Donald Trump needs only to look in his own backyard to find shady ties with Iran and Russia. Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page — who traveled to Russia to urge a stronger relationship with the U.S, prior to Trump’s campaign pushing for a pro-Russia GOP platform
— has close ties to a largely state-owned Russia natural gas producer, Gazprom, which Page advised on deals and investments in the 2000s.
Gazprom, in turn, has had a long-standing relationship with Iran, where the Russian firm signed a deal to develop an oil field in 1997 and where it more recently signed a new gas contract after seeking to develop oil fields after sanctions were lifted in July 2015.
Page already has Trump advocating a revisionist, pro-Putin foreign policy agenda — is a Trump pivot to Iran forthcoming?
Trump Advisor’s Connections To Gazprom And Iran
Trump advisor Carter Page worked with Gazprom, the majority-state owned Russian natural gas producer, in the 2000s in Moscow. Page advised Gazprom on deals, connected Gazprom to Western investors, and forged relationships with Gazprom executives. When Page founded his own company, a former Gazprom executive became an advisor. Page owned Gazprom stock and attended annual investors meetings.
Gazprom was involved in Iranian oil and natural gas development. As recently as August 2nd, 2016, Gazprom made news for seeking involvement in Iranian LNG and other natural gas projects.
Trump Advisor Carter Page had Connections To Gazprom
March 2016: Trump Named Carter Page To Campaign Foreign Policy Team
March 2016: Trump Named Retired Lt Gen Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares And Retired Gen Joseph Schmitz As Members Of His Foreign Policy Advisor Team. According to the BBC, “Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has revealed the first members of his foreign policy team. The advisers include academics and former military officers with expertise on the Middle East and energy issues. Mr Trump told the Washington Post that he would name more advisers in the coming days. Several of his advisers have served as experts for other Republican presidential candidates such as Mitt Romney and Ben Carson. On Monday, Mr Trump named retired Lt Gen Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and retired Gen Joseph Schmitz.” [BBC, 3/21/16]
When Working In Moscow, Carter Page Advised Gazprom On Deals And Connected Gazprom Executives To Western Investors
2004: Carter Page Opened A Merrill Lynch Office In Moscow. According to Bloomberg, “In 2000, Page took up investment banking, getting a job at Merrill Lynch’s capital-markets group in London. After impressing a colleague with his relationship with Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian billionaire, he says he was dispatched to help open the firm’s Moscow office in 2004.” [Bloomberg, 3/30/16]
Page Developed Relationships With Gazprom Executives, Advised Gazprom On Major Deals, And Helped Gazprom Connect To Western Investors. According to Bloomberg, “In Russia, Page developed relationships with executives at Gazprom, the former Soviet gas ministry that was partially privatized in the 1990s. By the time Page arrived, Putin was consolidating his grip on the country’s economy, and in 2005 the government boosted its stake so that it again owned a majority of the stock. Page says he advised Gazprom on its largest deals during this period, such as buying of a stake in the Sakhalin oil and gas field in the Sea of Okhotsk. He also helped the company court Western investors, assisting in setting up the first regular meetings with shareholders in New York and London.” [Bloomberg, 3/30/16]
Gazprom Executives Attended Page’s Going Away Party Before He Left Moscow
Page Reported That Many Top Gazprom Officials Attended His Going Away Party Before He Left Russian In 2007. According to Bloomberg, “Page says he advised Gazprom on its largest deals during this period, such as buying of a stake in the Sakhalin oil and gas field in the Sea of Okhotsk. He also helped the company court Western investors, assisting in setting up the first regular meetings with shareholders in New York and London. Before he moved back to New York in 2007, he says, many of its top officials showed up at his going-away party, at a restaurant near the Kremlin.” [Bloomberg, 3/30/16]
Former Gazprom Executive Worked At Carter Page’s Firm, Global Energy Capital LLC
Former Gazprom Deputy Chief Financial Officer Sergey Yatsenko Went To Work The Firm Started By Carter Page. According to Bloomberg, “After returning to New York, Page says he took a buyout from Merrill in 2008 to start his own firm, known as Global Energy Capital LLC. He traveled to Turkmenistan that year,talking about raising a $1 billion private equity fund to buy assets in the former Soviet republic, and meeting with top government officials. The fund never materialized—the global financial crisis struck later that year—and since then, Page says he’s mostly done low-profile advisory assignments, such as counseling foreign investors on buying assets in Russia. In some of the deals, he’s worked with Sergey Yatsenko, a former deputy chief financial officer at Gazprom who is now an official adviser to Page’s firm.” [Bloomberg, 3/30/16]
· Yatsenko Worked With Page To Advise Russian Investor On Oil In Iraqi Kurdistan And A Chinese Investor On Russian Oil And To Develop Vehicles Powered By Natural Gas In Russia. According to Bloomberg, “Yatsenko says he worked with Page on helping a Russian investor explore an oil investment in Iraqi Kurdistan, and advising a Chinese investor looking to buy Russian oil assets in Eastern Siberia. Page wouldn’t discuss specific deals. Another project involved developing natural-gas-powered vehicles in Russia, possibly in partnership with Gazprom, Yatsenko says. But the sanctions put those talks on hold.” [Bloomberg, 3/30/16]
Page Was An Investor In Gazprom And Attended Annual Investor Meetings.
Carter Page Invested In Gazprom, Attended Annual Investor Meetings. According to Bloomberg, “Besides drying up some of his potential deals, the sanctions have hurt Page in other ways. He says he’s an investor in Gazprom—he still attends the annual investor meetings—and blames the trade restrictions for helping drive down the stock.” [Bloomberg, 3/30/16]
U.S. Sanctions On Russia Over Ukraine Lowered The Value of Gasprom Stocks, Held By Page, And Threatened His Business
Page Blamed U.S. Sanctions On Russia And Gazprom For Driving Down Gazprom Stock, Stopping His Potential Deals In Russia. According to Bloomberg, “Another project involved developing natural-gas-powered vehicles in Russia, possibly in partnership with Gazprom, Yatsenko says. But the sanctions put those talks on hold. […]Besides drying up some of his potential deals, the sanctions have hurt Page in other ways. He says he’s an investor in Gazprom—he still attends the annual investor meetings—and blames the trade restrictions for helping drive down the stock.” [Bloomberg, 3/30/16]
· 2014: The U.S. And Europe Sanctioned Gazprom Over Russian Activity In Ukraine.According to Bloomberg, “The U.S. and Europe imposed trade restrictions in 2014 after Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea and aided pro-Russian forces in the country. They apply to what President Barack Obama called ’cronies and companies that are supporting Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine.’ Gazprom, now led by a former Putin aide, is among those targeted.” [Bloomberg, 3/30/16]
Gazprom Was A Natural-Gas Producer Partially Owned By The Russian State And Aligned With Putin
2013: Gazprom Was The “Largest Natural-Gas Producer” In The World. According to The Economist, “THE good times for Gazprom once seemed like they would never end. The world’s largest natural-gas producer, founded out of the old Soviet gas ministry, enjoyed sky-high gas prices for years. The gas flowed along pipelines into Europe; the profits flowed back. Gazprom began work on a $1.9 billion headquarters in St Petersburg and acted as a bottomless wallet for Russia’s rulers. Whatever problems it encountered, it could ‘drown with money’, as Natalia Volchkova of the New Economic School in Moscow puts it.” [Economist, 3/23/13]
Gazprom Was “Majority-Owned By The Russian State.” According to The Economist, “Gazprom is not a normal company. It serves two masters. As a firm that issues shares to outside investors, it should in theory strive to maximise profits in the long run. But since it is majority-owned by the Russian state, it pursues political goals, too.” [Economist, 3/23/13]
In The Early 2000s, Putin Strengthened Gazprom “Into A Main Instrument Of Russia’s New State Capitalism” And “Appointed Allies To Top Positions.” According to The Economist, “In practice, it serves one master more assiduously than the other. As President Vladimir Putin consolidated his power in the early 2000s, he built Gazprom into a main instrument of Russia’s new state capitalism. He appointed allies to top positions. He used Gazprom as a tool of foreign policy, for example by cutting off gas supplies to Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova during political rows. Gazprom’s deep pockets have helped Mr Putin at home, too. It sells gas cheaply in Russia, so that the poor do not freeze in winter. Oddly for an energy company, it has bought television stations and newspapers, all of which are now friendly to the Kremlin. Mikhail Krutikhin of RusEnergy, a consultancy, says, ‘Gazprom has one manager: Putin.’” [Economist, 3/23/13]
2016: Gazprom Involvement In Iran Following Lifting Of Iranian Sanctions
Gazprom Signed Gas Contract In Iran
Following The Lifting Of Iranian Sanctions, Iran Signed Gas Contract With Gazprom.According to Tasnim News Agency, “The senior Iranian official added that the country has signed a number of gas contracts with major international firms, including Russia’s Gazprom, Germany’s Siemens, South Korea’s Kogas in an attempt to reclaim its previous position in the international oil market in the wake of the removal of anti-Terhan sanctions. The sanctions were lifted after Tehran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) on July 14, 2015 reached an agreement on Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and started implementing it on January 16.” [Tasnim News Agency, 8/2/16]
March 2016: Gazprom Sought To Develop Iranian Oil Fields.
March 2016: Gazprom Proposed Developing Oil Fields In Iran. According to The Associated Press, “Russian energy minister says Gazprom, Russia’s state gas monopoly, has put forward proposals for the development of oil fields in Iran. Alexander Novak spoke at bilateral trade discussions in Tehran on Monday. He underscored Moscow’s desire to strengthen trade relations with Iran and said the countries were considering opening a free-trade zone, according to reports from Russia’s Tass news agency. Sanctions against Iran were lifted in January and Western and Russian gas and oil companies have been keen to close deals with Iran and gain access to the country’s natural resources. It’s unclear if Iran will accept the conditions set out by Gazprom. During the same Monday discussions, Iran’s communications minister, Mahmoud Vaezi, said Iran wishes to review the conditions of energy contracts made with Russia before sanctions were lifted.” [Associated Press, 3/14/16]
August 2016: Gazprom Sought Involvement In Iranian Natural Gas Projects.
Gazprom Sought To Get Involved In Iranian Liquefied Natural Gas And Other Natural Gas Projects. According to Tasnim News Agency, “Gazprom is interested in marketing project of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and natural gas in general in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Alexander Novak said, according to a report carried by Russian business daily Vedomosti on Monday. Back in February, Gazprom’s Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev had said the company planned to participate in Iran’s energy projects. ‘With regard to Iran’s export opportunities, they, of course, exist both in pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas. However, what the purpose of this gas will be, it is still an open question. In addition, we do not exclude our participation in a number of projects in Iran, with export orientation,’ Medvedev said. He added, ‘It is no secret that there is a significant shortage of gas in the northern regions of Iran.’ Last year in December, Gazprom and the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) held talks on expanding Iran’s underground gas storage and its gas transport network, as well as equipment deliveries from Russia.” [Tasnim News Agency, 8/2/16]
Gazprom Also Developed Oil Fields In Iran In The 1990s
1997: Gazprom Signed Deal With Iran To Develop Oil Field. According to Oil And Gas Journal, “Several U.S. senators are working to block U.S. financing for Russia’s Gazprom because it plans to help Iran develop South Pars field. On Sept. 30, Iran signed a $2 billion deal with Total of France, Petronas of Malaysia, and Gazprom to develop the field (OGJ, Oct. 13, 1997, p., 34).” [Oil And Gas Journal, 11/10/97]
Published: Aug 3, 2016