Breaking a drought of high-level US-Russia exchanges since the visit to Moscow of NSA Bolton in June, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry made a surprise visit to Moscow (September 13) and met the Russian Ministers of Finance and Energy. The principal objective of the visit was apparently to explore the possibility of Russian cooperation in keeping oil prices in check when the Iran sanctions kick in fully – on the eve of the mid-term US Congressional elections. A US press release said the two Ministers discussed how the two countries, as leading oil and gas producers, could cooperate “to ensure world energy market stability, transparency, and sustainability”. There was no indication of the Russian response or of what was offered in return for Russia taking a cut in its oil revenues. They also discussed their “mutual responsibility” to ensure that nuclear power is managed for peaceful purposes.  

Secretary Perry also issued a warning on the Russo-German Nordstream 2 gas pipeline project, describing it as Russian use of energy as an economic weapon. The same message was reiterated a few days later by President Trump in a joint press meeting in Washington with the Polish President (another staunch opponent of the project). At the same meeting, President Trump indicated that the US would not impose sanctions on the European companies invested in the project [German, French, Dutch and Austrian]. However, the German government seems to have received different indications: a senior German official was quoted as saying that US sanctions on the European companies may be imposed as early as before the November elections. If this happens, it could have repercussions well beyond US-Russia relations.

 

 September 30, 2018

About the Author

Born in 1955, Ambassador Raghavan holds a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Physics and a B.E. in Electronics & Communications Engineering. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979. From 1979 to 2000, he had diplomatic assignments in USSR, Poland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and South Africa, interspersed with assignments in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. From 2000 to 2004, he was Joint Secretary in the Indian Prime Minister's Office dealing with Foreign Affairs, Nuclear Energy, Space, Defence and National Security. Thereafter, he was Ambassador of India to Czech Republic (2004 - 2007) and to Ireland (2007 - 2011).

He was Chief Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi (March 2012) and Special Envoy of the Government of India to Sudan and South Sudan (2012-13). Ambassador Raghavan conceptualized and piloted the creation of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in MEA, which implements and monitors India’s economic partnership programs in developing countries, with an annual budget of $1-1.5 billion. He headed DPA in 2012-13. From March 2013 to January 2014, he oversaw the functioning of the Administration, Security, Information Technology and other related Divisions of MEA. Since October 2013, he was also Secretary [Economic Relations] in MEA, steering India’s bilateral and multilateral external economic engagement. Ambassador Raghavan retired from the Indian Foreign Service in January 2016, after serving from 2014 as Ambassador of India to Russia. Since September 2016, he is Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India.