Tag Archives: Russia

Europe Has…Too Much Natural Gas?

Russia has cut off Europe’s gas supplies. But despite Putin’s best efforts, it’s looking like a toasty winter on the continent.


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Ships carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) are lined up in ports across Europe. The only problem: finding a place to put it all!

From a report out this morning in Bloomberg:

Europe suddenly has more gas than it can use.

Starved of the Russian imports on which its long relied, Europe has rushed to import liquefied natural gas from around the world to fill up storage. Now, a combination of unusually warm weather and successful bidding for cargoes means facilities are almost full before Europeans have even turned the thermostats up. Gas prices have also fallen back sharply, and are less than a third of their summer peak.

Bloomberg’s index for loaded tankers on the water for 20 days or more has risen to the highest since at least 2017. Last week, Spain’s Enagas SA warned it may need to limit numbers as it has little room to absorb excess imports.

This sudden turnabout shows how well markets work. Natural gas prices spiked in Europe, so suppliers sent their gas there.

After all, why not get the best price?

But so many sent gas, the price has plummeted. It’s now lower than when the war in Ukraine began.

Russia has lost its best bargaining chip. If it can’t freeze the continent, what other options does it have?

Russia has also damaged its economic future.

Europe will never view it as a reliable supplier again. Putin may struggle to find a buyer for his gas, given his prior treachery.

Russia should keep in mind that there’s an expiration date on that gas. Solar energy is already cheaper in many circumstances.

Governments are working to limit CO2 emissions. Renewables are scaling and getting cheaper every day.

In a few decades, there may be little demand for fossil fuels.

The future for Russia looks bleak. Meanwhile, with its energy supplies diversified, Europe will be more secure than ever.

What do you think the future holds for Russia and Europe? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.

More on markets:

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Who Will Unfreeze the IPO Market?

SoftBank May Launch Third Vision Fund

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Photo: “#8962 LNG ship from BR189” by Nemo’s great uncle is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Russian Engineers Are Fleeing the Country

Russia’s best tech talent is fleeing the country. Pushed out by a draft for the war in Ukraine, nearly a quarter of the nation’s best developers have left, according to a report in The New Scientist:


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Hundreds of Russia’s top software developers appear to have left the country during its military invasion of Ukraine. The exodus of tech talent started even before Russian president Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilisation in September, spurring an estimated 200,000 men to flee amid the prospect of being drafted to join the war effort, and it could spell trouble for Russia’s future.

Almost 23 per cent of Russian developers who made the most contributions to coding projects on the software development platform GitHub changed their location information or deleted their profiles between February 2021 and June 2022. That figure is nearly four times as high as that of developers from neighbouring countries who aren’t directly involved in the conflict.

These engineers are the key to dominating the industries of tomorrow. Without them, Russia will struggle to compete.

“Their permanent departure from the Russian labour pool or from the Russian economy can have detrimental effects,” says Samuel Bendett at the Center for New American Security, a national security think tank in Washington DC. “There aren’t that many IT workers in Russia to begin with.”

Tech workers who remain in Russia face an uncertain future, as they might be drafted to replenish the Russian military’s ranks.

This research agrees with what I’m seeing every day in the technology industry.

Just last night, a young VC from Russia told me most of his friends have already left the country. One abandoned a job and two apartments to start over from scratch abroad.

They don’t want to be killed or have to kill someone else. And with Putin rounding up young men to fight, even a visit home is out of the question.

These highly skilled workers have more options than anyone else. So it’s no surprise that they’re the first ones off a sinking ship.

The biggest beneficiaries so far seem to be nearby countries. Georgia, Armenia, and Turkey have attracted large numbers of talented young Russians since the invasion of Ukraine.

The United States should stop at nothing to attract these talented young men.

We have nowhere near the number of engineers our massive technology industry needs. Anyone who’s tried to recruit developers knows how hard it is.

These young Russians are top technical talent there for the taking. And the US can offer pay far beyond any company in Turkey or Georgia.

Attracting Russia’s best and brightest is also the ultimate PR coup. Look Mr. Putin, your most talented young people are leaving you and coming to us!

The White House is welcoming Russian asylum seekers. We should double down on this strategy, with a particular emphasis on finding top engineers.

There will be nothing sweeter than using Putin’s own people to beat him.

What do you think of Russia’s brain drain? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

Have a great weekend everyone!

More on tech:

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How I Source Deals

Bridge Rounds: Yea or Nay?

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Photo: “Russia trip, Apr 2008 – 57” by Ed Yourdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Is Russia’s Google Finished?

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Yandex NV dominates the Russian market, with a majority of all Russians visiting its platforms every month. It offers the nation’s most popular search engine, an e-commerce portal, and even ride sharing.

But now Russia’s premiere tech company’s days may be numbered.

Yandex’s stock is down 75% from its peak last fall. Partnerships with Uber and Grubhub are being wound down since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Yandex’s ambitious expansion overseas is dead in the water. A plan to offer cloud computing in Europe has been shelved.

Indeed, it will be hard to do any business overseas with the banks Yandex relies on within Russia facing crippling sanctions.

But the most immediate threat to Yandex may lie in obscure covenants on its debt.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has suspended trading in its Nasdaq-listed shares. A long enough suspension may trigger a requirement for Yandex to immediately repay $1.25 billion to owners of its convertible bonds.

Yandex does not have the money.

Meanwhile, the company’s staff are nervously eyeing the exits.

Yandex employees’ compensation is largely in stock, which has lost most of its value. This will make it hard to motivate and retain employees.

Those who can are likely to move abroad. In a red hot market for engineers, finding a new position should be easy for them.

In all, Yandex is losing key markets, dealing with staff panic, and facing imminent insolvency. Absent help from the Kremlin, it’s hard to see how this company survives.

Yandex’s woes spell trouble for Russia as a whole.

The nation is heavily dependent on resource extraction. Companies like Yandex represented a chance to diversify and join the lucrative tech industry dominated by the West.

But Russia’s authoritarianism is making that transition harder and harder.

Oil prices are high right now, but as the world transitions to renewable energy, Russia may be left with resources the world no longer wants.

And not much else.

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More on tech:

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VADE: The Future of Parking

How China’s Tech Industry Dies

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Help Ukraine Fight for Freedom

I had a whole post written for you today, all about startups, founders, fundraising, yada yada yada.

But the war in Ukraine made that seem pretty insignificant. So today, I’d like to talk briefly about how we can help.

People in Ukraine are fighting for freedom, and for their lives. A tyrant is trying to enslave them and kill anyone who resists.

Ukrainians need our help.

Please join me in donating to the cause. Here are some great options to easily send a donation:

I pray the brave Ukrainians can fight off Russia and restore peace and democracy. Glory to Ukraine!

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Urban Combat: Lessons from Chechnya

At its widest point, Russia spans nearly 5,000 miles from the Vistula Spit in the west to the Kuril Islands in the east. In 1994, its military numbered 1.4 million. It had a massive air force and heavily armed infantry, along with the latest technologies like guided missiles.

Chechnya is a small, impoverished region about the size of Connecticut. It has been inhabited for over 40,000 years and been a part of many empires, from Persian to Russian to Soviet.

In 1991, Chechnya declared independence from Russia. Reports of mistreatment of the Russian minority inflamed tensions with Russia, and Russia began to bomb the tiny breakaway republic on December 1st, 1994. (This same casus belli was used by Putin against Ukraine.)

For 12 years over two separate wars, this tiny country held off the Russian colossus. How did they do it? As former Navy SEAL Commander Jocko Willink details in his excellent podcast, superior leadership and infantry tactics outweighed Russia’s seeming advantages.

Russian soldiers encountered unexpectedly heavy resistance as the fighting moved to Grozny, the capital. The Russian soldiers had major air power behind them, while the Chechen air force had been quickly destroyed at the beginning of the war.

But the Chechens neutralized Russia’s key advantage with a simple tactic: move closer. The air force couldn’t bomb the Chechens without bombing their own comrades as well. They bombed away anyhow, and many Russian soldiers died of friendly fire.

Their air superiority neutralized, the Russian military’s shortcomings in more basic areas became evident. They didn’t have ladders to get into buildings, an essential urban combat tool. Their leaders micromanaged and worked at cross purposes.

Chechens terrorized the Russians whenever they could. They put the heads of Russian soldiers on pikes for the survivors to see. Booby traps were everywhere (an echo of America’s experience in Vietnam and Iraq). Many Russian soldiers began to suffer mentally, and either became unable to fight or indiscriminate in their aggression, attacking civilians and driving the population to the insurgents.

Maybe it all started when the Russian soldiers stopped shaving. This was the first breakdown in discipline. It was small, but noticeable. Later, soldiers stopped following rules about boiling drinking water, leading to massive outbreaks of illness.

Eventually, Russian food supplies fell short. These tired soldiers, many of them teenagers, faced illness and hunger. The attacks from the Chechen rebels, many seasoned veterans of the USSR’s war against Afghanistan, were relentless.

Facing a grim situation in Chechnya and declining support for the war at home, Russia declared a ceasefire in 1996 and soon signed a peace treaty. Chechnya would ultimately fall after a second, and much longer, war. But this band of ill equipped rebels held off Russia for years, an incredible feat.

What did the Russian military learn from this, and what are the lessons for us? Here are a few key points:

  • Don’t count on airpower. Determined infantry wins wars.
  • Maintain discipline, even in small things.
  • Urban warfare is manpower intensive with high attrition. Be sure to have fresh troops available and an extensive mental health staff to deal with the psychological stresses of urban combat.
  • Get the civilian population on your side. Don’t hurt them. Respect their leaders and give your orders through them.

This is a fascinating history lesson that can inform US policy and even our daily lives. Where are we letting our own discipline slip?

Dig into these posts for more on history and the military:

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Photo: “Chechnya/Чече́нская” by LOreBoNoSi is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

You May Soon Be Able to Get Vaccinated in Russia

As some US states lag in COVID vaccinations and the EU barely vaccinates at all, some are looking to Russia for help:

Lufthansa is reportedly discussing the “medical tourism” jet scheme with bosses at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.

The German airline is also in talks with the Russian foreign ministry about a regular service to the airport, it was reported.

Passengers would fly in and out without necessarily needing a visa or entering the country to see the sights such as Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral.

They would then make a second trip three weeks later to be fully protected by the Russian vaccine.

Two return flights from Frankfurt are estimated to cost around £1,750.

This hasn’t happened yet but it’s something to watch closely, especially if you’re in the EU or other countries that have barely begun to vaccinate. Russia’s vaccine is highly effective, per a study published in The Lancet:

Vaccine efficacy, based on the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases from 21 days after the first dose of vaccine, is reported as 91·6% (95% CI 85·6–95·2)

Russians have proved hesitant to get the vaccine, perhaps due to mistrust of their government, so this may mean more available for foreigners.

For more on COVID and vaccines, check out these posts:

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Photo: “Putin Claims Moon” by AZRainman is licensed under CC BY 2.0