Margarita Zavadskaya and our team member Elena Gorbacheva wrote a piece on the changing attitudes of Russians towards environmental issues for RBC Trends section “Eco-nomica”. In their article, the researchers analysed the results of the World Values Survey and European Values Study over the past 20 years and outlined how Russians’ perceptions of certain environmental questions have been shifting. The researches addressed issues such as the importance of environmental protection over economic growth, the trust in environmental organisations, and the attitudes towards climate change. One of the interesting findings was that during 1994-2014, environmental protection was seen as an issue with more priority compared to economic growth.
Professor Tynkkynen gave an interview to the Czech media Seznam Zprávy, which was published in the article “Buď bude EU vůči Rusku jednotná, nebo slabší, říká finský expert na energetiku” (roughly translated as “The EU will either unite with Russia or will get weaker, says Finnish energy expert“). The interview covered a wide scope of issues, from Nord Stream 2 to Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power station and Fennovoima.
New Helsingin Sanomat’ Sanoma Tekniikkajulkaisut issue “Ideat” published a new piece “Kaikkien aikojen kallein hukkaputki?” (Most expensive spill pipe of all time?), for which Professor Tynkkynen provided comments. The article discusses Nord Stream 2 pipeline transporting natural gas from Russia to Europe and the challenges it creates and faces – from the repercussions of Navalny’s poisoning to the United States’ opposition to the project.
The full version of the article can be read online.
Professor Tynkkynen was cited in the recent article by The Washington Post titled “Ethics and economics: The conflicting values of the esports industry”. This excellent long read covers the stated in the title issues in great detail and in various contexts, and it also touched Russia’s energy giant Gazprom and its FACEIT (an esports platform) sponsorship:
Gazprombank’s recent sponsorship of FACEIT, for example, mirrors the company’s approach to sponsorships of FIFA, Schalke and the Champions League.
“It’s all about how Gazprom want to be seen in the European space — it normalizes Gazprom as a commercial enterprise,” Veli-Pekka Tynkynnen, Associate Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the University of Helsinki, said.
Helsingin sanomat new article “Venäjän suhde metsiinsä poikkeaa paljon Suomesta: Miljoonia hehtaareita on tänäkin vuonna palanut, ja vain murto-osaa paloista on edes yritetty sammuttaa” (Russia’s relationship with its forests differs a lot from Finland: Millions of hectares have been burned this year as well, and only a fraction of the fires have even been tried to be extinguished) discusses Russian forest policy and the massive forest fires going on in the country every summer; this year the burnt area is equal to the size of Czech Republic. Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen was interviewed about this catastrophic situation.
in Russian federal policy and from the point of view of state revenue, forests are a secondary resource and not as important as oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear power.
“Of course, the forest sector is regionally important in Northwest Russia, Central Siberia and the Russian Far East,” says Tynkkynen.
Professor Tynkkynen also drew parallels with last year’s Amazon rainforest wildfires and finds problematic the difference in the attitude of the international community towards Russia and Brazil and their dealing with the fires:
The European Union considered boycotting Brazilian cattle, partly because of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s forest policy.
Bolsonaro encouraged farmers and ranchers to clear the land by lighting forest fires.
With regard to Russian forest fires, the EU did not challenge the forest policy of the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration at all and the way how forests are treated as part of other natural resource policies.
“The oil and gas industry are equal risk factors for forest fires, but no one discussed that it should be discussed. No one asked if we would buy gas and oil from Russia or not, ”says Tynkkynen.
Russia has expressed that it will not tolerate interference by foreign powers in its internal affairs. According to Tynkkynen, a comparison between Brazil and Russia shows that in Europe, including Finland, Russia is treated with silk gloves because its reaction is feared.
Today Helsingin Sanomat published an article “Venäläisen voimalan varjossa” (In the shadow of the Russian power plant), telling a story of the Astravets nuclear power plant. The power plant is the first one to be built in Belarus after the Chernobyl disaster – in the country that took the harshest consequences of the nuclear accident.
Commenting on the issue, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen encourages not to look at the nuclear sector separately –
Different sectors are interconnected. Nuclear diplomacy is an extension of hydrocarbon culture. Russia finances the nuclear power plant trade with oil and gas money
On the 29th of May, 21,000 m3 of diesel oil spilled in Russian town Norilsk (Krasnoyarsk Krai) from a fuel storage tank. Nornickel company claimed that the melting of permafrost on which the tank was built resulted in the accident. The oil contaminated an area of more than 350 square kilometres, including the Daldykan and the Ambarnaya rivers – one of the largest oil spill disasters in the world. For first 2 days after the spillage occurred, the authorities did not take any action before the mass and social media started to talk about the disaster. On the 3d of June, the accident was proclaimed a federal-level emergency.
This morning Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen gave his comments on the situation at the Ykkösaamu programme. To learn more about the disaster, listen to the discussion with Professor Tynkkynen and Kirsten Jörgensen, leading researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute, starting from 59:49 at Yle Areena.
Crashing oil prices are one of the most discussed topics these days, and many try to understand why does it happen and what are the effects. To Russia, that is largely dependent on high oil prices, the current situation is especially worrisome. The solid prices are the lowest in 20 years (and on Monday American WTI oil even had a negative price of -37 US dollars), and the ruble has been dropping for more than a month now, and the coronavirus outbreak does not help the economy either. Professor Tynkkynen has been approached by several media outlets to comment on the recent developments, and here we have collected his interviews.
Firstly, Professor Tynkkynen appeared today in the Ykkösaamu programme on Yle Radio 1, the interview starts at 52:41.
Secondly, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen’s comments can be read in today’s Kauppalehti article, titled “Kaoottinen öljymarkkina iskee rumasti” (The chaotic oil market lunges nastily). For instance, talking about Brent’s price decline, Professor Tynkkynen said
that oil will be bringing tax rubles to President Vladimir Putin’s government as long as the price remains above $ 15 a barrel. If the price falls below $ 15, the Russian economic crisis will worsen.
Thirdly, Professor Tynkkynen’s comments on Russian National Wealth Fund can be found in the MTV news. This fund accumulated extra oil and gas revenues for 12 years, now has more than 120 billion US dollars and in theory, can be used for supporting Russian citizens during these difficult times. However, as Professor Tynkkynen states
– There are significant buffer funds in Russia. It is a fact that in recent decades, public investment has not gone to the social and health sectors but to the energy sector and the construction of military equipment How Russia can take care of the well-being of its citizens is a big social question, Tynkkynen says.
If Russia’s social- and healthcare cannot withstand the corona pandemic, the people may be even more angry at their government.
– In recent days, there has been criticism of the Putin administration in the Russian media. Even in the media, which has been very sympathetic to the administration, there is criticism of the fact that in recent decades Russia has invested in supporting the fossil energy sector and building security and military equipment, and not in improving the social and health sectors, Tynkkynen says.
While all the world is affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the oil market is not an exception. The prices have been plummeting since March, when Saudi Arabia and Russia engaged in the oil price war. YLE tried to explain what is going on now with the oil market and published an article “Pandemia iski myös öljymarkkinoille: Sekoitti Venäjän ja Saudi-Arabian hintasodan kortit” (The pandemic hit also the oil market: Shuffled Russian and Saudi price war cards). Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen commented on the issue for the article:
So is there a solution to the price war in the midst of the coronavirus crisis?
– Time will show it. We have seen the co-operation between Opec and Russia in recent years, says Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Associate Professor in Russian Environmental Studies at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki.
He believes that Russia is at a disadvantegous position in this contention.
– If we look at the drop in the price of oil, Russia’s Urals brand has decline the most. With this price of oil, Saudi Arabia is still able to generate profits for itself, unlike Russia, where production costs are starting to be higher than the current barrel price for Urals brand.
Read this and other insights in the article online.
Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen provided comments on the recent oil price collapse due to the Opec deal collapse for the article titled “Venäjä raottaa ovea yhteistyölle Opecin kanssa – hintasodassa liennytyksen merkkejä” (Russia is opening the door to cooperation with OPEC – signs of détente in the price war).
The oil price war that started over the weekend showed signs of easing on Tuesday, as Russia announced its readiness to resume cooperation with Opec, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Associate Professor at the University of Helsinki, who researches Russia’s energy policy, estimates that Russia’s decision to secede production cuts may be based on Russia’s desire to show its power to Opec.
Although Russia has blustered to cope with low oil prices for years, its economy is still completely dependent on oil.