It’s been a year full of headlines for Russia. In March, Russia annexed Crimea, creating tensions with Ukraine and driving countries like the U.S to levy heavy sanctions on the nation. Though initially the sanctions seemed minor retribution and Russian Prime Minister Putin treated them as such, they have led the Russian economy to slowly crumble. Oil-prices have been steadily declining and by the beginning of December, the ruble fell to its lowest since the country’s 1998 financial crisis. Russia’s central bank has since predicted zero economic growth in 2015 unless the international sanctions are lifted.
Russia’s tense relations with other major international players came to a head over the ambitious South Stream pipeline plan. The pipeline was intended to transport Russian oil to Southern Europe. However, opposition from the European Union and U.S suspicions that it was simply an attempt to overthrow Ukraine as Europe’s primary oil supplier, forced Putin to scrap the initial plan. On top of this came news of a new pipeline through Turkey, who along with other energy-starved developing nations has benefitted greatly in recent months from the tensions between the East and West as well as the falling oil prices.
The loss of this deal was a huge blow to Putin, especially his pride and the country’s image. Not only did the cancellation of the pipeline set Russia and the main investor back $4.5 billion, but it also serves as a win for the East in the ongoing battle for control of Europe’s energy supply. Despite all this, Putin managed to take the offensive, painting the deal’s demise as the fault of the involved European countries.
– Tara Subramaniam