CSIS Analysts Noted the Growing Influence of Russia in Europe
OREANDA-NEWS In a study conducted by analysts of the Washington Center for strategic and international studies (CSIS), as well as the Bulgarian center for the study of democracy, the authors on the example of several countries show how Russia is increasing its influence in Europe. It is indicated that investments of Russian companies in Austria, Italy and the Netherlands increased from €13.2 billion in 2007 to €96 billion in 2017.
For example, in the case of Austria, the long-standing cooperation of Gazprom and the local gas company OMV plays an important role. As a consequence of this, analysts call the fact that Austrian politicians actively support the Nord stream 2 project.
In the Netherlands, Russian assets accounted for 13% of the country's GDP. At the same time, the authors of the report recognize that often the purpose of opening companies there is an attempt to evade taxes.
"An underestimated element of Moscow's influence is the entry of European companies into the Russian market," the authors of the report say, citing the example of Pirelli, Fiat, Unilever, Raiffeisen. In their opinion, firms investing in Russia are forcing their governments to soften their policy towards Moscow.
In Montenegro, the Kremlin's influence is growing, as a significant part of the local real estate belongs to the citizens of Russia. In the Czech Republic, the authors saw a "hybrid model": the state Bank (meaning VEB) invested in the steel plant Pilsen Steel, and through the Czech commercial banks, the Russians send money to offshore.
In Romania, the authors of the report did not see specific examples of intervention, but pointed out that corruption allows Russian investors to participate in the privatization of the metallurgical sector.
Finally, the authors state that Russia's economic influence and questionable financial operations are "an obvious threat to American and transatlantic security." In their opinion, it is necessary to take decisive steps: to clearly monitor financial flows, to combat money laundering and tax evasion, to support the sanctions regime, to prevent the issuance of so-called gold visas (in exchange for investment).