeline comes online.Cruz argued completion of the pipeline would give Russian President Vladimir Putin more leverage in the region and “generate billions of dollars for Russia that will be used to fund military aggression against America and against Europe.”“The Trump administration has clear statutory authority to stop it today,” Cruz said.Trump was non-committal when asked about sanctioning the pipeline companies as he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday during this week’s NATO summit in London.”Well, we haven’t really determined that yet,” Trump said. “I do think it’s a problem. But it’s a problem that Germany’s going to have to work out for themselves. Maybe for Germany, it won’t be a problem. I hope it’s not, actually. But we’ll be talking about that.”\--With assistance from Jordan Fabian.To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Flatley in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at email@example.com, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Russia has begun gas supplies to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline, the largest gas project in its history and a symbol of Moscow’s diplomatic pivot towards Beijing at a time of worsening relations with the west. Dubbed “the contract of the century” by Russian gas group Gazprom, the $55bn deal with China’s oil and gas major CNPC will eventually allow for 38bn cubic metres in annual gas supplies to China via the 3,000km pipeline that crosses Siberia to the Chinese border in the south-east.
(Bloomberg) -- The world’s biggest natural gas exporter and one of the globe’s top consumers of the fuel cemented their energy cooperation on Monday with the launch of Russia’s giant Power of Siberia pipeline to northern China.Gas started flowing toward China through the link, which has become a symbol of President Vladimir Putin’s pivot to the fast-growing economies of Asia as relations deteriorate with the West. The pipeline, which runs from Russia’s enormous reserves in eastern Siberia and will eventually be 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) long, will help satisfy China’s vast and expanding energy needs.“The tap is open, gas is being supplied to the gas transportation system” of China, Alexey Miller, chief executive officer of Gazprom PJSC, told Putin via videolink from the compression station near the Chinese border.Gazprom, Russia’s biggest gas producer, signed the $400 billion contract to supply as much as 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually for 30 years with China National Petroleum Corp. in 2014, after more than a decade of talks. It’s Gazprom’s biggest contract ever.“This step is bringing Russian-Chinese strategic cooperation in energy to a whole new level,” Putin said to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping via videolink. Xi called it “a milestone project for the bilateral energy cooperation.”Read: QuickTake on How Russia-China Gas Pipeline Changes Energy CalculusGazprom plans to start with deliveries of 10 million cubic meters a day and aims to reach peak capacity by 2025. Minimum exports to China via the pipeline will be 5 billion cubic meters in 2020, 10 billion in 2021 and 15 billion in 2022, according to the company.Gazprom hasn’t disclosed the price of the gas, but Putin has said it’ll be linked to oil prices, similar to the formula for European consumers. While Russia will have to compete with seaborne supplies of liquefied natural gas from producers such as Qatar and Australia, the expectation is that growth in China’s energy needs will require more pipeline and LNG capacity. That will benefit other Russian firms such as Novatek PJSC, which is developing LNG on the Yamal peninsula in the Kara Sea.Gas consumption in China, Asia’s biggest economy, has surged in recent years as the government pressures homes and factories to use it in place of coal to combat air pollution. Imports reached 43% of total gas supply in 2018, with about two-fifths of that arriving via pipeline from Central Asia and Myanmar, with the rest sourced as LNG.(Updates with Putin, Xi comments.)\--With assistance from Dan Murtaugh.To contact the reporters on this story: Olga Tanas in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.org;Dina Khrennikova in Moscow at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Herron at firstname.lastname@example.org, Rakteem Katakey, Amanda JordanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Emerging market stocks edged up on Monday after declining for two straight sessions, as investors cheered an unexpected rebound in Chinese manufacturing activity, while Russia's Gazprom hit a three-week high as it began gas supplies to China. Gazprom's shares were set for their best day in more than a week, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said supplies to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline would help the two countries reach $200 billion in trade by 2024.
Russian state gas producer Gazprom posted on Friday a third-quarter net profit of 212 billion roubles ($3.32 billion), down 45% from the same period a year ago on lower export volumes and weaker gas prices in its core European market. Gazprom is set to start up its major Power of Siberia gas pipeline to China next week that aims to deliver 38 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year by 2025. Gazprom expects annual exports to Europe to be around 194-204 bcm in the next four to five years, compared with 198 bcm this year.
Russia’s gas giant Gazprom suffered a 45 per year-on-year drop in its net profit in the third quarter of 2019 due to lower gas prices and a drop in sales volumes to Europe. The company, which holds a monopoly on pipeline gas export in Russia, made Rbs211.8bn ($3.3bn) in net profit attributable to its shareholders in the July to September period, it said on Friday. The company’s revenue from gas sales fell 16 per cent on the year in the third quarter to Rbs1.6tn.
Germany is already the world’s third largest importer of natural gas and, with the cost of carbon in Europe increasing and key energy projects getting cancelled, it is only going to grow more important
Europe's first new gas interconnector in a decade, linking Finland and Estonia from January, will weaken Gazprom's hold on the Baltic Sea region and spark price competition, the pipeline's owners said. The pipeline, called Balticconnector, will help Finland diversify its gas supplies which are solely Russian, and can also send gas to the Baltics, whose gas comes from Russia and Lithuania's Klaipeda liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.
Russia’s gas giant Gazprom is rushing to hire an engineering contractor to have an underwater natural gas pipeline, which has broken off the seabed in the Arctic
Russia's Gazprom said on Friday it had raised nearly $3 billion by selling a 3.6% stake, which exchange data showed was bought by a single buyer, whose identity was not disclosed by the world's largest gas producer. Gazprom raised $2.2 billion in July through a similar deal, selling 2.9% of its shares at a 5% discount. Gazprom said the latest deal involved about 3.6% of so-called quasi-treasury shares, built up in several purchases over previous years, being sold at 220.72 roubles each, implying proceeds of 187.7 billion roubles ($2.95 billion).
U.S. oil services company McDermott International said on Thursday that its participation in a huge petrochemical project in Russia, announced this week, was in full compliance with the law and did not breach international sanctions against Moscow. Royal Dutch Shell pulled out of the same Baltic Coast project in April, saying Russian gas giant Gazprom had changed its final concept for the project which initially had been designed to produce only liquefied natural gas.
If you want to know who really controls Public Joint Stock Company Gazprom (MCX:GAZP), then you'll have to look at the...
(Bloomberg) -- It’s the most nettlesome problem in the quest to ditch fossil fuels: how can you get thousand-degree heat used in factory furnaces without pumping billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere?Heat-intensive processes like steelmaking and oil refineries are the starting point for production of everything from cars to life-saving medicines. But fueling their ultra-high temperatures requires burning coal, oil and natural gas. That makes industry responsible for about 20% of the carbon dioxide produced by humans and heating processes, and a bigger emitter than all cars and aircraft combined.Under mounting pressure from protesters and climate-conscious investors, major industrial companies and governments are scrambling for a solution. They’re finding the most likely alternative may be hydrogen.“Hydrogen has a big advantage,” said Markus Krebber, the finance director of RWE AG, Germany’s largest electricity generator. “You can use it in everything that’s difficult to electrify, from long distance trucks, barges, trains, maybe planes one day. It will be needed to decarbonize the power sector 100%.”The gas is the world’s most abundant element and powered rockets and airships in the last century. It flames at 2,000 degrees Celsius (3,632 Fahrenheit) while giving off no more than water vapor as exhaust.The biggest problem with hydrogen is that it’s currently expensive to make — and most often is derived by splitting up molecules of natural gas, producing carbon dioxide in the process.But that’s changing. Some of Europe’s most important names in energy and industry are racing to develop emissions-free ways of producing hydrogen. They’re focused on using electrolysis, where an electric current passes through water, splitting off hydrogen atoms from oxygen. That technology is well known and growing cheaper by the year. When it’s driven by renewable energy, it makes what the industry calls green hydrogen.“It’s not witchcraft,” said Thomas Kolf, a professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. He’s the lead engineer on a project to convert green electricity into hydrogen and methane in the east German town of Falkenhagen. “The question is, how do you scale it up?”A handful of blue-chip companies are leading the race to commercialize green hydrogen. They include utilities such as Uniper SE and RWE AG, machinery maker Siemens AG and industrial gas giant Air Liquide SA.Having successfully piloted small-scale plants, they’re partnering with deep-pocketed oil majors such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc to bring production to commercial scale. Governments are starting to think about the potential for green hydrogen and how to nurture its production and distribution.The push to develop green hydrogen technology comes as Europe’s biggest industrial firms grapple with climate activists, politicians and investors demanding to know how they’ll slash emissions. A string of extreme weather events have pushed the environment to the forefront of public consciousness and is driving gains for green parties in elections.“Cutting carbon in half by 2030 and reaching net-zero carbon before 2050 will help avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change on our economy, communities and environment,” said Mindy Lubber, board member at Climate Action 100+, which speaks for investors managing more than $35 trillion of assets. They want companies to act “more quickly” or risk being excluded from funds.With measures such as improving insulation and training staff to curb energy use mostly exhausted, industrial firms are now looking at hydrogen to open up a deeper level of decarbonization. Steelmaker Thyssenkrupp AG in November started testing hydrogen in its Duisburg steel mill.Europe’s energy industry is anticipating quick growth in the market for emission-free sources of the gas if only because consumers and governments are looking more closely at the issue. That’s pushing automakers, appliance manufacturers and others to seek emission-free sources of steel.Even the world’s top natural gas exporter thinks a piece of the market will embrace hydrogen. Gazprom PJSC, the Russian company that supplies much of Europe’s gas, is trialing hydrogen at the Siberian town of Tomsk. Researchers are refining a process that heats the methane found abundantly under the frozen Siberian tundra into solid carbon and hydrogen gas. The carbon could go into chemical production and the gas used as an emissions-free fuel for heavy industry.Gazprom’s embrace of hydrogen as a growing alternative to natural gas comes alongside President Vladimir Putin’s about-turn on climate policy. The president, who once joked that snow-covered Russia could use higher temperatures, this September signed the world’s fourth-largest greenhouse gas emitter to the Paris Agreement on climate change, citing more frequent freak weather events.Gazprom’s engineers are also investigating whether they can insert hydrogen gas into natural gas pipeline networks.“We think it will be a very good solution which will decrease emissions,” said Elena Burmistrova, the chief executive officer at Gazprom’s export arm.In the woodlands skirting Falkenhagen, Uniper has successfully generated hydrogen from electrolysis powered by a wind turbine.The gas could be transported to industrial companies or used to store energy generated by wind turbines, according to Axel Wietfield, head of storage at the utility. The project has caught the eye of oil major BP Plc. Both companies are working on a larger project that would provide 100 megawatts of energy, the size of a small power plant.While the companies are all confident the project will work, question marks remain over whether hydrogen can ever be profitable.“The problems with hydrogen are more economic than technical,” Wietfield said.Those economic hurdles are daunting. Green hydrogen costs between $2.50 to $6.80 a kilogram to make due to the relatively high costs of renewable-powered electrolysis, according to analysis from BloombergNEF. Those costs would need to fall below $2 dollars in order to make renewable hydrogen competitive with coal, and to around 60 cents to beat the cheapest natural gas-based production, according to BNEF.But those production costs are expected to tumble as electrolysis technology becomes more efficient and production is scaled up. Moves by European governments to increase the cost of carbon dioxide emissions could further tilt the economics of the market in favor of hydrogen.European companies increasingly expect such fillips to come soon. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s climate cabinet said in September green hydrogen would play a central role in “rebuilding” Germany’s industrial base as it moves to zero emissions by 2050.There’s other hurdles. Manufacturing huge amounts of green hydrogen may strain electricity grids overwhelmed by the revolution in electric cars. It may be that production is concentrated in southern Europe, where the gas can be made most cheaply with abundant solar power.But for now, hydrogen is offering the most plausible solution to one of the most intricate problems for the transition away from fossil fuels. Concerns about climate change will continue to rise, but so will demand for metals, building materials and chemically-derived medicines, all of which start with a powerful source of heat.“If I have to make a bet for the future, hydrogen is definitely one of those,” said Fatih Birol, executive director at International Energy Agency, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.Further Reading:Germany Plans Incentives to Boost Hydrogen in Energy MixGreen Steel Needs a Huge New Source of ElectricityTo contact the authors of this story: William Wilkes in Frankfurt at email@example.comVanessa Dezem in Frankfurt at firstname.lastname@example.orgAnna Shiryaevskaya in London at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew ReiersonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin’s so-called national projects — spending plans meant to restart economic growth in Russia — appear to be stuck. Surprisingly, money isn’t the problem: There’s cash to fund them, but the Russian bureaucracy won’t spend it, apparently fearing responsibility for bad outcomes.The projects envisage a total outlay of 25.7 trillion rubles ($400 billion) until 2024. They aim to boost Russian quality of life in the broadest sense, from providing better health care and schooling to making Soviet-built cities more livable. Putin has noted his sliding popularity, and he’s out to prove to Russians by the end of his current presidential term, which ends in 2024, that he’s good for more than a muscular foreign policy. But the program, first announced last year, has gotten off to a slow start. Earlier this month, the Accounting Chamber, Russia’s budget watchdog, published a report on the state of federal spending in the first nine months of 2019. According to the document, while total budget spending reached 62.9% of annual allocations (the lowest at this time of year since at least 2010), spending on the 12 national projects, plus a related plan to modernize Russia’s “backbone infrastructure” such as ports and railroads, only reached 52.1% of what’s been earmarked for the year. On some of the projects, in particular the effort to boost Russia’s digital economy, barely any of the available funds have been spent. And the total spending on the procurement part of the projects, as distinct from other forms of spending such as subsidies or transfers to regional authorities, has only reached 14% of the planned amount for the year.Russia regularly fails to spend its entire budget in a given year. At the end of 2018, 778 billion rubles ($12.1 billion) was left over. This year, Accounting Chamber head Alexei Kudrin expects 1 trillion rubles to be left, in large part because of the underspending on the national projects. Kudrin, a former finance minister, is the most prominent of Russia’s “system liberals,” Putin loyalists who favor more progressive government policies. He said this to the Russian parliament on Wednesday:Why aren’t we spending 1 trillion rubles, or 1% of GDP? Of course one can’t say we have too much money and that’s why we can’t spend it. I think it’s because of low-quality government. In 2017, Kudrin and fellow economist Alexander Knobel published a paper arguing that Russia was spending too much money on programs where expenditure is weakly or negatively correlated with economic growth, such as defense and security, and too little on those that drive expansion, such as education. The national projects are at least partly Putin’s response to Kudrin’s and Knobel’s thinking. Kudrin’s statement to parliament implies that bureaucrats simply don’t know how to run growth-friendly projects. It’s more likely, however, that they’re merely scared of spending the allocated money in ways that could land them in trouble. Because the national projects are Putin’s personal plan, they enjoy the attention of the president’s increasingly powerful and well-funded enforcement apparatus. Putin wants to make sure the allocated money won’t be stolen. That, however, is not easily done. As Sergey Aleksashenko, a former deputy central bank governor and now a Putin opponent, tweeted earlier this week, the requirements for spending budgetary funds are written so that they’re “impossible to execute without breaking rules. When an official asks himself if he wants to deal with the prosecutor’s office, the answer is obvious — to hell with these national projects!”A select group of Putin's friends can still profit from government spending. For example, earlier this week, the chief executive of a company owned by Putin’s judo sparring partner Arkady Rotenberg said the government-funded construction of a bridge between mainland Russia and Crimea would be merely a break-even project. But not long ago, Rotenberg sold one of the companies involved in the construction to the state-controlled natural gas producer Gazprom for a reported 75 billion rubles; he’d bought the five firms he merged into that company for 8.3 billion rubles in 2008 — from Gazprom.Of course, not everybody can pull of such schemes. Russian bureaucrats and subsidy recipients are regularly arrested and sentenced for misspending government funds even when they have achieved satisfactory results. Kirill Serebrennikov, a prominent theater director and darling of the Moscow intelligentsia, spent 19 months under house arrest on charges of embezzling government money, though he was able to show videos of the performances for which the funding was used in strict accordance with the contract. He still hasn’t been fully cleared.Earlier this month, the Prosecutor General’s office announced it had found 2,500 different irregularities in the administration of the national projects, mainly involving the distribution of subsidies and procurement. Some of these will end in criminal cases; no wonder the procurement budget was only 14% spent by the end of September.The creeping nationalization of Russia under Putin, and the accompanying empowerment of enforcement agencies, has created a dilemma. There’s not enough private initiative and private investment to boost growth beyond 1% to 2% a year, but not even Putin believes in the efficiency of government spending because of endemic corruption. As a result, government money still goes to players with good enough connections to avoid prosecution, but it’s being withheld elsewhere. Russia’s unique mixture of a grasping state, a graft culture and excessive centralized control continues to keep it from realizing its economic potential.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Nord Stream 2 may have become one of the most geopolitically charged energy projects in history, but its completion was inevitable since before construction even begun
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Russian opposition leaders rejoiced at the forced resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales, while the Russian foreign ministry branded it an “orchestrated coup.” The interest in the drama playing out so far from Moscow is understandable, and not just because Morales had handed lucrative projects to Russian state companies. In 2024, President Vladimir Putin faces the same choice that Morales faced this year — to obey the constitutional term limit or to sweep it aside and try to keep power.Bolivia has a long history of military coups and aborted presidencies. Carlos Mesa, the current opposition leader, resigned after two years as president in 2005 amid mass protests. That paved the way for the first electoral victory of Morales in December of that year. The new president declared that power now belonged to the indigenous people of Bolivia and that the country’s natural resources would be nationalized — a decision that had been backed by a referendum held during Mesa’s presidency but not implemented by him.Morales, who doesn’t have a college degree, has turned out to be the most successful leader in Bolivia’s dolorous history of poverty, strife and military defeat. Poverty declined during his rule.Per-capita economic output, meanwhile, rose faster than the regional average.Morales, however, was an authoritarian ruler who quickly found rapport with the leaders of Cuba and Venezuela — and with the Putin regime in Russia, which finds it easy to do arms and energy business with autocrats. Rosatom Corp., the Russian state nuclear monopoly, got a contract to build a $300 million nuclear center near La Paz, the Bolivian capital, and began negotiating a concession to develop Bolivia’s large lithium reserves. Gazprom PJSC, the Russian state-controlled natural-gas company, has been present in Bolivia since 2010. Russia also has been trying to sell weapons to Bolivia, especially helicopters; Putin himself has tried to talk Morales into it, but actual sales have been held back by Bolivia’s shortage of funds.Bolivia’s constitution has included a two-term limit for presidents since 2009, meaning Morales could serve for three terms because his first one started before the limit took effect. In 2016, he tried to remove the cap but lost a referendum.Morales appeared to accept that he’d have to leave, but in 2017, the country’s constitutional court controversially ruled against the term limit, and he was allowed to run again. Rosatom reportedly even sent a team of Russian election experts to back his campaign and thus protect the Russian state companies’ interests. On Oct. 20, however, Morales was still unable to beat Mesa by the margin he needed to avoid a runoff, and then major vote-counting irregularities became so obvious that mass protests erupted and even Bolivia’s labor unions turned against the president.But Morales only resigned when the military said it wouldn’t crush the protests and urged him to go. Clearly, Bolivian generals have learned the lessons of 2003, when they followed then-President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada’s orders to use force against protesters demanding the nationalization of the country’s natural-gas deposits. At least 67 people were killed and some 400 injured; Lozada was sued by the victims’ families in the U.S., where he lives now, but was cleared last year because the judge found the evidence of his culpability insufficient. (Mesa, who served as Lozada’s vice president, had opposed the violence).Morales described the events that forced him to resign as a coup, and his words were echoed not just by Russia, whose contracts in Bolivia are at risk now, but by a roster of international leftists, ranging from U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar to U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Putin’s opponents in Russia were, on the contrary, encouraged.Corruption fighter Alexei Navalny tweeted a photo of Morales with Putin, accompanied by this caption: “A corrupt president who was illegally holding on to power through lies and falsifications, has fled the country. For now, just the one on the left.”Leonid Volkov, another leading opposition figure, tweeted, “I really wish we could be like Bolivia.”The jubilation and the envy won’t pass unnoticed in the Kremlin. Putin has more than four years to explore his options for 2024, when his own presidency comes up against a constitutional term limit, but there is no obvious quasi-legitimate scenario that would allow him to stay in the Kremlin. There appears to be no appetite for a risky move to a parliamentary republic, which would make the prime minister’s office the most powerful and allow Putin to get re-elected as many times as he can. And ruling by proxy, as Putin did during Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency between 2008 and 2012, clearly disappointed Putin himself since he moved to undo Medvedev’s feeble attempt at liberalizing the country.The most obvious option is simply to alter the constitution to remove the term limit. But the Morales example shows the pitfalls of this strategy. While he’s respected and his contribution to reducing poverty is widely acknowledged, even his supporters are tired of him after 13 years in power; it’s only natural for people to grow restless without change. When that happens, critical decisions must eventually be taken by the military and the police.In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has managed to keep the military loyal, and he still hasn’t been deposed. In Bolivia, Morales had retained the military’s support throughout his rule because he didn’t demand too much from his enforcers. But when popular protest reached a high point, the generals wouldn’t move against them, and Morales was finished.All this Latin American experience, closely monitored in Moscow because of state companies’ business dealings in the region, will serve to convince Putin that an authoritarian’s natural term limit isn’t the one specified in the constitution. In reality, he can rule until his enforcers decide they can’t afford to follow his orders. That means Putin must keep buying the loyalty of Russia’s vast security apparatus, which is already costing the government about 10% of its non-classified budget. The National Guard, which includes riot police, is slated for big spending increases in the next four years.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
A Russian tanker headed to the United States to pick up a cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) could prove an embarrassment to President Vladimir Putin who has accused the U.S. of undercutting his country's gas exports. U.S. seaborne LNG is seen as a threat to Kremlin-controlled gas company Gazprom's dominance of the gas market in Europe where it accounts for more than 35% of supplies.